By Chris Morgan
The Green Bay Packers are being viewed as more formidable than your typical 8-7-1 team headed into the playoffs, and with good season. They made it into the postseason thanks to a major win over the Chicago Bears in the season finale. In that game, Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for the winning touchdowns, and both of these players were playing their first game in a long time because of injuries. Rodgers is one of the league’s best quarterbacks, Cobb is a game breaking player, and the team gets a home playoff game at the vaunted Lambeau Field. There is reason to be happy. Except for one thing: they are facing off with the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Niners head into the season with a 12-4 record and they have won six straight games. Plus, visions of last season’s matchup between these teams in the playoffs may dance in the head of Green Bay fans. That game ended with San Francisco winning 45-31 en route to an appearance in the Super Bowl. The lasting image of that game is Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick running roughshod over the Packers’ defense. Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards, a record for a quarterback, and two touchdowns. Well, at least Clay Matthews won’t have to worry about looking bad again, but only because he is out after having thumb surgery.
This is where the concern for the Packers lies. Their offense is fine. Not only do they have Rodgers and Cobb back, but Eddie Lacy could be the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he gives them a whole new dynamic to their offense. That being said, that can only take them so far if their defense doesn’t step up. Look no further than last year’s game. You know, the one where they couldn’t win even though they scored 31 points because they gave up 45.
Green Bay’s defense has not been good this year. They struggled against the pass and the run. Kaepernick hasn’t run like he did last season, but you would think the Niners would consider unleashing him in this matchup. Plus, they have Frank Gore, who is still going strong, and Vernon Davis is a matchup nightmare at tight end. The Packers have nobody to matchup with him, and their defense has holes all over. With Matthews out, their pass rush also will very likely be unable to get after Kaepernick. It is imperative that this defense steps up if the Packers want to advance in the playoffs.
So while the Packers are better than their record would indicate now that they are closer to full strength, this is still a very tough matchup, and it could easily end up being a loss. This is not a complete team, and Rodgers can only do so much. He helped carry the team to a win over the Bears to get them here, but the 49ers aren’t the Bears. Things need to be taken to another level.
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Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .