With the NFL playoffs come some of the coldest games in NFL history. Unless, of course, you’re lucky to find yourself inside a dome or traveling south. While snow games bring excitement to fans’ television screens, it’s a completely different ballgame when professional athletes are playing in frigid temperatures.
Five coldest games in NFL history
Let’s count down the chilliest games in the history of the league, starting with a January game in western New York.
5. Jan. 15, 1994 | Los Angeles Raiders vs. Buffalo Bills
- Temperature: 0 degrees
- Wind Chill: -32 degrees
Have you ever heard the saying, “It wouldn’t be so bad without the wind?” Well, that was the case in the Buffalo Bills’ 29-23 playoff win over the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994. While the temperature was (only) 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the wind chill fell all the way to -32 degrees in what was the coldest NFL game ever in Orchard Park.
Exactly 28 years later to the day, Buffalo’s 2022 playoff matchup vs. the New England Patriots is expected to be the second-coldest game ever played in Orchard Park. Temperatures are expected to be around 6 degrees at kickoff, with the wind chill anticipated to go below zero.
4. Jan. 20, 2008 | New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
- Temperature: -4 degrees
- Wind Chill: -24 degrees
They call historic Lambeau Field the “Frozen Tundra” for a reason. It’s cold. Really cold. That’s especially evident given that two of the top five coldest games in NFL history took place at the home of the Green Bay Packers.
We’ll get to The Ice Bowl in a minute, but first, we need to talk about the -4 degree game that took place in 2008. The New York Giants, who are prone to the cold weather themselves, ended up winning the 2007 NFC Conference Championship game 23-20 over Green Bay.
Eli Manning and Brett Favre combined to throw 75 passes while both teams only ran a combined 50 times. The Giants had two weeks to thaw out before beating the then-undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14.
3. Jan. 10, 2016 | Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings
- Temperature: -6 degrees
- Wind Chill: -25 degrees
Turn away, Minnesota fans. While your beloved Vikings made the playoffs and were on the cusp of a win in the NFC Wild Card round, Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal that would’ve given them a 12-10 lead with 22 seconds remaining.
Can you blame the weather for the missed kick? Sure. After all, it was -6 degrees Fahrenheit, the third-coldest game in NFL history. And when you factor in that Minnesota finished the afternoon with just 183 yards of total offense, there was minimal support for Walsh, who scored all 9 points for the Vikings that day.
2. Jan. 10, 1982 | “Freezer Bowl” San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
- Temperature: -9 degrees
- Wind Chill: -59 degrees
Imagine traveling from sunny San Diego to Cincinnati to play a football game in -59 degree wind chills. That’s exactly what happened when the Chargers played the Bengals in the 1981 AFC Championship Game that’s since been dubbed the “Freezer Bowl.”
The Bengals’ starting offensive linemen, headlined by Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, played the entire contest without any sleeves on and coated their arms with vaseline. The Bengals went on to win the contest in front of over 46,000 fans, 27-7.
Dec. 31, 1967 | “Ice Bowl” Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
- Temperature: -13 degrees
- Wind Chill: -48 degrees
The coldest game in NFL history belongs to the “Ice Bowl,” a game played between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers way back in 1967. It was a crisp -13 degrees Fahrenheit while the wind chill made it feel like -48 degrees. The day prior, it was 20 degrees, making it a 33-degree swing.
Neither team anticipated the cold temperatures, but both fought on, as did the 50,861 reported fans in the stands. On what was a frozen playing surface, the Packers beat out the Cowboys 21-17 for their third consecutive championship.