Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - Divisional Round

Playoff football has officially made its way to the Frozen Tundra. With a familiar opponent in the San Francisco 49ers coming to town, here are six things to keep in mind going into that Divisional Round matchup: 

1. A Historic Rivalry 

The Packers and 49ers have a rich playoff history. The franchises will meet in the postseason for the ninth time on Saturday. In the first eight meetings, both teams have won four times. Per the dope sheet, this is the sixth time (1996, 1998, 2012, 2013, 2019) that Green Bay and San Francisco will play each other in the postseason after meeting in the regular season. In four of the five games, the team that won in the regular season also won in the playoffs. 

The last time the 49ers played the Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs at Lambeau Field was 1996. Currently, the Packers are on a three-game losing streak to the 49ers in the postseason, with losses coming in 2012, 2013, and 2019 (we don’t have to talk about it). 

It’s worth noting, though, that these are two of the winningest franchises in NFL history when it comes to the playoffs. The Packers have won 36 playoff games, and the 49ers have won 33 playoff games. 

While Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 against the 49ers in his playoff career, the Packers went 5-0 with Rodgers at quarterback against playoff teams this regular season (Bengals, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Steelers). Fans can also expect a high-scoring affair, as one or both teams have scored 30-plus points in each of the last five games (regular and postseason) the 49ers and Packers have played. 

2. Snow Place Like Lambeau

The Packers are the only team in the NFL this season to have a perfect 8-0 record at home, putting up some impressive numbers in the process. The Packers put up 245 points at Lambeau Field this season, giving them an average of 30.6 points per game. Defensively, Green Bay has only allowed 134 points this season for an average of 17.1 points per game. 

Interestingly, this is the second straight year the Packers will host a Divisional playoff game on Saturday. Per the dope sheet, the Packers are 10-3 all-time in playoff games played on Saturdays, including a record of 7-1 at home. 

The early forecast for Saturday looks like a high of 22 degrees Fahrenheit with a 50% chance of snow in the morning. By 7:15 p.m. CST for kickoff, however, the temps should dip into the low teens with windchill potentially pushing things into single digits. Per the NFL, the coldest game the 49ers played in this season was 41 degrees against the Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco lost that game 23-30. That said, the 49ers actually have a better record on the road this season (7-3) than they do at home (4-4).

3. Reinforcements Return

The Packers got a look at their new offensive line against the Lions in Week 18 of the regular season with both left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Josh Myers returning to the lineup for part of the game. 

Now heading into Saturday’s Divisional Round matchup, the Packers could also return wide receiver Randall Cobb, cornerback Jaire Alexander, edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus, and right tackle Billy Turner. It would be a significant boost for a team that’s found ways to win all season despite missing some of its most dominant players. 

On the opposite side of the field, the 49ers are dealing with a few injuries that will be worth monitoring going into the game. Explosive edge rusher Nick Bosa suffered a concussion in the Wild Card Round, so all eyes will be on whether or not he’s able to clear protocol before Saturday’s game. Inside linebacker Fred Warner is dealing with an ankle injury he reaggravated on Sunday, but all reports seem to indicate he’ll be on the field Saturday. There’s also an issue at San Francisco’s quarterback spot, which we’ll talk about next in No. 4. 

4. Grappling with Injuries 

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been dealing with a torn ligament in his throwing thumb already this postseason. Against the Cowboys, he also suffered a sprain to his throwing shoulder that noticeably impacted the way he got the ball out on Sunday. 

While it seems unlikely at this point the 49ers would start rookie Trey Lance in a playoff game with only two career starts to his name, he could see some additional action if Garoppolo struggles with those injuries in the cold temps. 

In his last three games, Garoppolo has five interceptions. Against the Cowboys, he threw for only 172 yards with no touchdowns and one pick for a rating of 67.4. On the season, San Francisco is 2-6 when Garoppolo throws at least one interception. The Packers are plus-13 in turnover differential this season, good for third in the NFL, while the 49ers are minus-4, ranking 22nd in the league. 

5. Run (Defense) to Win

We don’t need to rehash Green Bay’s most recent playoff loss to the 49ers, but the Packers do need to remain gap sound when it comes to playing run defense, and Head Coach Matt LaFleur knows it. During his Wednesday press conference, he said, “It’s going to be absolutely imperative that our guys understand gap responsibility and playing disciplined football.” 

The Packers are tied for 29th in the NFL when it comes to run defense this season, allowing 4.7 yards per carry on the ground. They’re also giving up an average of 109.1 yards per game. 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell didn’t play when the teams first met in Week 3 of the regular season, but despite playing in only 11 games on the year, he had 207 rushing attempts for 963 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He added another 96 yards and a score last Sunday against the Cowboys, too. 

The ground game was held largely in check in Week 3, with San Francisco running the ball 21 times for only 67 yards but two touchdowns. This 49ers team shines in the red zone, boasting the most efficient red zone offense in the NFL and scoring touchdowns on 36-of-54 trips. Containing a San Francisco rushing attack that also includes Deebo Samuel (10 rushes, 72 yards and one touchdown against Dallas) will go a long way towards winning on Saturday night. 

6. Another Opportunity

Only Rodgers and kicker Mason Crosby remain from Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV roster. In LaFleur’s third year as head coach of the Packers, he led his team to the Divisional Round for the third straight season. With the Packers only two wins away from the Super Bowl, the team is determined not to let another opportunity slip through their fingers. 

For Cobb, when he takes the field on Saturday, it will be his first postseason game at Lambeau Field since the 2016 season when the Packers hosted the Giants in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. In that game, he hauled in three touchdowns (including a hail mary) and had five receptions for 116 yards. On the Packers POV podcast this week, Cobb discussed watching the playoffs from his couch the past four seasons and what this next opportunity means to him. 

For Davante Adams, this will be his sixth appearance in the postseason. He’s played in the Divisional Round five times and the NFC Championship Game four times. In his four playoff appearances with LaFleur, Adams has hauled in 35 receptions for 431 yards and four touchdowns. 

This year, the Packers will have a true home field advantage with Lambeau Field back at full capacity. A win on Saturday would bring Green Bay one game closer to the ultimate goal, a chance to bring the 14th title to Titletown.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

9 points

Comments (21)

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NickPerry's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:59 am

I HAVE to think the weather will be a factor, a HUGE factor. Right now, as of 4:25AM PST (I live in Los Angeles) it's 9 BELOW in Green Bay. At 8:00 PM CST on Saturday, it will be 15 degrees with 11 mph winds making it about 2 degrees. By the 4th quarter with the wind chill it should be BELOW ZERO with the wind chill....SO

Now I've lived in Los Angeles for the past 36 years and when it gets down to 38 degrees ABOVE, I want to die! For the 49ers players to be out in that cold for over 3 hours by the 4th quarter, when the temperature is continuing to drop, it HAS to have an effect, and I don't think it will be a positive one. The Packers have been practicing OUTSIDE all week from what I understand which IMO is smart as hell. Other than the 80,000 Packers fans screaming while the Packers are on Defense, that cold weather is a hell of a 12th man.

A TRUE Homefield advantage indeed Maggie!

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Coldworld's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:40 am

I don’t think the weather will be as big a factor for players as some. I do think it changes the appropriate strategy for the game. The ball will be slick, the field too. Arm strength differentials will be magnified. It will be more conducive to power running than outside jinking. It will, unfortunately, likely add emphasis to STs. Shorter kicks, more returns. Hopefully Moore returns.

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NickPerry's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:58 am

I'm so glad Cobby is going to be back. He may not made a lot of catches, but the ones he did make were for 1st downs, KEY 1st downs and TD's. Having Cobb back in the fold, especially on 3rd down and in the red zone will be huge IMO. NOW the Packers will have 3 WR really trusts in Adams, Cobby, and Lazard. With MVS out, Lazard becomes even more vital. I LOVE those match-ups against that 49ers secondary. I personally see a 4 TD 300 yard passing day from Rodgers with a passer rating of around 130. i think he'll be THAT surgical.

TJ Stanton is going to need to step up, especially when Kenny Clark takes a break. That D-Line MUST be able to eat up blockers so Campbell and Barnes can flow and bury Mitchell and Samuel before the get going. I'm assuming Jarie Alexander will play. How much and where will be the interesting part. For his shoulders sake, until he's played some snaps, I don't want him in the slot.

I'm so sick of hearing about Deebo. Yesterday I heard when he scores a rushing TD the 49ers are 7-0. I also heard the 49ers are 7-0 when he gets at least 5 carries. WHO gives a flying F##K! That's the thing about stats, you can twist and turn stats and numbers into all kinds of USELESS information. That's all that is...Stupid and useless information. Barring injury I'm quite certain he'll get at least 5 carries, but I don't believe the 49ers will be 8-0 after Saturday. After this game I think the running game they'll be talking about is the Packers. Saturday night at about 11:00 CST all people will be talking about are the Packers and a complete ass kicking of the 49ers!

#12 Quarters to go!

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murf7777's picture

January 21, 2022 at 07:51 am

There was a lot of naysayers about the Cobb trade. They were stating, he lost a step, it will take away from the development of other players, etc…….

I don’t know about you but what I saw was a person who put up decent number at Dallas and at Houston his last couple of years. I also have a hard time telling whether a person has “lost a step”. Since he did well the prior two years, I was cheering on the trade. Not because of how many catches he would make but more importantly is the type of catches he makes. As you said, third down and TD’s. Other reasons I like this trade was for the playoffs. His experience and tendency to make the key catches is so important. Lastly Arod wanted him on the team and a happy Arod is important to the success of the GB Packers. I think Cobb has already proved his value compared to cost. Now its time to show he was one of the steals of the year. Cudo’s to Gutey for bringing in Campbell, Douglas, Cobb and Mercilus. He should be considered Executive of the Year.

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HawkPacker's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:09 am

I agree murf. I was not really a Cobb fan before. I did think he did a very good job for GB in his first stint. I just didn't think he was as good as a lot of people were saying. I visited briefly, about 5 years ago or so, with Brian Bulaga at a golf outing and I could tell he was a bit disappointed that Cobb got the large contract he did get at that time. Was he good? Yes he was, and is, I just didn't think he deserved the huge contract.

Glad he is in GB for the reasons you stated murf.

Can't wait for the game.

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Coldworld's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:43 am

As I said then, Cobb is good when healthy, but he’s been on a protective snap count or injured all season. That said, I’m very happy to have him for the playoffs, but it’s dicey whether he can stay healthy and how many snaps he is likely to get.

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NickPerry's picture

January 21, 2022 at 12:43 pm

"Not because of how many catches he would make but more importantly is the type of catches he makes. As you said, third down and TD’s. Other reasons I like this trade was for the playoffs. His experience and tendency to make the key catches is so important."

THIS...Right here from murf7777 is so on point! Cobb makes those tough, crucial, the difference between 4th down and 3 more down catches all the time. That and his experience is going to be huge.

Great comment murf7777!

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PeteK's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:24 am

Now that we know Amari Rodgers will not contribute, signing Cobb was fortunate.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 21, 2022 at 04:07 pm

Great post Nick—you always get me fired up—bam!!!

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murf7777's picture

January 21, 2022 at 07:30 am

One of the most telling stats on wins and losses is TO’s. We have a big advantage there. With the cold windy weather forecasted more TO’s tend to happen. Will we get the TO advantage in this game? If we get a lead, especially by two scores, I believe we will. This shows the importance of stopping SF early in the game and GB getting a solid lead in the first half. Make them a come back team which is their weakness.

My main concern is if this GB team comes out flat due to the long lay off. They didn’t last year against the Rams so I expect Mlf and Co. will have the team fired up. GPG

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HawkPacker's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:11 am

'My main concern is if this GB team comes out flat due to the long lay off.'

I have the same concern murf. I am also a bit concerned about the guys we are getting back that did not get to play against Detroit. It would have been advantageous for these guys to knock off the rust. Yes, they are pro's but there is nothing better than getting ready for the playoffs with game experience.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:45 am

If they come out flat for this game, then LaFleur really will have some very significant questions to answer. No excuse for that whatever and no explanation other than bad coaching and ethos .

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Savage57's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:45 am

Aaron Rodgers: Think big, think positive, never show any sign of weakness. Always go for the throat. Score early, score often. Fear? That's the other guy's problem. Nothing you have ever experienced will prepare you for the absolute carnage you are about to witness. Olympics, World Series - they don't know what pressure is. In this building, it's either kill or be killed. You make no friends on the field and you take no prisoners. One minute you're up 40 points and the next, boom, you don't make the trip to LA and they've withdrawn the contract offer. Are you with me?

Davante Adams : Yeah, we got to kill the mother... - we got to kill 'em!

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Crazytim87's picture

January 21, 2022 at 10:12 am

Love the Trading Places reference. GO PACK GO

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croatpackfan's picture

January 21, 2022 at 10:14 am

Real Savage

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PeteK's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:35 am

Thankful for metal detectors at the entrances. hahaha

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Lphill's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:58 am

Everything is falling into place for the Packers , run the ball , tackle ,score TD ‘s instead of field goals , Super Bowl or bust !

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TxPackFan's picture

January 21, 2022 at 09:27 am

If he's in the football shape to do it all game, I 100% hope they have Alexander spy Deebo Samuel. Where Deebo goes, Jaire goes, including RB. No offense to Mitchell or Kittle, but Deebo is easily their best and most dynamic player on offense. We need our best defensive player, Jaire, to take him out of the game (strategically, not physically, of course).

And yes, we MUST stop the run. We did that during the season, but I'm not convinced it was the defense or even the fact they were down to the #5 RB on their depth chart. More likely it had to do with us jumping out to a big first half lead, which will be vital this game too. I might have imagined it, but it seems like we were a little better about that late in the season, so I'm hopeful. The sooner we can get to a 2 score lead, the better.

GO PACK!

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PeteK's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:30 am

I think because of his shoulder injury we might only see Jaire on passing downs.

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Ya_tittle's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:14 am

I love Jaire on Deebo. 100% of the time.

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Handsback's picture

January 21, 2022 at 01:08 pm

I really thought that once Dallas got their OL back they would blast through the 49ers. What I saw from Dallas was shoddy play from their OL and a very focused 49er team.
Packers have a better team than the Cowboys but they have allowed a few teams to hang around longer then they should have. This time I see a Packer team that SEEMS focused on getting to the SB. They have enough players back so they should be able to win their one-on-ones with this 49ers team.
The defense will earn their pay this week if Green Bay moves on to the NFC championship.

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