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Weather shouldn’t be a factor in Sunday’s NFC Championship

Jack Frost could be a welcomed friend, rather than foe

Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady is all too familiar with freezing temperatures. Temperatures are expected to be in the lower 20’s with a 40% chance of snow at game time.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Lambeau Field is known as the “Frozen Tundra” for good reason. It’s known for sub-zero temperatures and blistering winds in the months of December and January. You may think the cold may give the home team the advantage, but the odds aren’t as stacked up against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers as many may think.

NFL fields today aren’t quite the rock solid, jagged-edged ice rinks we all remember playing on up north. They’re built to last, prevent damage, and prevent injury. Seeing as though NFL football is a multi-trillion dollar industry, it seems warranted.

Tennessee Titans v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Few of you may already know that Lambeau is not as ‘frozen’ as you may think it is. It’s actually one of the first NFL fields to install an under-field hydronic heating system according to a 2019 edition of Popular Mechanics online magazine.

Despite its frozen reputation, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field actually was the first in the NFL to install such a hydronic heating system, burying pipes six inches to a foot under the turf and filling them with warmth to keep the soil and roots from freezing.

The article also states Green Bay’s groundskeeper Allen Johnson likes to keep his field at a steady 38 degrees in the winter, making it warm enough to keep it soft but still allows the grass to “harden off and get tougher.”

Wild Card Round - New York Giants v Green Bay Packers Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Former Green Bay Packers Guard, T.J. Lang, demystified his home field advantage by stating:

“It’s just like playing in the summer on the grass. It’s never hard, it’s never frozen.”

The technology under the field isn’t the only thing helping players and staff. The sidelines are equipped with large heat blowers resembling the likes of a jet engine. They also have heated benches and heated posts for helmets when the players are on the sidelines. Plus, each team has staff exclusively working to keep their players nice and warm with thermal parkas and freshly cracked hand warmers.

There’s no doubt it will still be cold. Cold is cold, and it’ll still be felt especially when that sun goes down. There are several players in Tampa that may not fare well in the colder temps, but Brady has some advice for those younger guys:

“Just gotta have some mental toughness and wear some warm clothes and be ready to go. It’s chilly, man. That’s January football in the northeast, midwest. We’ll be prepared.”

Mental toughness is the key. They also need to remember that the guys on the Packers’ bench are just as cold. Aaron Rodgers chuckled at playing host in the Divisional round last week claiming he’s got the high ground with the cold temperatures.

Although he was referring to hosting the Los Angeles Rams at the time, he should definitely check his words and think about who he’s facing this time around.

Tom Brady has been labeled the “best cold weather quarterback of all-time” with his 13-2 record in cold weather playoff games. Not sure if you’ve been paying attention over the past 20 years, but New England has been the playoff-host a plethora of times, and it gets pretty darn cold up there.

Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

You should also know that the Bucs have a sizeable supporting cast of former cold weather players. Ryan Jensen was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Rob Gronkowski also playing for the New England Patriots for 10 cold seasons, making it to the playoffs each year he’s played. Antonio Brown, raised in Steeler Nation on the freezing cold Ohio River. Those guys know what it takes, and they’re all leaders that will make sure the younger guys are setup for success.

Bruce Arians said it best when he spoke to Pro Football Talk:

“It’s just a matter of staying warm on the sideline. Every time I’ve played in Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland [or] Buffalo, nobody was cold out on the field. It’s more mental and staying warm on the sideline. We’ve got all that technology now with the heaters and everything else. It’s different, but it’s not that big of a deal for us.”

Peter Schrager of Good Morning Football was also talking about this on Tuesday morning’s show. He said that it’s a lot different when you’re used to being in 70 degree weather all the time, and it’s perfect, and it never gets cold. It seemed as though he wasn’t even giving the Bucs any benefit of the doubt that they can deal with the weather. Given the season I’ve seen unfold, no one is permitted to doubt this team any more.

Arians and staff would probably go as far as to pump cold air in their indoor practice facility just to get the players acclimated, even a little. At least that’s what I would do.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The main, and only real concern, is the potential for injuries. We’ve seen too many hamstring and quad injuries this season already, not even related to weather. We’ll even have some players coming into this game on the mend like Ronald Jones II and Antonio Brown.

If you factor in the cold temps with those injuries, it will be critical that the Buccaneers training staff, and players, come into this game fully prepared and trained on how to deal with the impacts cold temperatures have on the body.

You’ve got some of the best trainers and staff in their field on these teams. Cold temps impact strength, conditioning, and flexibility and raises the potential for mostly leg injuries. Last thing this team needs is a snapped hamstring because players didn’t keep their bodies warm and stretched.

The Weather Channel

According to weatherchannel.com, it’s expected to be a high of 29 degrees with scattered snow showers in Green Bay but there isn’t any accumulation expected to be on the field at game time. They’ll have plenty of time to get the heaters cranking, the hand warmers cracked, and the field nice and toasty.

The Bucs will be a lot more ready than the Packers think they’ll be at kickoff. These players just need to find the mental toughness and use the technology to their advantage to close out the NFC Championship with a win at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.