07 9 / 2012
49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio spoke to the media on Thursday, as San Francisco is preparing to take on the Green Bay Packers.
They have been deep in preparation, readying themselves for sure-fire, knockdown-drag-out fight at Lambeau Field. The match-up fans and analysts are eagerly awaiting is the one between Green Bay’s high-powered offense versus San Francisco’s brute, relentless defense.
When the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers meet at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon in a fabulous Week 1 matchup, NFL fans will be watching a preview of the NFC Championship Game that will be played in January.
With all due respect to the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, these two teams are the class of the NFC.
Let’s look at why these two teams will meet in the 2012 NFC Championship Game.
As the Niners’ defensive coach, Fangio spoke about the Packers offense and what they are expecting to see on Sunday. In particular, Fangio was asked about Green Bay’s young starting left tackle, Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse faces the daunting task of not only stopping, but surviving Justin Smith.
Also on that right side lurks new starting outside linebacker, Aldon Smith. It is fair to say the 49ers may have an advantage when it comes to the trenches. For Fangio’s comments and further analysis on Sunday’s game between the Niners and Packers, continue after the jump.
The Packers were upset in the NFC Divisional Round last year thanks to an awful performance against the Giants. The team will go into this season with an improved defense, after ranking among the worst in the NFL last year.
Drafting defensive end Nick Perry from USC and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy from Michigan State will give the Packers more talented pass-rushers that can pressure the opposing quarterback, which will prevent the team’s poor secondary from having to cover receivers and tight ends for too long.
From an offensive standpoint, the Packers have arguably the best passing attack in the NFL. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw 45 touchdown passes and only six interceptions last season. He has plenty of weapons on offense, including wide receivers Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley.
The lack of a running game might be a problem, but the Packers went 15-1 with the worst running game in the NFL last year, so a pass-often approach does work well for them.
The Packers should win between 13-15 games this season and earn a top seed in the NFC playoffs. Lambeau Field is one of the toughest places to play in the postseason, and most of these Green Bay players have Super Bowl winning experience.
It seemed Fangio was being coy about the possible advantage San Francisco may up front.
The Packers have two young tackles in Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga, who both have very difficult assignments protecting the edges. The 49ers have two very capable LE/LOLB, RE/ROLB duos that have worked very well together in tandem.
The media mentioned Aldon Smith and Justin Smith as one, but Ahmad Brooks and Ray McDonald are just as likely to create havoc for the offensive line.
On paper, on film, on the stat sheets - however you want to look it at, this match-up is lopsided in favor of the 49ers. Smith, Smith, McDonald and Brooks will be applying constant pressure on the outside, corroding the protection and collapsing the pocket.
If Rodgers keeps playing like the MVP-caliber quarterback he is, there’s no reason why the Packers cannot return to the NFC title game this season.
With an offense that can score 30-plus points on anyone, and an improved defense that’s more athletic than last year, no one will stop Green Bay from making it to within one game of another Super Bowl.