Thursday, January 2
Pack the parkas for this one
By John Madden
The Outback Steakhouse Madden Cruiser has arrived in Wisconsin for Saturday night's wild-card playoff game (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) between Atlanta and Green Bay, and this is going to be good.
There are some guys in the league where everyone says, "Jeez, he's one guy I'd pay to watch." Well, we have two of them in this game in the Falcons' Mike Vick and the Packers' Brett Favre. I know I'm really looking forward to seeing them play.
It is going to be interesting because Green Bay in January is always tough at home, and the Packers know how to play in that weather. People say that they like it, but I don't know that they like it and I don't know that Favre likes it. In fact, I know he doesn't because he's told me that he doesn't. But he and his team know how to manage it. That's the big thing.
You don't get used to cold weather where it doesn't bother you. If it's cold, heck, you get cold. But the Packers know what to expect. They know how to get ready for it, and when it comes, they know it's coming, so they don't pay a heckuva lot of attention to it. And that's a big reason why they've never lost a playoff game in the state of Wisconsin.
Yes, they're always a good team, but it's also a tough place to play at because it introduces the elements. When a team like Atlanta comes in there this weekend, the Falcons can't just say that they can't worry about it and they can't think about it because they better worry about it and they better think about it.
It is man against man, it's offense against defense, it's defense against offense and then it's offense and defense against the elements. And so whatever those elements are, they're the ones that you have to deal with. It could just be cold weather, and so the ball freezes and it gets slick. Or it could be the wind -- and throwing into it and throwing with it. Heck, it could even be snow and it could be wet.
So those are things that are introduced into this game, along with things like how is Green Bay's defense going to handle Vick and how is the Falcons' defense going to handle Favre and running back Ahman Green? So, in addition to each team having to deal with those players, you have the elements, which, to me, are always interesting as heck.
The Packers are just one of those teams that's better at home. The Miami Dolphins are the same way, too. They're just a better team when they're playing at home and not on the road. Green Bay has a little bit of that in them. You watch 'em on the road and they look like a different team. But when they're at Lambeau, they're better, and then as you introduce the weather elements, they even become better than that.
They are 8-0 at home this season and there's just a feeling when they play there. There's that whole thing about success breeds confidence, and then you're successful, and you win and you believe you're going to win and so that gives you the confidence that you need. It's all those things that they've done for so long that are real. They just carry themselves differently when they're at home. When they run on the field there they look different, and when they break the huddle they look different. And they sure as heck play different, too.