One of my favorite things about the 2010 championship season was all of the wrongs that were righted. Obviously winning the second Super Bowl of my lifetime and the club’s 13th title was important, but there were so many demons that were exorcised by Aaron Rodgers and the 2010 Packers.
During the regular season the traitorous Brett Favre and his Vikings were dispatched. First the Packers defense got the Favre monkey off their back by forcing the Gunslinger into 3 INTs and thwarting a patented Favre comeback. In the second game (in Minnesota) Rodgers buried Favre and the Childress-era Vikings 31-3.
Michael Vick and the Falcons won the first playoff game by a visitor at Lambeau field, a painful day for Packers fans. Green Bay dismissed Vick in the Wild Card round and the Falcons in round 2. Most of the post-Super Bowl XXXI pains were put away by that 2010 team.
Since Super Bowl XLV title new demons have arisen. Packers fans have awful memories of the Giants, Seahawks and 49ers, losing regular season and playoff games to each. The Giants have taken care of themselves and aren’t a very good football team anymore. Since Super Bowl XLV, the Seahawks beat Green Bay in the “Fail Mary” game, the season opener of 2014 and the NFC Championship game of the same season. Seattle was just dispatched by the Packers at home on Sunday Night Football and sit at an unimpressive 1-2.
The 49ers are the last remaining demon of the post Super Bowl XLV era. Most of the players that caused problems for the Packers are gone. Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore are gone, but Colin Kaepernick remains. Kaepernick has beaten the Packers twice, and in two different ways. The playoff victory was a dominant rushing performance, setting a QB playoff rushing record with 181 yards on the ground. The following season Kaepernick torched Green Bay through the air, going 27/39 for 412 yards and 3 TDs.
That’s not going to happen on Sunday. Kaepernick doesn’t appear to be that quarterback any more and even more than that he doesn’t have the same weapons. The Packers are heavily favored on the road against a 49er team that just got massacred by the Arizona Cardinals. Exorcising this demon might be fun.
Why the Packers Will Win: they are the better team. San Francisco simply suffered too many losses. Jim Harbaugh is gone. Most of the defense is gone. A lot of the offense is gone. If Kaepernick was some transcendent talent he might be able to overcome those losses but he’s not. He’s an above average starting QB in the NFL. According to FootballOutsiders’ DVOA, the 49ers defense ranks 30th in the league. That ranking takes into account the 49ers dominance of the Vikings in week one. Beat up or not, this Packers offense still has Aaron Rodgers and is a problem for any defense.
Offensively things aren’t going much better for the 49ers. Carlos Hyde seems to be every bit as good as Frank Gore but you can’t run the ball a whole lot when you’re getting smoked. Kaepernick was a disaster a week ago, throwing 4 interceptions against 0 touchdowns, with two of those INTs being returned for TDs. The strength of the 49ers offense was the offensive line for a very long time and most of those key players are gone. Jonathan Goodwin and Mike Iupati play for other teams and RT Anthony Davis retired. This Packers defense is, in my opinion, the finest unit they’ve had since 2010. I think it will show on Sunday.
Why the 49ers Will Win: the Packers aren’t that great of a road team. It’s a statistic that cherry picks quite a bit because of Aaron Rodgers’ 2013 injury but the Packers are just 9-9 in their last 18 road games. I understand that the Packers mantra is to split your road games and go undefeated at home, but this roster is too good to go .500 for any reason, no matter where the games are played. Part of the reason I picked the Packers to go 13-3 this season is that I predicted a better effort on the road.
If the Packers offense struggles to get ahead early it’s entirely possible that San Francisco could keep themselves in the game until the latter part of the game. In a close game, if I were the 49ers, I would use Carlos Hyde and Kaepernick to test the perimeter of the Packers run defense. BJ Raji and Mike Daniels have proven too tough of a task to run against up the middle. If the Packers struggle on offense and struggle to contain the perimeter running game they could lose a close, low scoring game. It could happen.
Bottom Line: I’m more nervous that I should be about this game. I think a lot of us are more nervous than we should be about this game. Yes, it’s a road game. Yes, it’s against the 49ers. Yes it’s possible that Minnesota is a good team and they got their asses kicked in Santa Clara. These concerns and thoughts are much more associated with the uniforms across the field and not the players in those uniforms. The 49ers roster isn’t very impressive and they aren’t very well coached anymore. Coach McCarthy purported that his “fast start” would be achieved if the Packers win on Sunday and move to 4-0. I expect that to happen quite easily. Packers 38 49ers 17
You guys didn’t really think I was going to use this title and not show this video, did you?