The premiere NFC game of the week takes place in Green Bay, where Alex Smith and the Niners take on the Packers and last seasons MVP – Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay entered last season’s playoffs as the favorite to win the Super Bowl after going an NFL-best 15-1. With Rodgers directing the offense, the Packers, winners of 13 straight regular-season games at Lambeau Field, led the league in scoring with an average of 35.0 points – fifth-best in NFL history.
Green Bay hosted the New York Giants in a divisional playoff game, but the offense wasn’t sharp and the defense – a weakness all season – struggled mightily in a 37-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
“That’s a very important game and you want to play your best in the most important games, and we did not accomplish that,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
While Rodgers routinely frustrated defenses, setting the NFL single-season record with a 122.5 passer rating and franchise records with 4,643 yards and 45 touchdown passes, his own defense made Packer fans sweat.
Green Bay allowed 4,924 passing yards – the most in NFL history. A poor pass rush contributed to the secondary’s struggles, as the Packers’ 29 sacks ranked 27th.
“We know that wasn’t us. You can look at the tape from the previous years and look at the one last year, and it just wasn’t the same,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “We know that, and that’s why we came into training camp refocused, ready to go.”
The Niners are a team that feels they can take the next step forward, and they may. It will be tough though opening day to outdo Rodgers and the Pack at home, therefore, look for the GB defense to lower the boom on Smith, and walk out with a week one win.
Green Bay 21 San Francisco 16