Packers vs. 49ers: What to Watch in Dream NFC Divisional Round Game

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 23: San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh complains to a referee during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

When the Green Bay Packers (11-5) arrive at Candlestick Park to play the San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) in Saturday’s divisional round of the 2013 NFL playoffs, this dream matchup will be one of the most exciting games of the postseason.

Green Bay and San Francisco will go to battle for NFC supremacy.

These organizations are two of the biggest mega powers in the league, and their aspirations of a Super Bowl run hit a major snag when each team saw this game on the schedule.

The 49ers and Packers realize that there will be nothing easy about this matchup, and the only way to steal a win will be playing smart football and making fewer mistakes than their opponent.

With both defensive units playing well at the close of the regular season, keeping the turnovers to a minimum will be a tough task for these high-powered offenses.

Where: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Ca.

When: Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox

Live Streaming: NFL Audio Pass (audio only live stream)

Green Bay’s Key Player: Aaron Rodgers, QB

The Green Bay Packers may have one of the more underrated defensive units in the NFL. But it is the play of veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers that will be the difference-maker in the team’s pursuit of another Super Bowl.

While Rodgers wasn’t overly impressive in the Packers’ victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round—just 274 passing yards and one touchdown—the team only needed the QB to control the clock and limit the chances for turnovers.

Minnesota may not have put up much of a fight against Green Bay with backup quarterback Joe Webb under center, but Rodgers will have to be on top of his game this week against a defense as stout as the 49ers’ unit.

San Francisco’s Key Player: Colin Kaepernick, QB

While second-year San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick has emerged as one of the brightest young stars in the NFL, his first postseason test against the Green Bay Packers could be a tough lesson.

As seen by the way the Packers bottled up the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson, San Francisco will likely have to beat Green Bay through the air on Saturday. And that means Kaepernick must be on top of his game.

The second-year QB has yet to prove he can carry a team with his throwing prowess. But with the return of veterans Charles Woodson and Sam Shields to the Packers secondary, the burden of proof will be on Kaepernick’s shoulders.

This is where legends are made.

Prediction: Green Bay 27, San Francisco 17

While there is no questioning just how talented San Francisco’s defense is—fourth in the NFL against the pass and the rush—Rodgers and the Packers are playing as well right now as any team in the league.

Even the mighty 49ers won’t be able to stop the offensive onslaught of Green Bay’s air attack.

This game will remain close throughout, but the solid play of the Packers’ defensive unit will keep Kaepernick on his heels and give Rodgers enough breathing room to put his team up on the scoreboard for good.

This should be an amazing matchup.

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