Pregame warmup: Key pieces missing on defense for both teams

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 5, 2014 – 2:42 pm

Kickoff of the NFC wild-card playoff matchup at Lambeau Field is less than an hour away. Here’s a quick rundown on the essentials:

Key pieces missing on defense

The Packers are without LB Clay Matthews, who was by far the team’s best defensive player against the 49ers in Week 1 out in San Francisco. The Packers will be relying on the outside LB trio of Mike Neal, Andy Mulumba and Nick Perry to set the edges against the run and get after the QB, and those three players combined don’t have as much experience at the position as Matthews. It’s a big absence for the Green Bay defense.

On the other side, 49ers CB Carlos Rogers is inactive with a hamstring injury, meaning CB Trumaine Brock joins CB Tarell Brown in the starting lineup. Where Rogers’ injury impacts the 49ers the most is in their nickel defense, where CB Eric Wright — who was questionable this week with a hamstring injury — fills in and recently re-signed CB Perrish Cox is next after him. The Packers have WR Randall Cobb back from his leg injury and he provides a matchup problem for a 49ers team missing a top corner.

On to Carolina

Because of the Saints’ walk-off win over the Eagles on Saturday night, the Packers-49ers winner will travel to Carolina next Sunday for a noon CT divisional playoff game.

The Saints, as the No. 6 seed, will head to No. 1 seed Seattle on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT.

Weather update

It’s cold at Lambeau Field, with temperatures in the single digits and dropping. It may not get as cold during the game as initially forecast, though. It’s possible the temperature will remain at or above zero through most of the game, with the brutal cold arriving later in the evening. Still, wind chills will be in the minus-20 range for most of the game and possibly getting worse.

Four games in franchise history — three in Green Bay, one on the road — had a kickoff temperature of zero or below, so if the game-time temperature remains above zero, this will only come close to being among the five coldest games in team history.

List: 10 coldest games in franchise history

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