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It’s 49ers at Packers in NFC Divisional Playoffs

The San Francisco 49ers upset the Mike McCarthy-coached Dallas Cowboys to advance to an NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – There will be no shortage of drama when the Green Bay Packers host the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC divisional playoff game next weekend.

There’s the Packers' decade-long pursuit of another Super Bowl. There’s Packers coach Matt LaFleur’s icy relationship with his counterpart, Kyle Shanahan. There’s Green Bay’s playoff history against San Francisco. And there’s the next tune in Aaron Rodgers’ potential “Last Dance” season with the Packers.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, the Packers got the first-round bye and the right to host the lowest remaining seed from wild-card weekend. That’s sixth-seeded San Francisco, which upset Mike McCarthy’s third-seeded Dallas Cowboys 23-17 on Sunday.

The Cowboys rallied from a 23-7 deficit and had a chance when Niners All-Pro offensive tackle Trent Williams was called for a false start on what would have been a clinching quarterback sneak with 40 seconds to go. Dallas started at its 20 with 32 seconds left. A trick play gained 20, a screen gained 10 and other completion gained 10 more to the Niners’ 40 with 14 seconds to go. Dak Prescott scrambled to the 49ers’ 24, was tackled in bounds and time ran out as the official spotted the ball.

The Packers-49ers rematch is set for Saturday night. It will be cold. The Saturday forecast calls for a high of 21 but a low of 2. So, expect a kickoff temperature in the neighborhood of 10 and a wind chill near 0.

The Packers beat the 49ers 30-28 in Week 3. In a game matching two of the NFC’s presumptive – and eventual – powerhouses, the Packers won in dramatic fashion.

Trailing 28-27 with 37 seconds left and zero timeouts, Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for gains of 25 yards to midfield and 17 yards to the 33-yard line. After the second completion, Rodgers spiked the ball and pumped his fist emphatically with Mason Crosby in position a chance to win the game with a 51-yard field goal.

Crosby did just that – the kick was almost blocked – setting off a huge celebration as the Packers pulled off the upset.

“It felt like it was such a growth moment for us,” Rodgers said afterward. “I’m really happy for the guys to feel that, and it feels like, ‘OK, now we’re on our way. Now we can get into this, now we know how to win, and we can get this thing moving in the right direction.’”

Looking ahead and not back, one mismatch in Green Bay’s favor is turnovers. Green Bay finished third in the league with a plus-13 in turnovers. It tied for first in the league with 13 giveaways; it had 10 before the backups coughed it up three times at Detroit. The 49ers tied for 22nd at minus-4.

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One mismatch in San Francisco’s favor is the red zone. Green Bay finished 23rd in red-zone defense while San Francisco finished first in red-zone offense.

Green Bay’s new-and-potentially-improved offensive line featuring left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Josh Myers, who returned from knee injuries to start against Detroit, will be tested by the 49ers’ superb defensive front. Even with Nick Bosa in the concussion protocol for much of the game, San Francisco recorded five sacks and 14 quarterback hits and limited Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott to 31 yards on 12 carries (2.6 average).

The Packers haven’t won the Super Bowl since 2010. To keep the season alive and reach a third consecutive NFC Championship Game, Rodgers will have to avenge some bad playoff history. Rodgers has been bounced from the playoffs by the 49ers three times: 37-20 in the 2019 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, 23-20 at Lambeau Field in the 2013 wild-card round and 45-31 in the divisional round in San Francisco.

This season, the 49ers’ offense ranked 13th with 25.1 points per game, seventh in total offense (375.7 yards per game) and first in yards per play (8.2). Defensively, they ranked 12th with 21.5 points allowed per game but third in total defense (310.3), third in sack percentage (8.8) and seventh in goal-to-go (63.3 percent touchdowns).

“A lot of studs” was Rodgers’ view of the 49ers’ defense before the September game.

A few more noteworthy numbers:

The Packers went 5-1 against playoff teams, including 5-0 with Rodgers. The 49ers went 5-4, including their victory over Dallas.

With Rodgers leading the lead in passer rating, the Packers’ plus-20.5 rating differential ranked fourth in the league. The 49ers were 17th at plus-2.5, though Jimmy Garoppolo completed at least 70 percent of his passes and averaged at least 9.0 yards per attempt in his final three regular-season games. He had just a 67.4 rating vs. Dallas, though.

In going 7-2 down the stretch, the 49ers outscored those nine teams by an average of plus-11.3. The Niners were third in yardage differential, once against suggesting this is a dangerous team. They ran for 169 yards vs. the Cowboys.

Green Bay was the least-penalized team in the NFL while San Francisco had the worst penalty-yardage differential.

The Packers and 49ers have split eight playoff games. Overall, Green Bay leads the series 38-32-1.