With the Packers claiming the NFC North title last week in thrilling fashion, the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field will be hosting yet another bitterly cold January playoff game. In what will be a rematch of a thrilling Week 1 matchup, the Green Bay Packers will be taking on a red-hot San Francisco 49ers squad.
While the Packers are glad to have their MVP quarterback back in action, the 49ers are just as confident with Colin Kaepernick at the helm. Getting into a groove during the 49ers 6 game winning streak (10 TDs to 1 INT over last 6 games), the 49ers signal caller has been a nightmare for the Packers defense in recent matchups. In two career starts against the Packers, Kaepernick has accounted for 895 total yards and 7 touchdowns.
In the most recent game between these two NFC teams back in Week 1, the 49ers pulled out a thrilling 34-28 victory. In that game, Kaepernick threw for a career high 412 yards and connected with wide receiver, Anquan Boldin, 13 times for 208 yards. The game was also the beginning of a disappointing season for a once dominant Green Bay Packers defense. The unit has struggled all season long and finished 25th in total defense.
However, Sunday’s weather will be a lot different than the teams’ Week 1 matchup in sunny San Francisco. With forecasts calling for negative temperatures all day long, this game could go down into the record books for the weather alone. Hard footballs and numb hands could limit both passing attacks so starting running backs Eddie Lacy and Frank Gore may become huge factors in this game.
Health has also been a factor for the Packers for much of the last two months as Randall Cobb joined Aaron Rodgers in returning from injury last week. Lining up alongside Jordy Nelson, Cobb should provide a boost to the passing game as the two receivers lit up the 49ers secondary in Week 1 (238 yards and 2 TDs). Fully healthy, the Packers are a lot more dangerous than their record may indicate.
With both offenses at full strength, this wild card game will come down to which team can make the big plays on offense and limit the big plays with their defense. While the Packers do have Aaron Rodgers back, a San Francisco defense which ranked 5th in total defense may be able to slow the quarterback down. Meanwhile, the 49ers offense is fueled by the dual threat ability of Colin Kaepernick, but can rely on an effective power running game as well. Getting hot at the right time, the 49ers look poised for a win at Lambeau on Sunday.
Game Prediction: 49ers win, 27-17