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NFC Championship Preview

DTJ January 14, 2020 21

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On Sunday afternoon, right down the road in Santa Clara, California, The San Francisco 49ers host the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl LIV. This matchup will mark the 8th time the 49ers and Packers meet in the Playoffs, with the Packers leading the series 4-3. The San Francisco Chronicle posted a write up on the rivalry, available here.

Before I give you my keys to victory for both teams and my prediction, here’s a recap the Divisional Round.

Let’s start with some Q&A:

Ok, you probably saw that coming. It’s too bad Kirk Cousins didn’t see the 49ers defensive front seven or secondary creating the type of chaos and confusion they did on Saturday. While the defensive stats won’t seem historically impressive (4 sacks and one momentum crushing interception by Richard Sherman), great defensives consistently take away what you do best, which is what this Niners did on Saturday. It’s easy to forget that just three weeks ago, the 49ers were, literally, inches away from being a five seed instead of one, thanks to a failed Russell Wilson Seahawks rally. Destiny often comes down to inches. Football, a wise man once said, is also game of inches. The 49ers beat the Vikings by a mile. There are about 63,360 inches in a mile, which is the same as 1,760 yards, in case you were wondering. And speaking of yards, let’s talk about the 105 yards and two touchdowns put in by Tevin Coleman, who is not even the Niners #1 Option at Running Back. This Niners team does whatever it needs to win, whether they need to shoot it out or tough it out.

And speaking about tough, what about that Packers-Seahawks game? If and when Tom Brady retires, the throne for Comeback King belongs to Russell Wilson. That game felt over early in the third quarter with the Packers holding a 28-10 lead and the Seahawks seemingly unable to sustain any drives. But when you think the Seahawks are dead in the water, that Russell Wilson finds a way to come back. Unfortunately, for the 2nd time in 3 weeks, it just wasn’t enough. The Packers did just enough to hold on to this one, 28 -23. Truthfully, it shouldn’t have even been this close. If you can’t already tell by my lack of mention, I’m not all that impressed with the Packers. But my personal feelings aside, they keep finding ways to win. They also have a Field General at Quarterback who knows how to win a war. I can already hear some of you saying, “But D, the Niners already stomped a mudhole in this team during Week 10”. Yeah, that’s facts. But that was also Week 10.

What Does All of This Mean for This Weekend?

If the 49ers Win – It will be because Jimmy Garoppolo threw for at least 250 yards, two touchdowns, and didn’t turn the ball over. The Niners receiving core, including Deebo Samuels, Emmanuel Sanders, and George Kittles capitalized on opportunities for big plays. And the Niners defense was able to pressure Aaron Rodgers into inaccurate throws or to settle for short check downs.

If the Packers Win – It will be because it snows in Santa Clara. Seriously, with all the talk about Aaron Rodgers underperforming under Matt Lafleur’s offense, I feel he is due for one great Aaron Rodgers type game. You know, where he throws for 400 yards and 4 TDs to receivers as unidentifiable as the Patriots roster. I’m not convinced even that type of performance would be enough. If the Packers secondary can play the Niners receivers physically while not surrendering too many big plays, and Aaron Rodgers goes berserk, then you have a game.

Who Will Win? Here are some interesting facts about me that may or likely not influence your pick:

  • In 2016, I lived in New England and the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Even funnier coincidence, the Falcons were leading through halftime of that Super Bowl (LI)and I missed the whole first half due to a power outage. The Patriots comeback started right after my power was restored. No, I’m not a Patriots fan. But it’s the moment even I had to acknowledge Brady’s GOAT status.
  • In 2017, I spent most of my free time in South Jersey with my then fiancé. The night of Superbowl LII, I watched the game from her place, which was in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The Eagles beat the Patriots and the Curse, all in one night.
  • In 2018, my now wife and I had settled back in New England. Yeah, Tom Brady’s excellent, but he’s not gonna beat the new “Greatest Show on Turf,” right? Except he did. Real GOATs do real GOAT things.
  • In 2019, the wife and I relocated to the Bay Area, literally miles from where the 49ers play.

 Is it a coincidence? Not sure, but until proven otherwise, just go with it. I’m taking the Niners.

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