The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers know each other very well heading into this weekends wild card match up. These two teams have played each other three times in the past 17 months with the 49ers sweeping all three games.
The 49ers are the team with the better record and I am sure they wish they would be hosting the wild card match up, but the Packers are ready to show the Niners they are a different team with Aaron Rodgers at the helm.
It what is drawing comparisons to the Ice Bowl back in 1967 between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys, the weather for this game has the potential to be even colder than the -48 degree wind chill of 67. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukie Journal-Sentinel, an AccuWeather forecast has the game reaching high temperatures of -5 degrees and a wind chill of -51 degrees.
The Green Back Packers are glad to have Rodgers back and are hoping their quarterback can lead their team to a playoff victory. Rodgers struggled coming out of the gate in his return last week against the Chicago Bears, but showed his never-die mentality late in the game when he threw a 48-yard bomb to wide receiver Randall Cobb to win the division. Both players are coming off an injury, but feel like they will be back to their old form come game time. Although the Packers should have the advantage because they are accustomed to playing in cold conditions, the 49ers are a team that has had their number as of late.
For the San Francisco 49ers, the key to victory will be the effectiveness of Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is a true duel threat quarterback in that he can beat you with his legs or drop back and beat you in the pocket. The Packers are already aware of this as the young quarterback used his legs in last years playoff match to beat them 45-31, finishing the game with 181 rushing yards. Kaepernick then turned around and torched them through the air in the season opener throwing for over 400 yards in a 34-28 victory.
For a large portion of the season Kaepernick has been relying on tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Anquan Boldin to move the ball through the air and score some points. In week 13 against the St. Louis Rams, Kaepernick got another weapon back in Michael Crabtree. Since the return of Crabtree, Kapernick has targeted the wide receiver enough to make him third on the team in receiving yards.
But the biggest key to a victory may not even come down to the offensive side of the ball. The 49ers are ranked 5th in the NFL in total defense and ranked 4th in run defense. The 49ers front seven will look to keep rookie Eddie Lacy in check and let defensive end Aldon Smith make Rodgers uncomfortable. The Packers defense has been suspect all season long ranking 25th in total defense. With all the weapons Kaepernick has around, not to mention his mobility, this might be a game where the weather doesn’t even matter. If the San Francisco 49ers want to get out of the cold Green Bay weather as soon as possible, they will need Kaepernick and company to run the ball, put enough points on the board and control the clock.