Packers XLV

A Pick From My Brrrain, Not My Heart (Maybe).

Posted January 3rd, 2014 @ 05:01pm

They've got eight Pro Bowlers. We've got none.

They've beaten us three times in the last 15 months and the games haven't really been close (though week one was an improvement).

When he faces the Packers, young Colin Kapernick plays like a cross between Joe Montana and Steve Young.

It's going to be bitterly cold, yet you could argue that favors them more than us.

There's not much leaning the Packers' way as we get set for the wildcard round playoff matchup between the 49ers and Pack, yet somehow, I think the home team's going to pull off the mild upset.

First, allow me to address the unsold tickets story. Opposing fans will have their fun that the team with a waiting list of 100,000 for season tickets couldn't sell out Lambeau for a playoff game. Whatever. Playoffs looked like a long shot until about 6:30pm last Sunday. Gametime wasn't announced till nine that night. Most people had just spent a lot of dough on the Holidays and couldn't justify it. So 40,000 tickets were made available and it took all week to sell them. Big deal. No other market would have done any better. Not to mention, ever sat outside for three hours when it's 15 below? Then be quiet.

Back to the game. The overwhelming storyline is the weather. I really don't believe it favors either team. If the Saints, Eagles or Panthers were coming in here, I'd give the Pack the edge. But against a team like the 49ers or Seahawks, I don't think it matters. Those are tough, physical defensive football teams that have the ability to use it to their advantage. The one guy I'll be watching is Colin Kaepernick. True, he was born in Milwaukee. But his family moved to California when he was four. They say one of his best college games was in Boise with the temperature in the 20s. -10 feels a lot different than 20. We'll see how he handles it. Expect the Niners to bring back the read option. Can the Pack contain it?

Let's go back to the first matchup this season. Although the Pack came up short, 34-28 they quieted the 'Packers are soft' chatter. They matched the Niners up front on both sides of the ball. SF couldn't run the ball and couldn't get Rodgers on the ground. The Pack fell short because they couldn't cover Anquan Boldin and couldn't get enough of a rush on Kaepernick.

Let's fast forward to now. With Clay Matthews out, the Packers probably won't be a whole lot better at pursuing Kaep, unless a guy like Mulumba, Perry or Neal has a breakout game. The D needs to do a similar job against the run, without Johnny Jolly to provide the nastiness. Frank Gore will be counted on heavily to move the chains and keep Rodgers off the field. San Fran is 8-0 when they have ball longer than their opponents. Sine the Pack has given up more than 1,000 yards to this team in the last two meetings, it's safe to say the defense needs to stand up on this day.

If the 49ers have similar success in these conditions on this stage at this stadium, Dom Capers will have a lot of questions peppered his way in the coming days to explain why he should continue as the coordinator. This is the ultimate test of progress for his unit. I know he'd love to have Matthews, Hayward and Jolly, but he doesn't. His unit needs to stick to Boldin, keep up with Davis and get off the field on third down. A couple more turnovers wouldn't hurt either. And I fully expect Harbaugh to unleash the pistol/read option stuff. It's perfect for the playoffs when the fear of injury is gone. It's win or go home.

Offensively, the Packers should have their way. The bitter cold will likely do a better job than the 49ers. Yes, they have the best set of linebackers in the league, along with a pair of great D ends and safeties. But their thin at corner and their best guy, Carlos Rogers, is unlikely to play with a hamstring. Last week, the Niners allowed a gimpy Carson Palmer to throw for 399 yards. The week before, at home on a Monday night, Matt Ryan passed for 341. Rodgers is ready, healthy and itching to prove he can beat this team. With Cobb back and Lacy appearing healthier, this is the most potent this offense has been all season.

It feels like a game that will be decided very late, just like last week. Rodgers calls last week's win in Chicago his greatest regular season game. A win on Sunday would add to his post season legacy and mark the Packers as a dangerous opponent making its fifth straight appearance in the divisional round.

A late Kaepernick mistake seals it.

Pack 31  49ers 28

Much more on this game on "Packer Preview," Sunday morning, 8am-9am on KFAN 100.3 FM in the Twin Cities and at kfan.com.

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Comments (9):

Doug...not to call you on the carpet, but the Packers offense should have a lot of their way Sunday with most all of the principles back in place and wanting to prove something after an near disastorous 2nd half of the season. They have a formidable running game now, not like they did the first game of the season when they were still figuring it out - this should eat up a lot of clock and keep Kaepernick sitting on the bench freezing his tail off. The only thing I worry about in this one is if the defense can keep CK contained inside the pocket. If he gets outside, it could be big trouble. Otherwise, this matches up very well.

on January 3rd, 2014 at 02:45pm

The 49ers have become to the Packers what Dallas was to them in the 1990's. The Obstacle. The Packers lost 3 straight times in the playoffs, plus a couple of regular season encounters back then because the Cowboys presented just too much of a physical mismatch for them. The same can be said for the current Niners. After the playoff loss last year Charles Woodson said the Packers had to get bigger, stronger, faster to beat that kind of team. And it's pretty apparent that they haven't. The defense hasn't improved and in fact may be not as good as the one that got shellacked for almost 600 yds, 300 rushing yds. and a qb record 181 yds. in last season's playoff out there. The most significant improvement for the Packers since 45-31 has been in the rushing game but Eddie Lacy does have a gimpy ankle, the Niners have one of the best defenses in the league and the Packers' o-line doesn't figure to have a lot of success against the San Fran. front seven. Maybe the severe cold will distract and affect the Niners more than we expect. There's no way a team that doesn't live and practice in that kind of weather can really prepare for it. But the Pack has to play in the same elements and is probably less designed for such conditions than their opponent is. After losing the '95 NFC title game to Dallas GM Ron Wolf loaded up the Packers to take down the Cowboys in '96. Ironically, it was Dom Capers' Carolina Panthers who dethroned Dallas in the playoffs that year and who came up to Lambeau for the NFC Championship Game instead. But Green Bay got its Super Bowl XXXI win nonetheless because they had built to beat their Obstacle opponent. Maybe after another loss Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will move this year to do likewise.

on January 3rd, 2014 at 06:39pm

It will be great to hear for 1 hr on sunday Davey, I agree with a lot of what You said, Gore will be used, But, I think Kendall Hunter will be the guy, he will take swing passes like forte does and that may kill us again on that frozen field. he is very quick and shifty.. I want the pack to win, and digging the drama,and because I can't stand Harbaugh. this is the 1st time in 4 years I really don't have a feeling who will win this with weather 30 below windchill , I will say this though, 1st team to 24 wins it. GO PACK

on January 3rd, 2014 at 12:04pm

"Offense should have their way"?? Lol Conservative offense gave Palmer the ball a lot more. Not to mention that is all the Cardinals do. Niners defense is top 5 in NFL and Rodgers just came back. "Offense should have their way" ....smh

on January 3rd, 2014 at 12:19pm

Dave- Leaving Saint Paul at 730 AM to go to my first Packer Playoff game! After growing up in GB and listening to all the stories about the Glory Years and Ice Bowl in the 80s... I wasnt going to miss this opportunity to see the Green and Gold at home in the bitter cold. I am hoping to say I attended one of the 5 coldest games in NFL history. Even with the teams record this year, I think its easy to believe in this team with Rodgers back ready to Rock N Roll. I love the fact that we can match the Niners in the Ground game with Lacy. Given his ankle trouble, Starks might be the X factor. I am looking to see a 20 / 10 split in carries on the ground. I am also loving our chances in the air in this game. Rodgers has played well in the cold. With Cobb back, and the 1,2,3 of Nelson, Cobb, and Jones- the packers have the aerial advantage. If the Packers win this game, however, its going to be because we get excellent coverage beyond the linebackers, who most be able to keep contain on Kaepernick around the outsides. If Neal, Mulumba, and Perry can keep forcing him back up into the pocker where he might be tempted into the decision to throw or keep it, the defense might create a haphazard turnover rather than let the Milwaukee-boy gone-West power sweep the cheddar.

on January 4th, 2014 at 11:31pm

Packerlifer, we have been on the same page a lot this year, but, I have to say this, the same time Dallas was beating us, with all the games in Dallas and they were favored in each one, we beat S.F. 3 times since 95 in the playoffs, and were 4-1 against them until last year, and they were favored last year at home, so I think we have done very well against them.I called for caper's head last year when woodson said they didn't prepare for read option. you play him the same way u did 1st game of the year, stop the run, and make him beat u thru the air in that weather, I'll take my chances that way then running it down our throats. let's enjoy the Drama for 1 more game at least. something is feeling weird about this year, like #4 said, the pieces are in place.

on January 4th, 2014 at 11:32am

Eddie Lacy's asthma in these most extreme conditions ? Any backstory to medication adjustments and precautions?

on January 5th, 2014 at 07:46am

Win third downs on both sides of ball and you win game. Simple but a true stat in below freezing games even more than above freeze games. Gore and Vernon Davis are guys that usually hurt us. If our defense is on the field for long time consuming drives it could be a long day. But we have our best defensive difference maker back ....yes it is Aaron Rodgers...keep him on the field for long drives and that keeps the defense off the field. Go Pack Go !!!

on January 5th, 2014 at 11:11am

just listened back to your show Davey, good to hear again for an hour., I noticed for the 3rd time this week, u said u wanted reid , safety from SF. I know I said I wanted him on your posts 3-26 or ogeltree, You said u wanted Elam from Fla. it's no biggy, but since u got on me, just want to make sure the facts are right here since your THC. score 24 and play some more. GO pack.

on January 5th, 2014 at 12:10pm

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