The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers took harder routes to the playoffs than usual. Yet the Packers and 49ers ended up in a familiar place -- against each other in the postseason on Jan. 5. Not only are San Francisco and Green Bay staging a rematch of last season's divisional playoffs, this will be their seventh postseason meeting since the 1995 season.
Last years 49ers-Packers showdown legitimized Colin Kaepernick as a starting quarterback, and helped propel San Francisco to the Super Bowl. Ironically, Brett Favre also became legitimate in a 49ers-Packers playoff game, when Green Bay upset defending champion San Francisco in the 1995-96 divisional playoffs.
The Packers didn't reach or win the Super Bowl that year, but they did the next season, starting with an easy win over the 49ers in the second round. Another year later, Green Bay knocked off San Francisco on the road again to win the 1998 NFC title -- which turned out to be its last with Favre.
The 49ers finally got revenge the next year in one of the most famed playoff moments in San Francisco history, as a last second Steve Young pass to a young Terrell Owens beat the Packers. Somehow, the 49ers and Packers went three more years before facing off in the postseason again, as Green Bay prevailed at home in the wild card round.
It took 11 more years for the 49ers to get revenge, and now it is the Packers looking for payback. Given their playoff history together, how Aaron Rodgers is back and how this game is being held in freezing weather -- despite San Francisco being 3 1/2 games better than Green Bay -- the Packers would seem to have the advantage. Then again, the 49ers have beaten the Packers three straight times since September 2012 alone.
With this rematch set to be one of the coldest games in NFL history, there will be history made either way. The 49ers and Packers have made their share of it together in January, regardless of the weather, and this may be no different -- especially if the winner goes on to bigger things.
These familiar foes will get even more familiar at 4:40 p.m. est on FOX.