It’s going to be very cold this Sunday night.
This Sunday the San Francisco 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers for the chance to move further into the playoffs, and it’s going to be seriously cold when these two teams play. Weather forecasts indicate the day’s high will be around 5 degrees, and the low overnight will dip almost to minus-20. While gametime temps shouldn’t be quite that low, it has the potential to be the coldest, or second coldest, game played at Lambeau Field. With the weather in mind, game plans could change and cause us to evaluate just how dangerous an opponent the Packers are in this game.
What do the Packers Have Going For Them?
Star Players Got Healthy
Last weekend, Aaron Rodgers made his return after missing seven full games out with a collarbone injury he sustained earlier in the season. He put up more than 300 yards and two touchdowns against a very suspect Bears defense in his first game back. Randall Cobb had also been out since Week 6, when he was put on injured reserve, and was able to light up the scoreboard for two scores against the Bears. Having these playmakers back will certainly help the Packers offense.
Eddie Lacy has proven to be one of the better running backs this year, and he’s just a rookie. He’s helped elevate the Packers from a truly horrible run game, all the way to a top ten rushing attack. The help this gives any team simply can’t be underestimated, especially when the temps get low.
When operating on all cylinders, you can always expect the Packers to be in any game, by virtue of an accomplished and dangerous passing attack. Aaron Rodger and the stable of receivers he can throw to are regularly seen silencing defenses and secondaries and have done it for the past several seasons. Having worked as a unit together, they know how to connect at exactly the right time.
What do the 49ers Have Going For Them?
The Gang Is Back Together
It’s been just five games since Michael Crabtree returned from his Achilles injury, and his impact on the 49ers has been tangible. In those five games, he’s had an impact on the passing offense. His additional yards per game, and continued high level of play can only elevate the 49ers, despite the cold.
Every discussion about the 49ers’ strengths in the past few years have inevitably circled towards their run game. Undeniably their largest offensive strength both last year and this year, we can expect a heavy dose of ground game from San Francisco. Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter what teams do. They repeatedly and successfully dare opponents defenses to defend their run game, and after another season of it, still seen to fall short. The lack of Clay Matthews can only help the 49ers. Without their best linebacker, the already weak Packers defense should be operating at less than peak efficiency.
In three games against Harbaugh and the 49ers, the Packers are 0-3. This bodes well for the 49ers since the first game was at Lambeau. The last time these two teams faced each other, Colin Kaepernick exposed a secondary that is succeptible, and the game before that, Kaepernick posted 181 rushing yards. That day the QB option was in full force. In part, this is why when the 49ers and Packers opened their seasons against each other this year, the 49ers were so successful. A run-favored offense should elevate the 49ers once again.
So Just How Dangerous Are the Packers?
Always a dangerous opponent, the Rodgers-led Packers are an opponent that just can’t be overlooked or expected to roll over. This game is going to be as tough as any the 49ers have faced all year. Possibly more so, since it’s clearly an ascending Packers team the 49ers are up against. Both teams are getting hot at exactly the right time, but only one of these teams goes home a winner on Sunday. Good news is, it should be the 49ers.