Packers vs. 49ers: Greatest X-Factors in NFC Divisional Round Showdown

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 16:  Wide receiver Randy Moss #84 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after scoring a touchdown with quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 in the first quarter against New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

X-factors will ultimately decide who triumphs between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers will rack up passing yards. Everyone knows Patrick Willis will rack up tackles.

But the following players could blow up or not even show up. They influence the outcome in a different manner than studs like Rodgers and Willis, and because of that, they’re the ones to watch on Saturday night.


3. WR Randy Moss

Moss doesn’t always catch passes, but when he does, he prefers them deep.

With Mario Manningham out for the year, Moss is now second amongst 49ers wideouts in receiving yards. He only has 28 receptions this season, but he averages 15.5 yards per catch. And the team that he just happened to have his most productive performance against? Green Bay in Week 1, when he reeled in four balls, one being a touchdown.

Colin Kaepernick can’t throw to Michael Crabtree every play—Moss needs to go off.


2. OT Marshall Newhouse

Newhouse had his hands full the past two weeks with Jared Allen. The Minnesota Vikings defensive end only recorded two sacks over that period of time. Considering that the Packers surrendered an average of over three a game in the regular season, Newhouse could’ve played worse.

He won’t catch a break against the 49ers, though. His next opposition will be Aldon Smith, who recorded 19.5 sacks this season, good for second in the NFL. If Newhouse can slow Smith, San Francisco doesn’t boast another overwhelming pass-rusher on its roster.


1. QB Colin Kaepernick

Since he took the reins in San Francisco, the 49ers have shadowed Kaepernick’s success.

When the second-year QB finishes with a passer rating of at least 90.0, they’re undefeated. When he finishes with one under 90.0, though, they’re winless.

Bad news for San Francisco: Green Bay’s defense held opposing QBs to an average passer rating of 76.8 in the regular season—the fourth-best mark in the league. Kaepernick must overcome the Packers’ fierce pass rush for the 49ers to take care of business at Candlestick Park.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.