Packers: Will the cold weather be a home-field advantage vs. Rams?

Green Bay Packers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

With the road to Super Bowl LV going through Green Bay, WI, will the cold weather serve as a home-field advantage for the Packers?

The Green Bay Packers wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC two weeks ago giving them the lone bye in the new format of the NFL playoffs. But will the cold weather play a role at Lambeau Field for opposing playoff teams?

Over the years, playing at Lambeau Field post-December usually meant playing in severe, cold weather with temperatures in single digits or below. But to start 2021 the weather has been mostly tame. In fact, the number of snow-heavy games has been severely reduced as temperatures have mostly stabilized since the end of 2020.

The forecast does suggest that snow will accumulate in Green Bay in the days leading up to their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at 03:35 p.m., but unless it’s a blizzard, it doesn’t look like snow will be much of a factor.

Will the cold weather affect a West Coast team?

One of the long-time adages in the NFL is how West Coast teams are affected when they play in a drastically different climate than they’re used to. The Los Angeles Rams — while no strangers to playing in the cold — have mostly benefitted from playing a warm schedule this season.

In fact, Los Angeles didn’t play a single game in cold weather worthy of calling it a winter-like game. In Week 16, they played on the road in Seattle on a mostly-brisk 46-degree day.

With John Wolford officially ruled out and Jared Goff coming off a surgically-repaired thumb, the gameplay for Los Angeles will be to run the ball early and often. While not exactly a surprise to anyone, running the ball has always served well in cold-weather games.

Should the game be affected by the weather on Saturday, it’ll be all-eyes on Goff to see how his thumb holds up against Green Bay’s pass rush as both the game and temperature move forward.

Will injuries to Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald be affected by the cold?

Los Angeles suffered injuries to a key player on both offense and defense in Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald, respectively. Both players have been either limited or did not practice this week, but Donald said that he feels great and is good to go on Saturday.

How active either of them will be on Saturday is anyone’s guess as of now, but both Kupp and Donald are important pieces to this Los Angeles team. The two might also get a break from the lack of cold weather because without harsh conditions, the field at Lambeau Field isn’t as destructive when taking hits and landing on ice-cold surfaces.

However, even if the temperatures aren’t as frigid as expected, one hard hit on Saturday could significantly hinder Kupp or Donald, or worst-case, both.

The mastery of Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field

Regardless of how the temperature unfolds in Green Bay to kick off the Divisional Round, one thing still favors them: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been vocal about having a home-field advantage at Lambeau Field this season and for good reason.

Green Bay owns a 7-1 home record this season and also holds a 4-1 playoff record dating back to 2012. The previous three playoff teams to come into Lambeau Field at this time of the season (Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys) have all been formidable teams but share the same fate in suffering a playoff exit.

In Rodgers’ three previous home playoff games, he threw for 921 yards and nine touchdowns. History also favors second-year head coach, Matt LaFleur, who is currently 1-0 at Lambeau Field in the playoffs.

This will come down to a battle of strength vs. strength in Rodgers’ right arm against the league’s No. 1 overall defense. Whether the cold weather aids the Packers or not, Rodgers has found rejuvenated success under LaFleur’s scheme and will look for another MVP-like game on Saturday.

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