Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers: 49ers to book their place in the Super Bowl

Jimmy Garoppolo 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo is looking to win his first Super Bowl as a starter

Dave Gray says the 49ers are just too strong for the Packers, and can book their place in the Super Bowl with a big win...

"It is hard to ignore just how big of a gulf there was between these teams in their week 12 match up. Since then the 49ers have arguably only gotten stronger."

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 01:15 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event

The 49ers are heavy favourites to win the NFC Championship and head to the Super Bowl. When they took on Green Bay earlier this season they won 37-8, and history is on their side. Teams that have won by 20 points or more are 13-0 when those teams have met in the playoffs in that same season.

Ring number two for Rodgers?

Aaron Rodgers is searching for just a second Super Bowl ring. He has had an up and down year in his first season under new head coach Matt LaFleur. There have been some huge highs such as the five touchdown game against the Raiders, and his 26 touchdowns are the most he has thrown in a season since 2016.

But he is not the same player that he was on that incredible 2011 MVP winning season. Nine of his sixteen games have seen him end with just one touchdown or fewer, and he has perhaps faced as much criticism than at any other time in his career. Often he will turn down an easy completion that will move the sticks, favouring the riskier, deeper throw that some say is him just looking for the glory pass. One thing is for sure, he is perhaps is capable as anybody of pulling it off, but often it hurts the team.

At his best he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league and writing him off is foolish. But the Packers need Rodgers to just take what is there. If he holds on to the ball for too long, searching for a play that isn't there, then he is going to be under constant pressure from the 49ers phenomenal defensive line.

Davante Adams is one of the best receivers in the game, but behind him the Packers have struggled to find any consistent production. Allen Lazard seems the most likely to step up out of the group.

Garoppolo can do enough

The 49ers are a much more run-heavy offence, but Jimmy Garoppolo has still played his part and has come up big when he has needed to in what is his first ever season playing all 16 games as starter.

His 27 touchdowns are more than his opposite number, but he has thrown 13 picks. The Packers pass defence is middle of the road, and he can certainly do some damage if he is required to. When these two met earlier this season he had his highest rated game of the season and that will give him confidence heading into what will be the biggest game of his career.

The 49ers need him to protect the ball against a defence that had more interceptions than any team other than the Steelers or Patriots in the regular season. But if he can then Garoppolo could well be adding to the two rings he picked up as Tom Brady's back up in New England.

Aaron Jones.jpg

Two strong run games

The two teams have some of the best rushing attacks in the league, but are built very differently. The Packers give nearly all the work to Aaron Jones, while the 49ers are built around a three man, sometimes even four man, committee.

Raheem Mostert finished the regular season as the lead back, but it was Tevin Coleman that did the damage last week against the Vikings with 105 yards and two touchdowns. It could well be Matt Brieda that gets the work this week, but the 49ers have probably the best rushing attack in the league. No matter who it is in the backfield, Kyle Shanahan always seems to find a way to get them into space and to really hurt the defence.

Jones led the league in total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns in the regular season. He added to that last week with two more to take him to 21 on the season. The worry for Green Bay will be that one of his worst games of the season came against the 49ers. Some of that can be put down to game flow with the Packers playing catch up, but he will need to be at his best if the Packers are going to be heading to Miami in a fortnight.

Defences that can win games

These are two of the best defences in the league. Both can turn the ball over regularly, whether that is through fumbles or interceptions.

The Packers got off to a superb start this season, but tailed off in the middle. Towards the end of the season they seemed to find something again though. Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith set the tone on that side of the ball and Za'Darius was probably one of the biggest snubs from this season's All Pro team.

San Francisco already have a fearsome defence, but they are also getting healthier. Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander both returned to the team last week and they could be the difference makers in this match up. It isn't just what they bring to the team themselves, they also free up the likes of Nick Bosa and the rest of the 49ers front seven the opportunity to do what they do best. Bosa has been superb this season and looks nailed on to take home the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He is a game wrecker and will be looking to get after Rodgers all game long.

49ers to head to Miami

It is hard to ignore just how big of a gulf there was between these teams in their week 12 match up. Since then the 49ers have arguably only gotten stronger. For me San Francisco are better on both sides of the ball. They have one of the best coaches in the league in Shanahan to go with that and it is hard to see how the Packers win this without Aaron Rodgers finding some magic and even that may not be enough.

Dave Gray's Regular Season NFL 2019/20 P/L

Staked: 92
Returns: 96.20
P/L: +4.20

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