GREEN BAY PACKERS (0-0)
at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (0-0)
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Line: San Francisco -4.5, Total: 48
Two of the past three NFC champions square off Sunday afternoon when the Packers visit the 49ers.
Green Bay has dominated this series since 1996, going 13-3 SU (10-4 ATS), including 5-2 SU (5-1-1 ATS) in San Francisco. However, the 49ers beat the Pack twice last year, 30-22 on the road and 45-31 in the playoffs when QB Colin Kaepernick rushed for an NFL quarterback record 181 yards, with four total TD (two rushing, two pass). Heíll miss top WR Michael Crabtree (Achilles) though, and the elite 49ers defense had major trouble stopping Packers QB Aaron Rodgers last year too, as he threw for 560 yards and 4 TD, tallying 53 points in the two losses. Although Mike McCarthy is 19-9 ATS (68%) as a road underdog since becoming the Green Bay head coach, San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh is 16-7 ATS (70%) in all games played on a grass field.
Can the Packers pull off the big road win? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. During the 2012 campaign, the experts combined for a 52% ATS success rate in NFL Best Bets, highlighted by StatFox Brian's 60% ATS mark (36-24-2 ATS) and StatFox Dave's 53% ATS accuracy (44-41-4). StatFox Scott and StatFox Gary dominated NFL Totals, with Scott going 57% (38-29-1) and Gary cranking out a 56% clip (28-22-1) during the season, capped off by a perfect 4-0 run in the postseason.
QB Aaron Rodgers is as good as anyone in the NFL throwing on the run, and theyíll keep moving the pocket behind a shaky offensive line that allowed him to be sacked 51 times last year. WR Randall Cobb takes some hand-offs and works underneath in the passing game while WR Jordy Nelson is the big-play receiver. WR James Jones and TE Jermichael Finley are key end-zone targets. Rookie RB Eddie Lacy has emerged as the teamís No. 1 back and should give the Packers more of a balance on offense. The Packers defense has certainly improved in the past few years, especially at home where they allowed just 17.5 PPG last year. The defensive line doesnít possess great pass rushers, but OLB Clay Matthews (13 sacks) takes care of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Even without Charles Woodson, who left for Oakland, this secondary still shines brightly with SS Morgan Burnett (123 tackles) and CBs Tramon Williams (16 PD) and Casey Hayward (6 INT). Green Bay placed 11th in the NFL in three main categories last year, scoring defense (21.0 PPG), total defense (337 YPG) and passing defense (218 YPG).
The 49ers have a big, man-blocking offensive line and frequently use either a fullback or a second tight end. RB Frank Gore is still the leader, getting a feature back workload. Itís a lot of play-action, pistol formations and moving around for QB Colin Kaepernick. His No. 1 target, possession WR Michael Crabtree, will be sidelined until at least December, while TE Vernon Davis is going to stretch the field more often than No. 2 WR Anquan Boldin. On defense, the 49ers defense was truly elite last year (17.1 PPG allowed, 2nd in NFL; 294 total YPG allowed, 3rd in NFL). It might be even better in 2013 after adding CB Nnamdi Asomugha, rookie FS Eric Reid and DT Glenn Dorsey. DEs Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks) and Justin Smith are both healthy, and ILBs NaVorro Bowman (148 tackles) and Patrick Willis (120 tackles) comprise the best linebacker duo in the NFL. CB Tarell Brown (13 PD) is an underrated corner who was a big reason why the Niners finished fourth in passing defense (200 YPG) and led the league by allowing just 5.65 passing YPA.