Packers Have Golden Opportunity Against 49ers

The Green Bay Packers will reconvene today and begin their preparation for the 9-1 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football next week.

Heading into week 11, the 9ers were coming off a hard-fought loss, their first of the season, to the Seattle Seahawks.  The visiting Arizona Cardinals had a late lead but went full Cardinals (if you've lived in Phoenix as long as I have, you know what this means) and lost.

That makes this match up between the Packers and 49ers especially pivotal, as the team that wins will assume the top spot in the NFC playoff race.  It's not a "do or die" situation but the importance can't be ignored.

San Francisco would gain some valuable space in the race for the top seed.  Green Bay would take over the top spot and control their destiny en route to the #1 seed in the NFC.

The Packers are no strangers to opportunities like this one. 

Despite the awful outcome of last season, Green Bay had a chance to make a charge in the NFC race in a big road game against the Los Angeles Rams.  The Packers kept up and had a chance to win late but squandered it away.  

The season prior and before Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, the Packers won a big road game against the Dallas Cowboys that, at the time, had them streaking and looking like a top contender.

We all remember late 2016 when the Packers' backs were against the wall and they won eight straight games, falling just one game short of a Super Bowl appearance.

This year's team is quite a bit different than last year's and the 2019 squad seems to have that swagger working for them.  They're rising up in big moments often this season and none bigger than this next one.

Green Bay is an early 3.5 point underdog, coming off their bye week and with a very healthy roster.  The late week off and fortunate health situation are both big boosts for a team that needs to finish this season strong.

Head coach Matt LaFleur can earn himself some big stripes with his team and around the league if he's able to take down his former boss in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.  The two were together with the Atlanta Falcons when Atlanta reached Super Bowl LI (by beating that 2016 Packers team in the NFC championship game).

"Special" is a word that has been used to describe this year's Packers team and season.  If it's to continue to be that, the team has to find a way to win games like this week's.  They have to take advantage of the golden opportunities put in front of them.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (28)

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

November 18, 2019 at 06:40 am

IMO the Packers are catching the 49ers at a pretty damn good time. The 49ers have been playing since their week 4 Bye Week and IMO they looked tired. The last 3 weeks against that 49ers defense they've given up 25, 27, and 26 points against the Cards, Seahawks, and Cards again. The 49ers are also a pretty beat up football team which as a Packers fan I'm just happy it isn't the Packers who aren't the ones beat up for ONCE. After watching what Murry did twice and Wilson did last weekend, I have confidence Rodgers can do it and then some.

Jason's right, this game isn't "Do or Die", but for some reason to me, it sure as the hell FEELS like it's damn near just that. Beating the 49ers would go a long way in helping the Packers be the #1 seen in the NFC which IMO is going to be HUGE this postseason, especially for the Packers. NOBODY wants to come to Lambeau in January...NOBODY. And as much as nobody wants to come to Lambeau, I sure in the hell don't want to go to Seattle or New Orleans. The Packers beating the 49ers would also give them a shitload of confidence heading into the final stretch.

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SterlingSharpe's picture

November 18, 2019 at 06:48 am

It wouldn't hurt my feelings if stud TE George Kittle & WR Manny Sanders missed another game.
I have Kittle in fantasy football & he's more dangerous than even Travis Kelce. Sanders is the good, veteran slot guy many Packer fans wanted us to fetch outta Denver.

This game, and week 16 in Minny, are 2 games marked L's on my calendar. If we steal either of them, we very well could get a #2 seed. I think New Orleans ends up with the 1.

The other Bosa killed us in San Diego.
This Bosa better be blocked a lot better than old Bosa was.
Bakhtiari needs to be at his former All-Pro self.
And Bulaga needs to last 60 minutes.

How about Darnell Savage comes up with one (at least) BIG play?

An early deep hit to MVS would go a long way towards loosening up the 49ers defense, which is going to key hard on smothering Aaron Jones runs. Just like Minny did last week to Zeke Elliott, & Denver did yesterday to Dalvin Cook.

When defenses put that much priority on stopping the run early, opportunities are there to hit them with big plays deep via play action, or even a well-executed Flea Flicker.

An extra week to prepare with this bye, hopefully these guys have a couple gems ready.

Packers 23
Niners 20

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

November 18, 2019 at 09:22 am

I'll be watching the injury report on Kittle for sure.

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sam1's picture

November 18, 2019 at 09:22 am

Was said last night on SNF Kittle WILL play this week end!

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TheBigCheeze's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:24 am

shame on you for thinking that we're gonna lose to the purple PUKES!!!......those chumps are goin' DOWN!!!!

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RCPackerFan's picture

November 18, 2019 at 07:07 am

In the NFL all you can ask for is an opportunity. That goes for both players and teams.

Right now the Packers have everything they want right in front of them. They are 3-0 in the division. They have a 1/2 game lead on the Vikings record wise. They are facing the current number 1 seed team and have a complete chance to control their own fate. They win this game they would have control over the number 1 seed.

Coming off a bye hopefully will give us the opportunity for them to reflect on what has worked, what hasn't and how to adjust to make a better team for the post bye team.

What I'm hoping to see them do coming out of the bye is on offense keep finding ways to using the RB's in the passing game, namely Aaron Jones with Adams playing. When Adams was out the RB's (especially Jones) really got involved more in the offense as receivers. In the 4 games Adams has missed Jones had 22 catches for 280 yards and 3 TD's. In the 6 games with Adams, Jones has 13 catches for 74 yards and 0 TD's. They need to find a way to have both making plays.

Also on offense I would like to continue to see the TE's make plays. Sternberger is getting more and more playing time. He could be a guy that could really help as a more speedy type of TE. Graham has been consistent and honestly has improved. Lewis it feels like they are saving him for later in the year.
They need to get more WR's involved too. Hopefully MVS comes back healthier and can contribute more. Hopefully Lazard continues to play well too.

On defense they need to figure out the ILB/S spots. I'd like to see Burks get more playing time. He offers the speed to help cover RB's or TE's and has the speed to go sideline to sideline. If not him I'd like to see Campbell be Raven Greene. Pettine hasn't been able to figure out how to adjust the defense without Greene.

Special Teams. Well can they at least be decent?

I like where we are sitting but we can't relax. Its time to go all in!

#ALLGASNOBREAK

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Spock's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:54 am

RC, This is a BIG game and you've pointed out some things that hopefully have been addressed by MLF and the other coaches in self scouting GB. Kittle the FB was supposed to be doing fantastic things in training camp. I wouldn't mind him getting more involved along with the RB's in the Passing game. I remember back when the Packers FINALLY beat the 49ers (I think it was '95) for the first time in a playoff game and how great that was at the time. I hope the one thing MLF does like MM is have a great game plan and a W after a bye week! You're right this coming game is not one for the fans to R-E-L-A-X. I'm hoping that the young players learned their lesson after the last West Coast travel game and are fired up for this one!

Edit: I meant Vitale the FB.

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flackcatcher's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:10 am

Who have ever thought the the key to the Packers season might rest on the knees of two free agent pickups. (Not the ones named Smith.) Football can be a funny game sometimes...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 19, 2019 at 06:36 am

I like a lot of your post. I would like to see Graham phased out and replaced with Sternberger and/or Tonyan, really both. Lewis should keep getting his blocking snaps.

Aaron Jones has to get his touches even with Davante back. Using Andy Herman's grades, Jones has the highest points per snap on the team (yes, more than Rodgers or Adams).

I like your optimism on Burks but do not share it. He has 42 snaps, which is enough to test whether the light has come on for him. That's all he should get until he shows something.

I think Campbell is a significant upgrade from Redmond at hybrid ILB (not at FS or SS). Andy gave Greene a 0.00 grade in 43 snaps in 2018, and Campbell a +0.65 in 112 snaps in 2018. Greene played a mere 71 snaps in 2019, and those came against an inept Chicago offense and a dysfunctional (at the time) MN offense. The sample size is small for both players. There isn't a lot of tape out there about either player for opposing DCs to look at. I am hopeful that Campbell will prove to be the equal or superior player. It would be nice if Greene (or Taylor) returned from the IR list. Though the deadwood is largely gone from the roster now, there is still a roster spot that can be generated.

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Handsback's picture

November 18, 2019 at 07:54 am

Green Bay is still a mystery to many I talk to. They can either go 14-2 or 10-4 depending on their play. Before the season either would have been fine for me, but after seeing their potential...I keep looking for more.
I suspect ST play will lose one game but as long as their oline stays healthy they can go a long ways in the playoffs. If they fix their ST so that it's at least average and consolidate their defense into making their opponents one dimensional then they can get to the SB. I have a hard time believing that but its possible.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:52 am

Exactly how I feel. But I can dream. At least for this week we have an opportunity to be a great team again. Use Jones,Williams and Adams. And if they play like they have at moment's this year, add in a little Jace and Lewis and hell maybe even a great game from Graham, they can do this. Can't wait.

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Houndog's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:15 am

With the GB players returning to practice today I'm hoping the coaches spent the past 12 hours reviewing the tape from the 49ers last three games. Going back further to see more of Kittle wouldn't be a bad idea.
If the defense can figure out how to stop the run and play tight coverage while keeping up a good pass-rush the Pack might pull this off. Garapolo has shown he'll throw picks, and in this game the Packers will need to produce turnovers, not wait for them.
As for the offense, first they need to show up ready to play. Then, sticking with the run game and a short, fast, move-the-chains passing attack could be advantageous in keeping Rodgers upright and healthy.
SF has played 3 straight games where they've been either very close or beaten, they'll be ready.
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Edit:
Oh yeah, after reading Handsback's post, a little help from the STs would be a good idea too, hell, make that a great idea!

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Razer's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:48 am

Boils down to two things for me.

1. Aaron Rodgers needs to put together a complete game. If Rodgers is making his throws and continues with his backfield ball handling mastery it will force Grapolo to play beyond his level. Time to show what this offense is capable of - from RBs to TEs.

2. The defense needs to show that it is for real. Getting gashed on the ground and big plays over the top isn't going to cut it as we get to playoff football. DLine and LBs need to play more consistent (aka. better ball).

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Hematite's picture

November 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm

You hit the nail on the head Razer.
Good analysis.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:57 am

Effectively stop the run to force the Niners to pass and get a turnover or two and the Pack will fly back to GB at 9-7 and again a winning football team for 2019.

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sam1's picture

November 18, 2019 at 09:26 am

Huh 9-7 non Packer clown it sounds like!

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Razer's picture

November 18, 2019 at 09:00 am

Curious what the impact of MLF having his brother coaching in SF and his mentor as the 49ers HC. Hoping that they don't know MLF as well as they think they do!

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TheVOR's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:08 am

I'll just say it, it's a must win! If You can't win this game, you can't be serious talked about in a NFC Championship discussion, more less the Superbowl discussion.

The Packers need this game, these are the games that express what you are, and who you are as a team. I realize the 49ers are improved, but after having watched them over the last few weeks, this is a team GB should beat. Finally, Aaron Rodgers needs to start dominating in these games against the better defenses, he's always reduced to a "Bad Game Manager" role every time we play a stout Defense. He's needs to be better in these exact match ups, and seldom is.
If the offense only rolls up 17-20 points, we'll lose this game. In fact I'm fairly certain we'll need 31- 34- ish points to win this game. JMO..

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Razer's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:19 am

...this is a team GB should beat. Finally, Aaron Rodgers needs to start dominating in these games against the better defenses...

Couldn't agree more. This is the perfect game to declare your candidacy to lead the league. Put a complete game together and we'll leave the 49ers in the dust. Rodgers also needs to show that he can make this a formidable offense.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:23 am

Just a reminder that it is a long season. The last title wining team in GB lost 6 games and got hot at the right time, finding a running game just in time for the playoffs. They lost very winnable games that season.

Having said that, it would be much easier on the team to get a bye and/or home field advantage through the playoffs.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:25 am

Just a reminder that it is a long season. The last title wining team in GB lost 6 games and got hot at the right time, finding a running game just in time for the playoffs. They lost very winnable games that season.

Having said that, it would be much easier on the team to get a bye and/or home field advantage through the playoffs.

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pacman's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:23 am

I just don't have the time to focus on other teams in any detail. Seems on paper, we lose this one. A real test of coaches and players as all have said. And now SF has something to prove too. I think the Packers get ready this time to play in California. My guess it comes down to the defense and special teams. I don't think 'bend but don't break' cuts it against elite teams. You start bending, they break you. Been waiting for special teams to blow one. I hope MLF has done something during the bye to change that.

Guess prediction - Offense does it's job. Defense doesn't. Special teams - just praying.

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Sol's picture

November 18, 2019 at 12:25 pm

I don't see Packers making the same mistake twice, the Charger game was just a mid-season fluke. If we can keep their defense off balance and burn some clock, we should be OK because San Francisco is a team that has almost spent all their powder and are pretty beat up. Make their QB play QB. I am going to go out on a limb an say we will be firing on all cylinders because of our health and rest, win going away. 31-17

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Bearmeat's picture

November 18, 2019 at 01:13 pm

This, and the Minnesota game, will be the difference between the 1 seed, or a wild card. This is not a playoff game, but it's importance can't be overstated.

I have a really good feeling GB wins this hard fought contest.

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Since'61's picture

November 18, 2019 at 04:45 pm

The interesting issue in this game is the fact that both defenses have been practicing against their respective offenses which now run very similar schemes. Whether or not this helps or hurts either one or both defenses remains to be seen. Can MLF defeat his mentor? Can Rodgers with a substandard receiving corps tilt the field in the Packers favor? Can our defense stop an offense which looks similar to ours? Can we force Garapolo into mistakes and force turnovers?

I'm hoping that the Packers can start fast similar to what they have done following their two mini-byes earlier this season. If they can make SF one dimensional that will help our defense hold them off. Our defense needs to return to their early season level of tackling. Hopefully our STs won't cost us the game.

Also, I hope that if the Packers win the opening toss that MLF will take the ball rather than defer. It would be great to go down the field, get a score and take the crowd out of the game early. MMs teams were usually very good coming out of a bye, we'll soon see if the same will be true for MLF. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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PAPackerbacker's picture

November 18, 2019 at 06:11 pm

The Packers have to play 60 minutes of football to win against the 49er's. If the Packers get an early lead don't let up and allow the 49er's back in the game. Keep the pressure on and play the full 60 minutes. Anything less than a full 60 minute commitment to the game and the 49er's will take advantage of their opportunities. No stupid penalties at critical times, convert on 3rd downs and short. Don't throw the ball 40 + yards downfield when you only need a couple yards to get another 4 downs. The Packers have great running backs that can easily catch the ball out of the backfield. And some pretty good tight ends as well. Better chances of getting a 3rd down and short yards than a 40 yard bomb. Stick with what got you to 8-2 and what worked when Adams was injured. It will work again. The talent is there. Use it wisely. Play smart and don't get greedy. Take what the defense gives you and keep moving the sticks. It will wear down a defense that already looks tired. Then unleash Adams when the defense is tired of chasing the running backs. Sorry for rambling on but I love the Packers. They are healthy and I know they have what it takes to defeat the 49er's. Go! Pack! Go!

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Patrick's picture

November 18, 2019 at 06:49 pm

Fellow Packers Fans: If you listen carefully sunday evening, you will hear me cheering from Sycamore, Il where I'll be watching the game, And if the Pack does pull off a Win, you windows will be rattling from my cheers! GO PACK!!

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splitpea1's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:18 pm

I'm not getting too hyped up about this game. If the Packers win the games they should (NYG, WSH, DET, CHI), and win either now or against Minnesota, they should be just fine. Remember in 2014 the Packers were beaten pretty badly in Seattle to start the season, but came back in the NFC Championship with a strong effort that they unfortunately couldn't finish off. So I'm not worried about SF getting the number one seed--we'll get another crack at them if we don't win this one.

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