How to watch: 49ers vs. Packers: Time, TV, live stream, key matchups, NFC divisional game prediction

How to watch: 49ers vs.  Packers: Time, TV, live stream, key matchups, NFC divisional game prediction

Another Green Bay Packers week in the postseason creates another NFC playoff classic. The seventh-seeded Packers became the youngest team (average age: 25 years, 214 days) to win a playoff game since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger after defeating the second-seeded Dallas Cowboys, 48-32.

The postseason win was Green Bay’s 37th all-time, tied with the New England Patriots for the most in league history. On Saturday, the Packers will face the NFC’s top seed, the 12-5 San Francisco 49ers, marking the NFL’s 10th highest-ranked playoff matchup between the two franchises.

The Niners, 36 playoff wins all-time and one behind the Packers, lead the all-time postseason series between these two historic heavyweight teams 5-4 with four straight postseason wins against Green Bay, all of which came against former Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now, the Packers have a new pilot leading their offense in 2020 first-round pick and first-year starter Jordan Love. He threw the second-most passes (32) in the NFL regular season and helped propel the Packers to wins in seven of their last nine games, including the playoffs, while throwing 21 touchdowns and just one interception in that span.

Love and 49ers starting quarterback Brock Purdy become just two of five quarterbacks to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 4,000 yards in their first seasons as full-time NFL quarterbacks joining elite company: Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (1999 ), Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (2020).

In the Wild Card round, the Packers handed the Cowboys their first home loss since Week 1 of the 2022 season, snapping Dallas’ 16-game home winning streak. In the NFC divisional round, Green Bay could hand Kyle Shanahan his first home playoff loss as a head coach (enters 4-0). The 2023 Packers are the only No. 7 seed to win a playoff game as teams were previously 0-6 in the Wild Card round since postseason expansion in 2020.

Will Green Bay become the first team to reach the conference championship game after starting 3-6 or worse (3-6 through Week 10) or will San Francisco advance to its fourth NFC title game in the past five seasons? Here’s an in-depth preview examining this very question.

How to watch

date: Saturday, January 20 | time: 8:15 PM ET
location: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
television: Fox | flow: fubo (try free)
He follows: CBS Sports app
Prospect: 49ers -9.5; S/Sh 50.5

When the Packers have the ball

The way love plays out now, anything is possible. The 49ers have the seventh-best pass rush rate in the league in terms of pressure rate (39.6%) and sacks (48, tied with multiple teams). During a stretch where the Packers have won seven of their last nine games, with Love throwing 21 touchdowns and one interception, he has been nothing short of elite when pressured.

“Man, love Jordan. Wow. That’s all I can say, wow,” Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur said postgame after the win over the Cowboys. “What he did, the poise he showed, the command he showed. Touchdown pass to Dontayvion Wicks. Obviously we were in an empty group. I think he had (tight end) Tucker (Craft), maximum protection. It was a great job by Tuck and the rest of our offensive line. And for him to stay there and get that shot. Weeks has achieved a great goal. These are things you can try to coach, but what a moment for him. For me, that was a big play. It just shows the growth he has had from his first start versus KC until now. I am so proud and happy for him. He’s a man. He’s a real gentleman.”

Love has eight touchdowns and no interceptions when under duress with 8.6 yards per pass attempt. Over the entire 2023 regular season, that number would rank as the fifth-highest in the NFL. If San Francisco can’t get their quarterbacks to the ground while pressuring them, that’s where they get into trouble. They run an offense with the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL (22%), yet still surrender the worst completion percentage (58%) and seventh-worst passing yards per attempt (6.6) when pressuring opposing quarterbacks this season.

Over Love’s last three must-win games for the Vikings, against the Bears and at the Cowboys, he has a perfect passer rating (158.3) when pressured with 290 yards and four touchdowns on 17-of-21 passing. Love was 5 of 7 for 152 yards and two touchdowns when pressured against the Cowboys on Sunday.

In third place, money is down, and love is equally perfect. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions on third down over the last nine games. This is also a weakness for San Francisco as they rank 24th in third down conversion rate allowed (41%) this season.

There are also opportunities for Green Bay on the ground. On a superficial level, it doesn’t seem that way. The 49ers allowed 89.7 yards per game in the regular season, third lowest in the NFL. However, this number is greatly affected by San Francisco playing almost exclusively from the front in the vast majority of its games, forcing opponents to rely on throwing the football to get back.

San Francisco played from the front for 11 hours, 10 minutes and 20 seconds of game time during the 18-week regular season. That’s the second-highest average in the NFL behind the top-ranked Baltimore Ravens in the AFC (11:32:57) and the best in the NFC. When the 49ers actually had to defend the run, they were below average. Their run defense expects to add 6.54 points to rank fourth lowest in the NFL. Their defensive rushing success rate — the rate on a play in which less than 50% of the 10 yards needed for a new first down were gained on first or second down, as well as not picking up a quick first down on third or fourth down — was 53.9%, good for the position. Nineteenth in the league.

This is music to Aaron Jones’ ears. Green Bay’s RB ran for playoff highs of 118 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, an incredibly efficient 5.6 yards per carry, against the Cowboys. This output tied the all-time NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a road playoff game, rushing touchdowns in a wild-card round game and rushing touchdowns in a Packers postseason game. Jones’ seven playoff rushing touchdowns are the most in Green Bay history.

Jones has run for more than 100 yards in four straight games, tying Ahmad Green in 2003 for the longest such streak in Packers history. It is also the longest active streak in the NFL at the moment. There are some opportunities for Green Bay to punish San Francisco up front and keep its defense off the field.

When the 49ers have the ball

The battle between the Packers defense and the 49ers offense is where this game will be won. Love is currently playing football, and has shown the ability to make all throws from any arm angle, whether it’s in the pocket or rolling. San Francisco has had an elite defense all year, but with Love in Rodgers’ current form incarnate, anything is possible.

The same can’t be said for the Packers’ defense against the 49ers’ third-ranked scoring attack (28.9 points per game). The Dallas offense that Green Bay faced last week was essentially a CeeDee Lamb show. After him, the Cowboys had no other consistent offensive threat. That’s not the case with the 49ers. It’s the first offense since the 2004 Indianapolis Colts — a lineup filled with three Pro Football Hall of Famers (QB Peyton Manning, RB Edgerrin James, and WR Marvin Harrison) and a 2024 Hall of Fame finalist (WR Reggie Wayne) — to have 4,000 yards passing in Brock Purdy and four players have at least 1,000 scrimmage yards (RB Christian McCaffrey, WR Brandon Aiyuk, WR Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle).

A 4,000-yard passer and four players with 1,000 yards from scrimmage — the last two instances

Peyton Manning

Brooke Purdy

Edgren James

Christian McCaffrey

Marvin Harrison

Brandon Aiyuk

Reggie Wayne

Debo Samuel

Brandon Stockley

George Kittle

Each of the five 49ers players mentioned above leads the league in a specific statistical category or two.

NFL leaders this season

QB Brock Purdy

Yards/Pass Att (9.6), Passer Rating (113.0)

RB Christian McCaffrey

Rushing yards (1,459), scrimmage yards (2,023), scrimmage yards (21)

WR Debo Samuel

YAC/Catch-WR (8.8)

WR Brandon Aiyuk

Percentage of catches on first landing and/or landing (81.3%)

T George Kettle

Yards/Catch between TE (15.7)

The biggest mismatches on the Packers’ defense are McCaffrey and the 49ers’ passing game up the middle. McCaffrey was the wire-to-wire rushing champion (1,459 yards) this season, leading a San Francisco home game that was one of the best in the league. Meanwhile, the Packers have allowed opponents to run for 140 yards or more in the NFL’s worst eight games this season, tied with the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals for the most such games allowed in 2023. It’s very possible that could happen. , this game will look like the 2019 NFC Championship Game: a 37-20 blowout.

Some of those putrid performances came against teams without capable passing attacks in games against the Atlanta Falcons (211 yards), New York Giants (209), Pittsburgh Steelers (205) and Denver Broncos (145).

Rush this season (NFL ranks)

YPG rush

128.3 (28)

140.5 (4th)

yards/rush

4.4 (23rd)

4.8 (fourth)

The 49ers can throw the football to a series of their aforementioned big-bodied targets over the middle — the softest area of ​​Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s run-heavy defense. Green Bay has allowed 9 yards per pass attempt among the numbers this season, the highest number in the league. Purdy averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt on the same throws, the best number in the league, and the minimum of 150 such pass attempts. This is also the primary goal of Shanahan’s offense as Purdy has the third-highest rate of pass attempts over the middle (56%) in 2023.

Passing by the numbers this season (NFL rankings)

Passing Yards/Att

9.0

9.8

NFL Rank

last

the first*

* minute. 150 pass attempts

prediction

Love dazzles once again, keeping the Packers in the game until the end just as he has done in so many games all year. He even threw the go-ahead pass before the two-minute warning. However, Green Bay’s defense reverts to its worst tendencies and plays too far from the line of scrimmage in zone coverage, allowing the 49ers to tie the game with a field goal with less than 40 seconds left. Then, Love hits Romeo Dobbs up the middle like he did all day in Dallas in the wild-card round to put kicker Anders Karlsson in position to drain the game-winning field goal as time expires.

He chooses: Packers 34, 49ers 31

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