If the Green Bay Packers are going to upset the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Levi's Stadium, they're going to have to do it without history on their side.
It has been less than two months since the 8-2 Packers waltzed into Levi's Stadium hoping to knock off the conference-leading 49ers on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 12. By halftime -- if not much earlier -- it was readily apparent no such event would occur, as San Francisco raced out to a 23-0 lead on its way to a 37-8 win. It was a thoroughly dominant performance by the 49ers, and resulted in Green Bay's most lopsided defeat of the season.
The Packers haven't lost since, winning their final five games of the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. They held on to beat the visiting Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round, but historically speaking, all that momentum might not mean much as it pertains to a rematch with San Francisco. As NFL.com's Chris Wesseling noted, the last 13 playoff teams to lose a regular-season game by at least 20 points have also lost the postseason rematch against the same opponent.
I understand why Kyle Shanahan insists previous games “never matter” and the 49ers’ Week 12 blowout win over Packers is immaterial, but …— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) January 17, 2020
teams losing by 20+ in regular season and meeting the victor again in postseason have lost 13 straight rematches, per @NFLResearch.
Now, obviously, not all teams are created equal, and in a sport where quarterback is the most critical position, one might argue that the Packers have a significant advantage over those previous 13 teams that have occupied the same space they will Sunday.
That wouldn't necessarily be accurate, though.
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers will go down as one of the best QBs of all-time, and while he has put together several memorable postseason performances, he has not had much playoff success against teams he previously lost to that same season. In fact, the last five times he and the Packers qualified for the playoffs, they were eliminated by a team that had beaten them earlier that season.
Aaron Rodgers' last 5 playoff losses all came to teams he also lost to that regular season:— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 16, 2020
- 2016 NFC Championship at ATL
- 2015 NFC Divisional at ARI
- 2014 NFC Championship at SEA
- 2013 NFC Wild Card vs SF
- 2012 NFC Divisional at SF
The @49ers beat Rodgers 37-8 in Week 12.
That obviously bodes well for San Francisco, and that's before even digging into the specific head-to-head matchup between Rodgers and the 49ers' top-ranked pass defense. Throughout his career, Rodgers has faced the No. 1-ranked pass defense a total of five times; he has not fared well in those matchups, and has never won one on the road.
There's a reason why the 49ers were the NFC's No. 1 seed, and there are plenty more as to why San Francisco is favored by more than a touchdown over Green Bay on Sunday. The Packers are going to have to overcome plenty to prove victorious, and you can add NFL history to the list.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.