Packers vs. 49ers: Will Divisional Playoff Game Rekindle Postseason Rivalry?
The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers are ready to rekindle a postseason rivalry that rocked the 1990s when Steve Young, Brett Favre and Terrell Owens provided their respective fanbases with a multitude of indelible moments.
After meeting in four straight playoffs in the mid-to-late '90s—with Green Bay winning the first three meetings and "The Catch II" culminating the epic series—the two storied franchises met most recently in the postseason in Jan. 2002, a 25-15 Packers win.
While it will be difficult to revive the annual January duels between Green Bay and San Francisco, everything is in place for Saturday's divisional showdown to bring this rich rivalry back to life.
At the foundation is the contrasting style of each team—the captivatingly classic battle between dynamic offense and bruising defense that will be ever-present as long as Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback in Green Bay and Patrick Willis is roaming the middle of San Francisco's defense.
Both are on top of their respective games and, theoretically, should have an abundance of terrific football in front of them.
They certainly haven't shown any signs of slowing down. But, really, it's more than Rodgers' attacking offense against Willis' vaunted defensive unit.
Outside of those two superstars, each team's front office has done a marvelous job adding supreme talent to the rest of the roster. Guys like NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Clay Matthews are prime examples of that.
Frankly, both organizations are run the proper way.
Green Bay can flex its defensive muscles on occasion and San Francisco isn't exactly pedestrian on offense. Those added dimensions make the matchup between these two clubs even more intriguing.
Colin Kaepernick plays with a veteran's poise in the pocket. He also has a big arm and represents the new wave of read-option quarterbacks who legitimately threaten defenses with their legs.
With Jim Harbaugh on the sideline, one has to expect that Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers offense will perennially be one of the most balanced and efficient offenses in the league.
Matthews and nose tackle B.J. Raji are premier backfield disruptors, and Sam Shields, M.D. Jennings, Tramon Williams, Morgan Burnett, Charles Woodson and rookie stalwart Casey Hayward form quite an underrated secondary.
Outside of Woodson, a fringe Hall of Fame candidate who's in the twilight of his career, the core of Green Bay's defensive backfield should be around for a while.
While it's hard to predict a winner for this year's playoff clash between the Packers and 49ers, it's easy to envision these top-notch, evenly matched organizations meeting many times in the playoffs in the coming years.
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