Starter Pack: Prediction time

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
8:00
AM ET
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy's Packers have played the underdog role well.

Who can forget his mantra from 2010, when he proclaimed “We're nobody's underdog?” He spoke those words the week of a game at the New England Patriots, who were a double-digit favorite against a Packers team that was missing quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers, of course, went to the wire against the Patriots with Matt Flynn in charge and although they fell shot on that occasion, they would go on to win the Super Bowl as the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

If that saying applies to the Packers this season, then perhaps McCarthy's team will surprise again.

At least it would be a surprise to our panel of experts, who nearly unanimously picked the 49ers to win Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field.

Of the 13 prognosticators, all but one picked the 49ers. The lone dissenter was Keyshawn Johnson.

San Francisco 49ers reporter Bill Williamson and I will reveal our game predictions later on Friday in our Double Coverage feature.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
  • The Packers inched closer to selling out Lambeau Field for Sunday's game but still had about 3,000 tickets remaining at the close of business on Thursday, so the NFL granted them another 24 hours to sell out and avoid a local television blackout. The deadline is now 4 p.m. local time on Friday.
  • The weather has been a popular topic around the team this week. The forecast for Sunday's game keeps changing -- and not for the better. Yet some players, perhaps stubbornly, refuse to wear long sleeves under their jerseys.
  • Running back Eddie Lacy practiced in pads on Thursday, which was an indication his sprained right ankle is feeling better. Details are in the daily injury report.
  • McCarthy will have more options on offense this week than he has had in months. Other than tight end Jermichael Finley, who is out for the season, the Packers have all of their top skill-position players back in the mix thanks to the return last week of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Randall Cobb.
Elsewhere:
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde wrote that even though you wouldn't know it from the even-keeled Dom Capers, this is a huge game for the veteran defensive coordinator whose group has struggled against the 49ers.
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause looked back on the top Packers' stories from 2013 and concluded that Rodgers' broken collarbone was the biggest.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne wrote that Sunday's game could be a clash in tempos, with the Packers wanting to speed things up with their no-huddle and the 49ers wanting to control the clock by running the ball.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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