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Another week of the Green Bay Packers in the postseason creates another classic NFC playoff matchup. The seventh-seeded Packers became the youngest team (average age: 25 years, 214 days) to win a playoff game since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger following their 48-32 demolition of the second-seeded Dallas Cowboys.

The postseason win was Green Bay's 37th all time, tied with the New England Patriots for the most in league history. On Saturday, the Packers will face the NFC's top seed, the 12-5 San Francisco 49ers, marking an NFL-high 10th playoff showdown between the two franchises. 

The Niners, 36 playoff wins all time and one behind the Packers, lead the all-time postseason series between these two historic heavyweights 5-4 with four consecutive postseason wins against Green Bay, all of which came against former Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now, the Packers have a new pilot at the controls of their offense in 2020 first-round pick and first-year starter Jordan Love. He threw the second-most passing touchdowns (32) in the NFL regular season and has helped power the Packers to wins in seven of their last nine games, including the playoffs, while throwing 21 touchdowns and only one interception in that span.

Love and 49ers starting quarterback Brock Purdy became just two of five quarterbacks to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 4,000 passing yards in their first seasons as a full-time NFL starting quarterback joining elite company: Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (1999), Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (2020). 

In the wild-card round, the Packers gave the Cowboys their first home loss since Week 1 of the 2022 season, snapping a 16-game Dallas home winning streak. In the NFC divisional round, Green Bay can give Kyle Shanahan his first home playoff loss as a head coach (enters 4-0). The 2023 Packers are the only No. 7 seed to win a playoff game as teams were previously 0-6 in the wild-card round since the postseason expanded in 2020.

Will Green Bay become the first team to reach a conference championship game after a 3-6 or worse start (3-6 through Week 10) or will San Francisco advance to its fourth NFC title game in the last five seasons? Here's an in-depth preview to examine that very question. 

How to watch

Date: Saturday, Jan. 20 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
TV: Fox | Stream: fubo (try for free
Follow: CBS Sports App   
Odds: 49ers -9.5; O/U 50.5

When the Packers have the ball

The way Love is playing right now, anything is possible. The 49ers have the seventh-best pass rush in the league in terms of pressure rate (39.6%) and sacks (48, tied with multiple teams). During the Packers' stretch of winning seven of their last nine games, in which Love has thrown 21 touchdowns and one interception, he has been just as elite when pressured.

"Man, Jordan Love. Wow. That's about all I can say, is wow," Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said postgame after their win over the Cowboys. "What he did, the poise he shows, the command he shows. The touchdown pass to Dontayvion Wicks. We were obviously in an empty set. He had, I think it was [tight end] Tucker [Kraft], max protect. It was a great job by Tuck and the rest of our offensive line. And for him to hang in there and get that throw. Wicks made a hell of a catch. Those are things that, you can try to coach it, but what a moment for him. To me, that was a big-time play. It just shows the growth that he's had from his first start versus K.C. to now. I'm just so proud and happy for him. He is, he's a dude. He's a real dude."  

Love has eight touchdowns and no interceptions when under duress with an 8.6 yards per pass attempt figure. Over the course of the entire 2023 regular season, that figure would rank as the fifth highest in the NFL. If San Francisco isn't able to get quarterbacks to the ground while pressuring them, that's where they are in the trouble. They blitz at the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL (22%), yet they still surrender the worst completion percentage (58%) and seventh-most passing yards per attempt (6.6) when pressuring opposing quarterbacks this season. 

Over Love's last three games, must-wins at the Vikings, against the Bears and at the Cowboys, he has generated a perfect passer rating (158.3) when pressured with 290 yards and four touchdowns on 17 of 21 passing. Love was 5 of 7 for 152 yards and two touchdowns when pressured against the Cowboys on Sunday. 

On third down, the money down, Love is equally perfect. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions on third down across the last nine games. That's also a weak spot for San Francisco as it ranked 24th in third-down conversion rate allowed (41%) this season. 

There are also opportunities for Green Bay on the ground. On the surface level, it doesn't look that way. The 49ers allowed 89.7 rushing yards per game in the regular season, the third lowest in the NFL. However, that figure is influenced heavily by San Francisco almost exclusively playing from ahead in the vast majority of its games, forcing opponents to become reliant on throwing the football to come back. 

San Francisco played from ahead for 11 hours, 10 minutes and 20 seconds of game time across the 18-week regular season. That's the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only the AFC's top-seeded Baltimore Ravens (11:32:57) and the best rate in the NFC. When the 49ers actually had to defend the run, they were below average. Their run defense expected points added of 6.54 ranked as the fourth lowest in the NFL. Their rush defense success rate -- the rate of plays in which less than 50% of the 10 yards needed for a new first down were gained on first or second down as well as a rushing first down not being picked up on third or fourth down -- was 53.9%, good for 19th in the league.

That's music to Aaron Jones' ears. Green Bay's RB ran for playoff career highs of 118 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, an incredibly efficient 5.6 yards per carry, against the Cowboys. That output tied the NFL all-time record for rushing touchdowns in a road playoff game, rushing touchdowns in a wild-card round game and rushing touchdowns in a Packers postseason game. Jones' seven career playoff rushing touchdowns are the most in Green Bay history. 

Jones has run over 100 yards in four consecutive games, tied with Ahman Green in 2003 for the longest such streak in Packers history. It's also the longest active streak in the NFL right now. There is some opportunity for Green Bay to punish San Francisco up front and keep its defense off the field. 

When the 49ers have the ball

The battle between the Packers defense and the 49ers offense is where this game will be won. Love is playing lights out football right now, and he has shown an ability to make all the throws from any arm angle, whether that's in the pocket or rolling out. San Francisco has had an elite defense all year, but with Love in his current Rodgers reincarnated state, anything is possible. 

The same cannot be said about the Packers defense going up against the 49ers' third-ranked scoring offense (28.9 points per game). The Dallas offense Green Bay faced last week was essentially the CeeDee Lamb show. After him, the Cowboys didn't have really any other consistent offensive threat. That is not the case with the 49ers. They are the first offense since the 2004 Indianapolis Colts -- a group loaded with three Pro Football Hall of Famers (QB Peyton Manning, RB Edgerrin James and WR Marvin Harrison) and a 2024 Hall of Fame finalist (WR Reggie Wayne) -- to have a 4,000-yard passer in Brock Purdy and four players with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards (RB Christian McCaffrey, WR Brandon Aiyuk, WR Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle). 

4,000-Yard passer and four players with 1,000 scrimmage yards -- Last two instances

2004 Colts2023 49ers

Peyton Manning

Brock Purdy

Edgerrin James

Christian McCaffrey

Marvin Harrison

Brandon Aiyuk

Reggie Wayne

Deebo Samuel

Brandon Stokley

George Kittle

Each of the five aforementioned 49ers players lead the league in a specific statistical category or two. 

NFL leaders this season 


QB Brock Purdy

Yards/Pass Att (9.6), Passer Rating (113.0)

RB Christian McCaffrey

Rush Yards (1,459), Scrimmage Yards (2,023), Scrimmage TD (21)

WR Deebo Samuel

YAC/Catch Among WR (8.8)

WR Brandon Aiyuk

Pct of Catches for First Downs And/Or TD (81.3%)

TE George Kittle

Yards/Catch Among TE (15.7)

The two biggest mismatches for the Packers defense are McCaffrey and the 49ers' passing game over the middle. McCaffrey was the wire-to-wire rushing champion (1,459 rushing yards) this season, leading a San Francisco ground game that was one of the best in the league. Meanwhile, the Packers allowed opponents to run for 140 or more yards in an NFL-worst eight games this season, tied with the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals for the most such games allowed in 2023. If McCaffrey gets rolling on the ground, something that could very well happen, this game is going to look a lot like the 2019 NFC championship game: a 37-20 blowout

Some of those putrid performances came against teams without capable passing attacks in games against the Atlanta Falcons (211 rushing yards), New York Giants (209), Pittsburgh Steelers (205) and Denver Broncos (145). 

Rushing this season (NFL ranks)

Packers Defense49ers Offense

Rush YPG

128.3 (28th)

140.5 (4th)


4.4 (23rd)

4.8 (4th)

The 49ers can throw the football to a litany of their big-bodied targets mentioned above over the middle -- the softest area of Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry's zone-heavy defense. Green Bay allowed 9 yards per pass attempt between the numbers this season, the highest figure in the league. Purdy averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt on those same throws, the best figure in the league, minimum 150 such pass attempts. That's also the primary target of Shanahan's offense as Purdy had the third-highest rate of his pass attempts over the middle (56%) in 2023. 

Passing between the numbers this season (NFL ranks)

Packers DefenseBrock Purdy

Pass Yards/Att



NFL Rank



* Min. 150 pass attempts


Love dazzles again, keeping the Packers in the game until the very end just like he has in many games all year. He even throws the go-ahead touchdown pass just prior the two-minute warning. However, Green Bay's defense reverts to its worst tendencies and plays too far off the line of scrimmage in zone coverage, allowing the 49ers to tie the game on a field goal with just under 40 seconds left. Then, Love hits Romeo Doubs over the middle as he did all day at Dallas in the wild-card round to get kicker Anders Carlson in position to drain the game-winning field goal as time expires. 

Pick: Packers 34, 49ers 31