Thursday, January 5, 2017

Weather to be a Factor in NFL Playoff Games

Frigid weather could affect multiple NFL playoff games on wild-card weekend

 Expect plenty of bundled up coaches for the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game. (AP)


The buzz for the NFL’s wild-card weekend might be a bit cool, but at least we appear to be getting what could be some classic January football weather in a few spots.
People love the cold while watching football on TV, right? Yes, the opening Oakland Raiders-Houston Texans game might be balmy compared to the other three wild-card games, but the roof should be open (no rain expected) and temperatures could dip into the 30s and 40s.

It’s elsewhere that the weather could be really fun. The regular season was just too darned warm for our taste. Did you realize, per Pro Football Reference, that only four games up until now this season featured kickoff temperatures below 24 degrees? Look, we realize asking for another game like the icebox of a playoff game we had between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings a year ago is asking a lot. But some arctic conditions might make for some fun storylines in this four-pack of games that lack a little sizzle.
In Green Bay, temperatures consistently have dipped below zero this week and might not be much higher than that at kickoff on Sunday afternoon. By game’s end, it should be pretty darned cold by normal-human standards. We might not have Frozen Face Tom Coughlin type of elements, and New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo will have a built-in windshield with his oversize play-call sheet, which is nice.
 We suggest that New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo use his play-call sheet as a windshield. (AP)
But we still wouldn’t mind some typical January Wisconsin weather, as mid-westerners love to remind the rest of the country how troubled their lives can be this type of year. Plus, it will be fun to count how many Packers go without long sleeves, as most did during their near-zero game against the Chicago Bears in Week 16.
The team perhaps least prepared for the chill would be the Miami Dolphins, who have played in only a handful of cold games this season, none of which were below freezing at kickoff. They’re preparing as such …

That’s the problem with practicing in 70s and 80s for a game that should drop into the teens or lower. And the Steelers have a possible advantage, having played in a number of chilly playoff games at Heinz Field since the last time the Dolphins even made the playoffs.
The weather in Seattle for Saturday night might not be awful, but it could fall below freezing and there might be a bit of rain by game’s end. The Detroit Lions have played outdoors exactly twice since Oct. 2, and their coldest kickoff temp was 55 degrees in the Week 15 loss to the Giants. So yeah, they’ve been a bit sheltered from the storm, so to speak.
Does weather affect games? You bet it does. But while we’re on a mini Bob Dylan kick here — he is a Vikings fan, right? — it’s also worth remembering: You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Whatever that means.

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