No. 1: Aaron Rodgers vs. 49ers defensive line
It’s hard to imagine a more important matchup than the one that quite literally decided the outcome of the Week 12 regular season game between these two teams.
Aaron Rodgers was harassed all game long. The San Francisco 49ers got off to a quick 23-0 lead in the first half, which led to the Green Bay Packers being forced into throwing the ball more than they like to.
This started the vicious cycle of Rodgers dropping back and getting hit more than any Green Bay fan could possibly feel comfortable seeing.
San Francisco’s defensive line is healthy and red hot coming into the NFC Championship Game. The vaunted unit sacked Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins six times last week, not allowing him to get into any sort of rhythm throwing the ball.
They also absolutely shut down Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, allowing him to gain just 18 rushing yards. Cook was an early-season MVP candidate before missing some games with an injury, and the 49ers turned him into a total non-factor.
That has to breed confidence.
Green Bay had the luxury of facing off against the Niners in the regular season, so maybe they can alter their blocking and gameplan enough to counter the relentless pass rush.
The game could get ugly early if the Packers don’t account for the mismatches that the San Francisco defensive line can throw out there, though, and few teams have been able to contain them thus far.
If the 49ers can apply the same pressure that they did in Week 12, then expect a lot of booked flights from the Bay Area to Miami for Super Bowl weekend.