Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 44.5)
The dream matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game last season never materialized after the Packers dropped the divisional round game at home to the New York Giants. This year Green Bay took care of business at home in the wild-card round, sending Aaron Rodgers and company to San Francisco to face a well-rested 49ers defense.
San Francisco got a win over Arizona in Week 17 to edge the Packers for a first-round bye and closed the season by winning five of its last seven, with the lone setbacks coming on the road. The 49ers went 6-1-1 in Candlestick Park this season and beat Green Bay 30-22 at Lambeau Field in Week 1. San Francisco has gone through a change at quarterback since then, replacing Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick, and has seen a boost in its offense as a result. The Packers had little trouble shutting down the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson last Saturday in a 24-10 triumph.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE: Some online books opened as high as San Francisco -3.5 and some have made the move off the key number to -2.5 with money coming in on Green Bay. The majority of markets opened the Niners as juiced field-goal favorites but have since moved to plus money with action on the Packers coming in at a 4-to-1 pace.
CONSENSUS: Over 61 percent of Covers Consensus players like Green Bay to cover and 59 percent are on the over.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-40s with partly cloudy skies. Winds will be light out of the west at 5 mph.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (12-5): Green Bay has most of its defense healthy for the first time in weeks and spent the wild-card round attacking Vikings backup quarterback Joe Webb. Clay Matthews, looking fully recovered from a hamstring injury that has limited him at times, had a pair of sacks and forced a fumble while Charles Woodson played for the first time since breaking his collarbone on Oct. 21. With those two playmakers back, the Packers forced three turnovers and managed to hold Peterson under 100 yards rushing. The focus this week will be on Rodgers facing a San Francisco defense that has held opposing passers to 200.2 yards - fourth-best in the NFL - and finished second in the league in scoring defense. Rodgers passed for 303 yards but struggled until late in the game and was intercepted once in the first meeting. He should have a better rushing attack behind him in Saturday’s game, with DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant taking handoffs. Rodgers was the leading rusher for the Packers in Week 1 and could be without one of his top receiving targets Saturday in Jordy Nelson, who is questionable with a knee injury.
ABOUT THE 49ERS (11-4-1): San Francisco has a solid candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in Aldon Smith and has surrendered an average of 13.9 points in eight home games. That defense is keyed on the front line by tackle Justin Smith, who has been dealing with a triceps injury and missed the final two games of the regular season. Justin Smith was wearing an elbow brace but has been practicing and is listed as probable for Saturday. On the other side of the ball, the 49ers will be giving the Packers a much different look than in Week 1. Kaepernick passed for a career-high 276 yards in a Week 17 win over the Arizona Cardinals and has opened up the playbook with his ability to extend plays with his legs and one of the stronger arms in the league. The 25-year-old finished up the regular season with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions and was at his best in some of the biggest games, including a four-touchdown performance at New England in Week 15.
* Packers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Packers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Over is 4-0 in 49ers’ last four games overall.
1. San Francisco RB Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards on 16 carries against the Packers in Week 1 but has not reached 100 on the ground in any of the last nine contests.
2. Rodgers has only been intercepted four times in seven career playoff starts.
3. 49ers K David Akers tied the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in the Week 1 meeting but has struggled of late, prompting San Francisco to audition replacements. Veteran Billy Cundiff was signed on Jan. 1 to offer some competition.