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PLAYOFF MATCHUPS | NFC : FIRST LOOK: NEXT WEEKEND'S
PLAYOFF GAMES

SAN FRANCISCO (13-4) at GREEN BAY (13-3)

December 30, 1996|T.J. SIMERS

Saturday, 9:30 a.m., Ch. 11

* STORYLINE: The Packers took another step forward a year ago at this time in winning a divisional playoff game at San Francisco before losing in the NFC championship game to Dallas. Green Bay knocked off the 49ers, 27-17, with quarterback Brett Favre throwing for two touchdowns without an interception. San Francisco quarterback Steve Young threw for 328 yards, but had a pair of passes intercepted and never found the end zone. Earlier this season, the Packers defeated the 49ers, 23-20, in overtime in Lambeau Field, and that was in October when San Francisco had no concerns about the weather.

* SAN FRANCISCO UPDATE: San Francisco rises and falls with Young, and the 49ers will probably have to beat the Packers in a shootout because they don't have the cornerbacks to keep Green Bay's wide receivers out of the end zone. Can the 49ers keep Reggie White and Sean Jones from smacking Young in the ribs? That old adage about having to have a running game to win in the playoffs will be thrown away in this one with neither team mustering a threat on the ground.

San Francisco has the edge if you can follow this line of reasoning: The Packers have won 25 of their last 26 games in Lambeau Field, but they did lose to the Rams there, back on Sept. 3, 1995, and the 49ers always beat the Rams.

* GREEN BAY UPDATE: Favre, the league's MVP a year ago, came back after an off-season of pain-killer addiction rehabilitation to throw 39 touchdown passes despite crippling losses at times at the wide receiver position. Andre Rison has yet to emerge as a game-breaker since joining the team, but he offers that potential. The Packer defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL, and has the confidence knowing it has handled everything Young and the 49ers have thrown at it in the past two contests.

* THE LINE: Green Bay by 4 1/2.

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