The Green Bay Packers are currently on an 8-2 run in this second half of the regular season. And they have a secret weapon that gives them a notable advantage with each passing day.
No, not future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He’s a weapon for sure but not a secret. Instead, this organization’s advantage is that the Packers are uniquely prepared for harsh winter weather.
The Packers’ weird advantage to winning football games
The NFL is a fall and winter sport. Every team is prepared for a cold snap. But when it comes to historically harsh weather, the culture in Green Bay gives their local football squad a crucial edge.
In this Wisconsin town defined by a fanatical dedication to their football team, weather is no barrier to attending games at Lambeau Stadium. Many of these fans have literal ownership stakes in the team.
The Packers’ supporters often show up early in the dead of winter to help shovel and sweep away piles of snow. This energy feeds back to the players. When the fans show up in the worst conditions, home-field advantage stays on point.
The magic of Lambeau isn’t just a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s reflected in cold, hard numbers: The Packers have a .545 overall winning percentage. In freezing weather they get a boost to the tune of .623. Playing so many games in the harsh weather, boosted by their fans, gives each generation of Packers a notable boost in performance.
How an extra cold 2019 plays into the Packers’ hands
For this arctic-inclined team, 2019 should be a banner year. The record-breaking cold front tearing through the nation is something few teams are prepared for. The Packers players, whenever asked about the incoming winter horrors, can barely contain their glee.
Green Bay hosted the Carolina Panthers for the first weather-advantaged game of the season. By normal human standards, the weather turned wretched fast. Projections couldn’t decide if the day would bring heavy snow, stinging sleet, or even cold rain. Ultimately, wet snow held back the Panthers. They bowed to the pressure, losing 24-16 to the locals.
The Panthers shouldn’t feel bad. It’s objectively difficult for athletes to perform under frigid conditions. The Packers simply have better knowledge on how to deal with it — not to mention fans braving the pain of sub-zero temperatures to warm everyone up with their energy.
The Packers’ most dangerous game: ‘The Ice Bowl’
The Packers have suffered through many of the coldest games in NFL history. They usually win. But none are remembered with such dread and joy as the 1967 NFL Championship game. Most know it simply as “The Ice Bowl.”
This crucial matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and a bunch of cold-loving lunatics in Wisconsin was nearly as high-stakes as it gets. The winner would get the honor of throwing down with the AFL champions in the then-new Super Bowl. Perhaps if this event happened anywhere besides Green Bay, things could’ve gone down differently.
But the most venerated coach of all time, Vince Lombardi, knew he had an advantage. His boys were ready to throw down under the harshest conditions. America’s Team? Probably not. Nonetheless, no human could’ve prepared for the conditions that enveloped this historic game: −15 °F, with a modern windchill rating of −36 °F.
Seven members of the marching band were hospitalized for hypothermia. Many players couldn’t start their cars to get to the game in the first place. Whistles froze after being used just once for the opening kickoff. Yet Lombardi and fellow coaching great Tom Landry led their squads to a brutal 21-17 throwdown — and the Packers won.
Nobody could ever prepare for such nasty weather conditions. But if any team in the NFL will have an edge? It’s the Green Bay Packers.