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NFL Playoff Preview: San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Full NFL playoff preview of the first round battle between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

Packers 49ers
Packers 49ers

San Francisco, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) reacts after picking up a first down next to San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner (31) in the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Packers 34-28. Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

One man’s paradise can be another’s eternal lament.

Translation? Frank Gore might be licking his chops as he and his San Francisco 49ers head to Lambeau Field to face a Green Bay Packers team that has ranked 31st in the league with 157.2 rushing yards allowed per game over the last nine weeks, but teammate Carlos Rogers is just as assuredly shaking in his boots over the prospect of facing arguably the league’s most re-energized pass offense in the opening round of the NFL playoffs at less than tip-top condition.

Such are the varied plights of one man going up against the league’s most porous run defense vs. one taxed with the job of slowing down one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

Indeed, it’ll be a battle of wills when the 49ers and Packers resume their heated rivalry at legendary Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Niners got the better of their longtime rivals in last year’s post season, knocking off the visitors in a wild and high-scoring shootout 45-31. Matters were much the same in Week 1 of this season, when they again prevailed over the Packers 34-28 in a very early NFL playoff preview.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw for 655 yards and five touchdowns combined to lead the Niners. Still, no one figures to be any more juiced about facing the Packers than Gore.

After being held to just 20 yards rushing in the team’s season finale against Arizona, Gore has to be emboldened by the thought of butting heads with a team he has averaged nearly 100 yards against and scored in the last three times he’s faced them. To add insult to injury, the Packers will also be without linebacker and top defensive player Clay Matthews.

Even with Matthews in the lineup most of the time, Green Bay allowed 157.2 rushing yards, 5.2 yards a carry, and seven 100-yard rushers over the last nine games. By contrast, the Niners have only allowed seven 100-yard rushers in their past 78 games dating back to 2009.  In addition, the 1,415 rushing yards the Packers have allowed since Week 9 are just 120 fewer than San Francisco has allowed all season.

But what the Packers lack in grit and toughness, Aaron Rodgers and company tend to make up for with explosiveness. With Rodgers back at the saddle in last week’s winner-take-all battle against the Bears, Green Bay amassed 318 passing yards and Rodgers threw for two scores, including the 48-yard game-winner to Randall Cobb with just seconds remaining on the clock. In the eight games he’ started this season, Rodgers has thrown for an average of more than 300 yards and two touchdowns.

Even on a good leg, such consistent heavy-lifting would have to give Rodgers pause. Either way, the 32-year-old vet insists he’ll be a go as one of the anchors for a team that has allowed just over an average of 15 points a game in putting together its current six-game winning streak.

In the eight games Rodgers has stood under center for the Packers, the team has averaged better than 26 point an outing.

Clearly, something will have to give.

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