The Green Bay Packers took care of business last week, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 with their defense stepping up as Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson were both back in the lineup. That was vs. a backup quarterback in Joe Webb though that did not throw a pass all season, and Green Bay is making a decided leap in class here vs. the second-seeded San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers are fresh coming off a bye and they are -3 home favorites on Saturday with the total set at 44½.
49ERS – PACKERS PLAYOFFS BETTING LINE:
1. Why Green Bay will cover the spread: The Packers will cover this spread and in fact win this game outright if Aaron Rodgers plays like he did during the regular season, when he led the NFL with a 108.0 QB Rating and finished second with 39 touchdown passes while completing 67.2 percent of his passes and throwing for 4295 yards. Rodgers will have to carry the offense on his own with running backs Ryan Grant and Alex Green both injured and the Packers never figured to run well on San Francisco’s rushing defense to begin with, but carrying an offense is nothing new for the former MVP. A second key is the defense playing as well as it did last week, and Green Bay must apply pressure on Colin Kaepernick and attempt to keep him in the pocket.
The Packers did have 47 sacks this season, an element of their game that disappeared while Matthews was out. Green Bay promptly recorded three sacks vs. the Vikings upon his return.
2. Why San Francisco will cover the spread: The 49ers will cover the spread if they go back to playing defense the way the did in the first half of the season, a period that included shutting down Rodgers and the Green Bay offense way back on opening week. However, that defense has slipped noticeably while surrendering 29.7 points and a discouraging 376.0 total yards per game the last three weeks, with the injury to defensive end Justin Smith hurting a great deal.
A second key for San Francisco is Kaepernick not having the jitters in his first career playoff start. First time playoff starters had been 3-10 ATS as favorites since 2002 prior to last week, but Matt Schaub and Russell Wilson both bucked that trend. Can Kaepernick do the same?
3. Total Talk: Smith means a great deal to the San Francisco pass rush and he is probable to return for this game. He figures to be severely limited though with a partially torn left triceps, which is music to the ears of Aaron Rodgers. We like the ‘over’ here with Rodgers returning to his MVP form when it matters the most and Kaepernick creating problems for the Green Bay defense with his legs. In the end, the Packers pull the upset.
4. Betting Trends for Packers/49ers: The Packers are still 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings with the ‘over’ going 4-0 in the last four meetings. The Packers are also 11-4 ATS in their last 15 road games vs. teams with winning home records. The 49ers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 conference games.
Green Bay 27 – San Francisco 24
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