Sunday night’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers will have plenty of implications on the NFC playoff picture. Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers is aware of how big this game is:
“The way I look at it, we’ve got to beat them once at their place at some point. It would be nice to do it now.”
The bye would be big for San Francisco. Having a week off late in the season will be imperative for players to get healthy. Also, it gives the 49ers the easiest path to the big game. If the Niners win Sunday, they’d have a two-game lead on Green Bay in the NFC playoff standings.
Rodgers talked about the seeding while acknowledging there is a lot of football to play:
“We’re all aware of where we’re at in the seeding going into Week 12 and what’s in front of us and the opportunities. There’s still a lot of football to be played and a lot can happen. I think you’re just in denial if you don’t think about the implications with a ‘Dub’ or an ‘L’ this week and how that affects stuff down the line. That’s why I said, the way we look at it, we’re going to have to win there one time the rest of the year. It would be nice to get it done this week.”
A lot can obviously change over the next month or so, but according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the winner of this weekend’s matchup will have more than a 40% chance to earn the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers’ chances would be 45% and the Packers’ 44% with a win, according to FPI. A 49ers’ loss would give them a 10% shot at the top seed. Every Niners win gives them more margin for error as the season goes along.
This game will be a challenge for San Francisco. Green Bay has beaten all six teams that entered the game they played with a winning record. With that said, the Packers haven’t seen this type of speed on defense. They’ve played teams with a winning record, but those teams don’t scare you. Green Bay gave up 24 points to a Chiefs team without Patrick Mahomes. They lost on the road to a Chargers team that looks inept every week. Are the Packers good? Yes. Are they better than the 49ers? No. I’m a believer in point differential and the Pythagorean win expectation telling the story of a team’s ability to win games is as opposed to their win/loss record. The Packers are closer to a six-win team, and the 49ers are over an eight-win team. Green Bay is + 45. San Francisco is +140 in terms of point differential. Despite injuries, the coaching staff has had the Niners playing well, no matter who is on the field.