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Packers hoping arrival of winter weather gives them an edge

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Posted at 9:55 AM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 10:55:03-05

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The first cold snap of the season is blowing into Green Bay just in time for the Packers to welcome the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

Monday's forecast calls for a high of 19 degrees and a low of 12. Meeting in the middle for a kickoff temperature of 15 degrees would be rare air for the Rams.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Rams have played five games with a kickoff temperature of 15 degrees or colder. Their previous 15-or-colder game came in Green Bay in 1992. Rams coach Sean McVay was 6. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was three years from being born.

Meanwhile, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is no stranger to playing in the bitter cold. He hasn't been overwhelmingly successful, though, with a 4-4 record that includes a 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in last year's divisional playoffs.

"I think anytime the weather gets cold and the field gets cold, naturally guys don't move maybe at the same speed," Rodgers said Thursday. "I feel like on our field, too, we have the advantage. We know where we're going on a wet, cold field. That's always been an advantage. Throwing the football has been an advantage for us in the weather as well. I can't put a specific finger on it. Most of us are not from here, but we just get a little bit better used to being in the cold I think because we practice outside."

Rodgers thought back to 2014, when Green Bay was rolling to an appearance in the NFC championship game. At times, Rodgers felt like the Packers' dominance, combined with the weather, was too much to withstand for some opponents.

"Especially later in the season when teams have different records and there's different motivations and things to play for, it can definitely (happen) if you start fast," he said. "I did feel like there were times that year where we got into the second quarter, third quarter and teams are excited about getting back on the bus."

The Packers could use any advantage they can get. They are coming off their bye with a 5-8 record.

Even if they win their remaining four games, there's no guarantee they'll get to the playoffs.

Green Bay's next opponent has been just as disappointing.

The Rams (4-9) won last season's Super Bowl, but have been hammered by injuries. With quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve, Baker Mayfield will get the start. Last Christmas while with the Browns, Mayfield threw four interceptions on a 35-degree day as Green Bay escaped with a 24-22 win.

All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, didn't practice with the Rams on Thursday. Packers coach Matt LaFleur expects Donald to play.

"I think a prime-time game, maybe he does, maybe he doesn't," LaFleur said. "But we'd be fools not to prepare for a guy like that. Like he is a guy that absolutely, 100% impacts the game. Generational player. First-ballot Hall of Famer. One of the best to ever play the game. So, I think you always have to have a plan for him. He definitely takes some plays that you'd like to have in the game plan and it just wipes them out because you can't protect or maybe at the point of attack in some of the runs. He's just that big of a problem."

NOTES: LT David Bakhtiari (appendectomy) and LG Elgton Jenkins (knee) were the only Packers not to practice Thursday. Rookie Zach Tom will start for Bakhtiari for the third time this season. "I've got give (Tom) credit because he's had multiple games this year where 90 minutes before the game, 'Hey, buddy, you're in,' " Rodgers said. "And it's crazy. I've never been a part of something like that during my career. I give him a lot of credit because he's played both guard and tackle for us and stepped in and done a really nice job."