BOSTON (CBS) – I've got to admit, after the Pats started the season 2-4, I didn't expect I would be writing a blog this season discussing playoff weather. But after a 7-game win streak and a rather shaky end to the season, here we are!
The Patriots are headed to Buffalo this Saturday night to face the Bills in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Would you believe this is the first ever meeting between the two teams in the playoffs? Crazy!
Back in Week 13, when I blogged about the forecast for their matchup in Buffalo, I predicted a low scoring, Patriots victory, thanks largely in part to a very windy forecast. The Pats leaned heavily on their running game (like, historically heavy) and eked out a win with winds gusting and swirling all night. The weather was so bad that kicking a field goal was nearly impossible and Mac Jones only threw the football just three times. It was classic Patriots, or should I say, classic Bill Belichick.
Over the years, the Patriots have capitalized on bad weather like no other team. Most notably, under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, they were nearly unbeatable in the cold and snow in the postseason. In cold weather games (kickoff temperature 34 or lower) they amassed a 16-2 record.
If you look at their entire history since 1970, the Patriots have a 61-29 record in games 34 or colder at kickoff.
So, just given those stats, you would logically assume that the Patriots would have a distinct advantage given the forecast this Saturday in Buffalo, right?
Here is where we must insert the biggest "yeah but" ever in the history of "yeah buts." Tom Brady ain't walking through that door. Mac Jones has never played in a game with temperatures colder than 30 degrees in his life. Growing up in Florida and playing college in Alabama doesn't exactly expose you to the elements.
The forecast for this Saturday night at kickoff: 7 degrees. Wind chills won't be all that low as winds will remain fairly light, but as we saw back in early December, strong winds might actually have helped the Patriots.
I might even give the Pats a slight edge if there were snow in the forecast. Surely Belichick would come up with a way to win in the snow, but alas, we can't count on that either. Looks dry Saturday in Buffalo, no big storms, no lake effect, nada.
Sounds like the Pats are going to have to win the old fashion way. Mac is going to have to throw the ball and the Patriots defense is going to have to step up to the occasion.
Hard to imagine, but a kickoff temperature of 7 degrees on Saturday night would be the third coldest game the Patriots have ever played in! The coldest game in Patriot history was in Foxboro on Jan 10, 2004 with a temperature of 4 degrees at kickoff (17-14 Pats win). Next up, December 17, 1989 in Pittsburgh, it was 5 degrees at kickoff (Pats lost 28-10).
I was surprised to find that of all the terrible weather games the Patriots have played in Buffalo over the years, the coldest kickoff temperature in their history was only 22 degrees on December 26 of 2010.
In short, this weekend's cold will be fairly historic as far as Patriots games go whether in Buffalo or anywhere for that matter.
I would submit that playing in the cold is more about being in the right mindset than anything else. There are things you can do in strong winds or snow to gain an advantage on the field … in the bitter cold it is more about pain tolerance.
Does this Patriot team have what it takes? I can't wait to find out!
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