Packers prepare to face the Bears, elements
GREEN BAY -- Brrrrrrr!
If you made the trek south to Chicago last December for last season's game between the Packers and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, you probably regretted it -- even if you did get some quality shopping in on the Miracle Mile of Michigan Avenue Saturday afternoon and hit the town's trendy hotspots on Saturday night.
Because on Sunday, you were freezing your you-know-what off, right along with your favorite football team.
Well, if the blustery winds off Lake Michigan didn't deter you from road-tripping to the Windy City for a late-season game at Soldier Field, and by Monday you're able to dig yourself out from the latest snowstorm of the century, you can expect another frigidly unpleasant experience when the Packers (5-9) and Bears (8-6) stage the 177th meeting of their rivalry on "Monday Night Football."
Although maybe you prefer sitting in subzero wind chills to listening to ESPN's Tony Kornheiser all night.
"It's Chicago in December," said Bears coach Lovie Smith, whose team dominated last season's chilly matchup, 35-7. "Records are made to be broken, right? I hear we may even break that (record) this week. So we're pretty pumped up about that."
Weather.com is forecasting a kickoff temperature between 7 and 12 degrees, with 16-mile per hour westerly winds creating a wind chill of -6 to -12. For last year's game on Dec. 23, the kickoff temperature was 16 degrees, and the wind chill was -2, with wind gusts of 40 miles per hour.
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy said the bitterly cold temperatures aren't as big of an issue as the wind, which impacts the passing and kicking games significantly.
"Everybody wants to talk about the cold. The wind is the factor," McCarthy said. "That's the thing you have to do a good job (handling)."
The Packers didn't, and looked like they wanted to be anywhere but Soldier Field on that day.
"It's going to be, like, what, negative-30 with 50-mile an hour winds? It's going to be great," Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga said Thursday. "It should be fun going to the Windy City. Last year, we didn't handle it as well as we'd like to, and this year's a good opportunity to go and redeem ourselves."
McCarthy said the forecast "won't affect anything that we have in our game plan schematically. ... No disrespect to a weatherman, but I'm not going to sit and do my game plan based on what he is seeing five days out. We'll be ready to go whatever the wind is or how cold it is."
McCarthy also said he won't -- or can't -- alter his practice schedule this week and move practice outside.
According to McCarthy, Clarke Hinkle Field isn't playable, and with the redevelopment project on Ray Nitschke Field well underway,
"If we were (able) to go outside, we would go out for the team periods," McCarthy said. "But based on the recommendation of the equipment manager and the fields (manager), it's not in our best interest to be out on that field right now."
In contrast, Smith said "of course" his team would practice outside on Wednesday.
"We're scraping the snow off," Smith said. "I mean, that's how you play. You play in the snow, you practice in it, right?
"I think you have to get used to the elements. We have a nice indoor facility. We won't practice outside all the week, but we try to get out at least once a week no matter what the conditions are. I think you have to; it does help a little bit. You don't want it to be a shock to the guys if it happens. That's the way we do things, that's the way we've done it every year."
I guess that we will get our first glimpse of Aaron as a "cold weather" QB. I hope that he is up to the task or Dave begel will have a whole new issue to write about....
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