By Jason Fleck
With the Wild Card weekend coming to an end with no real surprises, it is time for the Divisional round. The NFC’s first divisional round game will feature a matchup between two teams that were fighting it out for the No. 2 seed on the final weekend. Green Bay lost to the Minnesota Vikings and gave away the second seed and first round bye to the 49ers that won their final regular season matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
These two teams also opened up the regular season in a Week 1 matchup in which the 49ers won 30-22. The 49ers defense played a huge role in that game by holding the Packers to only one touchdown in the first half and then held off one last push by the Rodgers and company in the fourth quarter to wrap up the win. Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, while the 49ers defense held the Packers running game to only 45 yards for the entire game. That forced Aaron Rodgers to have to try and take over the game and attempt more passes than he wanted to. That type of unbalanced offense made it easy for San Francisco to pull out the Week 1 win.
This match will feature a banged up, but rested 49ers team. Their defensive captain Justin Smith will give it a go with a torn triceps after he ended his streak of 185 straight games started. Without Smith, San Francisco looked vulnerable against the run when they faced the Seahawks. They are also dealing with struggling kicker David Akers. They recently signed Billy Cundiff to give him some competition and force him to get back to form or lose his job. The 49ers haven’t lost two games in a row while they have gone 6-1-1 at home this season and will look to keep up their winning ways at Candlestick.
The Packers on the other hand struggled to start the season, but put together winning streaks of five and four games to end the season. They may look like the same team from Week 1, but ended the regular season extremely hot and will look to put up a better showing this time around.
Expect a close game, but the same result as week 1 as the rested 49ers defense will once again take over the game.
Prediction: 49ers 27 – Packers 21
Watch It: Sat. Jan. 12 at 7pm on FOX