NFL Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: 5 Reasons Why Your Favorite Team Will Lose in Week 1

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Green Bay Packers: 5 Reasons Why Your Favorite Team Will Lose in Week 1

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is finally here, and the Green Bay Packers will kick things off with a rematch of the NFC Divisional Round when they face the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener. Last time, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick set the playoff rushing record for a quarterback with 181 rushing yards as he slashed the Packers' defense with the zone-read. The Packers couldn't touch Kaepernick, but this time around, they're trying to make sure he doesn't run wild like he did back in January. The Packers were also unable to move the ball very well long term, as outside linebacker Aldon Smith made quick work of the Packers' left tackle in Marshall Newhouse and gave Rodgers little time to get anything going. The lack of a plausible running game also allowed the 49ers to sit in a two-deep safety shell and provide pressure with just four guys.

The 49ers fell just short of winning the Super Bowl, and with the exception of safety Dashon Golson (who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), this team remains entirely intact. Meanwhile, the Packers continue to go by its 'build through the draft' policy and remains one of the youngest teams in the NFL. The team has moved on from veterans Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Charles Woodson, and has taken steps towards a better running game by putting its stock in rookies Eddy Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. But despite the Packers' talent, it may not be quite enough to stand against the 49ers. Here are several reasons why they will fall in Week 1.

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5. Packers' Shaky O-Line Protection

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Losing Bryan Bulaga on the left side hurts the Pack, as they must tell fourth-round pick David Bakhitari to go against Aldon Smith on the left side. Smith has come into his own as a pass rusher, and will be salivating at going against a rookie left tackle. The Packers' offensive line has not been the best these past seasons, and the questions only continue with second-year man Don Barclay getting the nod at right tackle over Marshall Newhouse, who started every game at tackle last season. The only stable hope is the interior of the line, which has remained healthy and intact heading into 2013. Whether the Packers' offensive line can hold up against a strong San Francisco front seven remains to be seen.

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4. Pass Rush Will Struggle Against 49ers Strong O-line

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The 49ers' strong offensive line provided yet another invaluable asset for the 49ers' offense. The likes of Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and Joe Staley provide Kaepernick with the kind of protection he needs to have in the pocket. Kaepernick has proven he can throw from the pocket and also has the arm needed to back it up. The last time these two teams met, pressure was hard to come by, and the lack of a pass-rushing threat opposite Matthews allowed the 49ers to focus their undivided attention on the young All-Pro pass rusher. If second-year man Nick Perry doesn't at least make them think about the protection on the other side, this game is as good as San Francisco's.

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3. Dangerous Running Backs For 49ers

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Defending Kaepernick is only part of the equation. The 49ers have a strong staple of backs in Frank Gore, LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter. They're another factor of the 49ers' physicality on offense. Gore is still main force at running back, while James remains a good change-of-pace back that is a threat to take it the distance in the open field. The running back position is the strongest aspect of the 49ers' offense, and all three can start for other NFL teams. The 49ers' advantage in the run game allows them to stay on the field for as long as possible to give Rodgers as few opportunities as possible.

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2. Pack Can't Get Their Hands on Elusive Kaepernick

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There's a reason why Kaepernick torched the Packers for 181 rushing yards. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback not only has size, but speed as well. His ability to not only buy second chances in the pocket, but to take off with plenty of speed, makes him a menace for a lot of defenses. This made him the perfect quarterback to implement the zone-read option, which he ran to perfection at his alma mater. The linebackers continually crashed to the running back in their last matchup, and Kaepernick took off around the corner. The Packers didn't make any significant changes on defense, and how much they learned about defending the zone-read remains to be seen. For now, the battle on the ground belongs to Kaepernick, who will continue to stay out of Matthews's reach.

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1. 49ers Stuff the Run

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The San Francisco 49ers ended the 2012-13 season as one of the best defenses in the league, especially when it came to stopping the run. Green Bay's lack of a running game only makes them a worse match for the 49ers. The Packers seem to be showing a new commitment towards the run by drafting two running backs and rolling with both of them plus fourth-year man James Starks on the roster, showing that the Packers are high on both Lacy and Franklin. But in their first game, it is very unlikely they gain too much push against this stout 49ers defense with All-Pro inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman in the middle. This makes moving the ball difficult against what will likely be a two-deep shell to stop the deep ball and contain the arm of Aaron Rodgers.