Packers’ upset hopes ride on the backs of Love, Alexander


The Green Bay Packers fashioned a highly impressive all-around performance in shocking the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday in the opening round of the NFC playoffs.

They’ll have to be equally good, or even better, today if they hope to startle the heavily-favored San Francisco 49ers.

The Packers are 10-point underdogs, the worst odds of any of the four remaining NFL playoffs games. Yet, it’s possible the Packers can spring another upset if two things occur:

  • Jordan Love stays on a “heater’’, one in which he has been arguably one of the best, if not the best, quarterback in the NFL over the last nine games.
  • Jaire Alexander not only plays but plays at an ultra-high level like he did against the Cowboys. Alexander is questionable for today’s game because of an ankle injury.

As for Love, he has been nothing but sensational since about the middle of the season. In the last nine games, Love has thrown 21 touchdowns and … just one interceptions. Hall of Fame numbers.

In that same stretch, Love’s passer rating was at least a lofty 108 with the exception of one game. In the last three games, Love’s passer rating was 157.2, 128.8 and 125.3

If Love can rack up a passer rating anywhere close to those of the last three games, the Packers are in business.

As for Alexander, he is clearly the Packers’ premier cover guy, one of the best in the league when he’s healthy and focused.

Alexander exhibited his tremendous skills against the Cowboys when he helped keep Cowboys star receiver CeeDee Lamb in check before being forced to leave the game because of his ankle issue.

Alexander will need to be an impact player against the 49ers. While the 49ers don’t have a receiver the caliber of Lamb, they do have two excellent ones in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk has a team-leading 75 catches for1,342 yards and seven touchdowns, and Samuel has 60 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns.

If Alexander plays and is physically sound, he’s more than capable of dealing with either of those receivers. If he doesn’t play, the Packers will likely assign Corey Ballentine to one of them.

Ballentine has played in 13 games this season and has been solid. But he’s definitely not on the same level as Alexander and, as such, will likely require help from another Packer defensive back.

If Love and Alexander perform to their capabilities, the Packers will give the 49ers fits.  But if they don’t, it could be the final chapter to the Packers’ storybook season.

Prediction: 49ers 34, Packers 24.