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.