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Experts Predict Outcome of 49ers-Packers Matchup

Posted Jan 3, 2014

49ers.com compiled the picks of NFL experts in advance of Sunday's game in Green Bay.

Who ya got?

As we approach the 49ers-Packers Wild Card playoff opener, that is the question.

Read the experts' picks, then provide your own answer in our comment section.

Peter King of The Monday Morning Quarterback: San Francisco 25, Green Bay 20

I say the Packers’ only chance is to force two turnovers or more, and to hold the Niners to eight possessions—and when that’s your best chance, I don’t like your chances. This will be a Frank Gore game. A couple of bad things for the Pack: Rookie running back Eddie Lacy, a Louisianan by way of Alabama, is playing with a bad ankle already, and he told me this week he had to leave the game in Chicago last Sunday briefly because his hand got numb and he feared not being able to feel the ball; well, it’ll be about 20 degrees colder this weekend. And the Pack’s allowing 4.6 yards per rush. That fits right into what Greg Roman, the San Francisco offensive coordinator, likely wants to do: run Frank Gore 28 times. This shapes up as a runner’s game, and I’ve seen Gore dominate too many times to think in a game when the ball’s as hard as a brick he won’t be able to dominate against a bad run defense again. Could Aaron Rodgers makes this a shootout? Maybe. I just can’t see the Niners not being able to get to him, and I can’t see Rodgers being able to have a great day in a stiff breeze when the wind chill’s around minus-20. All in all, I’ll be glad to be watching this one on TV.

Elliott Harrison of NFL.com: San Francisco 23, Green Bay 20

Is anyone not looking forward to this game? For that matter, is anyone more excited than Frank Gore? If you've watched the Packers' defense this season, you know it can be run on ... a lot. Green Bay allowed 125 rushing yards per game at 4.63 yards per carry. There is no reason to thinkJim Harbaugh and his Niners staff won't use their full stable of backs to pound the Packers' front seven into submission. It's too bad Bruce Miller is hurt. It's not too bad that Colin Kaepernick is playing. So maybe Kaepernick won't put up 181 rushing yards like he did against the Packers in the playoffs last season; he can still certainly run for 50. Utilizing Kaepernick on zone-read plays and option runs will make Green Bay play 11-on-11, not 11-on-10, as the Pack would be able to do if it were Shaun Hill, Jim Druckenmiller or Steve Bono lining up under center for San Francisco. Not to mention (but we'll mention) the fact that limiting Aaron Rodgers' possessions always makes sense, especially when one considers that rookie Packersback Eddie Lacy is going to find the 49ers' run defense (which allowed just 95.9 rushing yards per game) to be slightly tougher than the Bears' (161.4 rushing yards per game).

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com: San Francisco 31, Green Bay 24

Aaron Rodgers gives the Packers a chance to win every week, and their offense is good enough to put up 40 points, even against a strong 49ers defense. But the 49ers are simply the better, more complete team here. They can win in a variety of ways, while the Packers don't have a defense that is playoff-ready. At least not in this loaded NFC.

Bill Williamson of ESPN.com: San Francisco 34, Green Bay 27

The 49ers are the better team. They should win and they're 3-0 against Green Bay under Jim Harbaugh. This will not be an easy victory, but I expect the 49ers to make enough big plays to overcome Aaron Rodgers and move on into the divisional round.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com: San Francisco 35, Green Bay 28

Regular season or playoffs, at Lambeau Field or Candlestick Park, it hasnt mattered when or where the Packers have played the 49ers of late. The result has been the same for Green Bay -- losses every time. It's hard to imagine the Packers' defense coming up with the stops it hasn't been able to get in the recent meetings.

Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News: San Francisco 30, Green Bay 27

This game, however, will be decided by who can put the other team on ice in the trenches. The Packers’ front seven is missing Clay Matthews and Johnny Jolly. That will allow the 49ers’ stout offensive line to control the action. With it will come more strong running from Frank Gore, Colin Kaepernick and others.

John Breech of CBSSports.com: San Francisco 34, Green Bay 27

Colin Kaepernick will try and do something on Sunday that Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana never did with the 49ers: Win two playoff games on the road (Montana was 1-3 in road playoff games with San Francisco. Kaepernick is already ahead of Steve Young, who won zero road playoff games on the road with the 49ers). Anyway, the Packers had trouble stopping Kaepernick in last year's playoffs (444 total yards, four touchdowns) and they had trouble in this year's regular season opener despite having an entire offseason to figure out a way to slow him down. In Week 1, Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and a touchdown. Not only does Green Bay's defense have to figure out how to slow down Kaepernick, they have to do it without Clay Matthews. Aaron Rodgers will probably also notice that going against the 49ers fifth ranked defense won't be the same as going against he Bears 30th ranked defense.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk: San Francisco 31, Green Bay 21

This is the playoff game I’ve been hoping for since Week One, when these teams played a great game. The return of Aaron Rodgers last week got the Packers into the playoffs, and I expect him to have a big game on Sunday in Green Bay as well. The problem, however, is that the Packers are simply not a complete team. Frankly, Green Bay’s defense stinks. Colin Kaepernick has shredded the Packers’ defense in both of their previous meetings, and he’ll do it again.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk: Green Bay 21, San Francisco 17

An undeserved home-field advantage becomes nearly insurmountable with frigid temperatures and wind chills that will test the 49ers like never before.  The Packers, rejuvenated by the return of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, already are living on house money.  It’ll become igloo money on Sunday, and the Packers will head to the divisional round for the fourth straight year. 

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