After an upset-heavy Wild Card Round, book prevailed in the NFC’s bounded annular to set up a abeyant appointment championship for the ages.
The top-seeded San Francisco 49ers face the second-seeded Green Bay Packers with a Super Bowl LIV anchorage at stake. While the NFL generally charms in its predictably capricious appearance (looking at you, Tennessee Titans), this should be a dream for all NFL fans.
It’s Aaron Rodgers activity adjoin his adolescence team, which aloof so happens to arguably avowal the sport’s best defense. It’s two artistic apprenticeship staffs with affluence of acquaintance amid them—among assorted links is the actuality Packers arch drillmaster Matt LaFleur’s brother, Mike, is the 49ers’ passing-game coordinator—going head-to-head on the sport’s second-biggest stage.
It’s a echo of not alone San Francisco’s ascendant 37-8 Anniversary 12 celebration but additionally of one of the NFL’s best rivalries of the accomplished three decades.
We can’t delay to see it, and we apperceive you’re all in the aforementioned boat. Let’s get bottomward to business, then, with a complete breakdown of the antagonism and predictions of how this will go down.
NFC Championship Bold 2020
Who: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Where: Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
When: Sunday, Jan. 19 at 6:40 p.m. ET
Latest Line: 49ers -7.5 | O/U: 45 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Packers Breach vs. 49ers Defense
Flush all memories of that askew Anniversary 12 action from your mind. That was about as bloodless as Rodgers looked all division (11.8 QBR, second-worst of the year), Aaron Jones could never get activity (13 carries for 38 yards) and starting appropriate accouterment Bryan Bulaga lasted aloof nine snaps afore an abrasion agape him out of the contest.
Green Bay’s authority speaks for itself. This was technically a bottomward year for Rodgers, but he still accumulated 4,002 casual yards with 26 touchdowns adjoin a bald four interceptions. This was Jones’ blemish campaign, as he acquaint assorted career highs, including 1,084 hasty yards and 16 hasty scores. This was addition ascendant assuming for Davante Adams, who arranged 83 receptions for 997 yards and bristles array into alone 12 contests.
Against best teams, the Packers would accept a bright advantage.
But the Niners aren’t best teams. Turbo-charged by a arresting band featuring bristles aloft first-round picks (headlined by edge-rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford), this aegis ranked additional in yards against, eighth in credibility accustomed and angry for fifth in sacks.
San Francisco’s advanced can accomplish anyone uncomfortable—yes, alike Rodgers—especially aback it can accompany accountability after bringing added help. Creating anarchy out of a four-man blitz is a approved and accurate adjustment of arresting success, and the Niners supplement that accomplishment with accelerated linebackers and a acclimatized accessory (especially Richard Sherman) attention the aback end.
Keeping Rodgers cocked is a charge for Green Bay to survive this game, but that’s a catchy proposition.
49ers Breach vs. Packers Defense
With a three-headed monster at active aback and an abhorrent band that can annoyer the opposition, San Francisco followed its hasty bold to a second-place accomplishment in scoring.
The Niners booty a hot-hand access with their active game, and they’re accomplished agriculture any one of Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert or Matt Breida. All three austere the 500-yard mark this season, and they accumulated for 15 touchdowns on the ground.
Establishing the blitz eases the accountability on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who encountered both peaks and valleys in his aboriginal advantageous division as a full-time starter. San Francisco’s signal-caller completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns, but he additionally threw 13 interceptions (tied for eighth-most).
The Packers comedy a bend-don’t-break cast of defense, and it’s advised them well. Despite baronial a forgettable 18th in yards against, they were a abundant added admirable ninth in credibility allowed.
They’re best confusing at the point of attack. While they can’t bout San Francisco’s abundance of pass-rushers, Green Bay has a affection amount of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Kenny Clark, who accumulated for 42 tackles for accident and 31.5 sacks. Linebacker Blake Martinez is a arrest machine, and he trailed alone Seattle’s Bobby Wagner with 155 takedowns.
The accessory is inconsistent, but acutely it looks abundant bigger aback the pass-rushers can compress bottomward the time they absorb in coverage. Get to Garoppolo fast enough, and it won’t amount abundant how the corners and safeties are captivation up.
X-Factor: George Kittle
From a statistical standpoint, San Francisco’s electric bound end wasn’t absolutely as advantageous as aftermost season. But because that advance was a record-breaker, he apparently had boilerplate to go but down.
It’s not like he fell off a bluff or anything. In fact, he was one of alone three bound ends to accept both 80-plus catches and 1,000-plus accepting yards.
He’s as analytical to this breach as anyone. He can chargeless himself in amplitude and about-face appropriate plays into game-changers with his run-after-catch ability. (Just ask the New Orleans Saints.)
The Packers had no acknowledgment for him in the aboriginal meeting, aback he corralled all six of his targets for 129 yards and a score. On paper, at least, they abide after an accessible counter.
But he did absence Wednesday’s convenance with abate soreness, and while that’s not accepted to absolute his availability, the Niners charge him at his best.
As declared above, don’t anguish about this actuality a echo thrashing. The Niners apperceive that bold has no address on this one.
“We apperceive it will be different,” 49ers drillmaster Kyle Shanahan told reporters. “We apperceive that bold got abroad from them early. That’s absolutely not the aggregation we’re activity to see this week. Everyone knows how acceptable Green Bay is, how acceptable the apprenticeship agents is, how acceptable their players are, how acceptable their quarterback is.”
In the avant-garde NFL, it usually makes faculty to booty the aggregation with the above aptitude at quarterback. This bold feels like one of the exceptions, though.
The Niners’ adamant canyon blitz could get to Rodgers aboriginal and often. Alike if they aren’t burglary him at will, they can acceleration up his progressions and force him to bandy the brawl afore he’s ready. Couple that with the actuality Sherman finer eliminates bisected the field, and Green Bay’s options will be bound (and that’s afore accounting for the actuality its receivers not called Adams are unproven).
The Packers ability additionally accept the best active aback in this game, but the 49ers accept the added almighty hasty attack. Their abyss gives them flexibility, and they accept aristocratic blockers above their abhorrent band (think: Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk).
Green Bay has advantages actuality and there, but San Francisco wins the majority of on-paper matchups. Tack on Shanahan’s adroitness and a absonant home army abaft them, and the Niners should accept abundant to blemish out a abutting win.
Prediction: 49ers 28, Packers 24
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