The San Francisco 49ers are rolling into Lambeau Field to take on the Packers this Sunday with one goal in mind, win and move on in their quest for six. On paper the Niners would appear to be heavy favorites; however, the Niners are still only two and a half point favorites. There’s only one reason why this would be, the weather.
It’s going to be extremely cold on Sunday in Lambeau Field. It might be below zero with wind chill by the time kickoff happens. This could be detrimental to the Niners who aren’t used to playing very many games in this weather. The Packers are used to this kind of weather and could use that to their advantage. That will be the only advantage the Packers have besides quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Niners are downplaying the weather, saying it won’t be a factor; but they know that it will take a while to get used to because it’s something they aren’t accustomed to. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick certainly isn’t thrilled about playing in cold weather.
However, even with the weather, I believe the Niners will win this game probably in the realm of 3-7 points, probably 27-24 on a late Phil Dawson field goal. The Niners have too many weapons for the Packers defense to defend. With Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore the Packers will struggle without Clay Matthews and other key defensive players to slow down the Niners offense. The Niners might also decide to unleash Kaepernick both in the Pass game and the Running game much like last year against the Packers.
This game has the feel of a semi-shootout, with both teams scoring in the mid to high 20’s. The Packers should be able to move the ball against the Niners defense and produce at least 2 touchdowns if not three, providing that Rodgers is 100 percent healthy, which he is perceived to be. Also, if running back Eddie Lacy is healthy the Packers will put pressure on a Niners defense that hasn’t been overly impressive the last two weeks. They’ve given up over 700 passing yards in the last two games to Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer. Rodgers is way better than both of those quarterbacks so he’ll be able to put up numbers if Green Bay is able to be somewhat effective running the ball.
This game will either come down to which defense will make the big play and stop the other offense or which team gets careless with the ball and turns it over a couple of times. Playing in the cold could change the game in that aspect because it’s harder to catch the ball and grip the ball in the cold.
The cold also effects the kickers range, which hurts the Niners because Phil Dawson has been one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL this season. If the game comes down to field goals like last week against the Arizona Cardinals, then things could be interesting with the cold weather.
In the end, the Niner defense will find a way like they have all year to make a key play at the end of the game to either clinch the win or give their offense a chance to win in the final minutes. This game should be very competitive, more so because of the weather, but nonetheless it’s still a good way to close out Wild Card Weekend.