49ers vs. Packers Odds, Picks, Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Saturday Night’s NFL Playoff Spread

49ers vs. Packers Odds, Picks, Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Saturday Night’s NFL Playoff Spread article feature image

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

49ers vs. Packers Odds

SpreadPackers -5.5
Time8:15 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

After surviving Super Wild Card Weekend, the San Francisco 49ers now take on the Green Bay Packers.

This will be a rematch of the Packers' 30-28 victory in Week 3 when Aaron Rodgers needed only 37 seconds to drive his team down the field for a game-winning 51-yard field goal from Mason Crosby. We'll touch on more from that game later, but for now note that the Packers closed as a 3.5-point road underdog.

However, after finishing the season at 13-4 and earning the top seed along with a bye in the NFC, Green Bay opened as a 4.5-point favorite for Saturday. The line got as high as -6 before dropping to -5.5 on Thursday morning. We'll assess the reason behind the line move and examine where the value lies in this matchup.

Click the arrow to expand injury reports

49ers vs. Packers Injury Report

We're tracking practice participation and statuses of every player on the 49ers' and Packers' injury reports here.

49ers vs. Packers Matchup

49ers OffenseDVOA RankPackers Defense
49ers DefenseDVOA RankPackers Offense
Football Outsiders' DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team's success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

49ers Must Limit Turnovers

Although I didn't write the full game preview for the 49ers-Cowboys clash in the Wild Card Round, San Francisco was the first wager I made early in the week.

In my brief writeup, I waxed poetically that the 49ers have arguably been the best team in the NFC since Week 8. San Francisco is now 9-3 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) during that timeframe. I also mentioned the 49ers' strengths in the running game — both offensively and defensively. I think those qualities could play a vital role against the Packers.

Revisiting the Week 3 matchup can work to our benefit in this handicap. San Francisco rushed for just 67 yards on 21 carries in the game. It was unfamiliar territory for a 49ers team that was forced to start a rookie, Trey Sermon, with Elijah Mitchell ruled out. Although the 49ers fell behind 17-0, to their credit, they roared back to take a 28-27 lead before Rodgers ultimately ripped their hearts out inside the final minute.

The 49ers didn't do themselves any favors with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled the ball after they crossed into Packers' territory. The turnover led to a Green Bay field goal and possibly anywhere from a six- to a 10-point swing on the scoreboard. San Francisco finished the game with two turnovers.

Turnovers have often been the difference between winning and losing for the 49ers this season. In all seven of its losses, San Francisco registered at least one turnover. In six of its losses, it had at least two turnovers.

In fact, per TeamRankings, the 49ers rank 22nd with a -0.2 turnover margin per game compared to Green Bay, which ranks third with a +0.8 turnover margin.

Ironically, the 49ers still manage to allow fewer points (365) than the Packers (371), despite having a more challenging strength of schedule. Later, we'll revisit the impact of turnover margin when a team is laying at least 5.5 points in the postseason.

49ers Dodge Blow With Injuries To Key Players

The injury report could play a more significant role in this handicap than any X's and O's anyone can come up with for the game. The 49ers have some key players who picked up injuries this past week while the Packers are getting healthier with some of their players returning for the postseason run.

Let's start with the 49ers, who lost two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Nick Bosa for the second half against the Cowboys due to a concussion. Bosa remains in concussion protocols, but he did manage to be a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. The 49ers are undoubtedly hopeful he'll be able to play on Saturday.

Former All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner was also injured against the Cowboys after getting his cleats stuck in the turf at AT&T Stadium. MRI results showed only a slight aggravation of an ankle contusion he sustained in Week 14. Warner said he's ready to go and was a full participant on Wednesday.

Garoppolo, meanwhile, sprained his right shoulder in the second quarter against the Cowboys. It's worth noting he went 5-for-11 with 39 yards and an interception in the second half compared to 11-for-14 with 133 yards in the first half. After being limited in practice on Tuesday, Garoppolo was a full participant Wednesday.

Packers Are Getting Healthier, But Players Lack Game Time

As for the Packers, it's more optimism than concern on their sidelines when you consider the quality of players returning from injury. Three-time Pro Bowl tackle David Bakhtiari played 40% of the offensive snaps in Week 18 as he successfully tested out his knee in his first game back following an ACL injury.

Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: David Bakhtiari

Green Bay could also have edge rushers Za'Darius Smith (back) and Whitney Mercilus (biceps) available, as well as cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder). All three players have missed significant time as Smith hasn't played since Week 1. Alexander's last game was Week 4, while Mercilus missed the Packers' last seven games.

On offense, veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb is expected to return after missing the final five games of the regular season with a core muscle injury. However, even with all these players back for the Packers, there's always a chance of a bit of rust when returning to competition in a playoff game with high intensity.

49ers vs. Packers Predictions

While it's not often that I spend so much time on the injury report, it's the sole reason why this point spread reached as high as -6 earlier in the week. That's a big reason why I waited as long as possible to put this preview together. I also wanted to get a more accurate weather report closer to kickoff as I feel it'll also play a role in the game.

Temperatures are expected to be below 10 degrees on Saturday night, with 10 mph winds. And while the cold weather is often thought to be an advantage for the Packers and their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers has only played in two games with temperatures that low when Green Bay is at least a six-point favorite. Rodgers is 1-1 ATS in this spot, and if we expand our parameters to include 20 degrees or lower, he's 1-2 ATS, while he's 6-6 ATS when it's 30 degrees or lower and he's at least a six-point favorite.

Given the timeline of when this point spread moved from -4.5 to -6, it's fair to assume the adjustment was based on the 49ers' injury report. However, with all three key players participating in practice in some capacity, I believe grabbing the points is even more valuable now. Furthermore, given the cold temperatures and double-digit wind speeds, I prefer to back the team with the advantage in the running game.

The 49ers already rank fourth in the league in run play rate (48.42%), while the Packers rank 15th (41.60%). We already know that Green Bay ranks 28th in defensive run DVOA while the 49ers rank second in the category. I think we'll see fewer drop back passes for Jimmy Garoppolo as I'd expect San Francisco to protect the ball more by relying on the running game.

During the regular season, teams with poor turnover numbers generally make it a point to stress ball security in the playoffs. Moreover, in the postseason, teams that are at least a 5.5-point favorite with a turnover differential of at least +0.8 per game are 0-5 ATS in our Action Labs database.

This line was as high as six on Thursday morning, but now it's dipped down to 5.5. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't get the best of the number, so I'll be reducing my bet size down to a half-unit.

Pick: 49ers +5.5 or better | Bet to: +5.5

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