Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Green Bay +10 over San Francisco
Best Odds: -107 at Pinnacle
Santa Clara, CA - FOX
8:15 PM EST. The Packers are looking as dangerous as they have all season. First-season starter Jordan Love has cemented his place as Green Bay’s new leader, yet another franchise QB for the Wisconsin faithful, and boy did he make a statement last week at Dallas. Love and the Packers throttled their opponent from the opening kickoff, giving the Cowboys their first loss in their last 17 home games. It reminded us of Love’s fantastic performance in Detroit on Thanksgiving, another contest where coach Matt LaFleur and his new QB executed a fantastic game-plan on the road against a very good team. LaFleur also continues to prove he’s nobody’s underdog. He leads all active coaches with a 70% ATS mark as a pooch (19-8 all time). Question is, should the Packers be given this many points again, just one week later, against unquestionably the NFC’s best team?
Of course the well-rested 49ers, at home, are nothing to bat an eye at. San Francisco deserves home-field advantage and the #1 seed. After all, they own one of the best point-differentials in the NFL (SF scores 29 ppg and only allows 17.5 ppg– oddsmakers could make a case that they should be an even bigger favorite). On the other hand, most of their starters had three weeks off of competitive football and we know that can affect even the best operations. We also imagine LaFleur and Love will have a similar game-plan this Saturday: attack first, rattle your opponent, and make them play catch-up against a burgeoning and aggressive defense.
And it's not like we haven't seen LaFleur and Love and the whole Packers' operation step up in the most trying spots before. In Week 11 the Pack seemed dead-to-rights at 3-6, a team no one thought would come close to postseason play. They answered with a tough win against the Chargers when LAC's star QB Justin Herbert was still healthy and able. Then on Thanksgiving, as 9-point pooches, Love and his offense aggressively attacked a Lions' team that seemed shocked by the blitzkrieg, as if beating their divisional foe would be automatic. Another win for Green Bay. Love followed that win with a sensational performance at home against the Chiefs, where he outplayed Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense for perhaps their most impressive victory of the season. Of course they ended their campaign on a three-game win streak as well, further proving they're a squad that knows how to respond when it's a do-or-die situation.
Saturday's matchup is no different, and now the pressure is on Kyle Shanahan and a 49ers' team that has all the tools to earn a Lombardi Trophy. Shanahan is undoubtedly one of the premiere coaches in the league, so we’re sure he’ll have his guys ready. At the same time, we can’t ignore the momentum and increasing confidence of Love and his offense. If the Packers manage to strike first, and they’re very good at doing that (Green Bay has scored the first touchdown in nine straight games), the Niners could be in trouble early. And even if they don’t strike first, we’re not convinced that LaFleur’s offense can’t keep up.
This is a battle of two bright, stud coaches who have a lot of pride in their offensive creativity. They also have similar, interwoven stories that led them to their current positions - LaFleur has lost in two previous playoff matchups against his former mentor. Think that doesn't add extra motivation for the Green Bay coach? Think again. Even if San Fran somehow leads by double-digits heading into the fourth quarter, how confident are we that they can hold back Love in the clutch? We’re not. This game projects to be closer than expected, and we wouldn't be surprised at all if the Pack put themselves in another position to win.
Green Bay +10 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)