Packers hope the icy cold cools off hot 49ers

Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:03pm EST
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(Reuters) - The Green Bay Packers may benefit from brutally cold weather in Sunday's playoff game against San Francisco, but the 49ers are the NFL's hottest team and have warm memories of their recent clashes with the Packers.

The teams, two of the National Football League's glamour franchises, will be meeting for the fourth time since the start of the 2012 campaign, with San Francisco winning the last three encounters and their final six games of the regular season.

Green Bay (8-7-1), however, have hopes for a special playoffs run in the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Most Valuable Player of the Packers' Super Bowl triumph in 2011.

Rodgers, who missed seven games with a broken collarbone, came back and showed his magic last Sunday when he threw a 48-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds remaining to clinch the NFC North title in a do-or-die, 33-28 win over the Chicago Bears.

He thinks the elements could be in the Packers' favor.

"Winter is coming. It's here. It's here in Green Bay," said Rodgers about forecasts of near zero Fahrenheit (-18 C) temperatures for Sunday's game.

"We do practice in it, live in it. I think we're going to be better adapting to it initially. But once the game starts, it's about who can execute in the cold weather. It does some different things to the football."

San Francisco (12-4) quarterback Colin Kaepernick could not be blamed for eagerly awaiting his return to the gridiron against the Packers' porous defense.

In last year's 45-31 win in the second round of the playoffs   Continued...

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) reacts to scoring the winning touchdown during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports