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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, here, here and here.

1/11/13
3:00 PM

Mark,

Our trash talking is done. It’s been a fun week. Thank you for churning out content five times this week! It was a pleasure and I hope the 49ers fans that I will encounter at Candlestick tomorrow are as gracious and smart as you after their beloved team loses.

I just have two final summary thoughts:

2005DraftfromSFExaminer

1) In many ways this game is about Aaron Rodgers. He’s played like one of the two best quarterbacks in the league for three full seasons now. But I do not know if he’s faced the sort of test he faces Saturday. He has no excuses on his side of the ball as they are as healthy as they have been all year. The Packers defense has played much better this season than last and he is up against a truly challenging megamind of a coach and a killer defense of its own. A lot of people who’re picking the Packers are simply doing so because of him. They don’t see how he with his history of overcoming adversity and challenges will fail this. I feel that way a lot of the time too. I feel that way now….

But look – there’s Harbaugh and the guy who made Alex Smith look competent and never loses off a week when he has more time to prepare than his rival. Time to flip pick.

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Seriously it’s been a coin toss every time I try to predict how this one turns out.

2) We have both wavered between picking the teams we root for and lamenting about every possible way they will lose. We both will not be surprised by any result tomorrow. This is sport at its best. Two evenly matched teams playing in a win-or-get out game in one of the NFL’s oldest stadiums on primetime on a Saturday. I doubt there’s going to be a better playoff game this year. The Packers have the better quarterback but the 49ers have home field, rest and the best coach in the league. Ever since Adrian Peterson ensured the Packers won’t get a bye, I have felt very strongly that the 49ers will win. Again, nothing will surprise me but here’s my final pick – 49ers 34 – Packers 31 in OT…..

I so hope I am wrong….

Here’s the Aaron Rodgers video that Bill Simmons pointed to multiple times in his wonderful piece today. It’s the image and video I will be praying to over the next 26 hours.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Kn7YRpws0?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360]

Enjoy the game. Watch for me on TV and for one last time this week

gopackgo

1/11/13
8:00 PM

Shyam,

It’s been fun. I started out the week holding back while you talked up all the reasons why the 49ers would win, then I encouraged you to talk up the Packers, but then I used your own arguments against you. I guess that makes me a maestro. 🙂

This should be an annual tradition, and thankfully our teams are actually well-positioned to make that so. That’s definitely my hope.

Some final thoughts:
1. Wow, Alex looks young in that picture. And innocent. Pretty sure he never thought his future would be full of dropped-trou.
2. Even Football Outsiders couldn’t make a prediction about the winner; they think it will be that close. Really enjoying their analysis, though.
3. I’ll take the under on combined point total. Something tells me this game will be lucky to have even one of the teams score over 30 points.
4. The winner of this game will host the Seahawks next week; even with the Seahawks being as good as they have been recently, you’ve got to like the chances for the host team. Let’s hope this game doesn’t come down to a field goal kicking contest though, or else it will never end.

This weekend’s winners will be the 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos and Patriots. I’d really like to pick a visiting team in the AFC, but the odds are definitely not in their favor. (I’ll be secretly rooting for them, though, as per usual when I have no other vested interest.)

With that, I’ll worriedly and excitedly conclude my half of this discussion. Thanks for inviting me.

Go Kaep, Go

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