This year the NFC Championship Game features the Green Bay Packers heading to San Francisco to face the 49ers. Both teams are looking to head to their first Super Bowl in a while, with the Packers’ last visit coming in 2010, while the 49ers last played in the game in 2013.
The Packers are coming off a big win against the Seattle Seahawks. This week, though, the Packers will have to travel to the West Coast to face the league’s hottest team.
The 49ers decimated the Minnesota Vikings last week with an easy 27-10 victory at home. With the Packers coming to San Francisco, the Niners will look to repeat the success they had last week.
The Niners come into this game as 7.5-point favorites, which is no surprise since they are the home team, but can they cover? Or will the Packers be able to pull off an upset and cover the spread? Let’s look at both teams and make our decision.
Rodgers’ Last Ride?
The Packers have had an amazing season, with Rodgers’ career coming to a close, this could be their last chance for a Super Bowl while he’s playing. It helps that they’ve developed a better defense this year, as players like Preston and Za’Darius Smith have proven to be great free-agency pickups.
Green Bay has also done well running the ball, averaging 112 yards a game. Aaron Jones has proven he deserves to be the team’s top running back.
Last week, Green Bay was able to hold off the Seahawks by running the ball and playing strong defense late in the game, and they’ll have to repeat that same formula against another NFC West opponent.
Although the Packers are riddled with injuries, that doesn’t concern me as much as their inability to stop the run. Ranking 23rd in rush defense, allowing an average of 119 yards per game, the Packers will have to tighten up the rush defense against the league’s third-best rush offense.
Against the spread, Green Bay performed well all year, with a record of 10-6-1. The only trend worth noting, though, is the Packers’ 1-5-1 record against the Niners in their last seven meetings.
Bang! Bang! Niner Gang!
Easily the league’s most entertaining team, the 49ers are itching to get back to the Super Bowl. With Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm, the Niners have built one of the league’s most efficient offenses and a smashmouth defense.
Last week, the Niners were able to dismantle the Vikings and win their first playoff game in six years. Be sure to remember that the Vikings are a team considered to have one of the leagues best rushing defenses, yet the Niners held the ball for over 38 minutes.
What San Francisco does best is controlling the time of possession, and this week against the Packers, they’ll look to follow that same game plan.
The spread has been kind to the Niners this year, with a record of 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. This week, being favored by 7.5 points worries me, though, as the Niners have a hard time covering spreads over six points.
Pick and Prediction
The Niners are clearly the better team, no use in arguing that point. What worries me about San Francisco is its knack for grinding out games with the run, which usually doesn’t cover a large spread.
Up until halftime last week, the Vikings were only down by four, as it was the Vikings’ ineptitude on offense that contributed to the Niners covering.
Green Bay is the underdog in this one, which makes sense, considering it has to travel across the country to face a red-hot Niners squad. Giving Rodgers a 7.5-point cushion gives me faith in the Packers at least covering this one. Barring an uncharacteristic night, I’ll take the Packers +7.5.