5

January

Wild Card Playoff Round – 49ers vs. Packers: Keys To The Game

49ers vs. Packers 2013 wild card

This may be very indicative of what most fans will look like after Sunday’s game. The Packers face the 49ers in the postseason for the second straight season

The stage is set: Lambeau Field, 3:40 pm on Sunday afternoon is where the Green Bay Packers will play host to the San Francisco 49ers for a wild card round playoff.  It seems a bit odd that a team that finished 8-7-1 and needed nearly every last second of their season to secure a playoff berth is hosting a team that finished 12-4.

Such is life in the NFL.  We need only go back three years and to San Francisco’s very own NFC West to remember a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team that hosted a wild card game.  They beat the New Orleans Saints before losing to the Chicago Bears in the divisional round.  That game was won on an incredible and long touchdown run by Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

I know this isn’t Seattle and it certainly isn’t 2010, but I always talk about the possibility of history repeating.  The Packers happen to have a hard-nosed running back of their own in Eddie Lacy.   So there’s that.

Last week, the Packers faced a tough must-win game in colder temperatures and found a way to get it done.  The 49ers pose a much tougher challenge, at least on paper, than do the Bears.  For the Packers, having a healthy Aaron Rodgers is great, but they will need a near all-pro performance out of most of their players to get to the next round.

So how do they get there?  Let’s look at the keys to this week’s tilt between two old rivals.

Avoid Freezer Burn

The temperature is expected to be near zero degrees with a wind chill near -20, which could make this one of the coldest games on record at Lambeau Field.  The coldest recorded game was the famous ”Ice Bowl” in 1967 at -13 degrees.

Lambeau Field used to be a huge advantage for the Packers and that advantage was their opponents having to come into those frigid conditions to play whereas the Packers weren’t as affected by it.  Thus was born the nickname “Frozen Tundra” to describe the venue.  Lately, that has not always been the case.

2

January

Packers Ticket Mystery Solved (Somewhat)

Green Bay Packers tickets

Although tickets still remain for this week’s wild card game, the Packers expect their current sellout streak to continue

Since 1973, the NFL has maintained a blackout policy that states that a home game cannot be televised locally if it is not sold out 72 hours prior to its start time.  As of Thursday afternoon, the Green Bay Packers still had 3,000 tickets left to sell and had been granted an extension to 4pm on Friday afternoon by which to sell them.

For those of you who are still worried that the team may not sell out, keep something in mind that has been the case for many years:  While we may never officially hear about it, most teams have sponsors lined up to buy all remaining tickets and avoid the blackout.  The Packers surely have that in place, if needed.

Still, talk of a blackout is not something the Packers faithful are used to hearing or seeing in the news.  As long as I can remember, the Packers have had a waiting list for those wanting season tickets that is said to be as long as 25 years.

With the addition of another 7,000 seats at Lambeau Field this past offseason, that list got slightly shorter and offered additional opportunities for fans to get into one of the most historic venues across pro sports.  The Packers currently own a streak of 319 consecutive sellout games, with 301 of those being regular season contests.  I’m here to tell you that the streak will continue and to have no fear.

Interestingly, the Packers have two local markets:  Green Bay and Milwaukee.  This means that a television blackout would affect a large portion of the state’s viewing audience, if it got to that point.  Again, it won’t.  When was the last time that we saw a true TV blackout in a local market?  If the Jacksonville Jaguars can tarp thousands of seats in the name of advertising and remove them from the stadium count, I think the Packers can easily fill one of the league’s few Mecca’s.

With regards to obtaining playoff tickets at Lambeau Field, typically the Packers send out an invoice to their season ticket holders to give them first option to buy playoff tickets.  It makes sense that they would get first crack at them and that is how it is done with all professional sports.  The team’s timing wasn’t the greatest this season, however, as they sent out the invoices the week following the Packers embarrassing 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.