NFL Divisional Round: 49ers at Packers Matchup & Prediction

BetQL breaks down the data and model trends to help you pick the winner

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How They Got Here

Much to the chagrin of Cowboys fans everywhere, the 49ers earned a gritty 23-17 victory in Dallas in the Wild Card Round to advance to this matchup. Meanwhile, the Packers watched from home as they earned a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Green Bay opened as a -4.5 point favorite and the total opened at 47.5 points. 

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers got off to a hot start against the Cowboys and outplayed Dallas on both sides of the ball in their opening-round win. Most noticeably, San Francisco controlled the time of possession (33:57 to 26:03) and out-rushed their opponents to the tune of 169 to 77. Heading into the game, the Niners had allowed only 3.1 yards per carry in their previous three contests, so they continued that prowess against Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard and Dallas’ offensive line.

While Kyle Shanahan’s team had some typical fourth quarter scares, it’s hard to ignore that the 49ers have gone 6-0 ATS in January games under him. He’s not going to ask Jimmy Garoppolo to take over the game, but rather manage it while running back Eli Mitchell (27 carries, 96 yards, TD vs. Cowboys) and Deebo Samuel (10 carries, 72 yards, TD) shoulder the load on the ground. The Niners will undoubtedly try to get George Kittle going in this contest, especially since he caught just one pass for 18 yards last week. 

Ultimately, the Niners were able to shut down Dak Prescott and that explosive offense last week, but will they be able to do the same against Aaron Rodgers and company in this game and control the ball enough to keep him off the field? That remains to be seen, but it will certainly be their game plan.

Over their last five games dating back to the regular season, the 49ers have gone 4-1 straight-up and 4-1 against the spread, which makes them an attractive option as an underdog.

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Green Bay Packers

The Packers got to watch the first round of the playoffs in the comfort of their own homes and one of the storylines that will come up repeatedly heading into this game will be: “is Rodgers playing against his future team?” If you remember back to the preseason, the 49ers were reportedly one of the teams that Rodgers had a connection with. 

Nonetheless, he followed up last year’s MVP season with (presumably) another one in Green Bay this season, passing for 4,115 yards with 37 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Now with an absurd 449 touchdown passes compared to 93 interceptions in 213 career games, Rodgers’ Hall of Fame legacy can only be bolstered by another championship and he’s three wins away from another.

Despite the fact that Davante Adams is Rodgers’ clear-cut primary option every week and Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are a dynamic one-two punch at running back, opposing defenses have not been able to stop the concentrated attack with much consistency. Green Bay has averaged 30.6 points per game at home this season (5th in the NFL) and even though the Niners have shut down the run recently, San Francisco will have to deal with the pinpoint accuracy from the league’s best quarterback in the passing game.

I need to mention that under Matt LaFleur, the Packers have gone 9-0 ATS after a straight-up loss. They did lose their regular-season finale with most of their starters resting, but nonetheless, it’s a trend to be aware of.

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49ers-Packers Prediction

Rather than target either team against the spread or on the moneyline, I’m keyed in on the total. Under 47.5 points is BetQL’s recommended pick which is important because the model has gone 22-10 O/U (68.8%, +$1,000 on $100 bets) in Jimmy Garoppolo starts and won its O/U bet in the 49ers-Cowboys game.

Four of the last five Niners games have finished under the total and based on the way they’ve played over the last handful of weeks, I’m confident that they will try to run the football creatively, keep the clock running and therefore keep the ball out of Rodgers’ hands. I also don’t view San Francisco’s rushing defense as a fluke and view both defenses as underrated as a whole. BetQL is giving the Packers an A- defensive rating in this matchup and the 49ers a B+ defensive rating, and my mind is aligned with that. 

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