The Green Bay Packers won’t have to wait long to get revenge for last season’s ugly playoff loss to San Francisco. Opportunity knocks Sunday and if the Packers can knock off the 49ers in San Fran, the landscape of the NFC could look a lot different come Monday morning.
The two other NFC powerhouses face tough games with Seattle traveling cross-country to face the Carolina Panthers while Atlanta visits New Orleans. NFL Betting Odds have New Orleans has a 3-point favorite while Seattle is favored over Carolina, a team that won its last four games last year. I could easily see both Atlanta and Seattle losing which would certainly shake up ESPN‘s NFC power rankings.
The Packers will have to take care of business, however, and they are 4 1/2-point underdogs themselves. Actually, with all the love for Colin Kaepernick I’m surprised the 49ers are not favored by more. Either way, the Packers will have their hands full come Sunday afternoon.
With the return of linebacker Nick Perry and the additions of defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Datone Jones, the Packers do seem better equipped to handle Kaepernick and the NFL’s new fad offense. It doesn’t help that starting safety Morgan Burnett is probably out with a hamstring injury. Inside linebacker Brad Jones is probably out as well but the Packers have a capable backup there in Robert Francois.
The 49ers might be weaker at receiver without Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, but still have Veron Davis and added Anquan Boldin in the offseason. They also still have Frank Gore and a ferocious defense to contend with. The Packers added Eddie Lacy at running back but we don’t know if that is an upgrade yet or not.
You can’t take anything too seriously in the preseason but the Packers’ defense did look good against Russell Wilson and Seahawks in the first half of the third game, the so-called dress rehearsal for most teams (not Green Bay though). The biggest question mark for the Packers is probably on offense, as we haven’t really seen them play yet this year. The Broncos didn’t have any trouble flipping the switch so maybe the Packers won’t either.
To me the key to the game is going to be Perry and Lacy. One has to run and one has to stop the run. I think if the Packers can force Kaepernick to the air they can contain the 49ers. On offense the Packers biggest problem last year was they couldn’t finish drives in the second half. They were able to move the ball effectively but got nothing out of it mostly because head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t trust his running game and the 49ers pretty much new every play was going to be a pass.
Earlier in the week I was predicting a blowout, but the closer I get to game time the more I think it will be a close game. The 49er’s childish head coach Jim Harbaugh accused the Packers of “targeting” Kaepernick to the media this week in an obvious attempt to work the officials. I think it is a sign that he knows his team needs all the help it can get and opponents will take every legal shot they can on Kaepernick.
I just can’t see the Packers actually winning though, so my guess is 49ers 24, Packers 20.