The Green Bay Packers are set to face their biggest challenge this Saturday, going up against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. Having lost four straight playoff matchups against the 49ers, they can finally get revenge and beat the number one seed in the NFC.
The 49ers have arguably put together the best roster in the league with an NFL-leading five first-team All-Pros. The team with the second most was the Dallas Cowboys at four.
San Francisco is heavily favored to win this game. This is a familiar scenario for the Packers, as the same was true last week against Dallas.
It will be a huge challenge for the Packers this weekend, but their chances dramatically increase if these three players perform at a high level.
Packers can upset 49ers if these players make an impact
After being on the field for 95% of the defensive snaps against the Cowboys last week, it will most likely be Valentine and Jaire Alexander (if healthy) as the boundary corners this weekend. He had a good game last week but will need an even better performance against San Francisco.
Whether Valentine is lined up against Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk, he's sure to be targeted if Alexander is on the other side. The last team the Packers played with such a great WR duo was the Rams in Week 8, and Valentine allowed one completion for 14 yards and defended three passes, per PFF.
Walker will play various roles on the field, whether he is covering tight end George Kittle or tasked with stopping the run before it turns into a significant gain. The last time the Packers and 49ers faced off in the playoffs at Levi's Stadium, Green Bay's inside linebacker duo was Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson.
San Francisco had 285 rushing yards, with Raheem Mostert getting 220. To say the Packers' current duo is better cannot be understated with Walker and De'Vondre Campbell. Quay has quickly become a leader on defense.
With the Packers not exactly having that true run-stuffer on the defensive line, a lot of stops are going to fall on the linebackers, and Walker specifically. Controlling the run game will be crucial for the Packers this Saturday.
Love needs to continue his hot streak against a middle-of-the-pack passing defense. The 49ers have given up the 14th-most passing yards and ninth-most passing touchdowns. Since they have a top rushing defense in both yards and touchdowns, the air should be the path of victory for Green Bay.
The Packers saw so much success in the Wild Card Round because of how well Love played. Showing his ability to throw on the run or in unorthodox ways will come in handy, as San Francisco finished with the eighth-most sacks in 2023 (48).
Love finished with a near-perfect 157.2 passer rating in his first playoff start and will most likely need to do it again for a win that would advance him and Green Bay to the NFC Championship Game.