ST. CLOUD -- It's a big weekend in sports as the NFL kicks off its first round of playoffs, making for a big weekend for sports bars in the St. Cloud area.


"The atmosphere in any playoff game when your team is in it is unlike any other," says Tom Frericks, owner of the Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill in Waite Park.

As of Friday afternoon, the weather forecast for the Vikings game shows a high of only 3 degrees with winds blowing up to 15 miles per hour.

"I think even the most loyal fans are seeing 1 degree and 15 below with windchill," Frericks says. "Sports bars seem to be a much better [alternative] to watch in than sitting out there and watching it in person."

"Because of the cold weather, we feel like it's going to be a really great day here," says Maria McStott from H.R. Pesty's in Waite Park. "Everybody's just going to be happy to be inside where it's warm -- so it'll be fun."

Meanwhile, Scott Widor, owner of the Blue Line Sports Bar & Grills in St. Cloud and Sartell, says they're offering a playoff round fantasy football contest to go along with food and drink specials.

"[The contest] will be a lot of fun, and there's just a great group of people that hang out here each and every week for NFL football," says Widor, a devoted Packers fan.

"I always look forward to seeing all the green and gold, but we welcome our purple friends as well," Widor says. "It's a friendly rivalry -- ultimately, I hope [the Packers and Vikings] meet up in the NFC Championship Game."

The first action of the Wild Card round of the playoffs begins Saturday with the Houston Texans hosting the Kansas City Chiefs in the afternoon and the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers that evening. Saturday's football isn't limited to the pros, as the North Dakota State Bison go for an unprecedented fifth straight National Championship against Jacksonville State at 11:00 a.m.

NFL playoff games then continue Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings host the Seattle Seahawks at noon and the Washington Redskins play host to the Green Bay Packers at 3:40 p.m.