This weekend’s first NFC divisional NFL playoff game pits the San Francisco 49ers and their young quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the seasoned Green Bay Packers and their postseason experience quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Kaepernick enters today’s game having never previously taken a snap in the playoffs. Rodgers comes in hot off a win and with several years of playoff experience, including a Super Bowl win, to his name.
The Packers showed their dominance at Lambeau Field last week by thumping the Minnesota Vikings in the wild card round and silencing critics that thought they might be one-and-done after falling to the same Vikings just a week prior in the regular season finale. Adrian Peterson’s yards were cut in half from the prior game after some defensive adjustments, and Rodgers helped put up 24 points of offensive for a relatively easy win.
Once again the Packers defense will be facing a great rusher, this time in the form of Frank Gore. Unlike last week with the Vikings having to play their backup quarterback so the defense could focus on the run and Peterson, they will have to keep their eyes on not only Kaepernick’s passing ability but his rushing ability as well.
The 49ers will get a boost on the defensive side of the ball with the return of tackle Justin Smith from injury. The 49ers defense has been particularly stingy against the run all season, and Smith’s return will only bolster what’s already a formidable front line. The 49ers led the league in surrendering only 311.3 yards per game of offense on average.
History favors the Packers today as they have won four of the last five playoff games against the 49ers. Though the 49ers are at home, Rodgers playoff experience versus Kaepernick’s inexperience tilts the odds even more in the Packers favor. San Francisco has proven all year that they can defy the odds. If Kaepernick gets into trouble, Alex Smith is ready to jump in and offer some of his experience and potentially the ability to turn the game around and create the mother of all playoff quarterback controversies.
Today’s divisional NFC playoff game between the Green Bay Packers against the host San Francisco 49ers kicks off at 8:00pm EST / 5:00pm PST in high definition on Fox via cable/satellite or free over the air. Though not at all free, you can watch the official online live streaming version via NFL Sunday Ticket right here. This is a tough game to pick a winner, but my prediction is the Packers experience plays a major role, Alex Smith gets some snaps after weeks of warming the pine, and the 49ers suffer an unexpected early playoff exit by a tight score of 20-13 in a game dominated by strong defensive play.