GREEN BAY, Wis. — The benefits of playing at home in the NFL playoffs are supposed to significantly outweigh any potential drawbacks. When that home game takes place at a storied venue like Lambeau Field, it typically makes the advantages even greater.
But Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings doesn’t see it that way.
“Absolutely, I would be on turf quick,” Jennings said Wednesday. “(Playing in a) dome? Are you kidding me? Would you rather play outside?”
When it was suggested to Jennings that the customary response is to say that it’s always better to play at home, the soon-to-be free agent didn’t change his mind.
“No, no, that’s a politically correct answer,” Jennings said. “I’m done with politically correct right now. I’m realistic. Do you guys want to go report out there in the cold?”
The assembled media seemed to silently agree that cold weather isn’t ideal.
“OK, as long as you guys report that you don’t want to be out there,” Jennings said. “But, because you have to, you do your job and do it to the best of your ability.”
It was in the 2010 postseason that the Packers, as the NFC’s No. 6 seed, won three consecutive road playoff games to advance to the Super Bowl where they then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I’m not opposed to playing here (in Green Bay),” Jennings said. “Obviously, with our crowd and our fans, that’s what we want as a team. But going on the road — being isolated away from everyone, I think the focus level and the sense of urgency is just a little tad higher. Because you’re dependent on your teammates.
“You travel, you’re in a hotel — you’re all together. It’s you guys against everyone else outside of that hotel. So it’s a little different.”
The weather at Lambeau Field for Saturday night’s playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings is expected to be around 18 degrees with winds at around 8 mph.
“Obviously, we’ve had success on the road. If we had to play on the road, we’ll go on the road,” Jennings said. “But anytime you can play at home with the home crowd, that’s ideal. I mean, is it always better? Who knows? As far as our record goes … it hasn’t worked out for us lately. But it’s a different year.”
The Packers lost their final regular-season game at a dome in Minnesota, which dropped Green Bay out of the No. 2 seed for the NFC playoffs. Now, as the No. 3 seed, the Packers are only guaranteed to host one postseason game.
If Green Bay beats the Vikings, the team will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers, who earned a bye after overtaking the Packers in the standings.
But Jennings’ teammates didn’t agree with his assessment that the Packers could be better off on the road.
“I’d rather be at home, to tell you the truth; I think anybody would,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I mean, that’s what you play for. You play for the No. 1 seed, to win the division, get that bye, get the week off, come back here and make teams come into your back yard … especially with us.
“We like to think living in this environment, playing in this environment, it plays to us well. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it comes down to football. If we’re not playing up to that, then we’re probably going to lose. Hopefully that’s not the case this week.”
Green Bay’s pass-first offense often performs better in controlled environments and warmer climates, so it makes sense to believe the Packers could have a greater advantage away from Lambeau Field.
“Ten-degree weather isn’t normal for most people, especially playing outside,” Matthews said.
For Matthews, who grew up in California and played college football at USC, it took a while to adjust to Wisconsin’s weather. But, like most Packers, Matthews is more prepared for the cold now than he was as a rookie.
“You learn to live with it,” Matthews said. “You can’t avoid the elements out here. It’ll be cold but all right as long as the rest of this team will be ready.”
The Vikings, who won 10 regular-season games this season, did not win a single game outdoors, including a 23-14 loss in Green Bay on Dec. 2. So, in this particular matchup, the Packers could have an advantage against an opponent that has had little success outside.
“Everyone talks about the advantage of cold weather,” Jennings said. “It’s a mindset, obviously. It’s about who is going to come out and let it affect them.”