Under the NFL’s current scheduling format, the Tennessee Titans play a regular season game at Lambeau Field only once every eight years.
Given that, it might as well be late December.
“I’ve been a football fan my whole life, ever since I could understand what was happening as a little kid, and I’ve watched many, many a game at Lambeau Field and having the announcers talk about the frozen tundra and just the history that comes along with the Green Bay Packers,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “Anybody who is a football fan understands that field and its history.
“Yeah, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to compete on that field.”
There will be snow in the ground Sunday when the Titans play the Green Bay Packers (noon, CBS) courtesy of the blizzard that hit Thursday and was expected to dump roughly a foot or more or snow on the area.
It is not likely anymore will fall during the game, though. The forecast is for a sunny day, albeit with temperatures in the mid-20s. If that’s the case it will be just the second time in four seasons Tennessee played a game in sub-freezing cold.
“Sunny, in the 20s is probably a great day [in Green Bay] that time of year,” coach Mike Munchak said. “I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere. I know the players should be excited about going to Lambeau, all that tradition, playing the Packers.”
Maybe. It is one thing to go there and something altogether different to have to play the Packers there.
Green Bay has won 19 of its last 20 regular-season home games and has not lost its final regular-season contest at Lambeau since 2004. Following a season-opening loss to San Francisco, it has won six straight there this year.
The challenge is particularly daunting at this time of year.
Since 2006, the Packers have gone 19-2 in December/January games at home and have outscored the opposition by an average of 26.5-18.4 in those contests.
“I don’t think you ever really get used to it,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “You just get a little bit better at dealing with it, where cold becomes a little more relative. For me, I go back to California and it’s 60 degrees outside, and I’m in short sleeves and shorts, and other people are bundled up.
“Cold has a little different meaning for you. I don’t think there is anybody that really enjoys playing in it, but maybe we are just a little less miserable than opposing teams sometimes coming in.”
The last time the Titans played in temperatures less than 32 was Dec. 26, 2010 at Kansas City. They lost 34-14. Two years earlier, though, they were 2-0 in such contests and won once in 2007 as well.
Players, even those who live in the South, obviously can adapt.
“I think, frankly, I classify that as false confidence if you go into a game and hope your opponent is not going to play as well because they’re from the South,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “But we make it a big point to get out every chance we can … and we’re doing extensive ball drills and things like that this time of year to make sure we’re handling the football properly.
“We practice in it. We live in it. We’ll be shoveling snow [Friday]. … You can put too much into that when you play a team from the South and it’s cold. The reality is you’re only out there for three-and-a-half hours. It’s a football game.”
A football game in which the Packers have more at stake than the Titans.
Green Bay has won its division and clinched a playoff berth and has the opportunity to earn a bye for the opening weekend of the playoffs.
For Tennessee, which has been eliminated from playoff contention, it is little more than an opportunity to play in one of the game’s more unique and storied environments.
“When I was growing up I would always see what type of weather they play in,” running back Chris Johnson, a Florida native said. “I wouldn’t say I look forward to it, but it’s something that, I think, everybody should at least experience once.”