Packers And 49ers Open Up At Lambeau Field

By: Michael Robinson | Friday, September 7, 2012

The Green Bay Packers hosting the San Francisco 49ers may not be the most watched game of NFL Week 1, but this 4:25 p.m. (ET) broadcast on FOX is definitely the best matchup.

The Don Best NFL odds screen opened Green Bay as solid 6½-point home favorites, but it has been quickly bet down to 4½-5. The total has gone in the other direction, currently at 46½-47 after starting at 45.

These are the two favored teams to win the NFC in the current future odds. The Don Best Linemakers Poll has Green Bay top-ranked in the entire league, followed by New England, Philadelphia and San Francisco (tied-for-fourth with Pittsburgh). However, the primetime Denver debut of Peyton Manning will beat this game in the ratings.

Green Bay had a perfect 13-0 record last year and looked headed towards its second-straight Super Bowl title. However a loss at Kansas City (19-14) on December 18 planted a seed of doubt and the Giants finished the job in the divisional round with a shocking 37-20 win at Lambeau.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns to the scene of the ‘playoff crime’ and brings the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense with him (35.0 PPG). The passing game should continue to be great and the running game good enough with Cedric Benson the starter while James Starks (turf toe) is out.

The big offensive question is at left tackle (Rodgers’ blindside) where Marshall Newhouse is the full-time starter after Chad Clifton was released. The 49ers were tied-for-seventh in the NFL last year with 42 sacks and keeping Rodgers ‘clean’ is a huge concern this game.

The Packers defense was worst in the NFL last year at 299.8 YPG, but better in points at 22.4 PPG (ranked 19th). There was a big loss in training camp with linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) out for the year and several rookies will have to make immediate contributions, starting with first-round pass rusher Nick Perry.

San Francisco came within a whisper of making the Super Bowl last year, but was undone by some Giants magic and two turnovers in the NFC title game.

Coach Jim Harbaugh proved the pro game was right up his ally after coming over from Stanford. He had no trouble building a ferocious defense that finished second in points allowed (14.3 PPG).

The offense is the big question mark, the opposite situation of Green Bay. Quarterback Alex Smith was almost a casualty of the ‘Peyton Manning sweepstakes,’ but he’s kissed and made up with the organization and has a couple of new toys in receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The 35-year-old Moss is looking to bounce back after sitting out all of last year.

Harbaugh is still going to pound the ball first with Frank Gore. Bruising Brandon Jacobs was signed to be another option, but he’s doubtful this week (knee). The question is whether Smith can make enough plays in the passing game to beat a great team like Green Bay on the road.

Some additional betting notes to watch: Green Bay has won 13-straight regular season home games (11-2 ATS). The ‘over’ is 11-2 in those contests and also jumped the total in the playoff defeat to the Giants.

Green Bay is also 5-0 SU and ATS in Week 1 games the five seasons.

This series has been owned by the Packers recently, winning the last eight (6-1-1 ATS) with the most recent in December 2010.

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