WHERE:Lambeau Field
SPREAD:Green Bay -6
DAY:Saturday Jan 22
TIME:8:15pm ET

MT pic.jpg

Mark Taylor

Football data analyst

San Francisco 49ers (11-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-4): Odds, picks, tips and predictions for NFC matchup

We’ve reached the last four in the NFC Divisional round, previously the round when the top two seeds entered the fray. Since the playoffs were extended to seven postseason sides per conference, the luxury of a wildcard weekend off has only been given to the very top seed and as a result, Green Bay alone join the post season party with a cleaner bill of health, extra preparation time and home field advantage for the duration.

Packers pass play

The Packers also boast the likely league MVP under centre. Aaron Rodgers has made some off-field headlines, notably concerning his continued tenure as a Packer since Green Bay took a first-round quarterback in the 2020 draft and his violation of COVID protocols earlier in the season.

But he’s also grabbed the headlines for the right reasons, adding more expected points per play than any other quarterback, throwing for 37 touchdowns and a miserly four interceptions. Turnovers kill teams, but Rodgers’ accuracy and smarts has kept the Packers towards the top of the tree for turnover differential.

They throw on 57% of snaps and this ratio remains when they’ve faced playoff caliber teams. Their scoring efficiency hasn’t been dulled against the best. They’ve scored three points per game more than the average concession rate of all their regular season opponents and maintain that against other playoff teams.

They’ve got a top-10 running game, that has been upped against other postseason teams and are returning injured players on the offensive line.

They are 6-3 in close games, including a two-point win in San Francisco in week 3, have 10.5 Pythagorean wins and have gone 8-0 at the inhospitable Lambeau Field. They aren’t overwhelming Super Bowl favorites, they are around a coin toss to make the big game and 25% to win it, they are the current team to beat.

Defensively, they are very good against the pass, reliable against the run when facing quality opposition and force sides to go aerial to keep up with Rodgers’ pace of scoring.

49ers picking up form

San Francisco has been in fine form as they’ve negotiated a route to the post season. They’ve consistently turned quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s accurate, short passes into large after-the-catch gains. Recently he’s had to overcome an injured throwing hand but that may prove more difficult to mitigate in the sub-zero temperatures of Green Bay.

They’ve found moving the ball much more of a challenge against other postseason sides. Garoppolo is still an above average passer, but his efficiency is reduced, they find running the ball difficult and score just 22 points per game against fellow playoff opposition that usually allow 24.5 ppg.

They’ve relied on their excellent defensive performances to stay competitive. They don’t have the crushing defense that appeared in Super Bowl LIV, but they are excellent against the run and shave nearly five points per game from the average scoring rate of other playoff sides. Scoring rates give the Packers a likely winning score of 26-20, but extra rest, the Lambeau effect in winter and a declining injury list gives them a decent chance to cover the current 5.5 points spread.

NFL playoff pick: Packers -5.5

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