Sunday Night's matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers pits the NFC's top teams in what could have major ramifications come Week 17. The winner of Sunday's game will take control of the #1 seed in the playoffs. More important may be that a win will help keep the 49ers in front of a Seattle squad who is rolling, and a win for the Packers keeps them a game ahead of their NFC North rival the Minnesota Vikings.
San Francisco enters the game with a 9-1 record and the toughest schedule in all of football the next three weeks. After the Packers, the 49ers will battle against the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. Kyle Shanahan may be shaking his fist at the NFL's schedule makers, but these tests will help to determine how real the 49ers are going into the postseason.
The 49ers boast the league's best passing-defense, and its defensive lines is tied for the league lead in sacks. San Francisco has also garnered 22 takeaways, good for third-best this season.
If there is a weak spot for the 49ers, it could be their rushing defense. In the squad's last four games, they have given up an average of 5.59 yards per carry.
San Francisco is second in the league in rushing, but with the expected absence of Matt Breida, the Niners will look to Tevin Coleman to fill in the role in the team's elite rushing attack. Jimmy Garapolo will look to continue stoking the fire he created against the Cardinals in what is a Packer's defense known for giving up plenty of yards. George Kittle is questionable for the game, and his addition would provide more firepower to an offense that already boasts strong Running Backs, Quarterbacks, and Emmanuel Sanders at Wide Receiver.
Packers fans will be jumping for joy upon reading the Injury Report this week. The Packers come into Sunday's primetime matchup with an essentially healthy team, something that has not been the case in year's past.
The new-look offensive attack under the guidance of Matt LeFleur will get its first crack against a difficult Niners front and secondary. With Aaron Rodger's has guided the offense to the 11th best passing attack this season and ranks in the top 10 in the league in yards, yards per attempt, passer rating and interception percentage. When Rodger's can't complete the plays with his arm, he hands the ball off to the double-headed rushing team of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, who have combined for over 1,400 yards and 20 Touchdowns this year, with Aaron Jones accounting for 14 for them, tied for the league lead.
The Achilles heel in Packer's team pasts have begun with the defense, and for this game, that story will be no different. After a dominant start to the season, the defense has been prone to allowing more points and more yards. The Packer's front seven will be put to the test against a difficult 49er rushing attack, as the team has given up 4.8 yards per carry this season. In five matches this year, the team has given up 149 yards or more. In a common "bend-don't-break mentality", the Packers allow 257.8 passing yards per game. However, allowing a plethora of yards hasn't always spelled success for opponents, as the Packers are only allowing touchdowns on 48.48% of opponents drive, good for 8th in the league according to teamrankings.com. The "Smith Brothers" (Zadarius Smith and Preston Smith) have combined for 18.5 sacks this season and look to wreak havoc on any of the Niners' offensive plans.
All eyes will be on Sunday Night's matchup, which will be on NBC at 8:20 PM ET.
The only question after this game will be whether the road to the Super Bowl goes through San Francisco or Green Bay.