San Francisco 49ers: Return to Prominence May Result in NFC Home Field Advantage

Adam McLaughlinContributor IINovember 21, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Donte Whitner #31 of the San Francisco 49ers runs back the ball after intercepting it during their game against the Arizona Cardinals  at Candlestick Park on November 20, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are on top of the world. Winners of 16 straight games dating back to last year, it's gotten to that point of wondering who can knock off this team.

Bueller?....... Bueller?.......Bueller?

While the Packers are getting all the attention, out on the West Coast sit the San Francisco 49ers, who are just as good with the exception of having a league MVP like Aaron Rodgers.

The 49ers crept up on this season like the St. Louis Cardinals did in the baseball playoffs. They proved you can't overlook anybody, and one season to the next can change in a flash.

To beat both of these teams, it will take more than a valiant effort.

One team's strengths is the other team's weakness. The 49ers have a defense, while the Packers don't.

Green Bay gives up 21 points a game, and the 49ers are giving up 14, the league's best. 

On the flip side, there's a gap between the Packers' 35 points a game on offense and the 49ers' 25.

Something has got to give. That is, when they play, which they soon will.

But, will it be in the land of the Frozen Tundra or the land of a chemical element?

Don't be shocked to see the California Gold make a run at home-field advantage in the NFC.

Look at their remaining schedule. Four games remain against poor teams within the division, including two with St. Louis, one with Seattle and one with Arizona.

All chalk wins.

NFC home-field advantage comes down to the best record in conference. 

By season's end, the 49ers will have 14 or 15 wins—a turnaround from a 6-10 year in 2010, when they weren't even that bad. 

It's the difference of Jim Harbaugh and the will he put on his team. 

Meanwhile, Green Bay has a much tougher route to the playoffs. Eventually, they should slip up. As important as 16-0 is to them, it's easier said than done.

The LionsGiants, Raiders, Chiefs, and Bears all remain. Compile all of their records, and the result is over .500 football play.

It may just be the Lions this week on Thanksgiving. Notoriously embarrassed on the day, it's Detroit who will play harder than Green Bay. Plus, they're at home. This game is far from a breeze for the Pack.

So, why is it that no attention is spent on the 'Niners?

They're complete in every way. Running the ball. Receiving the ball. Bruising and scaring you on defense with players like Patrick Willis.

Both teams have returned to their prominence, which is good for the NFL. But, who will be prominent in January when it matters? 

Packers or 'Niners?