Eyeing home field for playoffs, Packers show its value

Road to Super Bowl in NFC goes through Green Bay with one more win

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Packers defenders celebrate S Darnell Savage's second-quarter interception in Green Bay's 40-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

GREEN BAY – Sunday night was the ultimate display of just how important home-field advantage can be for the Packers in the playoffs.

On a snow-covered Lambeau Field amidst some swirling winds, the Packers looked like they belonged, and a formidable Titans team did not.

The result was a 40-14 blowout that has to have a number of potential NFC playoff opponents from down south, like New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles or Arizona, wondering how they might fare in Green Bay in the coming weeks.

The Packers have to beat the Bears next week in Chicago to assure the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Lambeau, but they looked on Sunday night like a team determined to make sure it would.

"People definitely don't want to play in the cold," said Davante Adams, who continued one of the best seasons ever by a Packers receiver with 11 catches for 142 yards and three TDs. "It's tough, man. It's tough.

"It makes you a little bit less physical. It takes your speed away. If you don't get to practice in this and get used to the temperature, the snow and all of that stuff, as you've seen, it can obviously take a toll.

While Adams focuses on footing in the snow or on a cold field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks about the ball being slicker. Those physical aspects matter, but there's a mental side, too.

Adams mentioned having a mindset that blocks out the weather, and then there's simply the experience factor as well.

"I've played in a lot of these games, so I feel pretty good about being able to throw it should we have snow and wind like we did today," Rodgers said. "It's just something that we're used to. We practice outdoors and we play in these type of games."

Rodgers' numbers (21-of-25, four TDs, 128.1 rating) were dome-like while Packers rookie AJ Dillon (21 carries, 124 yards, two TDs) looked like the more dangerous winter ball carrier than soon-to-be two-time rushing champ Derrick Henry (23 carries, 98 yards).

The addition of Dillon's production to the league's highest-scoring offense at this late stage has to give playoff foes pause, too. The Packers have their own version of a Henry-like power back to turn to with fresh legs – he had 24 carries on the season before Sunday – as the stakes rise.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 16 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.

Dillon will be about as much fun to tackle in the cold as Adams will be to guard with his fancy footwork on a snowy or slick surface.

There's an acclimation period early in games the Packers rarely need, and certainly won't need this year after all the bad-weather games they've played in during 2020. That was evident Sunday night as the offense scored touchdowns the first three times it touched the ball, while the defense got an interception and two sacks on the Titans' first three drives.

It's never perfect in this kind of stuff. The Packers had some issues in the kicking game that need shoring up.

But it was clear which team had crisper execution and better tackling in these conditions and that's why, even without the roaring crowds this year, home field will matter for the Packers next month.

"I think absolutely," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "It is a different deal when you come in here and play and there's snow. It's almost what you envision when as a kid when you come into Lambeau. It's snowy and cold.

"We wouldn't want it any other way. Just our ability to operate in that snow, both in the run game and the pass game, I think is pretty special."

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