Packers: Predicting both NFC divisional round games

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers are back in action this week after having a bye in the first round of the playoffs. They will take on the San Francisco 49ers, a familiar foe that has given the Packers fits in the playoffs in years past.

But we aren’t going to dwell on past performances. We are going to focus on the upcoming game Saturday night at Lambeau Field, a place where the Packers haven’t lost all season long with a perfect 8-0 record.

On the other side of the playoff bracket, the Bucs and Rams will be squaring off. Both of these divisional-round games are rematches of earlier games in the season. The Packers went to Santa Clara and defeated the 49ers on an epic final drive by Aaron Rodgers that led to a game-winning kick by Mason Crosby.

The Rams hosted Tampa Bay in Week 3 this season and came away with a 10-point victory over the Bucs.

So let’s take a look at both of these matchups and predict the outcomes of both games that will decide who plays for a shot at the Super Bowl in the NFC Championship game next weekend.

Packers vs. 49ers – Saturday, Jan. 22 – 7:15 PM CT – FOX

This is a game a lot of Packer fans are a little worried about. The 49ers love to run the ball with many different players, especially Deebo Samuel. The biggest weakness for the Packers? Run defense.

The 49ers are going to have to depend on the running game if they want to win this game. Jimmy Garoppolo is coming into the game banged up.

Jimmy G. hasn’t been the most productive quarterback passing the ball this season. Then you add in his shoulder injury and a thumb injury on his throwing hand. Throwing a ball with an injured thumb is already hard enough. Good luck doing it in cold weather.

Currently, the weather forecast for Green Bay on Saturday is a high of 21 degrees with 17 mph winds. By 7:15 at night, the sun will be down and you can expect it to drop to the teens. With that wind chill, it wouldn’t surprise me if the game reached the negatives.

That’s bad news for the 49ers.

The Packers’ pass defense has been pretty good this year with Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas. Now, they should be getting Jaire Alexander back for some snaps as well. Oh, and Za’Darius Smith too.

I think the Packers’ offense is going to put up 30+ points on Saturday night and I don’t think the 49ers will be able to keep up in a shootout. Deebo Samuel is a huge weapon, especially out of the backfield. But if they are down 10 points, they won’t be able to run the ball all game.

When they need to, they’ll lean on AJ Dillon to run the clock and churn out some yards late in the game. The Packers are getting a lot healthier this week than they were just two weeks ago while adding some high-caliber players.

Packers 34 – 49ers 24

Buccaneers vs. Rams – Sunday, Jan. 23 – 2:00 PM CT – NBC

I think this is going to be a fun game to watch. The Rams are getting hot and OBJ is becoming a bigger part of their offense. He and Cooper Kupp create one hell of a tandem at the receiver position. Now they got Cam Akers back in the backfield to pair with Sony Michel.

The Bucs are a little beat up offensively. They had a couple of offensive linemen go down in the game against the Eagles last week. Chris Godwin is out for the year, and Antonio Brown is no longer with the team. That leaves Tom Brady with Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game, which honestly, might be enough.

I think this is going to be a shootout and it will likely come down to the last possession. Can Matthew Stafford, who just won his first-ever post-season game last week, handle the pressure and take the Rams’ offense down the field for a win?

We all know Tom Brady can do it.

That’s where I think this game is decided. I trust Brady over Stafford. Add in the home-field advantage for the Bucs and I think they come away victorious in a close game and a trip to Lambeau next weekend.

Bucs 38 – Rams 35