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NFC Divisional Playoffs
Pick with Analysis
The San Francisco 49ers host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the nightcap on Saturday Night, an 8pm kickoff in what should be a classic. The 49ers are 3 point favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook with a total of 45. Ironically, as we write this on Tuesday afternoon, there is a fairly strong across the board move occurring on the Packers, with some books now at -2.5 -120 and others at -3 EV. The early betting action shows 63% of the early wagers are on the Packers at Sportsbook.ag. Those trends also show that bettors are favoring the over 45.
These two met back in September to open the year, in Green Bay, in a game that the 49ers won, 30-22 as 6 point road dogs. The 49ers held the Packers to just 45 rushing yards while they ran for 186. The 49ers led the game 23-7 in the 3rd quarter and 30-15 in the 4th. Back in September it was Alex Smith behind center for the 49ers. Now, it's Colin Kaepernick which should only add to what the 49ers can do on the ground.
It looks like a game that comes down to Aaron Rodgers and what he can do in the air and the 49ers and what they can do on the ground. The 49ers ranked 4th in rushing this year and also ranked 4th defensively against the run. If you look at the 4 games the 49ers lost, they were held to less than 100 yards in all but one of those games. The other one was an OT loss to the Rams. You want to beat the 49ers? Hold them to less than 100 yards on the ground. Something the Packers couldn't do the first time around.
The numbers we like to use don't help us much in this game. If we look at season to date numbers, we'd come up with a number of San Fran -3, just like the current line. If we use home and away stats only, the 49ers come out on top by 4. If we look at only the last 6 games, the Packers would have a significant advantage to the tune of 6 points.
The same holds true when running this game through our model. The predicted score using season to date stats is 26-18 in favor of the 49ers. If we use the last 7 games it's 28-22 San Fran and if we use only the last 5 games, the Pack comes out on top 27-25. All depends how much emphasis you want to place on the last 5 games or so.
This is a unique game in that it features two teams that were shockingly eliminated from the playoffs last season with the Packers getting ousted by the Giants after a 15-1 season and the 49ers also going down to the Giants in the Title game. Each gets a 2nd chance to get back to where they thought they'd be last year.
We loved the 49ers last season. Felt they had the best defense in the NFL hands down and they were our pre season pick to win this years Super Bowl. The feeling heading into this year was that with a few improvements to the offense, which they did make, this team would be unstoppable. But last years team was better. Last years team wouldn't have lost 42-13 to Seattle. They wouldn't have tied the Rams twice or lost at home to the Giants 26-3.
Bottom line? Well, the bottom line is that this is a tough game to pick. Would anyone out there be surprised to see either of these teams advance? We sure wouldn't. But the feeling here is that it's once again going to come down to who can move the ball on the ground and we think the 49ers are more likely to be that team. Add in the home field advantage and the week of rest and we think that puts this one over the top. Also keep in mind that just a few short weeks ago, the 49ers went on the road and beat another one of the best QB's this league has to offer. They beat all time great Tom Brady and the Patriots, in Foxboro, 41-34. That game not only proved that they could win a road game against an elite team and QB, it also proved they could win a game with their offense. The 49ers were up 31-3 in the 3rd quarter in that one and allowed the Patriots to come all the way back and tie it. In the end, the 49ers didn't quit and came out on top.
The beginning of the Patriot game shows us what the 49ers are capable of. The end of that game shows us that this team doesn't quit and can overcome adversity. It also shows us they can win a 17-14 type of a game, or a 41-34 game. This one should be a good one but we think the 49ers have enough small edges to go along with the better running game and rushing defense to end up on top. 49ers -2.5 -120
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