For the fourth time in two years, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers are meeting head to head. The 49ers are 3-0 in the three previous games, and are looking to sweep the Packers with one more win. Last year in the playoffs, the Packers traveled to San Francisco to play the 49ers. This year, the 49ers are traveling to Wisconsin to play the Pack in the tundra that is Lambeau Field.
While the Packers barely squeaked into the playoffs with a 8-7-1 record, they are better than that record portrays them as. The Packers were riddled with injuries this year, including 2011 MVP Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately for the 49ers, they get the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rodgers in his home stadium this time. The 49ers beat this same healthy Packers’ team in week one of the season, but now the Packers are experienced as a team and much more dangerous. There are match-ups all over the field that the 49ers need to win in order to win this game.
49ers’ Front Seven vs. Packers’ Running Backs
This game is going to be cold. What does that mean? That means a lot of ground and pound. The Packers’ seemed to have finally found a running game to compliment Aaron Rodgers. If the 49ers want to win this game, they are going to have to shut that down. The 49ers’ defense is fourth in the league against the run, and the Packers offense is seventh in the league on the ground. Patrick Willis and Co. will have their hands full with Eddie Lacy and the Packers’ running backs. If the Packers get going on the ground, then this game could be over quick. The 49ers want to force the Packers’ offense to become one dimensional and force them to throw the ball in the ice cold weather.
49ers’ Running Backs vs. Packers’ Run Defense
Like I said, this game is going to be cold. So both teams are going to employ heavy run offenses because they have to, and because they can. Unlike the first match-up, this one has a little bigger disparity. The 49ers’ are third in the league in rushing, and Packers are 25th in league in defending against it. Just as I mentioned before, if the 49ers get their run game started, this game could be over very quickly.
Frank Gore and the rest of the 49ers’ running backs got figuratively and literally stuffed in Arizona last week, and are hoping to find better holes this time. And they should. The 49ers should have a much better day in running the football. In the first game of the season, the Packers played the run very well and held Gore to a below average day, but got burned by Kaepernick to a tune of 400 yards passing and three touchdowns. The Packers will probably sell out against the run again, in hopes that the weather will slow down Kaepernick this time.49ers vs. The Cold
It cannot be stressed enough about how cold it is going to be. There are varying predictions about exactly how cold it is going to be, but no matter what the exact temperature is, it’s going to be cold. The 49ers need to mentally prepare themselves before they even step foot of their plane. If they can’t handle this cold, then the Packers will make quick work of them. How they handle the cold will be the deciding factor in this game. If they starting cutting corners like: avoiding contact, not wrapping up on tackles, dropping passes, etc; then they will lose this game. Both the coaches and the players need to prepare themselves for the mind-numbing coldness that is going to engulf their entire bodies this game.
The 49ers have played well in cold games before such as the New England game last year, but the weather in that game is nowhere near what it is going to be like in Wisconsin this coming Sunday. Hopefully the 49ers can adapt and adjust and play just as hard as they usually do and come out with a win.