As you handicap this weekend’s conference championship games, take advantage of the information that you can pick up from their prior meeting this season. San Francisco and Green Bay met less than two months ago.
The 49ers opened as a -3.5 home favorite against the Packers in that Week 12 contest. They are now laying over a touchdown in the rematch. Is the move justified? The 49ers crushed the Packers 37-8 in that meeting. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and Aaron Jones was held to 2.9 yards per carry.
The calendar flipped to 2020, but the Packers’ method of pulling out ugly victories remained the same. Seattle ran more plays, had more yards, had more first downs, and had more time of possession than Green Bay last week, but the only numbers that matter at the betting window are the ones on the scoreboard.
The Packers have been winning games like that all season. They made it to the NFC Championship Game with a negative yards per play differential this year. The Packers went 6-2 on the road this season, but were out-gained by 34 yards per game in those contests.
If you’re looking to lay the points with San Francisco this week, I’d be a little concerned with how their offense finished the game last week against Minnesota. Kyle Shanahan deserves a ton of credit for the offenses that he built in Atlanta and San Francisco, but there are still questions about how his teams finish games (cough, Falcons 28-3, cough).
The 49ers took a 24-10 lead with 4:54 left in the third quarter last week against the Vikings. They only gained one first down over their final five possessions. They got away with it against Kirk Cousins. You might not get away with it against Aaron Rodgers.
The 49ers’ first possession was beautifully scripted, generating four plays of 10+ yards and a touchdown. But Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense only gained 247 yards the rest of the game. If I’m laying more than a touchdown against the Packers, that would have me a little nervous.
NFC West teams that played San Francisco twice all enjoyed some success in their second meetings. San Francisco needed a game-winning touchdown pass with 0:31 left to beat the Cardinals in their second meeting of the season. The Seahawks were inches shy of beating the 49ers with time expiring in Week 17. Seattle had nine more first downs and held a six-minute advantage in time of possession in that game.
Then you’ve got the Rams, who were embarrassed in Los Angeles in their first meeting with San Francisco. Quarterback Jared Goff was 13-of-24 for 78 passing yards in that first contest. In the rematch, Goff threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams out-gained the 49ers by 61 yards and had five more first downs.
Teams that have gotten a second look at San Francisco have all pushed them to the brink. Few people know 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan better than Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. The two worked together in Houston, Washington and Atlanta.
A few trends, courtesy of Don Best: The 49ers are 7-19-1 against the spread in their last 27 games as a favorite, and 2-7 against the spread following a straight-up win of more than 14 points. San Francisco was 0-4 against the spread when laying more than a touchdown this season.