San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers Predictions: Rodgers to break 49ers playoff curse

Can Aaron Rodgers lead his Packers side past a dangerous 49ers outfit or will Jimmy Garoppolo silence the doubters and engineer an upset at Lambeau Field?

When the San Francisco 49ers snubbed Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft he vowed that the Niners would regret taking him far more than he would regret joining the Packers.

And while that proclamation has proved to be correct, when it comes to the playoffs Rodgers is 0-3 against his boyhood team, but he has a chance to make it fourth time lucky when one of the NFL's greatest all-time rivalries renews on Saturday night.

Rodgers engineered a come-from-behind victory in California in the regular season, and with their fabled January home field advantage this time around at a freezing Lambeau Field, the Packers are worthy favourites to advance to their third straight NFC Championship Game.

When: Sunday, Jan 23, 01:15 GMT

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

How to watch: Sky Sports

The 49ers: Late bloomers pose huge threat

49ers' Nick Bosa

You need only look back at the last campaign to see how dangerous a late-season-peaking team can be, as Tampa Bay rattled off a nine-game winning streak that took them from a 7-5 record to the Super Bowl championship.

And after winning four out of five games to end the season and shocking the Dallas Cowboys on their own turf in the wildest of Wild Card matchups, the 49ers look every inch a side that could repeat the Bucs' heroics.

That match may have ended in controversy but Kyle Shanahan's men were good value for their victory, racing into a 23-7 lead after three quarters.

And even without Nick Bosa for most of the game due to a concussion, the Niners defence steamrollered the Cowboys' heralded offensive line to the tune of five sacks and 14 quarterback hits.

And in Deebo Samuel they have a rare commodity, a top-tier wide receiver that is a threat on the ground too, as Samuel's 72 rush yards against Dallas were the most by a wide receiver in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

However, the one Riddler-sized question mark is the form of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who may be 36-15 as a starter and 3-1 in the playoffs but is under the microscope after his interception against Dallas let the Cowboys back into a game they had never looked like winning.

The Packers: Green Bay offence in ominous form

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers

You may not like Aaron Rodgers and some of the off-field decisions he makes, but when he suits up there are few better quarterbacks, and he looks to have secured his second consecutive MVP title.

And while the GOAT may have thrown for more yards and more touchdowns, Rodgers achieved something that Tom Brady did not, and that's leading his team to the coveted number one seed in the NFC.

And doing so allowed him some valuable extra time to heal his fractured toe, as well as giving the Packers an increased chance of getting some key defenders such as cornerback Jaire Alexander and linebacker Za'Darius Smith back against the 49ers.

Remarkably, Rodgers has thrown just four interceptions this season, two of which were in an opening day loss to the Saints, a statistic made all the more impressive by the fact that his opposite number Jimmy G has thrown five picks in his last three games!

And Rodgers has a strong supporting cast, including one of the best wide receivers in the game in Davante Adams and one of the strongest running back pairings in AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, who have rushed for a combined total of 1,602 yards this campaign.

Packers vs 49ers key match-ups

There may be question marks surrounding Green Bay's depth at wide receiver but what is beyond question is the threat posed by one of the NFL's most productive quarterback and wide receiver combinations in Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.

Adams has scored six touchdowns in his last five games but he will be facing a far stronger secondary than he did when exploding for 132 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' Week 3 win over the Niners.

When it comes to the 49ers offence they will once again look to their running game to grind down the Packers, with rookie Eli Mitchell in superb form after rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown against Dallas, adding to his 963 yards in the regular season.

Mitchell could feast against a middle of the road Packers run defence, but when it comes to the business end, Green Bay has conceded just 13 rushing touchdowns this season, the seventh-fewest in the NFL.

Packers vs 49ers key stats

  • Aaron Rodgers threw 20 touchdowns in the final seven games of the regular season.
  • Deebo Samuel's eight touchdowns on the ground this season is an NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a receiver.
  • The Packers have won four out of their last five playoff games at Lambeau Field.
  • Eli Mitchell has rushed for an average of 98 yards per game in his last six matches.
  • Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard has hauled in four touchdowns in his last three games.
  • The Cowboys' top three wide receivers combined for just 136 yards against the 49ers.
  • No team has fewer giveaways than the Packers' 13 this season.
  • San Francisco averaged 373 yards per game in the regular season, the seventh-highest total in the NFL.

Planet Sport verdict

NFL, San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo

There are few certainties in life except death, taxes and the Packers being a tough nut to crack at home in January, and with some key defensive players set to return to bolster an already talent-laden side, San Francisco has their work cut out for them.

And while the 49ers are also blessed with talent all over the pitch, the one position where there is a doubt is the most important of all, as Jimmy Garoppolo's Jekyll and Hyde performance against the Cowboys did little to convince us that he can produce the kind of error-free game needed to advance.

In Aaron Rodgers the Packers have a player who is a game changer in every sense of the word, and he knows how to get it done in the postseason.

So we're backing the Packers to edge the Niners in what should be a fascinating game.

Prediction: 49ers 24-27 Packers

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