San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers: Wild Card Weekend Preview

For the fourth time in two seasons, and second straight year in the postseason, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers will face off against each other. These two teams have provided some very exciting games, which have featured a boatload of points. The 49ers have managed to beat the Packers in all three games to this point. Two of the three games were won by a single possession, and the other game, which was a playoff game last year, the 49ers embarrassed the Packers at Candlestick Park in the divisional round.

For whatever reason, the floodgates seem to open whenever these two teams have played each other the last two seasons. The Packers have featured a very poor scoring defense the past few seasons, and the 49ers have been able to take huge advantage of it. We all know that Aaron Rodgers is capable of putting up lots of points when he and all of the Packer receivers are healthy. The problem for the Packers has been the defense, especially against the 49ers.

During the playoff game last season, Colin Kaepernick ran for a record number of rushing yards for a quarterback in a single game when he ran for 181 yards. These two teams played each other in week one this season, and interestingly enough the Packers were able to completely shut down the 49ers running game. The problem with that was the 49ers threw for over 400 yards and totaled just under 500 total yards. This was one of the few games during the 2013 season where the offense relied very heavily on Kaepernick and the passing game rather than Frank Gore and the running game.

All three of the previous games between these two teams, the 49ers have been able to throw the ball and score at will. Usually, when the 49ers are able to successfully throw the ball without turning it over, they are very successful.

From the Packers perspective, they should feel very confident heading into the playoffs considering how close they were to missing the playoffs altogether while Aaron Rodgers was out due to injury. They overcame a huge deficit to beat the Dallas Cowboys on the road and then won a "play in" game last week against the Chicago Bears to make the playoffs. They seem to be getting healthy at the exact right time with Rodgers and Randall Cobb returning last week from injuries.

The 49ers will make no complaints or excuses about having to play the Packers on the road considering they have a better record than the Packers. A legit Super Bowl contending team should be able to go on the road in the postseason and beat any team in their path. The 49ers will have to do just that to make it to the Super Bowl for the second straight year. It is very unlikely that Candlestick Park will ever see another 49ers game unless the 49ers play the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship.

The weather in Green Bay on Sunday looks like it will be in the single digits, which will probably favor the Packers because they have played in that type of weather before. The 49ers will have to adjust quickly because they have not truly experienced much freezing cold weather like that before and are used to playing in San Francisco where the weather is always mild. Either way, this game will prepare both teams for a potential Super Bowl game in New York where the weather will most likely be very cold as well, assuming one of these two teams make it that far.

The key for both teams in this game will be to put up as many points as possible when thinking about how all three previous games have ended up. It seems that neither defense can truly stop the opposing offense, although the 49ers have had way more success stopping the Packers than the Packers have had stopping the 49ers.

Completely shutting down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense is pretty much impossible, but if the 49ers are able to hold the Packers to less than 20 points this weekend, they will have a great chance of winning. The 49ers secondary needs to step up and make some big plays and create a few turnovers to give the offense great field position. The defensive line needs to create chaos and get to Aaron Rodgers early and often to disrupt the passing game. The Packers also have an emerging star in rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who has been the biggest part of their offense since Rodgers went down with his injury. Teams can no longer play defense to solely stop the passing game because Lacy is such a bruising, physical runner who can dominate a game.

The 49ers offense will have to be able to put up lots of points to ensure a victory against the Packers. I think if the offense can put up more than 30 points or the defense can hold the Packers to less than 20 points, the 49ers will win the game. It'll be a lot easier said than done and the 49ers will have to limit turnovers and prevent the Packers from making big plays down the field. None of these things will come easy for the 49ers, especially on the road, but they have gained much experience the past two seasons and should be ready for this challenge.

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