BOSTON (CBS) – I have to admit that after the Pats started season 2-4, I did not expect to write a blog this season where I discussed playoff weather. But after a winning streak of 7 games and a rather shocking end to the season, we are here!
The Patriots are on their way to Buffalo this Saturday night to face the Bills in the first round of the NFL Finals. Would you think this is the first meeting ever between the two teams in the playoffs? Crazy!
Back in week 13, when I was blogging about the weather forecast for their matchup in Buffalo, I predicted a low scoring, Patriots win, largely thanks to a very windy weather forecast. The Pats leaned heavily on their running game (as historically heavy) and won with gusts of wind and swirls all night. The weather was so bad that it was almost impossible to kick a field goal, and Mac Jones only threw the football three times. It was classic Patriots, or should I say, classic Bill Belichick.
Over the years, the Patriots have taken advantage of bad weather like no other team. Most notably, under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, they were almost invincible in the cold and snow of the off-season. In matches in cold weather (kick-off temperature 34 or lower) they collected a record of 16-2.
If you look at their entire history since 1970, the Patriots have a record of 61-29 in games 34 or colder at kickoff.
So just given these statistics, you would logically assume that the Patriots would have a clear advantage given the forecast this Saturday in Buffalo, right?
This is where we need to insert the greatest “yeah but” ever in the history of “yeah buts.” Tom Brady does not go 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 does not exactly expose you to the elements.
The view for this Saturday night at kickoff: 7 degrees. Chills will not be as low as the wind will remain relatively light, but as we saw back in early December, strong winds could have actually helped the Patriots.
I could even give Pats a little edge if there was snow in the weather forecast. Belichick would definitely find a way to win in the snow, but unfortunately we can not count on it either. Looks dry Saturday in Buffalo, no major storms, no lake effect, nada.
It sounds 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 go up to the apartment.
Hard to imagine, but a starting temperature of 7 degrees Saturday night would be the third coldest game the Patriots have ever played in! The coldest game in Patriots history was in Foxboro on January 10, 2004 with a temperature of 4 degrees at kickoff (17-14 Pat victory). Next, on 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 starting temperature in their history was only 22 degrees on December 26, 2010.
In short, this weekend’s cold will be pretty historic in terms of Patriots games, whether it’s in Buffalo or anywhere for that matter.
I would argue 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 get an advantage on the pitch… in the bitter cold it’s more about pain tolerance.
Does this Patriot team have what it takes? I can not wait to find out!
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ