2012 NFC Divisional Picks: 49ers over Packers

Jake WestrichSenior Writer IJanuary 8, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park on December 30, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Packers vs. Niners matchup on September 9, 2012 might as well have been played five years ago. Both teams' identities on offense have evolved drastically since Week 1.

Alex Smith experienced his own Wally Pipp moment, Cedric Benson went down with a season-ending injury, Greg Jennings missed a good chunk of the season with an abdomen injury, Vernon Davis faded to the background, Randall Cobb soared and so on.

The Packers also endured some great challenges/injuries on the defensive side of the ball throughout the season. Those wounds appeared fully healed by the way the Packers attacked a Joe Webb-led Vikings' offense last weekend and forced three turnovers.

San Francisco is 5-2 after naming Colin Kaepernick (229.7 pass yards per game) its starting quarterback. In the two games the 49ers lost (to the Rams and Seahawks), Kaepernick, and not Frank Gore, led the team in rushing. Michael Crabtree muted Vernon Davis' role within the passing game ever since the switch under center, averaging 107.6 receiving yards per game with four touchdowns over the last five games.

The Niners' defense remains one of the league's best. Green Bay's newly named first-string running back, DuJuan Harris (93.5 total yards per game over the last two contests), faces a rush defense that finished fourth in yards allowed (94.2 yards per game) and surrendered just seven rushing touchdowns during the regular season. Despite the loss in Week 1, Rodgers did pass for over 300 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against what ended up being the fourth-best pass defense in the league (200.2 yards/game).

Using our NFL simulation engine, we "played" the Niners and Packers divisional matchup 501 times, and it's the 49ers winning 54.2 percent of the time by an average score of 21-20.

NFC Divisional: Packers at 49ers
Matchup Win% Avg Score WIS Interactive
Green Bay Packers 45.8 20 Boxscore
@ San Francisco 49ers 54.2 21 Simulate Game

Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.

Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.