For the second consecutive week, the Green Bay Packers look to be the most likely betting choice for Sunday Night Football. The Packers visit the San Francisco 49ers, who have the second-best strength of schedule in the league, in an NFC divisional playoff game at 7:30 p.m. EST.
Based on 128 post-season games in the past two seasons of the Eagles vs. Packers model, the team that plays with the greatest consistency, team that plays with the greatest desire to win is the best. The Eagles, to the Packers, represent the great team they were expecting all year.
The Packers’ potential great team marks the 18th time in the past 11 playoff games that the team with the best intensions to win wins. In the past four playoff games played between the teams, the Packers have a 2-1 record. In every prior matchup, the Packers’ intentions were always to win. During the regular season of the past six and a half months, the Packers’ attempts were unconditional.
San Francisco starts this game with a lot of momentum, coming off its first win of the season on Saturday, 23-20 over the Cardinals. The 49ers’ win signifies a reborn sense of purpose. A valuable club operationally, San Francisco is a team that is ready to advance.
The 49ers haven’t won a playoff game since 2014.
The 49ers started that postseason 15-3, then lost and missed the playoffs because of injuries.
For more reasons than the weather, there is a strong push for a Monday Night Football game. The Packers beat their current opponent, the Washington Football Team, 29-9 back in October.
Green Bay is 1-1 in 2020 (going 1-1 against the spread), while San Francisco is 2-0 (1-0 ATS).
(ATS opens for Sunday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m. EST, ctshapoff.com).
Click to see the complete Packers vs. 49ers odds.
So what’s the logical or logical mismatch for this or any other game? What strengths and weaknesses could limit one or both teams to a truly phenomenal performance?
A quick answer: the lack of home games. The NFL allows one “home” game in each divisional round. The 49ers go to Green Bay for a rematch of their 32-30 overtime playoff game two seasons ago.
The Packers had their own blast of excitement late last season, knocking off the Los Angeles Rams in San Francisco.
That game looked like it would go differently. You will recall that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers underwent surgery for a fractured skull in October.
Not long after his surgery, the Packers’ passing defense seemed to grow. Green Bay’s overall defensive performance dramatically improved. But now the main concern has been a more stable attacking from Green Bay.
That challenges the game against a great offence. I chose San Francisco to be the ideal home underdog because the Packers are trying to prove they played significantly better in their Week 14 31-26 victory over the Cowboys. And even if the Packers win on Monday night, they will still need to put forth the same effort for a win against an even more-improved 49ers team.
The Seahawks played excellent in all three of their playoff games.
While Seattle has a nice home-field advantage — its ability to schedule games later in the season, against better teams — the Packers will not be playing a match with a historical class, which makes this matchup quite difficult to handicap and select.
Enter San Francisco, who finished the regular season with a 16-1 overall record and a 7-0 mark on the road. If they have built on their momentum from their success in the postseason, I’m going to go with the 49ers. As long as coach Kyle Shanahan has a formula of game-plan preparation and execution, San Francisco will start with a great opportunity.
For the Packers, it’s encouraging that their passing game seems in place. Although quarterback Brett Favre left the Packers, Packers coach Mike McCarthy continues to tweak the scheme. Playing this game in the home stadium could be the difference for Green Bay.
But my choice was San Francisco, too. And it should have been.
Cowboys fans will recall the agony of going to Green Bay and watching a great team lose and go home.
Their gut won this game. Meanwhile, the Packers’ chance to lead the NFL in standard deviation suggests an absence of some stuff that led their 2019 first-round playoff exit.
As I explained last week, we love to bet Packers vs. Saints. Packers vs. Seahawks may be another good game. For now, though, Green Bay leads the NFL by a wide margin in standard deviation.