2013 NFL Playoffs: Packers vs. 49ers, the X-Factors

By Craig Ballard


The Green Bay Packers head to Candlestick Park for the first time since 2006 to take on the San Francisco 49ers (detailed game preview is RIGHT HERE). We know that guys like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Frank Gore, and Colin Kaepernick will be the stars, but what about some X-factors?

One of the biggest X-factors this entire weekend is Justin Smith. The 49ers right defensive end is a major contributor, especially the way he wreaks havoc which allows Aldon Smith to dominate football games.

Aldon has 19.5 sacks this season, but in the last three weeks with Justin out (dealing with triceps issues) he has not recorded any sacks. These guys have played a dozen full games together this season, and in those Aldon has 17.5 sacks. In the four games where Justin went out early with injury or missed the entire game Aldon had just 2.0 sacks.

The 49ers had just 5.0 sacks at home from players other than Aldon Smith so we know they need him to have a big game. The 49ers cannot allow Rodgers and the Packers passing game to get a lead and impose their will on this game. San Fran is not built to play from behind so Smith and Smith need to do their thing and drop Rodgers multiple times.

Evan Dietrich-Smith is in at center, and to his left is T.J. Lang. They will have their hands full, but an X-factor will be Marshall Newhouse who will need to be great vs the Smith and Smith attack on that left side of the quarterback. We know if Rodgers gets time to throw then he is awesome. 34 of his 51 sacks this season came on the road, and this 49ers team is good so Dietrich-Smith, Lang, and Newhouse will have to perform on Saturday.

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My articles as the Rant Sports 2013 NFL Playoffs Insider are RIGHT HERE

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