The Green Bay Packers are not happy. The week 12 loss to the Atlanta Falcons still stings around Lambeau Field. The only comfort the Packers can take is that they did not lose that game in front of their home fans. But the NFL predictions are still putting the Packers deep into the playoffs, and the other NFL scores Green Bay has posted this season give no reason to think that the Pack will suddenly fold.
The San Francisco 49ers just came off an inspiring Monday night win over the Arizona Cardinals. Nobody in the NFL betting world was picking the 49ers or the Cardinals to scare anybody on the drive to the playoffs. The NFC West is so weak that the top team, the St. Louis Rams, is 5-6. The Cardinals, at 3-8, are still mathematically alive for the NFC West title. A win over an NFC West team is not something that any team should hang their hat on, especially when that team is getting ready to face the Packers.
In all fairness to the 49ers, they are finally taking positive steps toward their future development. Quarterback Troy Smith has replaced Alex Smith as the starter, and Troy Smith seems to bring a lot more energy to the offense. Running back Frank Gore was injured in the Monday night game (he actually aggravated an existing injury), but veteran running back and former Philadelphia Eagle Brian Westbrook stepped in and did a great job. The San Francisco offense is still trying to find itself, but it looks like they are finally putting the right pieces together.
The Green Bay Packers offense is a study in frustration for Packers fans. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads one of the most prolific passing games in the league, but Green Bay has no running game. Whatever the Packers accomplish on offense is because of Aaron Rodgers. Every so often running back Brandon Jackson will chip in a few yards, but Aaron Rodgers has one more rushing touchdown than Jackson. Saying that Rodgers does it all on offense for the Packers is an understatement.
The Green Bay defense is relentless and fast. The defense had managed to keep the high flying Atlanta Falcons to only 20 points, but it was three points too many for the win. The Packers can sack the quarterback and stop the run, but the secondary has a problem shutting down the passing game. That may not hurt the Packers too much in this game, but the weak secondary will be a problem heading into the playoffs.
The 49ers actually have a pretty good defense. San Francisco is ranked 11th overall in team defense and eighth at stopping the run. Their weakness is in stopping the pass and, when you play the Packers, a weak pass defense is not a good thing. In this case, the Packers can put the game in the hands of Aaron Rodgers and expect a win.
The Bottom Line:
The 49ers beat the Cardinals on Monday night, but the Cardinals are definitely not the Packers. Playing the Packers in December at Lambeau Field is hard enough; having to play the Packers at Lambeau Field in December after they just lost an important game is even worse.
Pick: Green Bay Packers