The NFL Playoffs are upon us. This weekend features four Wild Card games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. With the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles already eliminated, we are officially down to 10 teams. It only takes three or four wins to be crowned champion.
About four or five weeks before the end of the regular season, some were wondering if the 49ers would even get a Wild Card spot. The Arizona Cardinals were making a case to deserve a playoff berth; but the ‘9ers strung six wins together to run away with that race. Now, the San Francisco 49ers are the hottest team in the NFC Playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers are playing against the San Francisco 49ers for the fourth time in the last two seasons (regular season and post season games). This could be developing into a nice rivalry. Both teams have talented offenses, good head coaches, and a strong running game; and both teams really don’t like each other. If they continue to meet in the playoffs, the bad blood will continue to build.
Colin Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith near the beginning of last season, and that has proven to be a great decision by Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick seems to get more comfortable in this offense every time I watch them play. He has several big weapons to throw to, including Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, and now Michael Crabtree back from a torn Achilles tendon.
Along with the presence of veteran running back Frank Gore, Kaepernick is quite possibly the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL. He can beat you with a short pass, deep pass, or just turn it up field with his legs. The last time the ‘9ers played the Packers, we saw him dissect the defense with the pass. How will the Packers attempt to slow down this explosive QB? I think they should hurry Kaepernick and hit him as often as they can, which is easier said than done.
The 49ers defense has been one of the best in the NFL for the last few years. They have the best overall group of linebackers in the league, and they know how to stop the run as well as get after the quarterback. You must force turnovers and keep their defense on the field; tire them out and keep their offense cold. The 49ers have dominated teams in the turnover category. Time of possession is key when playing San Francisco, every first down is critical.
Finally, in order to defeat the reigning NFC champions, you must match (if not surpass) their level of physicality. Don’t let the ‘9ers bully you around and dictate the way the game is going. Run the football right up the middle and open the play-action passes. Hit their receivers at the line and force them off their routes. Frank Gore is going to get plenty of carries, get a solid hit on him every time he touches the ball. The 49ers are one of the toughest teams in the NFL, and they know that. Show up at game time ready to play some smash-mouth football.
(Keys to Beating the Green Bay Packers) (Keys to Beating the Cincinnati Bengals) (Keys to Beating the Indianapolis Colts) (Keys to Beating the Kansas City Chiefs) (Keys to Beating the New Orleans Saints) (Keys to Beating the Philadelphia Eagles) (Keys to Beating the San Diego Chargers)