The time has finally arrived. The day we all find out who will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers will be traveling to the San Francisco 49ers for the 2020 NFC Championship game.
How Did Green Bay Get Here?
The Green Bay Packers finished the regular season 13-3, which was good for the second seed in the NFC playoffs. After enjoying a first round bye, the Packers hosted the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. Aaron Rodgers was back to his vintage form, as he put up 243 yards, two touchdowns, and two insanely clutch third down completions to secure the game. Pro Football Focus gave Rodgers the best grade of the game (92.8). It was also his second highest of the season, and highest post-season grade since the Super Bowl in February 2011. Davante Adams had his best game of the season, finishing with eight catches, 160 yards, and two touchdowns. Davante’s route running was spectacular, as he was able two burn his defenders on both touchdowns. Aaron Jones added two scores on the ground himself.
On the defensive side, the Packers shut down Marshawn Lynch (26 yards) and sacked Russell Wilson five times. Za’Darius and Preston Smith both added two sacks each, and Kenny Clark was able to get him once as well. The secondary did struggle a little, as they allowed 136 yards and a touchdown to Tyler Lockett. Otherwise, the defense did hold them to 33% on third down, and only allowed 23 points.
How Did San Francisco Get Here?
San Francisco secured the top seed in the NFC playoffs. They finished 13-3 and claimed home field advantage throughout the playoffs. In the divisional round, they played the Minnesota Vikings. What was a close game in the first half, was a blow out in the second. Jimmy Garoppolo was fine, finishing with 131 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also only completed passes to four different pass catchers. It was the running game that kept the offense moving. Tevin Coleman had 105 yards and two touchdowns, and Raheem Mostert added 58 yards of his own. As a team, they finished with 186 yards rushing and wore the Vikings defense down.
Defensively, the 49ers laid it on the Vikings. They allowed just 10 points, 147 totals yards, and held them to 2/12 on third down. They sacked Kirk Cousins six times, forced an interception, and held Dalvin Cook to 18 yards on just nine carries. San Francisco will be looking to bring the heat against Green Bay to keep the pressure on Rodgers.
Keys To Victory For The Packers
Getting Pressure On Jimmy Garoppolo
When the two teams faced off in week 12, Garoppolo finished with 253 yards, two touchdowns, a quarterback rating (QBR) of 145.8, all while completing 70% of his passes. A key to victory is making his make plays outside of the pocket. Getting him uncomfortable and getting pressure will make it easier to get turnovers.
Protecting Aaron Rodgers
In week 11, Rodgers was getting hit/pressured all game. He ended up getting sacked five times, and had a defender in his face a whole lot more. Keeping him upright and protected will go a long way in having a successful day. Rodgers did well against pressure versus Seattle, but a clean pocket never hurt either.
Stop The Run
Although the Packers held Marshawn Lynch in check last week, stopping the 49ers three-headed beast will be a much tougher task. San Francisco is the second best rushing team in the league, averaging 144.1 yards per game. Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert combined for 1939 yards rushing and 15 rushing touchdowns. The Packers have been inconsistent against the run this year so they will need a big game from guys like Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez if they are going to stop the run.
Something that has kept Aaron Rodgers going throughout his career, is the massive chip he has on his shoulder from the 49ers passing him up on draft day. He will have his chance to give the ultimate pay back- earning a trip to the Super Bowl by winning the NFC championship in San Francisco. Green Bay will be ready this time, and wont be rolled over the way they were before. Currently on a six game win streak, Green Bay will be extending it to seven as they win 24-23. Green Bay will be heading back to the Super Bowl.
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