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The Green Bay Packers had a great season last year … but their bane came out of the state of California in the form of gold and red-clad men.
Both times that the Packers played the Niners, it was a one-sided affair. And both times they faced the toughest team in the NFC as the visiting squad, inside of Levi Stadium. The first Time around these to NFC powerhouses clashed in SF on November 24th and the Niners trounced the Packers 37-8.
The second time they played was during the NFC Championship game where again, the Niners put up 37 points. This time around, the Packers put up a fight in the second half, scoring twenty points. But, the San Francisco 49ers dominated that Packers much more than the scoreboard indicates. The first half was absolutely brutal; Green Bay just couldn’t get anything going.
Even though the Packers outscored the Niners 20-10 in the second half, it was still a dominating performance by San Fran. The only reason the Packers made a late run is you just can’t expect to fully contain Aaron Rodgers in Championship game; he’ll make something happen.
The Pending Packers-Niners Collision in 2020
Once again, these two teams will likely be leading their respective divisions. And once again they’ll meet on Niner soil.
Although I’m not emotionally invested in either team, in some ways it seems a bit unfair. The Green Bay Packers play a critical division rivalry game on Sunday, November 1st, against the Minnesota Vikings, then almost immediately after have to head all the way over to San Francisco to face the San Francisco 49ers for Thursday Night Football on November 5th. This just seems like cruel and unusual punishment. It would make more sense for the bi-week to come before Thursday Night Football appearances, that way they aren’t playing on three days of rest. And in the case of Packers, adding cross-country travel to the mix.
It isn’t a cakewalk for the Niners either though. They face the Seahawks up in Seattle on November first, which if you remember, was pretty much the only team that could consistently challenge the 49ers last year. So, we should expect another division rivalry game that has NFC West title implications out of that one. Bottom line is, both teams are going to be coming in bruised up for the Packers-49ers on TNF. But the difference is, the Niners will be able to play their 3:15 game and fly back home on Sunday night for a full three days of rest, before hosting the Packers on TNF.
Strength of Schedule
Like we just mentioned, both teams have tough games just a few days before, and this is definitely one of the games in the 2020 NFL season that we must mark on our calendars. But overall, the 49ers definitely have an easier schedule up to that point.
The 49ers are getting touted as one of the teams with the toughest schedules in the league. Because the teams they played last season had an overall win percentage of .527. But we all know this traditional way of assessing the strength of schedule is bogus. Take the Patriots, for example, they were 12-4 for every team that has them on their schedule gets their SOS adjusted for a 12-4 team. Well, I hate to break it to you but Brady is gone, that team has been systematically dismantled and they had a horrible offseason and draft. They are nowhere near a 12 win team this season, so why should a team’s SOS reflect that? Pats are a 9-win team; 10-win team at best – mark my words.
So, when we look at the projected wins of each opponent on the schedule, the San Francisco 49ers have the 15th easiest schedule in the league at .508. They are just on the other side of the easiest half of the league. The Packers are opposite, yet their traditional SOS and predictive SOS line up. Using the traditional method, Green Bay had the 15th toughest schedule in the NFL, but their predictive SOS based on opponent projections for the current season puts them tied for 16th, placing the Packers dead in the middle.
All of this said the Packers play the Vikings, the Saints, the Texans, and a newly Tom Brady-led Buccaneers all on the road, before playing the Vikings again at home just before the Niners. The first half of their season is brutal.
Meanwhile, the Niners open against the Cardinals at home. Then they play the Jets and the Giants on a road trip – two struggling teams– then the get a mediocre eagles team back in San Fran and another home game against yet another struggling team, the Dolphins. They get the Rams at home which is a tough game, then a road trip to New England to play a Brady-less Pats before that the other tough game on the front half of their schedule the Hawks.
Bottom line is, these two schedules are not even close when actually look at them. The Niners do have a couple of tough games, but their front half is exponentially easier than the Packers. I see the Packers going into Levi stadium tired and beat up – even though they have an early Week 5 Bye– and will lose their third consecutive affair against the San Francisco 49ers.