Nobody in their right minds would play football when the wind chill is below zero degrees. It’s hard to even go outside with the risk of frostbite and stinging-cold toes at those temperatures, but some people actually play football games in them.
Over the years, cold spells have moved across the northern parts of the U.S. just in time for a National Football League matchup. While the players certainly have no choice but to bundle up and attempt to score touchdowns, crazed fans brave the cold and ice to watch a game they’d probably get a better view of at home. Football waits for no one, but the five coldest games in NFL history will probably convince you to throw on some pajamas, brew up some spiked hot chocolate and wait inside until springtime rolls around.
If you’re thinking of watching icy teams like the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions or Minnesota Vikings in person, make sure you layer up.
5 Coldest NFL Games Ever
5. -4 Degrees, Raiders-Browns 1981
Temperature: -4 degrees
Wind Chill: -36 degrees
The Oakland Raiders would prevail over the Cleveland Browns, 14-12, in frost-bitten Ohio’s Cleveland Stadium on January 4, 1981. This AFC Divisional Playoff game is famously remembered for “Red Right 88,” when Browns quarterback Brian Sipe threw an interception in the end zone late to lose the game. Oakland went on to win Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles as Jim Plunkett earned MVP honors.
4. -6 Degrees, Packers-Giants 2007
Temperature: -6 degrees
Wind Chill: -24 degrees
Eli Manning and the New York Giants beating Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers in overtime, 23-20, on January 20, 2008, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was only part of the story in this NFC Championship Game. The game itself was fantastic, as both teams traded blows until the very end, but the icy game-time temperatures at Lambeau Field earned this one the nickname “The Chilling Championship.”
3. -6 Degrees, Vikings-Seahawks 2016
Temperature: -6 degrees
Wind Chill: -25 degrees
It’s probably a smart thing that the Minnesota Vikings moved indoors to play their home games at U.S. Bank Stadium because their last one outside at TCF Bank almost froze everyone where they stood. Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh’s late field goal sailed wide left to give Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks a bone-chilling 10-9 victory in the NFC Divisional Playoff game on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
2. -9 Degrees, Chargers-Bengals 1982
Temperature: -9 degrees
Wind Chill: -59 degrees
It’s called “The Freezer Bowl” for a reason, and remembering San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts bundled up like Randy in “A Christmas Story” makes this one too good to forget. Fouts turned the ball over four times, and the Cincinnati Bengals prevailed to win the AFC Championship Game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, by a score of 27-7 on January 10, 1982.
1. -13 Degrees, Packers-Cowboys 1967
Temperature: -13 degrees
Wind Chill: -48 degrees
In the back of your mind, the silky voice of John Facenda begins to detail the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.” Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr followed Jerry Kramer’s famous block to win the 1967 NFL Championship Game on December 31, 1967 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While this title game is popular for pitting head coaches Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys against each other, the coldest game in NFL history only deserves on nickname: The Ice Bowl.
Being caught outside in the blistering cold weather is never fun, but deliberately going to an NFL game when the temperatures are sub-zero is pure madness. I’ll gladly sit back on my couch and watch the game on TV with the heat turned all the way up.
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This post was originally published on December 13, 2019.