The Green Bay Packers come into this game off a season that should have been.
Their 15-1 record gave them everything they needed going into the playoffs except a guaranteed win in their first game at home.
As a lifelong Packer fan, it still gives me a headache when I think about how that game against NYG went down at Lambeau last year.
For some inexplicable reason Green Bay came out in a hurry-up offense to start the game. They even tried a probably-unprecedented on-sides kick.
With the lead...in the first quarter.
Up until that point, McCarthy's reign as head coach of the Pack involved a ton of game plans that got the job done all the way to a Super Bowl victory, followed by last year's near-miss at an undefeated season.
McCarthy, I believe, gets a pretty big helping of negative reviews, however, for the game plan he put up against the Giants last year in the playoffs.
Apart from the strangeness of an onside kick and hurry-up offensive to start the game, there was the whole out-of-character aspect the game-plan had for the team.
In other words, the Packers went 15-1 doing one thing, and then with the McCarthy game-plan in place, went into the playoffs and did something entirely different.
Not sure why. They were going to have the entire 60 minutes to work with.
All the old adages come to mind. Most notably, "if it isn't broken don't fix it."
Apart from that, I think McCarthy is an incredible coach who probably learned from last year, with all the success and then the agony of that one failure when it mattered most.
Another adage now, "if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger."
That is mostly likely what happened with McCarthy, last year will have made him stronger. Excellent.
On the other side is Harbaugh.
And you can already say great because the man obviously has a tremendous of amount of top quality football in his veins given his resurrection of a team that was on the verge of sinking into the bay.
He came along and turned them, overnight, into contenders.
Anyway that's why I think the big match-up to watch in this game is McCarty vs Harbaugh. They both have a ton of talent to work with, and most of those talents will be highly motivated already.
Then even more so by both coaches.
So the unknown factors here come down to the chess match aspect of it all.
Equal board. Equal pieces. Which man will use his game plan to checkmate the other?
And it should say a ton about which one of these world-beating teams will go on to win all the marbles, as they could well face each other in the playoffs.