Entering play this weekend, the Green Bay Packers control the road for getting the 1-seed and a bye in the NFC. And with the shifts in the NFL postseason format being implemented this year, it would be the only bye in the NFC.
The money machine that is the NFL decided the best course of action was to add an additional playoff team in each conference and remove the first-round bye that the 2-seed would normally get. So teams like the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings that normally would be getting ready to watch the Packers in the postseason now have a shot even though they have a losing record (6-7). But I digress. If Green Bay wins their three remaining games, they are the 1-seed; it’s as cut and dry as that. If the playoffs go through Lambeau Field, it would shift the scale in favor of Green Bay more than it would for any other possible 1-seed and host team in the NFC.
Aaron Rodgers has played in four NFC championships throughout his career. Not a single one of those have been played in Green Bay. They went on the road to San Francisco last year, Atlanta in 2016, Seattle in 2014, and Chicago in 2010. Rodgers has repeatedly mentioned this in press conferences throughout the season, noting how important it would be to have the postseason run through Lambeau Field.
One of the main kickers in this might be that while Rodgers and the Packers are fine and comfortable playing in the cold weather come January, the other quarterbacks they could face will not be.
Jared Goff has received criticism in the past, most notably in 2018 for struggling in cold weather games — although his statistics aren’t as damning as one might think. For the Packers, sure, let them play indoors in Los Angeles if the Rams were to get the 1-seed. Rodgers has feasted playing indoors throughout his career. There’s no advantage for the Los Angeles Rams, who are playing without fans in the stands this year, if they were to host. However, the Packers likely will have a massive advantage if the game is played in Green Bay.
Drew Brees is 1-5 on the road in the playoffs and his numbers plummet as the temperatures drop. Again, you want to put Rodgers and that offense in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, fine. They won there this year in a game where Rodgers went 21-for-32 with 283 yards passing, three touchdowns and no turnovers. The advantage isn’t huge for the New Orleans Saints, who also aren’t allowing fans this year, if the game is played in Louisiana. But if you play that puppy in Green Bay, the advantage shifts to Rodgers and the Packers. Because while the numbers will almost always be better with no weather factors and/or playing indoors, Rodgers’ numbers in that cold Green Bay weather don’t dip off to the extent that some of these other quarterbacks do when they play in cold weather games.
With all due respect, I feel as though Drew Brees is glass right now. He hasn’t played in weeks, he’s going to return at some point but, we’re talking about a dude who is 41 years old and will be returning from 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung. One hit from Za’Darius Smith or Kenny Clark and he might explode into a million shards if they were to play the Packers in Lambeau.
We could go on and on. Tom Brady has historically been a very, very good cold weather quarterback, doesn’t seem to affect him one way or the other. Did you see the quote brought up on the broadcast last week when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing the Vikings?
“I was a native Californian for a long time in my life and I went away from it for about 25 years,” he said. “You won’t catch me dead living in the northeast anymore. I’m loving the warm weather.”
Even offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich chimed in: “He talks about it every day. … He just enjoys this weather. Every day he can’t believe that its like this down here.”
The Buccaneers beat the ever living hell out of Green Bay this year. But at the ripe age of 43, Brady has become comfortable with the sunshine weather folks. Send him to Lambeau in the playoffs and give us the snow and below-freezing temperatures to humble this man and remind him of where his playing days began.
There truly is an advantage for the Packers to have the playoffs go through Lambeau this year, and it’s an advantage that no other teams in the hunt would have if Green Bay had to travel to their stadium. It’s as simple as that.
The Packers remaining schedule is:
- vs. Carolina Panthers
- vs. Tennessee Titans
- @ Chicago Bears
Two teams with losing records, one in the Titans that are a very solid team but have to come to Green Bay. It’s without debate that Tennessee’s main strengths play right in to the Packers weaknesses. They’ll run the ball down your throat, Derrick Henry is an absolute monster, and Green Bay has struggled with that sort of physicality throughout the last couple seasons (see 49ers in NFC Championship last year, Buccaneers and Vikings games this year). If the Packers win out, the playoffs go through the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.