Playoffs: San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
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With the Green Bay Packers, the best team in the NFC finally starts the playoffs. On Sunday night, they play against the 49ers, the surprise team of the Wildcard Round.
Genius Kyle Shanahan and his offense shattered the Cowboys‘ Super Bowl dream within a few hours last week. The 49ers started the game much better, with 17 points on the board they went relaxed into the break. The running game around Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel made a small but significant difference. While San Francisco had 169 rushing yards, Dallas only had 77 yards.
That the 49ers are in the Divisional Round at all, however, is nothing short of a miracle. With an impressive last-minute comeback, the franchise secured one of the coveted playoff spots despite finishing only third in the AFC West.
However, Coach Shanahan should be concerned about the most important player on his roster. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been on the decline over the last three weeks, with the 30-year-old’s completion rate at 64% and QB rating at 67.4. Now the QB is also banged up, with Garoppolo injuring his throwing arm in the matchup against Dallas.
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It’s a different story in Green Bay: the Packers‘ best roster is waiting for their first playoff appearance. First and foremost, Aaron Rodgers. The 38-year-old is having a sensational season and will most likely be voted Offense MVP. The Packers have been a force at home so far, dropping just one game in eight. In Week 3 of the regular season, Green Bay already defeated the 49ers 30-28 on a Mason Crosby field goal. After 12 career games, the California-born Rodgers knows San Francisco well.
At the same time, the 49ers should not be underestimated, especially the role as underdog seems to appeal to Shanahan. The head coach seems to be able to set his team up ideally for big tasks, as could already be seen against the Cowboys. Even if Garoppolo should have a week day, the strong defense holds. Defensive captain Fred Warner and defensive end Nick Bosa are questionable, though.
There should be exciting duels between the good run defense of the 49ers and the running backs Aaron Jones & A.J. Dillon of the Packers. The O-line of the hosts will also have a lot to do against the dominant pass rush from San Francisco, Rodgers should be prepared for several sacks.