During Aaron Rodgers's extended absence, the Green Bay Packers were forced to lean heavily on rookie running back Eddie Lacy. The result has been the development of the strongest rushing attack the team has had in years; something that will be beneficial in the opening round of the postseason on a day where temperatures are expected to plummet well below freezing.
Fortunately for those braving the elements, kickoff is slated for 4:40 p.m. ET and the final whistle will blow before the temperature bottoms out at an expected low of -19 degrees. Nevertheless, they'll have to play the majority of the game after the 5:27 p.m. sunset.
The coldest game in NFL history (in terms of air temperature) was the 1967 Ice Bowl between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys, when the temperature at Lambeau Field dropped to a -15 degrees. The coldest game in terms of wind chill was the 1981 AFC Championship between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. Steady 27 mile per hour gusts drove the wind chill down to -38 degrees in Cincinnati's old Riverfront Stadium.
If the temperature drops below -1 degree during the game this Sunday, it will be the second-coldest game in Lambeau Field history, according to the team's official website.
Though common sense would suggest a team from temperate California is ill-suited for those type of conditions, the 49ers' hard-nosed running game and smash-mouth defense could actually give them the advantage. San Francisco ranks third in the league with 138 rushing yards per game and the weather will only bolster its seventh-ranked pass defense.
That being said, Lacy's emergence as one of the league's top young backs gives the Packers a strong ground attack of their own (ranked No. 7 with 134 yards per game). After Rodgers stole the show last week in his return against the Bears, it may be the rookie runner that holds the key to success on a frigid evening in Lambeau.