If you are a football fan at heart and are looking for a classic battle pitting one of last season’s best offenses against last season’s best defense, then you are certainly in for a treat as the Packers take on the 49ers at Lambeau Field tomorrow (4.25pm EDT, Sunday).
While you could in fact see this game again in the NFC Championship, for now it is just a week one match-up, but one that certainly holds a lot of weight and is carrying a lot of expectation.
How Good is Aaron Rodgers?
Since I am not in the business to adequately judge an MVP and former Superbowl Champion on his performances, I will let Rodgers’ (pictured) 2011 stats do the talking.
In one of the best seasons by a QB, The Packers’ Rodgers did just about everything a team could ask for and more. Not to mention, the lofty stats he put up were done in just 15 games. Had he played in the 16th and final game, it is likely Rodgers would have challenged New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees for the most total yards on the season and most TD passes, the only two categories Brees beat Rodgers in offensively.
2011 stats: 15 GP, 68.3 completion percentage, 4,643 total yards, 45 TD, 6 Int, 122.5 passer rating
If there is one number that should stand out at you it is the 45 TD. In the history of the NFL only four players have thrown for more scores than Rodgers did in 2011. His six interceptions with these 45 touchdowns is the best mark in NFL history when comparing TD/Int ratio.
In what was called the Year of the Quarterback, Rodgers shined brightly and really was the best of the best. He led his team to a perfect 8-0 record at home and bested defenses on almost every occasion. The biggest flaw for Rodgers in 2011 was the early playoff exit, especially since the team was considered favorites to win another Superbowl.
Against one of the best defenses in the league last year in the Chicago Bears, Rodgers threw for 297 yards and led the Packers to a 27-17 victory. Against Denver, New Orleans, San Diego and Oakland, Rodgers and the Packers scored at least 42 points. In seven games, Rodgers threw for at least 300 yards and in another he threw for 408. Against good defenses, Rodgers just made them look silly.
What About the 49ers Offense?
For as much as the 49ers defense was hyped last year, the team’s offense was certainly not bad either. Although QB Alex Smith did not and will not light up the stat sheets with flashy numbers like Rodgers, he is a good QB and with Frank Gore, one of the league’s better running backs, the 49ers offense had the talent to win a Superbowl.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
-110 49ers +5pts, -110 GB Packers -5pts
Bet365 Bookmaker odds (for UK & all non-USA residents):
10/11 49ers +5pts, 10/11 GB Packers -5pts
In 2011, utilizing a very balanced run and pass game, the 49ers went 13-3. They scored 33, 13, 24, 48, 25, 20, 19, 27, 23, 26, 20, 19 and 34 points in wins. Against some of the better defenses in the league in Philadelphia (24 points), Seattle (33, 19 points) and Pittsburgh (20 points), the 49ers performed unexpectedly yet incredibly well.
Head-to-head Match-ups: Who Owns the Advantage?
OFFENSE – Winner: Green Bay Packers
Although San Francisco has a good offense, Green Bay’s is that much better. Returning to the team, they have not only Rodgers but most of the 2011 weaponry back as well. Jordy Nelson, is coming off the heels of a breakout season, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are able to run difficult routes and Jennings especially with his height can get open in the end zone. Jermichael Finley is back healthy, James Starks had a good year last season and the Packers acquired some key free agents in the offseason. Rodgers is a guy who likes to spread the ball around and with so many targets to his advantage, he will likely have another MVP caliber season.
DEFENSE – Winner: San Francisco 49ers
Although the Niners were no slouch on offense last season, it was their defense that won them games. In their 13 wins, the defense gave up less than 20 points 10 times. They gave up 30 points just once and over 25 just once and that was in a loss.
This year looks to be more of the same as not only do the Niners still have their excellent pass rush, but they also improved, if that is even possible, in regards to their secondary and at the linebacker position. Patrick Willis is still an absolute force at MLB but now he has some key role players who will look to get to the QB, and get to him often.
Rodgers isn’t a guy that is going to sacked that much or throw that many interceptions. He is incredibly accurate and can pick apart even the best defenses. That said, if his receivers aren’t open, he isn’t going to throw that many TDs either.
QUARTERBACK – Winner: GB Aaron Rodgers
Putting Rodgers’ monster stats aside, there is really only one question to address here and it is this: Which QB has the best chance against the defense? The answer to this is easily Aaron Rodgers.
I’ve spent so much time talking about Green Bay’s offense that I failed to address their defense. Although it isn’t their strong suit, just like the 49ers on offense, the Packers can certainly hold their own on defense, even if that didn’t show last year.
Having the NFL’s worst defense like the Packers did in 2011 isn’t really that bad when your league best offense can outscore what you are giving up. In fact the team even set an NFL history worst for most passing yards allowed in a season. Still, they went 15-1 because their offense is that good and their QB is that good.
Unlike Rodgers with his uncanny ability to pick apart even the best defenses, Alex Smith could have trouble against the Packers most specifically the QB fearing beast that is Clay Matthews.
While the Packers secondary isn’t the best, they are talented when it comes to the first line of defense. Led by Matthews and his three interceptions, 50 tackles, three forced fumbles and six sacks from last season, the Packers have a group that is no stranger to rushing the quarterback. For Smith, who last season performed at his worst when he was heavily rushed, this could be a problem as the Packers go to the four or five man pass rush quite frequently as it is a key defensive strength.
49ers at Green Bay Packers Betting Picks Verdict
With the way these two teams completely battle it out, blood, sweat and tears put into every single play, there is no doubt this is going to be the match of the week.
The Packers are currently five point favorites over the Niners. The way San Francisco plays such stingy defense, it is unlikely Rodgers & co, even with all of the offensive depth and skill they have, can cover this spread.
Betting Pick: The conclusion and our pick for the game is to bet on San Francisco 49ers +5 points @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook (accepts all Americans) or Bovada (all USA players except residents of New York, Maryland, Utah & Washington states).