NFC championship betting preview: Don't buy into Rodgers as trendy 'dog
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The Green Bay Packers will hope to get a better result against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday than they did in their previous visit to Levi's Stadium this season, which ended in a 37-8 defeat.

The 49ers are in the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2013, while the Packers' last appearance was in 2016, though San Francisco (2012) reached the Super Bowl more recently than Green Bay (2010).

Odds

49ers -7.5, 46

After opening at a touchdown, the line eventually crept up to 7.5 and has stayed firm, suggesting there's been no sharp money buying back on the Packers with the hook. The total crept up a point after opening at 45.

Betting trends

As is pretty clearly indicated by the -7.5 spread, the gulf in quality between these teams is fairly large. But could it be even bigger than the line suggests?

The Packers were middling across the board this season. On offense, they ranked 17th in yards per play, 14th in points per game, and 19th on third downs. Defensively, they were gashed in terms of yards per play - 19th against the pass and 24th against the run. Almost every significant metric indicates Green Bay is an average football team that has likely overachieved by reaching the championship game.

The same can't be said of the 49ers, who earned the right to host by virtue of being the best team in the NFC. San Francisco ranked fifth on offense in yards per play and second in points per game, and gave up the fewest yards per play on defense. The 49ers also ranked first against the pass and among the league leaders in sacks, despite some key injuries.

But the public sees a 13-3 team led by Aaron Rodgers getting 7.5 points against Jimmy Garoppolo, and the consensus is to leave the points on the table and take the Packers outright. Only five times in his career has Rodgers been an underdog of 7 or more points and he's 0-5 in those games.

X-factor

Davante Adams had a monstrous outing against the Seattle Seahawks, roasting them for 160 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches, but the 49ers are a steep step up in competition from Tre Flowers. While Richard Sherman is likely to spend a lot of time on Adams, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will devote plenty of bodies to containing the Packers' leading receiver. That shifts the pressure onto the rest of Green Bay's pass-catchers, making them our X-factor(s) in this game.

The Packers need one or two of Allen Lazard, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Jimmy Graham to step up with Adams sure to receive blanket coverage. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, two of the most polished route-runners in the league, struggled to get any separation against this 49ers secondary.

If Green Bay's underwhelming group of pass-catchers fails to find space down the field, Rodgers is going to have a miserable night with that vaunted San Francisco front four in his face. He had just 104 passing yards at Levi's Stadium in November, by far his lowest output of the season.

Best bet

49ers -7.5

There's little doubt and lots of evidence that San Francisco is the superior football team. Expect the 49ers' ferocious defensive line to swarm Rodgers, never letting him get comfortable in the pocket, while Kyle Shanahan works his play-calling magic on offense as San Francisco comfortably punches its ticket to Miami.

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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NFC championship betting preview: Don't buy into Rodgers as trendy 'dog
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