Coming off an overtime loss in last year’s championship game, San Francisco has consistently been one of the best teams in football. Even with a change at quarterback, the 49ers remained atop their division and got and a first round bye and the No.2 seed in the conference.
In the divisional round this weekend, the 49ers will begin their playoff push to reach their first Super Bowl in 18 years. What are the chances that San Francisco will win it all?
According to the oddsmakers, the 49ers are the favorites of all four NFC teams to play in New Orleans on Feb.3. The betting web site Bovada sets the 49ers odds of reaching the Super Bowl at 11/5, even ahead of the No.1 seed Atlanta Falcons. San Francisco’s odds of winning the title are 6/1.
On Saturday night, the 49ers will host the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of their Week 1 contest. San Francisco won at Lambeau Field, making them the team to beat in the conference. They’re expected by many to move on, as they’ve been places as three-point favorites at most Las Vegas sportsbooks.
San Francisco would likely be favored in either NFC Championship matchup. They would have home-field advantage over the Seahawks. Even if they were to visit Atlanta, they might be giving the Falcons points. Atlanta hasn’t been given much respect, despite winning more games than any other NFL team.
The biggest question regarding San Francisco remains at the quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick has excelled since taking over for Alex Smith, but he’s never played in the postseason. It’s unknown whether or not his 98.3 passer rating will translate into the playoffs.
Smith has been known as a game manager, but he proved last year that he has the ability to make big plays. Against the New Orleans Saints, Smith totaled four scores, and led his team on two touchdowns drives in the final minutes of the contest. Jim Harbaugh took a big risk by making Kaepernick the starter, and this weekend could determine if it was the correct decision.
Kaepernick doesn’t, necessarily, have to play like an elite quarterback to give the 49ers their first championship in almost two decades. San Francisco has the league’s second-best defense, allowing just 17.1 points per game.
If the 49ers reach the Super Bowl, they might not mind facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In Week 15, San Francisco beat New England on the road. At one point, they led the contest 31-3.
It won’t be an easy road for the 49ers. The Packers may have the best quarterback in football, the Falcons have the best record in the sport and Seattle recently beat San Francisco by 29 points.
However, with an elite defense and a top running game, the 49ers should be considered one of the favorites to win the 2013 title.