NFC Wild Card: 49ers at Packers

NFC Wild Card: 49ers at Packers

The 49ers have been a thorn in the side of the Green Bay Packers for the last twelve months. To be precise, quarterback Colin Kaepernick is personally responsible for the Niners’ woes. The dual-threat signal-caller raced for 181 yards on the ground in last year’s 45-31 Divisional Playoffs thrashing, then tossed for a career best 412 yards in the 2013 season opener. However, both of those games were at Candlestick. The setting on Sunday afternoon will be a frigid Lambeau Field, where temperatures are expected to dip below zero. Here’s a preview.

49ers at Packers (+2.5)

San Francisco enters the postseason as the league’s hottest team with six straight wins. Kaepernick, in particular, has been incredibly sharp, throwing 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions during that stretch. Getting Michael Crabtree back from a torn Achilles has helped a thin receiving corps; Crabs has caught 19 balls and one touchdown since returning in Week 13. Getting veteran Frank Gore going against a Packers front seven that has been gashed for the last several games will be key to a Niners’ victory; Gore has only one 100-yard outing in his last ten starts. In biting cold, a successful ground attack could be the difference. The San Fran defense is 3rd in points allowed, although both Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer carved them up in the last two games. 49ers are 6-1-1 ATS on the road,

Welcome back Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. The dynamic duo hooked up twice last Sunday in Chicago and both went for scores. With Rodgers under center and a healthy receiving corps at his disposal, a vaunted Niners D that could be down a pair of cornerbacks will be tested. Eddie Lacy is still nursing a tender ankle, but his bruising inside running will be needed to control the pace. A shaky offensive line must give Rodgers time in the pocket or it could be a long afternoon for the Green Bay offense. DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell, and Matt Forte all shredded the Packers. If they can’t contain Gore and Kaepernick, they will be one and done. Clay Matthews won’t suit up and Brad Jones, Ryan Pickett, and Nick Perry are banged up. Packers are 3-4-1 ATS at home.

Underestimating Rodgers can be costly. He was rusty a week ago, but made plays when it counted. However, the Niners have the look of a Super Bowl team. Bet the visitors.