Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers: Yes, it will be cold


Everyone who attends Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field may end up looking like this. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports photograph

If there wasn’t enough drama already heading into the Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers match-up in Sunday’s NFL Wildcard Playoff game, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter had to show up.

You’ve already seen the projected air temperatures; you’ve already seen the wind chill temperatures … needless to say it’s going to be cold … and I will be there. As a photographer on the sidelines for this one, I will be feeling exactly what the players. will feel. However, I will be the one wearing a few more layers.

As one of the nearly 80,000 other crazies, there should be plenty of storylines heading into this one, only to be overshadowed by what Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have in store.

It could well turn into the coldest NFL game of all time. Here in Packers Nation we all know about the Ice Bowl – it was minus-13 degrees that day at Lambeau Field when the Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys. There was a windchill of minus-48 degrees that day.

But when the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 10, 1982, the cold again played a huge part. Here’s how Doug Farrar of described it:

"On Jan. 10, 1982, the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals faced off in the AFC Championship game for the 1981 season in conditions that were fit for neither man nor beast. The temperature at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium registered at -9 degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind chill dropped to -59 degrees using the calculations of the time, or -37 using modern calculations. It’s recognized as the coldest game in NFL history, outdoing the 1967 NFL Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. The Ice Bowl at Lambeau Field featured a low temperature of -13 degrees, and the wind chill dropped to around -48 degrees."

The Packers and 49ers will kick off at Lambeau Field late Sunday afternoon on a day when the high temperature is projected to be around minus-5 degrees. As the sun sets, the air temperature is expected to continue to plummet to around minus-25. Do we even have to describe what the windchill will be? OK, it’s projected to be somewhere between minus-40 and minus-50. When it gets that cold, there really isn’t any reason to include the numbers.

Let’s just say it’s going to be cold. It might be the coldest game on record.

While the players will be deciding whether to wear sleeves and what they can do to stay warm, I’ll be digging in my dresser drawers for every available pair of long underwear, shopping for a snowmobile suit, facemask, extra gloves and hand warmers.

But most importantly, I’ll be wondering just how my cameras will hold up. I’m not sure Nikon has tested their camera bodies or lenses in these types of extreme conditions. I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. If the cameras fail, I’ll be sending a nice letter to corporate headquarters.

But to get back to the game itself and the cold conditions – who will have the advantage? Will anyone have the advantage?

Well, if you’re a Packers fan, you’ve got to think that the Packers players will have a better understanding of the conditions because they live in Green Bay for at least eight months out of the year, but rarely do they experience anything like they will on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers fans cheer during the first quarter in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field. It will be much colder on Sunday. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Clearly, both teams will have to deal with the temperatures. Both teams will have to play and function in this weather.

What it will come down to is mind over matter and being able to control and manage all the skills these players possess. It comes down to focus and the fundamentals. The cold does a lot of strange things to the human mind and this game could demonstrate just how important a role that Mother Nature and Old Man Winter  will play.

Edgar Bennett, former Packers running back and current wide receivers coach, was quoted in Farrar’s article. Here’s how he succinctly described preparing for and playing in the cold conditions:

"“You have to rely on your fundamentals and trust your training more than anything. “So when you talk about hand placement, focus, looking the ball in to the tuck, plucking the ball out of the air. The little things. You have to go back, focus on your fundamentals and make sure you’re extremely detailed.”"

Yes, it will be cold. Just how cold really doesn’t matter at this point.

How the the teams adjust and play the game is what’s important.

Stay warm and enjoy …

In the meantime, I thought you might like seeing some footage from the Ice Bowl …