Packers dealt softball by Vikings, advantage 49ers

USA TODAY Sports

We discuss how the Wild Card round between the Packers and Vikings impacts the NFC Divisional round at Candlestick.

The 2013 Wild Card round is officially in the books. San Francisco’s Divisional round opponent was officially determined when Green Bay won over Minnesota at Lambeau. One of the key factors was when QB Christian Ponder was ruled out and Joe Webb was given the starting nod.

The first round of the postseason can be competitive, however, this game was not. Even if Ponder were starting, the Vikings were already significant underdogs on the road. If Minnesota had their starting quarterback, they might have had a fighting chance.

With Ponder out with an elbow injury, the Packers could key in on Adrian Peterson. The Vikings back, who gained over 2,000 yards this season, was held to less than 100 against his division rival.

Peterson only had 22 carries for 99 yards on the day – a player who had 7 games this season where he racked up 150 or more yards rushing. With that element all but taken out of the game – coupled with the disappearance of the passing game – it was only a matter of time before Aaron Rodgers and the Pack ran away with it.

The Vikings played the Packers hard, at least defensively. They were still physical with them, limiting Rodgers to one passing touchdown and sacking him three times. It was the defense’s attempt to try and keep them in the game. They needed to create opportunities defensively to account for the QB change.

The biggest concern the Packers should have as they look forward to face the 49ers is that they weren’t challenged the week before.

At no point during the game were the Packers truly threatened. They were home, they were totally healthy and they had an extremely vulnerable opponent. It was Green Bay’s game to lose, all the way, and they did just enough to advance.

Even considering that it was in the Wild Card round, it was as cushy of a playoff game as you’ll ever witness. The level of competition that the Vikings played will pale in comparison to where 49ers should be at this Saturday.

Coming off the first-round bye, the 49ers are rested and ready to hit something. San Francisco will have home field advantage and an extra week’s preparation behind them. And perhaps they regain their swagger with the return of Justin Smith to the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Packers will have the typical soreness following a match-up just seven days prior.

There was never a doubt that Green Bay wasn’t in command last weekend because Minnesota couldn’t match up. Now they have to get ready for this week’s game because San Francisco is going to challenge them for sixty minutes or more.

But as carryover from the GB-MIN game, that complacency may interfere with the Pack as their offense is trying to take flight. It may also cause their defense to miss a step early on. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers gained the least possible momentum going from the Wild Card to the Divisional round.

For scale, compare them to how hot the Seahawks are right now going into the Georgia Dome. Or even Ray Lewis and the Ravens’ surge over the Colts to advance to Denver.

The Packers might not be ready for San Francisco’s best shot. When looking at the intangibles, one might favor the 49ers heading into this one.

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