Outside of the strike, the last time less than 20,000 witnessed a Packers game was in December 1985, the famous Snow Bowl vs. Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field – 19,856. That’s about how many snowflakes were stuffed into Bucs QB Steve Young’s facemask in that iconic picture.
Smaller than that? Go back to 1974, again at Atlanta in an obviously forgettable regular-season finale for both clubs (10,020). That’s the smallest crowd for any Packers game since the early 1950s, where some four-digit attendance figures exist.
From a football perspective, what everyone is wondering is how much the absence of fans will affect home-field advantage. In that vein, the Packers opening the season at a division rival’s indoor venue could provide an early barometer.
It’ll cut both ways, because the Packers certainly fed off the home crowd during successful runs at Lambeau, but with five of Green Bay’s eight away games being played inside this year (Minnesota, New Orleans, Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit), limited to no fans might help the Packers on the road more than it hurts them at home.
With the league setting a limit of 70 decibels for the ambient crowd noise being piped into fan-less stadiums, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he doesn’t expect to have to use the silent count on Sunday in Minneapolis. If that’s true, and if it carries over to other indoor road venues as the season goes along, it could help with using his cadence to draw the defense offside and create a free play.
That’s an element to his game almost exclusively relegated to home contests. But even if he doesn’t draw the pre-snap penalties, having the cadence as “a weapon” can still matter.
“It’s on their minds,” Rodgers said. “I think it takes a little bit of the steam and the aggression out of getting off on the snap count.”