Home Articles Packers Favored by Three in Ice-Cold NFC Championship Game

Packers Favored by Three in Ice-Cold NFC Championship Game

"Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin" by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The NFC Championship Game is set for this Sunday (3:05 pm ET) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, where the #1 seed Packers will host the #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The weather forecast for the game is around 28⁰ Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius) with two-to-four inches of snow in the 24 hours leading up to kickoff and moderate 5 MPH winds. A heating system under the field means that the playing surface should be clear.

The prowess of the Packers franchise on the “Frozen Tundra” is well documented. The USA Today recently noted that Green Bay is 78-29-2 all-time in freezing-temperature games at Lambeau Field. Making matters even worse for the Bucs, they are winless (0-8) in a much smaller sample size.

But this isn’t the same Tampa Bay team, and one key difference provides a ray of hope in Wisconsin’s bleak midwinter: Tom Brady.

Cold Weather QBs

The Bucs’ offseason acquisition of the greatest quarterback in NFL history – if measured by championship rings – looks all the more prescient with the team headed to Lambeau. Brady’s career with the New England Patriots is riddled with frigid playoff victories. Kyle Brandt of NFL.com called him the “greatest cold-weather quarterback of all-time.” He is 13-2 in sub-zero games, though this will be the first time he has traveled to Green Bay in his 18 postseason appearances.

On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers is equally familiar with freezing temperatures, and equally as good passing the ball, if not better.

Rodgers is also considerably more mobile and has a stronger arm. While Brady looked his age last week against a good New Orleans defense, going just 18-33 (54.5%) for 199 yards and a 92.9 passer rating – Rodgers torched an even-better Rams D. The 37-year-old went 23-39 (63.9%) for 296 yards and a 108.1 passer rating.

The Defenses

Few would argue that Brady gives the Bucs an edge at QB over Rodgers, but one area where Tampa Bay should have the advantage is on defense.

The Buccaneers were a top-ten defense in terms of scoring (355 points against) and were rated fifth in Football Outsiders’ Defensive DVOA metric. The Packers, in contrast, were 13th in scoring defense (369 points) and 17th in efficiency. After giving up 30-plus points twice in the first four weeks of the season, Tampa only gave up more than 27 once in the final 12 games. Last week, the unit held New Orleans (a team that put up 38 on Tampa in Week 9) to just 20 points on the turf at the Superdome.

Those on the Green Bay bandwagon will note that the Packer defense also performed considerably better in the second half of the season. During their current seven-game win streak, they have allowed just 18.4 PPG. For the year as a whole, they gave up 23.1 PPG.

Who’s Going to Win

On the whole, the Packers appear to be a deserving favorite and, as a whole, their team has considerably more experience in cold weather (Brady notwithstanding).

But betting against Tom Brady in the playoffs hasn’t been a winning proposition for many bettors. So approach with caution.


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