Previewing the NFC Championship game

Sonja Greenfield, Senior NFL Reporter NFC North, NFC East

By Sonja Greenfield //@Mom23RN

At the beginning of the season, if you’d have told me that the San Fransisco 49ers were going to be in the NFC Championship Game, I think I would’ve responded like this:

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And yet,  here we are. The 49ers are in the NFC Championship Game, with home field no less, and they get to face the Green Bay Packers.  Again. Had you told me at the beginning of the year that the Packers were going to the NFC Championship game, I don’t think I would’ve gone 100% “Sure, Jan” but I still wasn’t 100% sold on them either.

However, both teams have proven me wrong and will face each other to earn a spot in the Super Bowl.  So, what’s it going to take for each team to get there?

I’ve got your keys to the game right here.

Green Bay Packers (13-3): Let’s be real. When quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the game, you always have a chance. But with the emergence of running back Aaron Jones this season, that chance grows even larger. Jones had 62 yards rushing on 21 carries, and also had 2 touchdowns. Rodgers also has a great group of receivers to throw to, in Devante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.  Allison, however, missed practice on Wednesday due to illness, but the Packers are hopeful he’ll be ready for Sunday.

Because they are going up against the best defense in the league, the Packers will need to be firing on all cylinders. However, the Packers defense has done well this season. The additions of defensive ends Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been critical to helping the Packers get to this point in the season. Green Bay leads the NFL in pressuring quarterbacks this season, and The Smith “brothers” have been key in that development.

If the Packers are going to win, they’re going to have to get after San Fransisco’s QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and also have to protect Rodgers. The Packers offensive line is going to have their hands full with pass rusher Nick Bosa leading the charge.

San Fransisco 49ers (13-3):  This game features the number 1 defense in the league against the number 6 offense. The smartest thing that the 49ers defense can do, is to keep Rodgers on the sidelines. If their defense is as stout as it was against Minnesota last week, this shouldn’t be a problem at all. They effectively shut down Minnesota’s RB Dalvin Cook and should look to do the same against Aaron Jones.

In week 12, San Fransisco stifled the Packers, winning 37-8. Garropolo went off, spread the ball around, having a very impressive game. Tight end George Kittle also had a great game in week 12, with 6 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Both players will need to have another big game in order to keep up with Rodgers and the Green Bay passing attack. But this week, Kittle had a flare-up of an ankle injury that caused him to miss practice on Wednesday. And if he’s out, that’s a huge part of their offense missing.

So Who Wins?  While I don’t think it’ll be as big of a margin as it was in week 12, I think that the 49ers will come away with the win. Their defense will be too much for Green Bay to handle. I’m not a betting person, so I don’t know the odds or the over/under, but final score:  49ers 25 – Green Bay 21.

 

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