Weather Impact on Packers–Vikings Game
The upcoming NFC North rivalry game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings is expected to be affected by colder temperatures. With a kickoff temperature of around 40 degrees, which is about 10 degrees below normal, the weather could have an impact on the game. In particular, the special teams could face challenges due to the ball traveling less far in colder weather. This opens up potential opportunities for players like Keisean Nixon of the Packers and Kene Nwangwu of the Vikings to make momentum-changing returns. Both teams’ special teams coordinators are aware of the weather’s influence and are preparing their players accordingly.
The Influence of Cold Weather on Special Teams
In games with colder temperatures, the football tends to travel a shorter distance. This can present opportunities for returners like Keisean Nixon to showcase their skills. Opposing kickers, who typically try to kick the ball as far as possible to prevent returns, may find it more challenging to reach the end zone. Nixon has expressed his hope for the ball to drop at the goal line, giving him the chance to make impactful returns. In last year’s game against the Vikings, Nixon returned a kickoff for a 105-yard touchdown, capitalizing on the cold weather conditions.
However, the weather’s impact on special teams is a two-way street. The Vikings also have a talented returner in Kene Nwangwu, who possesses the ability to change the game with his speed and agility. Both teams’ special teams coordinators are aware of the potential opportunities and challenges posed by the cold weather. Rich Bisaccia, the Packers‘ special teams coordinator, acknowledges that the ball doesn’t travel as far in colder weather. He believes the conditions could provide more legitimate opportunities for returns. Matt Daniels, the Vikings‘ special teams coordinator, emphasizes the strong relationship between Nwangwu and the blockers, expressing confidence in his returner’s ability to make a significant impact.
Past Performance in Cold Weather
The weather has historically favored the Packers, particularly under coach Matt LaFleur. In games with a kickoff temperature of 40 degrees or colder, the Packers have a 20-8 record under LaFleur’s leadership. They have managed impressive victories against teams like the Bears, Rams, and Vikings during their late-season surges. Despite their success in colder weather, the Packers also experienced some disappointing losses, such as the game against the Lions last year, which cost them a spot in the playoffs.
In comparison, the Vikings have a 4-3 record in games with a kickoff temperature of 40 degrees or colder since Kirk Cousins joined the team in 2018. They secured a win against the Packers at Lambeau Field during the 2020 COVID-affected season, with Dalvin Cook scoring four touchdowns on a windy, 34-degree day. This highlights the unpredictable nature of cold-weather games and the potential for unexpected outcomes.
The colder temperatures expected for the Packers–Vikings game could have a significant impact on special teams’ performance. The ball’s reduced distance traveled in colder weather provides opportunities for returners to make game-changing returns. Players like Keisean Nixon and Kene Nwangwu will play crucial roles in providing momentum for their respective teams. Special teams coordinators are aware of the weather’s influence and are preparing their players accordingly.
However, the outcome of the game is not solely determined by the weather. Past performances in cold-weather games have varied for both teams, indicating that other factors, such as overall team performance and game strategy, are equally important. As fans, we should anticipate an exciting and unpredictable game, with potential surprises from both the Packers and the Vikings.
- Huber, Bill. “Here’s How Cold Sunday Could Impact Packers–Vikings Game.” New York Times, 29 October 2023.
<< photo by Neda Astani >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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