NFL Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
The game of the week in week 12 of the NFL is arguably the biggest in the NFC this season. The 8-2 Green Bay Packers travel to Santa Clara to take on the conference leading 9-1 San Francisco 49ers. This game may very well decide which team will have home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and the history between these teams gives it the potential to be one of the best games of the year.
The Packers are coming into this game off a bye week, with a win against the Carolina Panthers before that. After being named the MVP favorite for a couple of weeks in the middle of the season, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has slowed down in the last two games and needs a big game against a stout defense from the 49ers.
Rodgers has only thrown one touchdown in the last two games, which is incredibly rare for him. Rodgers has struggled against the 49ers throughout his career posting a 4-4 record, two of those losses coming in the playoffs, with an average of 295 yards and under two touchdowns per game.
The once-dominant Packers defense has become more human since their blistering-hot start to begin the season, as they now are allowing 24.3 points in the last seven games. The defense has dropped near the bottom of the league in terms of total defense, which is shocking to think about after the start they had.
The 49ers escaped the Arizona Cardinals for the second time in three games last week, winning 36-26 with a touchdown coming off a fumble on the final play. The 49ers defense continued to dominate, holding the Cardinals offense to just 285 yards and keeping rookie quarterback Kyler Murray in check with only 150 yards in the air.
Jimmy Garoppolo continued his hot streak, going 34-for-45 with 424 yards and four touchdowns. Although he did throw two interceptions, he came up clutch late in the game with a late score to put the 49er ahead for good. The biggest question for the 49ers offense this week will be if they can get the running game going again, as they’ve averaged only 61 yards per game in the last couple of weeks.
What might decide the winner of the game is what team can play better at the line of scrimmage. The Packers offensive line has been a big reason why Rodgers has been so good this year, as they rank 11th in passing offense with only 22 sacks on the year. However, the 49ers defensive line has been special this year. The defense has been the best in terms of passing defense, tied for first in sacks with 39 and second in both total defense and points per game, allowing only 15.5 per game.
With major playoff implications on the line, you can expect both teams, as they always have, to play well against each other. With three of the last four games between the two decided by less than seven points, it will come down to which defense can stop themselves from breaking in the final minutes. That has been the 49ers specialty all year, and it will help them capture a win and put them in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the NFC come January.
Prediction: San Francisco 27, Green Bay 23
Danny Murray is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.