In what might as well be a scene from 1997, the two best teams in the NFC will meet in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 19 in San Francisco.
The Green Bay Packers, led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will travel to Levi’s Stadium to face Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. This is the teams’ first meeting in the NFC Championship since 1997 and their third postseason meeting in the past decade.
Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to victory with both his arm and his legs in the last two meetings. Kaepernick lining up under center is now just a distant memory, but this 49ers team is just as strong as the team that played during the early 2010s. Now, Garoppolo is taking snaps for San Francisco. He ranked 12th among starting quarterbacks during the regular season with 3,978 passing yards and 27 touchdowns.
On the other side is Rodgers, who brings a significant amount of playoff experience to the table. The Packers have reached the postseason 10 times since 2007, making it to the NFC Championship Game in half of those trips.
The Packers hold a 4-3 record in the teams’ seven postseason matchups. The 49ers have won the previous two meetings.
Why Green Bay can win:
It is tough to count out Aaron Rodgers. Even in the playoff games Green Bay has lost, Rodgers has given them a chance to win. Green Bay will need Rodgers on his game against the 49ers’ stiff defense. The Packers’ offense has lived and died with Rodgers. This Sunday will be no different.
San Francisco’s defense allowed just 281.1 yards per game during the regular season. The 49ers held Minnesota to just 10 points in the NFC Divisional Round, making things hard for Kirk Cousins the whole game. Rodgers will need to stay composed and prevent himself from getting flustered. As Rodgers goes, so go the Packers.
Why San Francisco can win:
The 49ers enter this game with both their offense and defense ranked in the top five. The offense ranks second in points scored (29.9 points per game), fourth in total yards (381 per game) and second in rushing yards (144.1 per game).
That’s not to say this will be a cakewalk. Green Bay’s defense allowed just 19.6 points per game during the regular season, but gave up 339 total yards to the 49ers earlier this season. Garoppolo and co. will still need to repeat what they did in San Francisco’s 37-8 win over the Packers back in Week 12 and let the defense take care of the rest. Rodgers was sacked five times and hurried 10 times in that game by the 49ers’ pass rush.
San Francisco’s defense will show up as expected. The offense’s play-calling will be balanced as they work to keep Rodgers on the sideline. The Packers can keep themselves in it early, but they will be worn down by the fourth quarter. The 49ers will reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 2013.
Prediction | San Francisco 28, Green Bay 17