Date/Time: January 5th, 4:40 PM ET
Spread: San Francisco -3
Wild Card Weekend of the NFL season is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, January 5th between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.
We’ve got a couple wins in a row under our belt in our Game of the Week segment here at Bang the Book, and we think we have one of the best bets all season long here with the Packers winning at home against the 49ers.
There is a heck of a lot of reason to think that we’re crazy, not the least of which is the fact that San Francisco has won and covered the three meetings that it has had with Green Bay in the last two seasons. We’ll talk more about those games in just a second, but there are a few important factors to point out first.
Yes, the Niners have covered seven straight road games, but they haven’t played games in conditions like this. We know that they can, as they have proven before that they can go on the road in the winter and take down anyone in the league. They’ve got the right brand of smash mouth football to be able to get the job done, but they also were smoked in their one major road game this year against the Seattle Seahawks. Home field advantage at Lambeau Field in the postseason is nuts, and the fact that Green Bay is 14-4 in its 18 postseason games played here in this stadium cannot be forgotten. Yes, the Packers have lost four of their last seven here at home, but we still have to think that history is going to be on their side in this game, and more often than not, they’re going to have a massive advantage that could propel them to victory.
The Packers have been getting closer and closer to beating San Fran with each passing game in this series. This year, QB Colin Kaepernick absolutely lit up this secondary after not getting pressured at all by the front seven. Head Coach Mike McCarthy wanted to be more physical with Kaepernick in the opening game of the year, but in the end, there just wasn’t any pressure thanks to the additional spy or spies that were put on him to avoid him going off for 181 rushing yards again like he did in the playoffs last year. The mission was accomplished from that standpoint, holding Kaepernick down to just 22 rushing yards on seven carries. The problem? Kaepernick also threw for over 400 yards in what still amounts to be the only game in his career in which he threw for more than 300 yards, let alone 400.
That said, QB Aaron Rodgers had his team in a position to potentially challenge for that victory at Candlestick Park. The 49ers, though the better team in Week 1, weren’t bona fide dominant team, and in the end, that’s nothing that can’t be fixed by switching venues to the “Frozen Tundra.”
Speaking of Rodgers, he’s back in the lineup, and he has a healthy set of receivers to work with at his disposal. The argument could be made that this is the most talented offense Rodgers has ever played with now that all of the pieces are together. RB Eddie Lacy, though a bit banged up, is still the best back which this team has had in quite some time, and now that WR Randall Cobb is healthy, he, WR James Jones and WR Jordy Nelson can all succeed together. WR Jarrett Boykin had a great season with nearly 700 yards replacing Cobb as well.
We would be lying if we said that LB Clay Matthews’ thumb injury potentially keeping him out of the lineup doesn’t scare us, because it absolutely does. That said, we think that the 49ers have been exposed defensively at times this year, and what was once known as the strength of the team might not be all that special. Remember that in the second season of late, these Niners have been lit up by the New Orleans Saints and several other teams, and the Packers very well could end up getting to 30+ points in this duel.
The Pack went 6-2 SU and ATS in their eight games with Rodgers under center this year, and they averaged over 30 points per game in doing so. Their only losses were against these Niners and the Cincinnati Bengals, who also went undefeated SU and ATS at home on the campaign. There were wins against the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears on the road and the Detroit Lions at home in that mix as well. We also know that the pedigree of Rodgers and these Packers says that they can go on the road and win playoff games. Just look back at the Super Bowl season for proof of that.
Fortunately for Green Bay, it doesn’t have to worry about going on the road in this one. It just has to worry about taking care of business at home. Rodgers isn’t a home underdog all that often, and he hasn’t been in that situation this year at all. The 49ers are good, but they aren’t good enough to travel to the “Frozen Tundra” and beat a Green Bay team which has all of the momentum going for it after Rodgers’ emotional return to the lineup last week and the subsequent win over a very good Chicago team at Soldier Field.
Week 17 NFL Pick of the Week: Green Bay Packers +3
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.