2014 NFL playoffs, 49ers vs. Packers: Keys to the game

San Francisco hits the road and heads to Green Bay, where frigid temperatures could define the game.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers progressed through the season differently. The 49ers were hit early in the season with injuries and struggled as a result, while the Packers almost lost a year because of devastating mid-season injuries.  Both teams are healthy when it counts, and these playoff stalwarts meet again in the 2014 wild card round.

No.1: Let Colin Kaepenick throw deep

The absence of Michael Crabtree hurt the 49ers to start the year, but his return means that San Francisco needs to allow Kaepernick to throw deep.

A lack of deep passing reared its head in all four of the 49ers losses this season, as the offense failed to throw for 150 yards in each loss. San Francisco won just one game in 2013 when Kaepernick failed to pass for 150 yards, making that the key number to watch for.

No. 2: Allow less than 400 yards, please

It's hard to find a team in the playoffs with a worse defense than the Green Bay Packers. This team allowed over 450 yards of total offense on three occasions this season, but 400 is the magic number for success.

Aaron Rodgers and the offense is so good that it's a testament to their ability that allowing 400 will keep them in the game. Green Bay won just two games when they gave up 400+ yards of total offense, winning six games allowing under 350.

That offense will keep them in the game, it's just about doing enough.

No. 3: Lean on those running backs San Francisco

Head coach Jim Harbaugh knows where his bread is buttered. His team ran the ball 30 or more times on 11 occasions in 2013, but it's when they moved away from it that things went badly.

All four of the 49ers losses came when they carried the ball less than 30 times. Normally this is a product of a game that was out of hand offensively, but  they had one-score games against Carolina and New Orleans.

Frank Gore to move the chains, then Kaepernick over the top, this is the key for the 49ers.

No. 4: Packers need to think about 6.0

This is the magic number for yards-per-offensive-play that allows the team to flourish. Most teams running successful passing offenses hit this mark and in six of the Packers eight wins, they manage to eclipse it.

The previous meeting with San Francisco was one of the few times in 2013 in which Green Bay beat the 6.0 yard mark and still lost. This shouldn't be too difficult to beat with Rodgers back in the fold, but the 49ers allowed 6.0+ yards per play on just four occasions this season.

No. 5: Brrrrrr

Lambeau Field is going to be cold on Sunday. Really cold. Temperatures are slated to be 5 degrees, while the wild chill could make it feel like -30.

There's no official metric to examine a team in the cold, but we do know the 49ers aren't the best travelers. Only two of their four losses came on the road in 2013, but under Jim Harbaugh 77 percent of San Francisco's total losses come away from Candlestick Park.

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