How about this for a Week 1 matchup? Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers open the season at Lambeau against Aaron Rodgers and the vastly improved San Francisco 49ers and we've got our NFL picks for the game ready.
The football gods are smiling down at us here.
Already psyched enough that the NFL is finally back,
schedule-makers have treated us to a doozy for Week 1, pitting the Packers and
49ers, two potential Super Bowl contenders, against each other.
The NFL odds have Green Bay favored by five points, but the
number's actually been moving in San Francisco's direction. The 49ers had been
picked as seven-point underdogs when the lines were first released.
On the total side, the O/U hasn't budged much and can still
be found at its opening number of 45.
To follow all of the line movement, be sure to check out our 'NFL Odds Week 1' feature for the most up-to-date information on your team.
Green Bay Packers
Armed with arguably the most potent offense once again this
season, the wins should be aplenty for the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers is back and is the top quarterback in the league
right now. He's got so many weapons to throw to that it's almost unfair. Greg
Jennings and Jordy Nelson are the top two targets, but then there's Donald
Driver, James Jones, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb.
With so many viable threats, defenses are again going to
have a miserable time facing Green Bay this year.
Perhaps the one knock on Green Bay is the lack of balance on
both sides of the ball. The Packers ranked third in passing last season but
were in the bottom five in rushing. Defensively, they were dead last in the
league in defending the pass but were much more effective at stopping the run.
What kind of identity will this team have in 2012? Well,
what we do know is the Packers won't stop throwing the ball with Rodgers at the
helm. Why would they?
San Francisco 49ers
Quite the debut season it was for former college coach Jim
Harbaugh. He led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC
championship game, which they ended up losing in overtime to the New York
The 49ers were so good because of their staunch defense. They
had the league's best rushing D, allowing just 77.3 YPG in that respect.
Just look at the defensive depth chart and you can see why this team had that
kind of success defensively. Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman,
Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers. A lot of talent.
On offense, San Francisco kept their run-first mentality and
it should be more of the same this season. Frank Gore is healthy and the 49ers
have a stud backup in Kendall Hunter. The team also went out and signed Brandon
Jacobs in free agency, giving them one of the deepest backfields in the NFL.
The pressing question for San Francisco will be how Alex
Smith fares under center. He's got some talent around him (Michael Crabtree,
Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Vernon Davis) and really needs to step up to take
the 49ers to the next level.
A clash of two completely different styles here.
The offense-laden Packers square off against a run-heavy
49ers team, a team that sported the top defensive unit last season.
The only trouble? San Francisco had many more problems
defending the pass, giving up 230.9 YPG through the air.
That could mean a huge day for Rodgers and company in Week
1. Rodgers is adept at moving the chains and the 49ers are going to have to get
some stops, especially on third down, if they want any chance of scoring an
Ultimately though, we don't think it's going to happen for
them. It could be difficult for San Francisco to keep up on the scoreboard with
the Packers and so we'll take the hosts with our NFL picks.
Free NFL pick: Green Bay Packers -5