Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:30 ET
I’m going to try to keep this breakdown a little shorter. Okay, a lot shorter. Still trying to get a better idea of how I want to write this section, so let me know what you think.
This is going to be a great game. I’m really excited for the individual matchups, so instead of doing a preview to the game and then keys to victory, I’m just going to introduce some of these matchups. I’ll give you an idea of who I believe has the edge in each, then give my prediction.
Aaron Rodgers is going up against Pro Bowl safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner. I honestly think this will be the matchup of the game. The Packers are going to need to score points and, with little to no running game, they need to stretch the field. Rodgers is an awesome QB and the perfect pass is indefensible, so I give the Packers a slight edge here.
The Packers have struggled all year with their pass protection, giving up 51 sacks during the regular season. That’s the second worst, behind only the lowly Cardinals. On the other side, Justin Smith was an absolute monster this year, illustrated by the fact that he was voted All-Pro at both defensive end and defensive tackle. However, he has missed the last three games due to a triceps injury. In the first 13 games where Justin played, Aldon Smith had 19.5 sacks and looked poised to set the NFL record. In the 3 games without Justin however, Aldon didn’t have a single sack. If you’re looking for an early indication as to who will win this game, look no further than this man. If he is healthy and effective at putting pressure on Rodgers, it will be a long night for the Packer’s QB.
When the Niners have the ball, look for the matchup of Colin Kaepernick against Clay Mathews. I believe the Packers will attempt to stop Kaepernick from using his feet to beat them when the plays break down, and Clay Mathews is the guy they will use. Mathews has more than enough speed to stop him, but I believe the hard play action, threat of the pass, and the ability to scramble for key yards will be too hard to stop. Look for Harbaugh to use his quarterback in a lot of different ways. After all, he didn’t sit Alex Smith for no reason.
Finally look for the matchup between Packers CB Tramon Williams and 49erst wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Since Kaepernick has taken over at quarterback, Crabtree has finally looked like the #1 guy in San Francisco. In fact, the wideout has been targeted on more than 60% of Kaepernick’s 3rd down passes and had more than 90 yards receiving in 4 of the last 5 games. Tramon Williams on the other side is the Packers best cornerback and lately, has looked like a shut down player. Expect Williams to cover Crabtree no matter where he lines up and for this to be a huge matchup. I believe Williams is the better player here, but Kaepernick will buy time with his feet and allow for Crabtree to create space. I expect another big game for Crabtree.
The last thing I will note is that Packers kicker Mason Crosby has been bad all season long, while the 49ers just signed Billy Cundiff due to their kicker, David Akers, struggles. No field goal will be a gimme for either team, so hold your breath.
Lucky Guess of the Game:
I will predict that Kaepernick rushes for 2 touchdowns in this one.
I think the 49ers are the better team. I think they have a much better defense and their offense will simply outscore the Packers. I’ll predict a close game until the 49ers pull away in the 4th Quarter.
49ers Win. 41-27