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Mark Gray was born in England, grew up in Northern California and now lives in Seattle. He is one of the hardcore 49ers fans that I put up with on a daily basis. We exchange emails any time the Packers and 49ers play in a big game. Here is our exchange 3 days ahead of the divisional playoff matchup in San Francisco. Our earlier exchanges can be found here and here.

8:31 AM


So what happened yesterday? Ho hum day in Northern California. Trash talked at by two Niners fans who said that my team will be crushed and one Niner fan who asked me if I would root for the Niners after the divisional round because of me being local and all. *Sucker*.


Midway thru the week and I haven’t really seen anything that will change my pick so far. Looks like Mr. York is up to some sleazy old tricks that rich NFL owners like him and Snyder are always up to and is having the game played on a terrible field like the Redskins game last week. Score 1 to you and here’s hoping QB # 1 gets thru the game without tearing any ligaments. The bad turf, the cold & windy weather all point to helping your cavalcade of straight-line runners much more than my team’s group of nimble speedy receivers. Justin Smith is going to be well rested. I am shocked the line hasn’t moved further in your favor.

Also, did you know Colin Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee and Rodgers spent his schooling and college in Northern California? I think this story line will be beat to a merciless death by the time Saturday rolls around. I also guess Harbaugh will bring Alex Smith in for a couple of plays just so the 2005 draft storyline can be propped up a fair amount too. Another friend was telling me about how awesome the TV ratings would be if the Packers played the Seahawks and Manning played Brady in the conference championship games. So I started thinking how the refs would sway this week’s games just to make that happen. LOL. The things we think of as sports fan!


But really Saturday cannot come here fast enough. I expect this will be the best of the four games. I even predict it will go to OT. The one thing the Packers have going for them is that they are as healthy and deep as they have been all season. They can now put their top five pass catchers on the field and also throw in an actual functional NFL caliber running back (DuJuan Harris) in every now and then. Their defense will be manhandled for a bit by your well rested linemen and backs but at least it has all of its parts intact and out there.

Football Outsiders has the 49ers as a small favorite too. The difference in overall DVOA is miniscule but they rate your team’s chances of winning at 64%. They tend to be the most accurate of websites I follow and they see a definitive advantage to the 49ers defense, home field and the bye week. They however have the Seahawks as the best team in the NFC and as the one most likely to make it to the Superbowl.

The coaches and quarterbacks speak to the media today in great detail, so we may have more tidbits and trash talking to chew on. But from a cold, grey Northern California morning, all I can say is Go Pack, go even as a realistic assessment of their chances makes me think that this run is done Saturday.

Thank You,

6:35 PM

Dear confused Shyam,

Our “trash talk” mostly revolved around the fact that you’re underselling your team’s chances (some sort of reverse-jinx, we concluded) and overselling Harbaugh’s abilities as a former QB. You know, the kind that isn’t allowed on the field. Chad rightly pointed out that having an elite current QB, like Mr. Rodgers, is a much better predictor of success than a “great” coach and scrub QB. (Not sure what Kaep is going to be yet.)

Even worse, you mention the DVOA playoff odds to bemoan the 49ers’ chances of winning at home versus GB:


But you failed to mention that the Packers have been given the best chance to win of any of the road teams not called the Seahawks. That’s about as non-disrespectful as you can get. Houston and Baltimore are given little-to-no chance by comparison; how would you feel to be a fan of either of those teams?

Sure the 49ers are the better team (by consensus) and at home, but this game is by no means a slam-dunk. No way would I trash talk before this game because it’s too close to call before they actually play – and I don’t want to look like an overconfident jerk (see: Shyam, 2012 – LOL). I’d much rather trash-talk the Ravens and Texans (maybe it will motivate them!) because, wow, the odds of them winning are crazy low.

FO has the Packers as the #5 team right now. Advanced NFL Stats has them at #4 of the remaining teams. If the Pack weren’t playing one of the teams above them on the lists (like the Falcons), or even if they were at home (after a week’s rest), you’ve got to think they’d have a trip at least to the conference championship and shot at the Superbowl. So thank you again for that bye. Best. Playoffs. Present. Ever.

As for the whole “Rodgers back in Cali” and “Kaep from Milwaukee” story lines – meh. Chaff and newspaper-filler. No relevance to the statistics, unless you are tallying the number of ticket requests Rodgers received versus the number of tickets he was able to procure.

BTW, where’s all the trash talk? Seems like you’re setting yourself up by expecting a loss so you can be surprised if they win. But, more importantly, you’ll be less affected if they lose. That’s pretty boring; you need to start bringing it, buddy.

BTW2, don’t forget: (from Deadspin)

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