PACKER PLAYOFF ROUND-UP: New season for both Packers, 49ers
GREEN BAY - The San Francisco 49'ers will bring a six-game winning streak into Lambeau Field on Sunday, where the Packers will play a team which beat them three times in 12 months. But Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy says none of it matters, as the Pack gets ready to play the Niners in an NFC Wild Card match-up.
McCarthy told reporters yesterday to quote, "throw the stats out the window." He said the media can keep asking about him about bad stats, and he'll toss them good ones in return -- like the Packers' recent comeback victories over Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago, and a late 10-point comeback in a loss to Pittsburgh. McCarthy said he can't imagine the Packers playing any better over the last four weeks, and the players have realized that it takes a full 60 minutes to achieve a victory. McCarthy also said the Packers won't have linebacker Clay Matthews for Sunday's game -- but he remains on the 53-man roster after a second operation on his broken right thumb. Thirty Packers have missed at least one game due to injury this season.
The Green Bay Packers promise to enter the playoffs with more confidence than you might expect from a team that just sneaked in. The third-through-sixth seeds play in this weekend's Wild Card round. Green Bay was given the No. 4 seed in the NFC, as the division champion with the worst record at 8-7-1. On Sunday, they'll host a San Francisco 49'ers team that went 12-4 as a runner-up to top-seeded Seattle in the NFC West. Still, veteran nose tackle Ryan Pickett says everything goes back to 0-0, and he believes the Packers have the mental toughness to keep winning -- and their sights are definitely set on their second Super Bowl in four seasons. The Packers went 6-2 with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and 2-5-1 without him. However, Rodgers was at the controls when Green Bay lost three times to the 49'ers in the past two seasons -- including the divisional round a year ago, when the Green Bay defense gave up 579 yards to the Niners, and 412 yards in Week-One this season. Both those games were played in San Francisco. The other loss was at Lambeau Field to start the 2012 campaign. Green Bay won the NFC North Division for the third year in a row. Once again, rookie running back Eddie Lacy aggravated an ankle injury suffered December 8th against Atlanta -- but he managed to run for 66 yards and a score.
San Francisco might be without its most experienced corner on Sunday, when the Niners play the Packers in Green Bay in an NFC Wild Card match-up. Carlos Rogers injured a hamstring in the fourth quarter of the Niners' 23-20 victory over Arizona this past Sunday. Rogers has started all 53 of San Francisco's games with Jim Harbaugh as the head coach. An MRI was scheduled yesterday, and Harbaugh has not disclosed the extent of the injury. Yesterday, the Niners covered themselves by re-signing corner Perrish Cox. The San Francisco Chronicle said the move was planned before Rogers got hurt. If Rogers cannot play against the Packers, Harbaugh says Eric Wright would replace him at the slot-corner spot. Cox was released November 12th in favor of Wright. Cox signed with Seattle, and he played two games with the Seahawks before they cut him last week. San Francisco has a six-game winning streak, but its defense has given up a lot of ground lately. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 407 yards against the Niners this past weekend, and Atlanta's Matt Ryan threw for 348 yards against San Francisco a week from last night. In Green Bay, the Packer players are off today before start going over the game plan tomorrow for the Wild Card contest.