49ers vs Packers Playoff Preview

Cold hard fact: There will be no "discount double-check" in this one. Photo Courtesy: Mike Morbeck
There will be no “discount double-check” in this one. Photo Courtesy: Mike Morbeck

By Jay Betsill

Game Info
San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers
Sunday – January 5 – 3:40 PM
Lambeau Field – Green Bay

The San Francisco 49ers (12-4) travel to Lambeau Field to battle the Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) in Sunday’s late Wild Card game. This is a rematch of last year’s division round 45-31 49ers win that saw Colin Kaepernick run for a quarterback playoff-record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes. San Francisco wound up with a total of 579 yards, 323 coming on the ground. They met again in Week 1, with the 49ers coming out on top, 34-28.

Both of those contests took place in San Francisco, an entirely different world from Green Bay and its AccuWeather forecast of a high of -5 with a wind chill possibly as low as -51 degrees. The coldest game in NFL history is the AFC Championship game from Jan. 10, 1982 where Cincinnati hosted San Diego with the temperature at Riverfront Stadium registered at -9 degrees, but the wind chill dropped to -59 degrees. It is on the record as the coldest game ahead of the Ice Bowl (1967 NFL Championship) between the Green Bay and the Dallas Cowboys that featured a low temperature of -13 degrees, and the wind chill in the neighborhood of -48 degrees.

The fact that these two teams are meeting again in the playoffs is a minor miracle as the Packers were without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers for seven games with a broken collarbone. By virtue of an epic Matt Flynn-led comeback against Dallas and an Aaron Rodgers-fueled second half against the Bears in the final game of the season, the Packers won the NFC North, giving them the home field nod over the 49ers who have a better record, but finished second to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.

While the Seahawks have garnered their fair share of attention this season, the defending NFC champion 49ers are entering the playoffs on a six-game winning streak and have only two losses since Week 3. All four of their losses this season came against playoff teams.

“In terms of a challenge, our guys know the challenge,” said coach Jim Harbaugh, looking to lead the 49ers to their sixth Super Bowl title. “Being in the playoffs is a chance at the ultimate chance.”

Both teams have solid ground attacks, something that will likely come into play with the frigid weather. Green Bay’s Eddie Lacey, who rushed for 1,178 yards in his rookie season, will have to deal with the 49ers No. 4 ranked rush defense. The 49ers Frank Gore will not only get to take on the NFL’s 31st ranked run defense, the Packers will also be without linebacker Clay Matthews with a broken right thumb.

While the winter weather will certainly play into Green Bay’s favor, San Francisco is simply the better team and will win 24-17.