The Browns and Saints are ready to play at FirstEnergy Stadium for one of the coldest games in NFL history

CLEVELAND, OH — Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the Browns still plan to deliver some Christmas cheer in their final home game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday against the Saints.

“Whatever we’re playing, pull up your pants, put on your extra sleeves, put on your leggings, whatever you do, but you can’t worry about it,” Miles Garrett said Thursday. “You have an opponent up front and you have to go 1-0.”

Saints defensive back Paulson Adepo will likely speak to plenty of players on both sides about the mentality going into this dangerously cold game.

“Even though they play there, they’ll be cool (expletive) too,” he told reporters in New Orleans. “We are all in the same boat.”

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The boat will actually be more like a freeze machine, with a game-time forecast of 12 degrees, with gusts of about 30 mph and a temp of minus 10, according to weather.com. If true, it would be the fourth coldest game in Browns history. The last time the Browns played at 15 pitches or less was on December 10, 2009, defeating the Steelers 13-6.

It’s so cold, tickets on StubHub and Ticketmaster are going for $3 and $5, respectively. The conditions are so dangerous—with the risk of frostbite exposed skin in minutes—the Browns will allow fans to bring additional items to FirstEnergy Stadium: one thermos, 20 ounces or less; Blankets, plus portable chargers and non-dry cell batteries (both no larger than 6” x 3” x 1.5”) to power hot clothes. Battery packs must be separated during the security check.

“This is the worst or coldest of my life,” said rookie defender Alex Wright, who will start in place of Jadeveon Clooney (concussion). “I just have to go with the mentality of, It’s not cold, it’s not cold, it’s not cold. It’s not like I’m going to just be there shivering. I’m going to be football on my mind. I’m going to be locked in the game. So it’s not going to be a big deal at the end of the day. I’m just I play football there.”

Wright has no plans to go shirtless in pre-game warm-ups like tight end David Njoku said he would do, or go sleeveless during the game like Nick Chupp plans to do.

“Oh no, I’m wearing long sleeves,” said Wright. “But that goes along with just being able to feel good and play with confidence, just not having any kind of distractions.”

Greg Newsom II, who grew up in Chicago and played for Northwestern, has played in frigid conditions, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“I don’t think you can necessarily prepare for that,” he said. “It’s going to be cold for sure, but it’s like a decision you have to make. It’s like whether or not you’re going to let it affect you? That’s the only decision. Everyone likes to say you go to Northwestern, you can prepare for the cold. I’m so cold. But it’s just The mentality you enter the game with.”

He said the cold is more of a factor on the sidelines than on the field.

“When you’re on the field, you think about the play they’re going to run,” Newsom said. “You’re thinking about hitting your man against you. So I feel like that’s something you can do. There’s obviously pressure stuff, but personally, I don’t think any of that works honestly.”

Kevin Stefanski didn’t necessarily stop Njoku from warming up shirtless, or Chubb from playing sleeveless.

“Everybody taught us when you get into this type of game, no matter what the unique part of the game is, you make sure you teach your players, and we will. In the end, these guys know their bodies.”

Stefanski has played in at least one game in this cold weather – the Seahawks’ 10-9 victory over the Vikings in the NFC wild card game on January 10, 2016. More than 50,000 fans braved the cold at TFC Bank Stadium, with a kickoff temperature of minus 6 and chills under 25. It was the coldest game in Vikings history, tied for the third coldest playoff game in NFL history.

“It was all good until my eyelashes froze,” Seahawks linebacker Richard Sherman said after that game. “Then you kind of realize it might kind of be cold in here. I went out to warm up before everyone else went outside and went for a jog. My contact lenses were almost freezing. You can’t prepare for this kind of weather or that kind of cold because it’s like sitting in a freezer.”

But Stefanski downplayed the weather all week. The Browns still have a 1% chance of making the playoffs, and they plan to leave it all on the field. Saints 5-9 have about a 2% chance of making the playoffs. They’re in a three-way tie with the Panthers and Falcons, just a game behind the 6-8 Bucs.

“Again, that’s the great part of our league is that you have games that you can play in different conditions,” said Stefanski. “Sometimes you play and it’s really hot. Sometimes you play and it’s windy and it’s real cold or whatever. The fact of the matter is the conditions are going to be exactly the same for both teams, so it comes down to who runs and who does their job.”

The Saints flew to Cleveland on Thursday after rehearsing in New Orleans to weather the storm, and took a tour of the ballroom at their downtown hotel on Friday. They stayed inside all day Friday, but enjoyed the frosty views of Lake Erie and the snow blowing from the hotel.

With most flights into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport canceled on Friday, most reporters covering the Saints are stuck in New Orleans and won’t be covering the game in person.

The only person to have made the trip was Ricardo Lecompte, a sportscaster and reporter for WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. But LeCompte had a head start. His fiancee, Jane Hannon, is from Wellington, Ohio, and they headed here last week for the Christmas holidays. LeCompte told cleveland.com that he believes he and Saints team reporter Erin Summers will be the only two local Saints reporters in the postgame press conferences.

“It might be kind of interesting,” LeCompte said. “I hope I did not forget an important point.”

LeCompte, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will be doing some post-game video reporting from the field, but he shoveled snow in Wellington on Friday and got a feel for what it would be like.

“I think I’m ready,” he said.

So are some Saints players.

“I can’t wait,” offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton told Saints reporters. “I am so excited about this game. I have never played in the snow or this cold.”

Offensive pitchman James Hurst added, “Really, you’re talking about minus 20 degrees. It’s like, What does it matter? You’re freezing cold. It’s all the same. It’s just a number at this point.”

The Browns hope the number after the game is 7 – not the temperature but their victories.

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