Packers made rare home 'dogs
January 3, 2014
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NFC Wild Card Playoffs (FOX, 4:35 p.m. ET)
Matchup: San Francisco (12-4 SU, 10-5-1 ATS) at Green Bay (8-7-1 SU, 6-10 ATS)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: San Francisco -3 (-105) & 46.5
Sportsbook.ag Opening Line & Total: 49ers -2.5 & 49.5
The 49ers look to beat the Packers for the fourth time in 16 months when they visit Lambeau Field in Sunday's NFC Wild Card playoff game.
San Francisco has averaged 36.3 PPG and 483.3 total YPG in these three most recent meetings, and enter this matchup with six straight SU wins this season by an average margin of 10.8 PPG.
But Green Bay is 3-1 SU in its past four games and finally has both QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) and WR Randall Cobb (leg) back healthy, as the duo hooked up for two scores in last week’s 33-28 division-clinching win in Chicago.
Despite the Niners' recent dominance in this series, these teams have met six times in the playoffs since 1996, with the Packers holding a 4-2 SU edge, including 2-0 at home.
There are plenty of reasons to wager on either team, as San Francisco is 7-0 ATS on the road versus poor defenses (5.65+ yards per play allowed) over the past two seasons, and NFL road teams after a game where they committed no turnovers are 74-42 ATS (64%) when the line is +3 to -3 over the past five seasons.
But Green Bay usually plays well against elite teams, going 30-11 ATS (73%) at home versus winning teams in the second half of the season since 1992, including 8-0 ATS when these opponents have won at least 75% of their games.
Not including the multitude of players on IR for both teams, the injury report is pretty bare for Sunday, with the most notable ailments being 49ers CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring) and Packers LB Brad Jones (ankle), who are both listed as questionable.
The 49ers have not been a great offensive team this season with a mere 324 total YPG (24th in NFL), but they have still been able to score 25.4 PPG (11th in league). While the passing game averages only 186 YPG (3rd-fewest in NFL), it has still been quite efficient with 7.7 yards per pass attempt (7th in league). The rushing attack has been consistently potent all season, averaging 138 YPG (3rd in NFL) on 4.4 YPC (11th in league), while helping out greatly in the red zone where the team converts 56% of its chances into touchdowns (11th-best rate in NFL).
RB Frank Gore (1,128 rush yards, 4.1 YPC, 9 TD) is mostly to thank for this ground game, and he has steamrolled Green Bay with 275 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) and 3 TD during the three-game win streak over the past 18 months. QB Colin Kaepernick (91.6 passer rating) has not thrown the ball as well as he did last year (98.3 passer rating), but he's still been able to amass 3,197 passing yards (7.7 YPA), 21 TD and just 8 INT. He has also rushed for 524 yards (5.7 YPC) and four scores. Kaepernick has been outstanding in his two starts versus the Packers with 895 total yards and seven total touchdowns. In last year's playoff win versus Green Bay, he rushed for an NFL quarterback record 181 yards to go along with his 263 passing yards and 4 total TD (2 rushing, 2 passing) in that 45-31 victory.
It was his arm that got the job done in Week 1 this season, throwing for 412 yards (10.6 YPA) and 3 TD. A huge chunk of that yardage in Week 1 went to top WR Anquan Boldin (1,179 rec. yards, 7 TD) who finished with 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown, while TE Vernon Davis (850 rec. yards, 13 TD) gained 98 yards through the air with two scores. WR Michael Crabtree (284 rec. yards, 1 TD in five games) didn't play in that game, but he torched Green Bay in last year's playoffs for 119 yards on nine catches, including two touchdowns.
Defensively, the 49ers have been outstanding in all facets. They rank among the top-seven teams in the NFL in scoring defense (17.0 PPG, 3rd), rushing defense (96 YPG, 4th), total defense (317 YPG, 5th), third-down defense (34%, 6th) and passing defense (221 YPG, 7th). A big reason why the Niners are 6-2 SU (7-1 ATS) on the road this year is due to this unit allowing just 16.2 PPG on 4.9 yards per play away from home. They have also forced at least two turnovers in 15-of-16 games this season, totaling 30 takeaways. San Francisco also owns a +4 turnover margin during its three straight wins over Green Bay.
Despite missing star QB Aaron Rodgers for nearly half the season, the Packers still averaged 400 total YPG (3rd in NFL) thanks to a balanced offense that rushed for 134 YPG (7th in league) and threw for 267 YPG (6th in NFL). Although the team had a strong time of possession (30:52, 11th in league) and third-down conversion rate (41%, 9th in NFL), it really struggled in the red zone, converting just 51% of its chances into touchdowns (25th in league).
RB Eddie Lacy had a whale of a rookie season, galloping for 1,178 yards on 4.1 YPC with 11 touchdowns and only one fumble all year. But that fumble occurred in Week 1 against the Niners, when he managed a mere 41 yards on 14 attempts (2.9 YPC).
However, Green Bay had little trouble throwing on the Niners that day, as Rodgers racked up 333 passing yards and three touchdowns, as both WRs Jordy Nelson (1,314 rec. yards, 8 TD) and Randall Cobb (433 rec. yards, 4 TD in 6 games) caught seven passes for more than 100 yards and one touchdown each. Although Rodgers is just 2-3 in his career versus San Francisco, he has been outstanding in all five contests, completing 67% of his passes for 1,535 yards (307 YPG, 7.9 YPA), 12 TD and just 3 INT.
While the Packers offense has the ability to put up points even in frigid temperatures, their defense has a lot of holes. With DT Johnny Jolly (shoulder), OLB Clay Matthews (thumb) and CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) all out for the season, Green Bay currently ranks 25th in total defense (372 YPG) and is tied for 24th in scoring defense (26.8 PPG). The team has not only been terrible in stopping the run, allowing 125 YPG (25th in NFL) on 4.6 YPC (29th in league), but it gives up 247 passing YPG (24th in NFL) on 7.8 YPA (27th in league). Despite the big yardage totals, the Packers have been able to play so well down the stretch thanks to 12 forced turnovers in the past five games, tallying at least two takeaways in all five contests.
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