Line-ups will be different in Packers-49ers rematch
It will hardly be a rematch on Saturday night when the Green Bay Packers play the 49ers in San Francisco.
The Packers lost to the Niners 30-22 at Lambeau Field on the opening day of the regular season in September. Since then, nine players from those teams ended up on injured reserve and they've had eight new starters.
The Packers are starting two new linebackers and two offensive linemen, plus a new cornerback and running back.
But the biggest change is San Francisco's quarterback. The more mobile Colin Kaepernick took over in November after Alex Smith suffered a concussion and lost his starting spot later.
Kaepernick, who lived in Fond du Lac until moving to California at age 4, ran for 415 yards in the regular season.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers says he'll account for more mobility at the quarterback spot, in addition to the Niners' strong running game with Frank Gore.
Also, the Packer defense is much improved from opening day, when they did not show much improvement from a year ago. Green Bay had the NFL's worst defense in 2011.
By the end of this season, the numbers were much better. Green Bay ranked 11th among the 32 NFL teams in both yards and points allowed.
Capers says his unit is "more battle-tested." He hopes they're more confident in their schemes.
Among other things, the Packers had a fresh Charles Woodson on the field in their playoff win over Minnesota. He had six tackles on Saturday night, after missing 11 games with a broken collarbone.
Woodson was a big factor in keeping Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to 99 yards on the ground.
With starting quarterback Christian Ponder sidelined and running back Adrian Peterson contained, the Minnesota Vikings dropped their rematch with Green Bay in Saturday's NFC Wild Card game 24-10. It was the third meeting between the two teams in the last six weeks.
Ponder suffered an elbow injury in last Sunday's Vikings victory. Peterson's performance wasn't bad at all, 99 yards on 22 carries, but it was far-removed from the 409 yards he'd piled up in the first two meetings.
The Packers were never really challenged. Backup Minnesota quarterback Joe Webb had a hard time finding his receivers and a razor-sharp Aaron Rodgers connected with a record 10 different receivers while throwing for 274 yards.
Fullback John Kuhn scored twice, with DuJuan Harris adding the third TD.
One of the bad moments for Minnesota came early in the third quarter when the Packers lined up for a field goal. The Vikes had 12 men on the field, the Packers were awarded a first down and they went on to score the touchdown that basically put the game out of reach.
The Packers advance to play the NFC West Division Champion San Francisco 49ers next Saturday at 7 p.m. with the win.
Ex-Badger leads Seattle to victory
Of the three rookie quarterbacks in the NFL Playoffs, only Russell Wilson is still competing. The former Wisconsin Badger led Seattle to a 24-14 Wild Card victory yesterday at Washington.
Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. He had eight carries for another 67 yards.
His fellow rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury he suffered in the opening quarter.
The third rookie signal-caller, Andrew Luck of Indianapolis, was eliminated yesterday after his Colts lost at Baltimore 24-9.
Luck and Griffin were drafted in the first round last April. Wilson was taken by Seattle in the third round.
The Seahawks have won five straight. They will play at Atlanta next Sunday.