NFL Playoffs: Even the Cold Can't Compete with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers
After cruising their way to a 15-1 record, the Packers have locked up home field advantage for themselves for the NFC playoffs. As a result, they will play their Divisional Round matchup against the New York Giants at home on Sunday and, should they win, the NFC Championship game at home.
That means one, possibly two, games at the famous Lambeau Field. That means one, possibly two, games in bitterly cold weather.
The weather forecast for Sunday's NFC Divisional Round matchup between the Giants and Packers is to be around 29 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill causing it to feel anywhere between 13-19 degrees. This week, with the need to shovel out all the snow the stadium has been hit with, the Packers were paying people $10/hour to shovel the snow out of the stands and field at Lambeau.
It is and will be cold in Green Bay as usual for this playoff run.
Ironically, having home field advantage in a venue the franchise has an all-time playoff record of 13-3 has some fans and people around the game concerned with how the Packers offense will perform playing in the cold. There even have been some rumblings from commenters on this site expressing caution from the NFL's best team in cold weather.
There is some logic to the concern. The Green Bay offense features a number of quick-passing plays built around 20-25 yard routes. They boast an impressive wide receiver group that thrives on catching passes from Aaron Rodgers after quickly reaching opposing teams' secondaries.
But the cold in recent years has not been able to compete with Aaron Rodgers and the "passing machine" offense that Green Bay possesses. Dating back to 2008, in Aaron Rodgers' past 13 games in weather that featured a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the Packers are 12-1.
The cold has shown no signs of stopping the offensive production. In that same span, the offense has put together an average of 382.5 yards per game. They've surpassed 400 yards in five games, and 500 yards once.
If you were to count the game Matt Flynn quarterbacked the team to a shoot-out victory against Detroit in Week 17 two weeks ago, the Pack average about 395 yards in cold weather games, running the record to 13-1. In their last game, the Packers put tallied an incredible 550 yards on offense.
In fact, Aaron Rodgers is at his best in the cold. In those 13 games, Rodgers' passer rating is nearly 12 points higher than it is when the weather is warmer than 40 degrees. Nine times has his rating touched triple digits, and five times has it been an incredible 132 or higher.
Rodgers career passing statistics in the cold: 268 completions on 411 attempts, 3,558 yards, 33 touchdowns and only six interceptions. that equates to a passer rating of 113.2.
More recently, Rodgers in three cold-weather games this season has had passer ratings of 112.3, 140.3 and 142.7. He's thrown 12 touchdowns in those three games, compared to one interception.
If you look at his playoff track record in the cold, he is a perfect 2-0. Both of those wins came during their championship run last season. The one game in which he "struggled" in cold weather was against the Bears in the NFC Championship game, only because he did not throw a touchdown. However, he still put the team in position to score with his legs, breaking a 25 yard run at one point, as well as running for a touchdown in a game they won by one touchdown.
The important detail is they won. They have been winning these games in the cold. And in the one game they lost, the Rodgers-led Packers put up 36 points on the scoreboard and Rodgers threw for 383, part of the 436 yards of total offense in that game, a loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers.
That game was lost because of the defense giving up 37 points, and that is the concern the Packers and their fans should have in these NFC playoffs--their defense. They have allowed an average of 22.4 points per game this season, only ranked 19th best in the league.
But it's the cold weather that could be their best defense against opposing offenses. So fans, embrace the cold and the Lambeau Field history. It has not been able to compete against Aaron Rodgers and the "passing machine." It's not working against them.
There are real things to worry about, like the Giants' pass rush. Regardless, the cold weather is not one of them. They may even want to leave some of that snow inside the stadium to make the atmosphere as cold as possible. It's working for them.
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