Challenging conditions could be on the way for the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in their NFC Divisional Round contest at Levi's Stadium tonight.
According to the latest forecast from NFLWeather.com, rain is expected throughout the game. There is an 88 percent chance of rain throughout the opening three quarters, and that number rises to 94 percent in the fourth quarter.
In other words, it's not a question of if it rains, but when and how often.
Rain would make ball security a challenge for both teams, potentially lowering the points total and increasing the chance of turnovers. That plays into the Packers' hands and could level the playing field.
Rain factor could play into Packers hands against 49ers in divisional round
Why might the rain become an issue for San Francisco's offense? Brock Purdy struggled in similar conditions earlier this season.
"Against the Browns this season, he was 12 of 27 on his pass attempts and seemed to struggle during a rainy stretch late in the second quarter," writes The Athletic's Matt Barrows. "Purdy's throws wobbled, he missed tight end George Kittle on a deep throw, then lost the ball on a third-down dropback."
The 49ers are heavy favorites for a reason. They have an offense capable of dominating against Joe Barry's defense. Their defense will present a tough test for Jordan Love and Green Bay's offense. If this game were played indoors at a neutral venue, the Packers may struggle to keep up.
Add in the potential rain element, and it could level the playing field. Challenging conditions could make scoring points a greater challenge. The lower scoring the game, the more likely the Packers can "steal" a win.
Take the last playoff meeting between these two teams as a perfect example. Both teams struggled to move the ball in cold, snowy conditions. The Packers were favorites as the NFC's top seed, but they couldn't put the Niners away, and a blocked-punt touchdown eventually led to their downfall.
If this game features less scoring and goes down to the wire, the Packers may only need one excellent drive to take the win.
Rain could be a significant factor on Saturday night. It makes things more unpredictable. When you're 10-point underdogs, that's a good thing.