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Sunday Night Football: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction and Preview

Sunday Night Football: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction and Preview

Packers, 49ers renew acquaintances on "Sunday Night Football"

It's a short week for the Packers as they travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on "Sunday Night Football." These two teams have played four times in the last three years with the squads splitting the meetings, which is fitting for their historic rivalry. Last year, Green Bay demolished San Francisco 34-17 on the road. Aaron Rodgers threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns in the victory, while Nick Mullens struggled mightily for the home team. Six of the last eight matchups between the two have taken place in San Francisco.

All is right in Green Bay as the team beat up on the visiting Lions 35-17 on "Monday Night Football." Rodgers chucked a bunch of touchdowns, and the defense calmed down after allowing an opening drive touchdown. The run game still was disappointing, but it didn't really matter since the home team's signal-caller had just five incompletions in 27 attempts. All of this came after a massively disappointing neutral field loss to the Saints in Week 1 during which everyone looked bad.

San Francisco finished up its two-game road trip with a pair of victories. The latest came over the Eagles 17-11 in Philadelphia. Jimmy Garoppolo was underwhelming statistically but made the plays when necessary, and Deebo Samuel was the main recipient of his throws. The defense stood tall, especially in the red zone, and that was a big reason for the 49ers' victory last Sunday. It's got to feel good to have two road wins with nine on the schedule this season.

Sunday Night Football: Green Bay (1-1) at San Francisco (2-0)

Kickoff: Sun, Sept 26 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: 49ers -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Intangibles
The short week for Green Bay definitely has to be a factor, especially when there is travel involved. The good thing is that there's familiarity between the two squads considering how much they've played recently. The Packers are hosting the Steelers next week, so there really isn't a look-ahead factor just yet for them. Meanwhile, this is the first home contest for the 49ers, so there could be an early boost, especially from a crowd that hasn't been to a game since 2019. Next up for them is another home contest, this time against divisional opponent Seattle. I don't think there will be a look-ahead either, even if the next game is more important.

2. Who is available?
The Niners may be 2-0, but their injury report is quite hefty. They lost Raheem Mostert after a couple of plays in Week 1 for the season. Also out is RB Jeff Wilson Jr., who is expected to return around midseason, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic. Elijah Mitchell had filled in for Mostert, but he's dealing with a shoulder injury that he suffered against the Eagles. Also getting hurt in that one was rookie Trey Sermon, who suffered a concussion on his first-ever NFL carry. The last RB of the group was JaMycal Hasty, but he has a high ankle sprain that will keep him "out for a while." The hope is that Sermon will play along with the only healthy holdover Trenton Cannon, whom the team claimed off waivers from Baltimore on Sept. 15. New Orleans and Detroit were both able to find a little bit of success on the ground against the Packers, so it's imperative for SF to find a healthy back and use him judiciously.

3. Rodgers to Adams
Green Bay's connection between Rodgers and Davante Adams worked really well last Monday and last year in the win over the Niners. He hauled in eight passes for 121 yards last week and posted 10 receptions for 173 yards and a score last November at Levi's Stadium. San Francisco's secondary is as injured as the running back group, as Emmanuel Moseley is dealing with a knee ailment while the team is already without Jason Verrett. They started a fifth-round rookie and longtime veteran Josh Norman in Week 2 and somehow survived against Philly. Rodgers knows how to pick apart a defense's weakness, and he'll also be able to keep the 49ers unit off balance with his quick snaps when the opposition tries to substitute.

Final Analysis

These two teams could definitely play a second time in the postseason, but this Week 3 meeting should be a lot of fun. The 49ers won two tough road games and should get a great reception at home. However, I'm concerned the injuries are going to catch up to them. The matchup that I think will decide this one is San Francisco's offense against Green Bay's defense, which has not been very stout. In situations like this, I usually lean to Rodgers and will do so once again, even on the road.

Prediction: Packers 27, 49ers 23 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.