One game is all that separates the 49ers from a trip to Miami and Super Bowl LIV.
On Sunday, coach Kyle Shanahan's club will face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers, as you might recall, already pantsed the Packers earlier this season, rolling to a 37-8 win. The Packers haven't lost since that demoralizing affair, winning six in a row, including last week's 28-23 NFC divisional-round win over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.
While Shanahan and the 49ers know the Week 12 beatdown means nothing, recent history actually tells us the 37-8 thrashing portends well for the 49ers' chances of winning Sunday and moving one step closer to Super Bowl glory.
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.
And, no team has made the Super Bowl while being outgained during the regular season since the 2001 New England Patriots. In their just-win 13-3 regular season, the Packers were outgained 5,642-5,528.
That doesn't sound good for the Packers. Rodgers also never has won a game in which he's been at least a touchdown underdog. The 49ers are favored by 7.5 on Sunday.
However, not all the numbers point the 49ers' way.
The Packers are a 13-win regular-season team that enters Championship Sunday as a 7.5-point underdog. That only has happened three other times in NFL history has a 13-win team gone on the road as a seven-plus point underdog on Championship Sunday. All three of the previous teams won the game outright, as the 1990-91 New York Giants, 1998-99 Atlanta Falcons and 1999-2000 Tennessee Titans all went on the road and took home the conference title.
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Dueling principles should make almost everyone uneasy.
The 49ers were the most complete team in the NFL all season, but if they give Rodgers an opening Sunday their dream season could come to an end. It's imperative the 49ers come out hot, fuel the crowd at Levi's Stadium and put the Packers on their heels from the opening kick.
Otherwise, they could become just a footnote in Rodgers' Hall-of-Fame legacy.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)
Also tune in 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 5:30 p.m.