We’re through the NFC Wild Card round, and that means the Divisional Round matchups are set. The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers have waited patiently for their opponents to be decided, and here’s the lineup for next weekend.
Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, January 11, 4:35 p.m. NBC
Dalvin Cook returned from his shoulder injury with a vengeance and rushed for 94 yards and two scores in his team’s 26-20 overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. But he wasn’t the only player who returned to peak form. Adam Thielen recovered from an early fumble in the contest to finish with seven receptions for 129 yards. Kirk Cousins wasn’t spectacular through most of the game, but came up some big throws down the stretch. His game-winning throw to Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone sealed the deal for the Vikings. Cousins finished with one touchdown pass and went 19-of-31 in air for 242 yards. He hasn’t done well when pressured and should face plenty when he goes face-to-face with 49ers’ elite defensive line and sturdy secondary next weekend.
The 2018 and 2019 seasons are like night and day for the 49ers. San Francisco dealt with its fair share of injuries last year and finished 4-12, but drafting Nick Bosa second overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and getting signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo back in the fold for an entire season helped turn the team around. The 49ers’ pass defense is second to none and it has one of the NFL’s more tenacious pass rushes at its disposal. It also made some moves to improve at wide receiver this year to compliment George Kittle. San Francisco is gearing up for its first playoff appearance since 2013, and this new group looks like it could go the distance and reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2012 season.
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers, Sunday, January 12, 6:40 p.m. FOX
It’s not surprising that Russell Wilson came into town and knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, but he got a little help when the home team’s signal caller was ruled out with an injury early. Carson Wentz left the contest after making helmet-to-helmet contact with Jadeveon Clowney in the first quarter, and the Eagles couldn’t recover from such a critical blow. Seattle torched Philadelphia’s secondary with D.K. Metcalf, who totaled 160 receiving yards and a score on seven receptions. The Eagles’ offense, which was already thin at multiple skill positions, couldn’t recover. Seattle’s run game game was limited, as Wilson led the team in ground yardage (45). It might have to dominate almost exclusively through the air again against Green bay next week at Lambeau Field.
The Packers have been considered legitimate contenders for most of the Aaron Rodgers era, but times are changing. This year marks the end of a two-year playoff hiatus and Green Bay looks much more vulnerable that usual. The clutch gene that’s made Rodgers so special the past has been on and off. Do the Packers have a shot if Rodgers isn’t playing at an elite level and has limited talent at wide receiver? The answer to that question is still up for debate. This will be Green Bay’s first playoff game under the leadership of head coach Matt LeFleur, and how the team performs could have major implications on the direction on the team moving forward, despite its 13-3 record.