NFL Pick: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m. (ET)
Pointspread: San Francisco -4.5
Total Line: 48.5
The last time Green Bay faced the 49ers things did not go so well in a 45-31 loss as a three-point road underdog in last season’s Divisional Round playoffs. This followed a 30-22 loss to the eventual NFC Champion in the 2012 season opener as a six-point favorite at home. The total went OVER in both of those games. Even though the Packers are heavy favorites to win their division and second-favorites to win the conference, they are well aware that the road back to the Super Bowl begins with a win on Sunday.
As long as Aaron Rodgers is behind center Green Bay will undoubtedly win its fair share of games. However, to win this one it will have to establish some kind of running game to control the pace as well as to keep the 49ers’ offense on the sidelines as long as possible. The addition of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin through the draft will help, but losing its lead back DuJuan Harris with a knee injury does not help its cause. The Packers will also need a much better effort from a defense that finished the 2012 season ranked 17th against the run given that San Francisco was one of the best rushing teams in the NFL last year.
The 49ers have been opened as favorites to repeat as NFC Champions this season, but it will not be easy with Seattle breathing down their neck in their own division. They will also have to overcome a crushing loss in Super Bowl XLVII. The last time a team that lost a Super Bowl got back to the big game the following season was all the way back in 1994.
All eyes in this matchup will be on third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He assumed the starting job midway through last season and was instrumental in the team’s run to the conference championship. Many experts believe he has what it takes to become one of the best in the game, but with those expectations also comes the pressure especially in such a high profile game like this. Nonetheless, San Francisco remains one of the best balanced teams in the NFL with a defense that was ranked third overall in 2012.
Free NFL Pick
It is always tough to handicap a heavyweight matchup such as this on opening day given how important a win would be to each team. Green Bay comes in with a few more questions than answers but to me the current spread is just a bit too wide. The Packers might not come away with a straight-up win, but it will cover with the 4.5 points.
San Francisco 27 Green Bay 24
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