Green Bay Packers are back in the playoffs but they’ll be facing against a familiar foe they have seen quite too often in this situation – the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are the hottest teams in the NFC and there’s a lot to keep an eye on for this game.
Here. We. Are. There’s nothing better than playoff football, especially when the Green Bay Packers are playing at Lambeau Field. The Packers will be tested as they’re playing a red hot 49ers team. The journey to the Super Bowl begins now and the Packers have the advantage.
Is this really going to be the last dance? Can the Packers get over the hump? Is this year finally the year? Who knows? Green Bay has to go out there and prove it. All they got to do is win three games and it starts against the 49ers. Here are the five things to watch as we get set for the divisional round.
1. Injury Report
If you haven’t already seen the Packers injury report, you’re missing out. It looks absolutely beautiful. We haven’t seen the injury report like this since probably Week 1. I mean, we are talking about huge returns in Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith, then getting David Bakhtiari, Billy Turner, and Randall Cobb ready for the playoffs. This is really unheard of it that a team is getting healthier as they get ready for the postseason. On the other side, the 49ers have some big injury developments with Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and Jimmy Garoppolo. Two out of the three seem like they’re going to play, and that one we aren’t sure about is Bosa (concussion).
2. 49ers Running Game
When you think about the 49ers, you really don’t think much of Jimmy G and the passing game – it’s all about the run. San Francisco finished seventh in rushing yards per game (127.4) and they were the second-best rushing offense in wildcard weekend (169.0). The 49ers are a unique team because Elijah Mitchell has done great as a rookie, but this team also involves their star receiver, Deebo Samuel, in this rushing game. In the last two games, the Packers have held the 49ers under 70 rushing yards; however, in the last three playoff games against the 49ers, they are averaging 258.3 rushing yards. If the Packers want to move on, they simply can’t let the 49ers rushers get going.
3. Deebo Samuel
We highlighted Samuel in the last point, but let’s stay there for a bit. In the last eight games, Samuel has carried the ball no less than five times. The 49ers’ record during that span is 7-1. Prior to when the 49ers started doing this (Week 10) with Samuel, the 49ers were 3-5 and he had only six carriers. Tip your hat to Kyle Shanahan because that is truly remarkable how their season flipped around once they started handing the ball off to Samuel. Now, the main thing about Samuel is that he’s a terrific wide receiver. He’s fifth in receiving yards and first in yards per catch. In Week 3, against the Packers, and when Alexander was healthy, Samuel totaled five catches on 10 targets for 52 yards.
4. First Quarter
There are not many flaws to the Packers’ offense, but when it comes to the first quarter, they tend to start slow. In the last six games, the Packers have scored a touchdown in the first quarter in half of those games, even if you count Week 18, which they did score. The other half includes a field goal and two games being shut out. Those two first-quarter shutouts were against the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens. We’re now in the postseason, so these slow starts can’t happen. For example, look at the Dallas Cowboys in their wild card matchup against the 49ers. I’m not saying the Packers are the Cowboys, but slow starts can come back to haunt you.
5. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams
We have to be real for a second because there’s still a chance the Packers can lose this game, and the season is over. Once the season is over, we’ll never see this exact team again. This includes Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. I believe the Packers will keep these two; however, I don’t make the decisions and no one knows what the future has in store. Now, let’s get back into football. In Week 3, these two put together an unreal game-winning drive for the Packers. Adams finished with 12 receptions, 132 yards, and a touchdown. Rodgers went 23-for-33 with 261 and two touchdowns. Expect these two to be on the same wavelength against the 49ers.