This is a tough one.
A really tough one.
Both the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers give you a lot of reasons to believe they can win today, making it extremely difficult to determine who has the advantage. Let’s take a look.
The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most lethal running attacks in the league.
The Packers have the NFL’s deepest receiving corp.
The 49ers have some banged up receivers, however, they also still have Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and a reduced but still-effective Randy Moss.
The Green Bay Packers have a recently re-energized defense, aided in great part by the return of Charles Woodson.
The 49ers have an elite defense that gives QBs nightmares, and even with an injured Justin Smith, they will likely give Rodgers fits all day. San Fran also boasts a very impressive secondary that may be able to stick with Green Bay receivers at times and will be aided by safety Dashon Goldson.
The Packers have their own pass rush that could give Colin Kaepernick trouble.
The 49ers are playing at home.
The Packers have Aaron Rodgers.
San Francisco’s recent QB change stretches the field and gives defenses more to worry about.
Neither team is perfect, but both are elite in several areas. And with home field advantage, San Francisco appears to have the edge. In my book, though, the Packers clearly have the edge with the 2011 NFL MVP. These teams can be compared right down the line, and while they are somewhat different, it would be hard to pick which is clearly better. Except in one regard.
I would go with Kaepernick over Alex Smith every time. Every. Single. Time. He can make a lot of throws that Smith would never have even attempted, but it is his legs that really allow him to be a game breaker. A team just needs to forget about him once and he’ll scamper down the field for a big play.
Again, it’s a no contest. If I had to pick between Kaepernick and Smith to lead my team, it’d be Kaepernick every time. But neither of them is Aaron Rodgers. With various factors canceling out others, the only apparent disparity is at the most important position in professional sports, and that is the tipping point for me. Kaepernick, for all his greatness, is a first-year starter and has never played in a playoff game. He’s never had to step out on the field and lead his team to victory against one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. He’s never been down in a playoff game and had to fight his way back into it. I think he is very capable of doing so and could end up being an elite quarterback down the line, but the lack of experience isn’t a minor issue.
Rodgers hasn’t just won a playoff game or two, he’s a Super Bowl champion. Past accomplishments mean nothing in the NFL playoffs; past experience means a whole lot.
Packers 24 Niners 17