A fresh layer of snow.

A forecast that calls for temperatures to dip into the single digits with wind chill factors going below zero.

It's going to be an uncomfortable weekend no matter how you look at it.

So finish your shoveling, cook up a pot of homemade soup or chili, and relax.

Spring is only 58 days away. Soon Major League baseball teams will be reporting to spring training in Florida and Arizona. That's as sure a sign of spring as anything.

We'll get through this.

Want to reward yourself for all the shoveling and snow blowing you're going to do this weekend?

Then take Sunday off. Prop yourself in front of the television and watch (what else?) football. Sunday is the best day of the season, the day when the final four teams remaining in the playoffs play for the conference championships and a trip to the Super Bowl in Dallas in two weeks.

Bears and Packers one of the game's oldest and fiercest rivalries, square off in the first game in frozen Chicago. The matchup brings back many memories of the great players of the past who dominated this series which goes back some 90 years Sammy Baugh and Dick Butkus, Vince Lombardi, and Bart Starr.

These two teams, steeped in tradition, don't like each other. They play in the same division and battle each other twice a year in the regular season. Familiarity breeds contempt and there will be a lot of that on display when the teams kick off Sunday.

The nightcap will match the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of six Super Bowls, (the most by any team) with one of the richest traditions in the National Football League, who will host the New York Jets, led by brash coach Rex Ryan. Temperatures at game time are expected to be 12 degrees, with wind chills below zero. Perfect playoff weather.

These two teams also bring back memories of days gone buy. Who can forget the cocky quarterback Joe Namath predicting a win over the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, a game that historically changed the complexion of the NFL forever and helped bring about the merger of the NFL and AFL.

For Pittsburgh, it's the memories of Mean Joe Green, Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception, the Steel Curtain and Terry Bradshaw. Four Super Bowls in six years, a fete that's never been duplicated.

The names have changed over the years, but the rivalry hasn't. Packers-Bears, Steelers-Jets, two matchups any fan will relish. The two teams met more than a month ago in a regular season game, won by the Jets in the final minute. The rematch should be just as competitive.

So give yourself a day off Sunday. Let winter howl. You earned a day to sit on the couch and watch the playoffs. If the gridiron action doesn't warm you up, nothing will.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]