BOSTON (CBS) – I have to admit that after the Pats started the season 2-4, I didn’t expect to write a blog this season about playoff weather. But after a 7 win streak and a pretty shaky end to the season, here we are!
The Patriots head to Buffalo this Saturday night to face the Bills in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Would you believe this is the first meeting between the two teams in the playoffs? Mad!
Back in Week 13, when I blogged about the forecast for their matchup in Buffalo, I predicted a low-scoring Patriots win, thanks in large part to a very windy forecast. The Pats leaned heavily on their running game (like, historically heavy) and pulled off a win with gusts and eddies all night. The weather was so bad that kicking a field goal was nearly impossible, and Mac Jones only threw the ball three times. They were the classic Patriots, or should I say, the classic Bill Belichick.
Over the years, the Patriots have capitalized on bad weather like no other team. In particular, with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, they were almost unbeatable in the cold and snow in the postseason. In cold-weather games (starting temp of 34 or below) they amassed a 16-2 record.
If you look at their entire history going back to 1970, the Patriots are 61-29 in games of 34 or fewer starting.
So given those stats, you would logically assume the Patriots would have a clear advantage given this Saturday’s forecast in Buffalo, right?
This is where we need to insert the biggest yes-but in the history of yes-buts. Tom Brady will not walk through that door. Mac Jones has never played a game in temperatures below 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 the start of the game: 7 degrees. The wind chill won’t be as low as the winds will still be fairly light, but as we saw in early December, the strong winds could have helped the Patriots.
It might even give the Pats a slight edge if snow was in the forecast. Surely Belichick would come up with a way to win in the snow, but unfortunately we can’t count on that either. It looks like a dry Saturday in Buffalo, no big storms, no lake effect, nothing.
It looks like the Pats are going to have to win the old-fashioned way. Mac will have to throw the ball and the Patriots’ defense will have to rise to the occasion.
It’s hard to imagine, but a starting 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 January 10, 2004 with a temperature of 4 degrees at the start (Pats win 17-14). Then on Dec. 17, 1989 in Pittsburgh, it was 5 degrees at kickoff (Pats lost 28-10).
I was surprised to discover that of all the terrible weather games the Patriots have played in Buffalo over the years, the coldest starting temperature in their history was just 22 degrees on December 26, 2010.
In short, this weekend’s cold weather is going to be pretty historic when it comes to Patriots games, whether in Buffalo or elsewhere.
I would say that playing in the cold is more about having the right mindset than anything else. There are things you can do in strong wind or snow to give yourself an advantage on the course…in severe cold it’s more about pain tolerance.
Does this Patriot team have what it takes? I can’t wait to find out!
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