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NFC Divisional Preview: 49ers vs Packers

San Fran comes in as the top seed, but Green Bay may be one of the hottest teams in the playoffs. Who will prevail?

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The NFL Playoffs are already a full week in, meaning we are down to eight teams, and this is typically the point of the stretch where the games get a lot tighter and more memorable.

The top seed in the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers, will play their first playoff game of the season, welcoming Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers to Levi’s Stadium tonight.

These teams are absolutely no strangers to each other in January as this is the 10th all-time meeting between Green Bay and San Francisco. Even crazier than that? It’s the sixth meeting since 2000 and the fifth since 2012.

Love and the Packers are fresh off of embarrassing the Dallas Cowboys in Jerry’s World last week 48-32 (16 of Dallas’s points came in the fourth quarter). The Packers, now 10-8 on the year, won five of their last seven games to put themselves in the playoffs and were able to take care of one of the better-looking teams in the conference for most of the season.

However, they now face a completely different test in Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffery, and the 49ers. Finishing 12-5 and the top seed in the NFC, the Niners have looked like the Super Bowl favorite for quite some time, winning 11 of their 12 wins by double digits. They have shown weaknesses, especially during their three-game losing streak, dropping games to the Browns, Vikings, and Bengals in October. Since that point where they were 5-3, Kyle Shanahan’s team finished the season with a 7-2 record, losing to the AFC top seed in the Baltimore Ravens and the regular season finale where their starters sat.

Let’s look at this matchup taking place tonight in Santa Clara:

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Green Bay LOVES Jordan

After the departure of Aaron Rodgers, Packers fans were clearly worried about the young buck taking over the offense. Besides, if you take away time spent injured, the Packers only had two mainstays starting QBs since 1992, Brett Favre and Rodgers. However, the former Utah State quarterback has played very well down the stretch for Matt LaFleur’s offense and has the Packers playing against the Niners in the divisional round once again. He’s proven that the moment doesn’t faze him as it was an uphill climb for Green Bay to even get to where they are. So, I’m interested to see how he handles the Niners faithful tonight in Santa Clara, but the Packers are in good shape for years to come if Love keeps developing the way he has.

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Commanders Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Run CMC is ready

Having arguably one of the best years of his entire career, 49ers running back Christian McCaffery has been an anchor for the Niners. The 27-year-old leads the league in rushing yards with 1,459 and 14 touchdowns. He also has 564 yards receiving and seven touchdowns, which puts him over 2,000 yards of total offense and 21 touchdowns in the regular season.

The biggest question for the Packers will be whether or not they can slow down McCaffery and limit his production. However, the Niners have plenty of other weapons with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and others led by Mr. Irrelevant quarterback Brock Purdy. This will undoubtedly be the biggest test Green Bay has faced in 2023 and CMC will be the biggest hurdle of that test tonight.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that a playoff rivalry has been built between these two legendary franchises and tonight will just be the next saga in that. Both teams will come out and play well, make some explosive plays, and keep things very close. However, I think the 49ers will just be too much to handle for the Packers and Brock Purdy will have another opportunity to put San Fran in the Super Bowl by putting them back in the NFC title game with a win over the Packers at home.

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