GREEN BAY, Wis. — Josh Boyd isn’t into making a fashion statement, and he doesn’t think he needs to go sleeveless to show off his toughness today.
All the Packers defensive lineman wants is to stay warm in the subzero weather when Green Bay hosts the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC wild-card showdown that could be one of the coldest playoff games in NFL history.
So many intriguing story lines between these two NFC powers, and yet the cold may trump them all.
“Yeah, I’m definitely going sleeves,” said Boyd, a rookie from Mississippi. “I mean, I don’t see it as a tough guy thing. I just see it as being comfortable.”
The National Weather Service forecast called for a high temperature in Green Bay today of 2 degrees, with north-northwest winds making it feel more like minus-15 to minus-20.
The coldest NFL game on record is the 1967 championship game, known as the “Ice Bowl” won by the Packers 21-17 over the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on New Year’s Eve. The temperature dipped to minus-13, and the wind chill that day was minus-48.
San Francisco defensive tackle Justin Smith is as tough as they come, and even he might wear sleeves for what he estimates would be just the second or third time in his 13-year career.
“You’re not going to have an advantage having no sleeves. You’re not going to scare the opponent,” said Smith, who has 6½ sacks.
Footing on the field will be a key issue. Lambeau does have a heating system buried beneath the turf.
“It could be just a normal game that’s played at a little slower pace. Or it could be where there’s a lot of slipping and sliding going on, then you have to adjust a little bit,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.
If not for the arctic front, more of the attention before today’s game might be focused on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s mastery of Green Bay in the teams’ last two meetings. Or quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ triumphant return from a left collarbone injury to help the resurgent Packers get back into the playoffs.