Sunday is supposed to be cold. Really, really cold.
After a forecasted high of 19 earlier in the week, the mercury is expected to only rise to 10 degrees for Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. The low? A mind-numbing 16 below. And that’s not even factoring in the wind chill.
"Winter is coming. It’s here. It’s here in Green Bay," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "It’s definitely going to have an affect on the game."
With a 3:40 p.m. kickoff and a sunset of about 4:30 p.m., it is going to get really cold, really fast.
“We live in it. We’re around it,” Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said on Wednesday. “I don’t think you ever get used to it. I’m sure some of you guys have probably lived here your whole lives. You don’t get used to it being negative-5 or whatever it is. I think especially guys that are handling the ball, of course, it’s huge for them to be out there catching the ball, throwing it. Snapper, punter, kicker, everything. For us, it helps, but I think everybody is going to be cold. It’s not going to be any different for either team, regardless of where they’re coming from. They’re going to be cold and so are we. It’s whoever handles it best.”
Coach Mike McCarthy will take his players outside for a portion of Thursday’s and Friday’s practices, as he’s done before cold-weather games against Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Chicago last month.
In theory, the weather should be an advantage for the Packers. That hasn’t always been the case, especially with a pass-focused offense, but the league’s seventh-ranked running game allows the Packers to move the ball under any circumstance.
The Packers have lost to the 49ers three times in the last 12 months. The weather, however, never has been an issue. It certainly will be on Sunday evening.
“It’s easy to sit here and talk about it before the game if it changes it,” Hawk said. “But they always say is that if it’s cold, obviously a team that can run the ball and control the game has an advantage maybe. But they run the ball very well. It’s one of their strengths. So, they can’t be too upset about that. But we run the ball really well, too, so I think the best team will win, whoever plays the best on Sunday is going to win, for sure.”
That’s the thinking of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Like the Packers, his team has a power running game and powerful receivers. The Niners also have a rugged defense.
“Our players really, really thrive on playing winning football, no matter what the circumstances are,” Harbaugh said.
Packers injury report
Out: OLB Clay Matthews (thumb). Did not participate: OLB/DE Mike Neal (abdomen). Limited: ILB Brad Jones (ankle), RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), OLB Nick Perry (foot). DT Ryan Pickett (knee).
The Packers did not have a regular practice so the participation designations were approximations.
Noticeably absent from the report are quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) and receiver Randall Cobb (knee).
“Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, they look great, feel great. I have no worries about those two,” McCarthy said.
Lacy, who has practiced only on Fridays the prior three weeks, has improved enough that he might practice on Thursday.
49ers injury report
Did not participate: WR Jon Baldwin (illness), C Jonathan Goodwin (not injury related), CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring), DT Justin Smith (shoulder). Limited: LB Dan Skuta (foot). Full: LB Navorro Bowman (wrist), CB Tarell Brown (ribs), RB Frank Gore (knee), G Mike Iupati (knee).
The 49ers did practice on Wednesday.
-- Rather than the usual Wednesday-Thursday-Friday practice week, the Packers will practice only on Thursday and Friday. The team worked at its new indoor gym on Wednesday. “We’re further ahead than we would be on a normal Wednesday in a normal flow of the week,” McCarthy said.
-- Rodgers, on the team entering the postseason: “Everybody’s record right now is the same. We’re in the tournament. There’s 12 teams with a chance to win the championship right now is the way we’re looking at it. We won our division, gave us the chance to host a home playoff game and we’re going to try to make the most of it.”
-- Niners receiver Anquan Boldin expected a rematch after the teams met in Week 1: “To be honest with you, we kind of expected it. After playing them the first game, we knew that they’d most likely be in the playoffs and is probably a team that we’d have to see again.”
-- Plenty of good seats are available, with the Packers’ 319-game sellout streak in jeopardy. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster outlets and Ticketmaster.com.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.