With the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers squaring off in the NFC Divisional Round on Saturday, we thought it would be a great idea to learn a bit about the enemy.
So, we turned to Ray Rivard of Lombardi Ave, the Packers’ site on Fansided, and asked him a few questions about Green Bay.
Q. Will the 49ers be able to stop Aaron Rodgers?
A. Good question. Teams that have had strong defensive lines have pretty much had their way with Aaron Rodgers (New York Giants, for example). However, Rodgers has also done well against other very good defensive lines (most notably division rivals Bears, Vikings and Lions). So, it will depend on just how well the offensive line holds up against the Niners. I feel that if the Packers play their game, which is passing, it will be difficult for the Niners to completely stop him. If the Packers pack it in and try to run the ball too much, they will have difficulty with the Niners’ physicality. I think head coach Mike McCarthy knows his team is not going to come out and blow the Niners off the ball, so he will use a combination of four and five wideouts to spread the Niners out and try to attack the middle of the field with dump-offs to running backs and tight ends.
So, to answer your question – this is playoff football; Aaron Rodgers has been here before; I don’t think the Niners will stop him.
Q. How have the Packers changed since their Week 1 loss to the Niners?
A. Boy, where do I start? Yes, the Packers are a completely different team. Injuries have forced the Packers to play a lot of young players on defense, it has forced their offensive line to completely change, and it has forced the Packers to develop a running game that they didn’t have before. It will be interesting to watch both the Packers and 49ers in this game because both teams have evolved and changed over the course of the 16-game season.
Q. More intimidating place to play: Candlestick or Lambeau?
A. Well, being a homer, I’ve got to say Lambeau. However, the Niners came in on opening day and beat the Packers there, so that kind of blows my statement out the window. At this time of year, given the weather and physical conditions that the teams have to face, Lambeau is a bit different than it is in September. Playing in San Francisco in 50 degree weather will place both teams on a level playing field, if you will. The Packers and every team in the league, have developed their systems to negate noise, so I don’t really feel that the crowd will play as big of a role as many feel. Not only that, but the Packers have played and done well historically at Candlestick. Either way, it should be a very interesting game.
Q. Final score prediction? (without being biased, and explain why)
A. Without being biased, I feel these are two very evenly-matched teams. Both have gone through tremendous change over the course of the season. Though the Packers will probably struggle early with the athleticism of Colin Kaepernick, I really think that the Packers defense has seen enough of the read-option and moving quarterbacks to get a handle on that as the game wears on.
That said, the Packers have had trouble recently with the Niners defense and if Rodgers doesn’t get the time for his receiver routes to develop, the Packers will be in trouble.
That said, I feel the one advantage, and the main advantage, will be Aaron Rodgers. He is the reigning MVP for a reason; he’s been in playoff games before; he’s played very well and he’s played very poorly in those playoff games; his experience and his ability to extend plays will be the difference in this game. It may be close, but I feel that Rodgers, over the inexperience of Kaepernick, will be the difference.
Packers 26 Niners 23