NFC Wild Card Expert Pick – San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay PackersNoah Williams
The main theme hanging over this NFC wild card expert pick is “revenge”. People seem to believe that Rodgers and the Packers will win this game because San Francisco sent them packing in last year’s playoffs. I get what people mean in that regard, but you could just as easily say that San Francisco’s defense owns Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers and Niners have met three times in the last two seasons and San Francisco has won and covered in all of those games. I’m not doubting Aaron Rodgers one bit and I’m incredibly excited to see what his team is capable of in the playoffs. Football is better with him back in the mix.
But all of the focus on Rodgers and the supposedly struggling Colin Kaepernick belies the real x-factor in this matchup: the team defenses. San Francisco’s stoppers are perhaps the best in the entirety of these playoffs (unless you ask Seattle fans) and they’re a big reason why I’m leaning towards San Francisco with my NFC wild card expert picks. Justin Smith and Navarro Bowman led a front that allowed just 15.6 points per game during an incredible 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS streak to end the season. They have routinely seized control of games and made life hell for their opponents.
Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy are certainly capable of giving San Francisco all they can handle in this game but that also overlooks how easily Kaepernick can move the chains against the Packers defense. Green Bay allowed 372.2 yards per game, ranking them 25th in total yards surrendered. Clay Matthews will also be out of this game with his problematic thumb.
The Niners have had problems in passing efficiency, but they’ve made up for it by making big plays and running the ball with ironclad efficiency. The Niners racked up 137.6 yards per game on the ground this, ranking them third overall behind Philadelphia and Buffalo (yes I know that’s hard to believe).
So while you may want to bet on Green Bay at home in a revenge game for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, keep this nugget in your brain: San Francisco will force the high octane Packers to fight for every single yard they collect while Green Bay will be scrambling to stop Frank Gore and Kaepernick from grinding them up in to a mushy paste. My NFC wild card expert pick has much more to do with the idea that San Francisco’s offense faces a much easier challenge against Green Bay’s defense. So you can bet on revenge if you want. I’m betting on the numbers.
Because if the recent history of these teams tells us anything, it’s that San Francisco has Aaron Rodgers’ number as well.