Green Bay at San Francisco for the first NFC playoff game of the season, on Saturday night 8pmET, will probably be the best, and closest, game of the weekend. Both teams entered the playoffs with virtually the same record. San Francisco’s tie to St. Louis got them a first round bye as Green Bay finished 11-5 while the 49ers were 11-4-1. Green Bay’s only losses (with the exception of the Giants) came against teams that at least made the wildcard round of the playoffs this year. San Francisco has not been quite as polished this season. They lost to Seattle and Minnesota, who made playoffs; but they lost to the Giants and the Rams who did not. In Week 1 these two teams battled at Green Bay and the Packers lost 30-22. It is almost fitting then that if Green Bay wants to make it past the 49ers that they now have to travel to San Francisco to do it.
San Francisco’s defense will have falter in a big way for Green Bay to advance. Even after getting fleeced for 42 points by Seattle in Week 16, the 49ers are still one of the top five defenses in the league. Ranking 4th against the pass and the run, the 49ers have allowed an average of 17.1 points a game this season. Green Bay has scored an average of 27.1 points per game this season. San Francisco has scored 24.8 points a game this season and Green Bay has allowed an average of 21 points a game. If you take the average of each team’s offense against the other’s defense you get a score of 22.7-22.0 for San Francisco. That is a blazing close game.
Week 1 seems like ages ago, so how relevant is the 30-22 defeat that the 49ers laid on the Packers in Week 1? Against teams that made playoffs, San Francisco scored an average of 22 points. Against teams that made playoffs, Green Bay scored an average of 26.7 points. Perhaps this indicates an average superiority against top 2012 opponents. But each team’s dynamic and strengths match up differently against different opponents. San Francisco is a strong run team while Green Bay is a strong pass team. Against run strong opponents, Green Bay was 4-3 in the regular season (5-3 if you count last week’s defeat of Minnesota). Against strong pass teams, San Francisco is basically undefeated. The 49ers seem to have to most trouble with teams who have a balanced offense.
The 49ers are 6-1-1 at home this season and the Packers are 4-4 on the road. San Francisco has had a week to rest and a week to prepare for Green Bay. Green Bay has not seen Colin Kaepernick at QB for the 49ers. Both teams have averaged the same total yards of offence this season but the 49ers have yielded about 40 yards less per game. The odds suggest a final score of 24-21 for the 49ers. Yes it seems like the 49ers can win this game, there are more reasons to take them. Probably only the 49ers and their fans think they can cover the spread. Football fans and everywhere are going to be excited for this game. However, if the game is tied and it comes down to a field goal to win then the Packers have the edge because their place kicker, the second worst in the NFL in 40 yard –plus kicks, is better than San Francisco’s place kicker, who is the worst in the NFL in 40 yard – plus kicks.
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