by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-23-2017 08:00
The Turkey Bowl is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as the pumpkin is with Halloween. Whether it’s a game of touch or tackle football in the yard or park, the only proper way to do the holiday is to start it with football and it end with football.
With three NFL games spread beautifully across the holiday afternoon, there’s no shortage of action to catch when sneaking away from the family. Of the three NFL Thanksgiving Day games, the only outdoor game is at FedEx Field where the Washington Redskins (4-6) host the New York Giants (2-8) in what will certainly be a sizzling battle between bitter division rivals in extremely frigid conditions.
According to NFLWeather.com, temperatures for the 8:30pm kickoff will begin in the mid-30s but could potentially dip into the 20s. Even if the thermometer might not show 20 degrees, the players and fans will definitely feel the below freezing temps since the wind chill will be unavoidable. Rain isn’t likely but weekly forecast have seen a fluctuation from a 10-30% chance of precipitation so it won’t be a huge surprise if flurries or freezing rain make an appearance on the grass surface.
If the partly cloudy skies indeed send rain, both the Redskins and Giants have already played in at least one rain game this season. Washington lost at home to Dallas, 33-19, but downed the Seahawks in Seattle, 17-14. The New York Football Giants beat Tampa Bay with Eli Manning having one of his best games of the season by completing 30-of-49 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. The passing attack has been the strength of the NY offense but it’ll take more than a solid Manning performance to beat the ‘Skins in an icy D.C.
The Giants’ offensive issues start with an extremely shaky and constantly changing o-line that hasn’t been able to help any of the countless players who have lined up in the New York backfield this season. Orleans Darkwa, if healthy, will likely be the lead back on Thursday with Wayne Gallman, Shane Vereen, Paul Perkins and Shane Smith as the other potential victims for the Washington defense to gobble up. Wide-out Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram are Giants fans’ last lone hope for possible players to find the end zone but as conditions worsen on Thanksgiving, the team might be forced to resort to the ground game.
Washington’s offense has been up and down all season and absolutely plagued by injuries. USA Today’s Steve Gardner wrote about the crushing injury to the ‘Skins backfield with Chris Thompson suffering a season-ending injury. But as Gardner mentioned, “the silver lining is that fellow rookie RB Samaje Perine had by far his best game, rushing for 117 yards and a TD on 23 touches.” Gardner also noted in his most recent article that Byron Marshall might be a worthy pickup as Perine’s backup who will see “plenty of third down action” and if rain is a factor, QB Kirk Cousins might favor checking down to his backs.
Gardner offered another piece of advice regarding Redskins players by keeping an eye out for wideout Josh Doctson on the waiver wire. Now that Terrelle Pryor is out with an injury, Doctson is the clear number two option behind Jamison Crowder who’s been targeted an average of almost 11 times per game over the last three weeks. There’s a chance TE Jordan Reed may miss another week, allowing veteran Vernon Davis to step up as Cousins’ go to in the redzone.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Washington is 2-3 in freezing temps since 2009 while the Giants are 2-5. Neither has necessarily found a ton of success in recent seasons but maybe this matchup in freezing conditions will spark a hot streak for either struggling side.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-16-2017 12:00
According to NFLWeather.com, it will be overcast and rain is probable with the temperatures dipping below freezing overnight. There’s a good chance freezing rain could be in the mix for the 8:25pm Thursday night kickoff. Wind should only top out around 8mph but the unpredictable open end zone at Heinz Field could cause some issues in the kicking game. Snow hasn’t been mentioned just yet but with flurries in Cleveland’s Sunday forecast, who knows just how bad the weather can get on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh (7-2) historically has been a tough team to beat when rain or freezing temps are a factor, let alone both. Since 2010, the Black and Gold are 10-3 in rain games including victories in eight of their last nine. More impressively, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Pittsburgh has won seven straight games when the temp is below freezing and the team is 14-4 since 2009.
Much of the Steelers’ success can be attributed to veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who with his large frame and ability to shrug off defenders makes him a top QB for competing in crummy conditions. Since 2012, Big Ben is 12-3 in weather impacted games and over that 15 game span, he’s only turned the ball over seven times. Roethlisberger has had his troubles this season but against a secondary that surrenders over 230 passing yards per game, this could be the matchup to get Big Ben back on track. With Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and Antonio Brown running routes with rookie sensation JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger has no excuses for an inability to move the football.
Tennessee (6-3) has quietly been sitting atop the AFC South and now that the team is finally starting to see its stars at full health, this could be a dangerous team to see in January. The recent bye week looks to have done tight end Delanie Walker some good as well as lead back DeMarco Murray whose name seems to pop up on the injury report on a weekly basis. But as the weeks go by, Murray appears to be sharing more of his carries with Derrick Henry who now has double digit carries in three of his last four games. With rain in the forecast, expect both backs to see plenty of touches.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota might not have the rain game NFL experience as Big Ben has but the former Heisman winner played his college ball at Oregon so the young gunslinger knows a thing or two about prepping for rain. One thing that Mariota does have in common with Roethlisberger is his mobility in the pocket and in a rain game like Thursday’s, don’t be surprised to see a few Cam Newton-like designed QB runs.
But without help from his receivers, Mariota could be in for a long, frigid night. USA Today’s Steve Gardner was high on Corey Davis last week and for all the right reasons, Gardner was spot on with Davis seeing double digit targets. Rishard Matthews is the other receiving threat (Eric Decker has been non-existent) but Walker at TE is Mariota’s primary go-to.
Heinz Field is notorious for having one of the more battered and bruised playing surfaces in the league and with weather a factor on Thursday, this game, ultimately, could come down to which kicking game messes up the least.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-09-2017 08:00
Fall is fading fast and now that the foliage has come and gone, snow will slowly creep into the forecasts and Sunday afternoon when the Bills host the Saints in the rain, as temperatures drop the likelihood for sleet or even snow is very much a frigid possibility.
According to NFLWeather.com, Buffalo will be blanketed by overcast skies on Sunday with rain expected for the 1pm kickoff. Too bad the game isn’t the primetime match up since the potential for snow is very likely. Temperatures should be in the mid-to-low 30s with minimal wind of around 8-10 mph.
This will be the Bills’ (5-3) third rain game of the season, having lost 20-16 at Cincinnati but the team bounced back by handling the Raiders and the rain at home nicely for a 34-14 win. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Bills are 4-8 in the rain since 2010 and if flurries happen to fall, the team has posted a snowy 2-3 record at home since ’10.
Buffalo has an offense built for bad weather. They’re anchored by a mobile and versatile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, who despite only a 1-3 career record in rain games is an underrated fantasy start when weather is an issue given Taylor has 35 or more passing attempts in three of his four career rain games. Running back LeSean McCoy will see plenty of carries but the shifty running back has also snagged six receptions in each of his last two rain games.
Buffalo’s balanced rushing and passing attack has been solid all season and with Kelvin Benjamin joining the mix, the Bills are a legitimate force in the AFC. USA Today’s Steve Gardner thinks Deonte Thompson could be the sneaky fantasy play of the week, especially in daily fantasy where the Buffalo wide-out is only $3,600 on Draft Kings. “The addition of Kelvin Benjamin will cut into Thompson’s targets, but his seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown last Thursday may help keep Thompson on the field,” Gardner wrote.
New Orleans (6-2) doesn’t compete in many matchups featuring precipitation, but a few weeks ago the Saints waltzed into Lambeau Field and escaped the Green Bay storms with a 26-17 victory. Veteran QB Drew Brees, who normally wears gloves when weather is a factor, ditched the gloves against the Pack which resulted in a huge road win. Well, maybe it wasn’t the glove that was the problem, but whatever was causing the Saints rain game woes is no more.
The Saints’ offense over recent years has basically been the Drew Brees show but in the victory against GB where weather was an issue, it was the RB’s in the backfield behind him that reigned supreme. Mark Ingram was the lead back who racked up 105 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown with Alvin Kamara chipping in nine touches for 57 yards. Both backs also aided the passing game with a combined nine receptions but it was Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Thomas who stole the show with a combined 14 receptions for over 220 yards.
New Era Field’s A-Turf Titan has already hosted one rain game this season but here’s to hoping we see some flurries stick to the artificial surface in Orchard Park. We’ve seen wind, rain and lightning feature in NFL games this season; maybe this week we’ll get the first glimpse of a snowy winter wonderland.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-03-2017 13:30
The New York Football Giants season, thus far, has been about as stagnant as a mud puddle, and as the G-men brace for rain and the Rams high-scoring offense on Sunday, is anything expected to change for the better? Well, for the sake of some decent football, let’s hope so!
According to NFLWeather.com, light rain is expected in East Rutherford on Sunday and likely will linger all afternoon. MetLife Stadium’s Field turf has hosted plenty of rainy matchups and the effects of the drizzle will only slick the artificial surface and pigskin a bit. The wind shouldn’t be much of an issue, hanging around 8-10 mph, and cool temperatures will be in the mid-60s. But if this weekend’s weather is anything like last weekend’s unpredictable forecast, a drizzle could turn to a downpour in an instant.
Los Angeles (5-2) doesn’t get the chance to play in many weather-impacted games but the team has found success in the rain as of late. Since 2009, the Rams are 4-1 in rain games with the lone loss being an absolute dismantling by the Patriots in London, 45-7. Aside from that, the elements don’t seem to slow the offense down, averaging over 25 points per rain game.
Offensively, the team that had the top pick just a few years ago now features one of the more potent and well-rounded rushing and passing units. The lead dog in the backfield has been Todd Gurley who’s racked up 22 or more touches in four of his last five games. He’s a bruising back between the tackles and the heavier the rain gets, the more carries we’ll see go to Gurley.
But it’s not just the running game that’s helped the Rams find a share of the summit of the NFC West with Seattle. Sophomore sensation Jared Goff genuinely looks like a polished professional and even though the kid doesn’t have a rain game start under his belt, he played in plenty of precipitation during his college days in the Bay Area at Cal. The real question isn’t whether the weather will get to Goff, it’s more so which of his receiving threats will emerge as his top target Sunday. Former first rounder Sammy Watkins is the lone big name but Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have also contributed to the passing attack.
While LA has a couple receiving threats, the Giants (1-6) have been hit hardest by the injury bug at the wide out position. USA Today’s Steve Gardner has mentioned Sterling Shepard in a couple of his previous preview pieces and while Shepard has had a handful of great games, the poor kid is a tough spot by being expected to fill the void left by Odell Beckham Jr and veteran Brandon Marshall. An unfair expectation, but after his seven receptions for 133 yard performance, Shepard has the potential to put up elite WR numbers especially with a veteran Super Winning quarterback like Eli Manning.
The only thing for Giants fans to witness that’s more unbearable to watch than the passing attack has been the ground game. Whether it’s been Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa or Wayne Gallman; to call them subpar would be a heavy understatement. The safe play in fantasy regarding the NY backfield is to simply steer clear, even if weather conditions may force the team to hand off a heavy amount.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Giants are 7-4 in the rain since 2009 with one loss coming in Tampa Bay earlier this season, 25-23. Manning finished the afternoon 30-for-49 for 288 yards and a pair of scores. Clearly the rain didn’t dictate the offensive play calling and barring a massive storm, little should change for this week nine matchup.
The reason for New York’s struggles can’t be pin-pointed to a specific position or even one side of the ball. As a whole, they’ve been brutal, and unless Eli can give us a Peyton-esc performance, the Rams will be a shocking 6-2.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-28-2017 10:00
Fall is officially in full-swing and while snow flurries are actually expected in some corners of the country, rain is once again east coast bound with the Redskins and Cowboys anticipating the worst of it at FedEx Field Sunday night.
According to NFLWeather.com, the Chesapeake forecast calls for heavy rains all day Sunday with swirling winds raging deep into the night. As the evening goes on, the precipitation will decrease but so will the temperatures. The temp at game time will be in the high-40s but it will feel more like mid-to-low 40s once the sun sets since it’s a 4:25p kickoff.
It’s been over five years since Dallas last won a rain game and Washington has snagged only one win in its last four previous rainy outings. Those subpar numbers are pretty astonishing given the NFC East features some nasty weather during the last two or three months of the regular season.
Washington (3-3) last won a rain game in 2015 when Kirk Cousins stormed into Chicago and stunned the Bears, 24-21. But even factoring in the win over the Bears, the ’Skins offense is stuck in the mud when weather is a factor, given the team averages less than 14 points per rain game. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Washington is 3-5 in the rain since 2009 with an 0-2 record at home.
Cousins will need to carry the Washington offense thru the mud given the team doesn’t have the effective running game that Dallas does. In his lone rain game start, Cousins completed 10 of his first 11 passes against Chicago and while battling the damp conditions, he ended the afternoon 24-of-31 with over 300 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley will split the workload with Thompsons likely to snag a few receptions but don’t expect big numbers from either rusher.
The Cowboys (3-3) lean heavily on their second year back Ezekiel Elliot and with this Sunday’s game featuring heavy wind and torrential rain, why change anything for Week Eight? USA Today’s Steve Gardner gave Elliot his Broad Shoulders Award following last week’s stellar performance. Elliott “single handedly carried his fantasy owners to victory,” Gardner wrote this week, noting the bruising back racked up 219 total yards and three touchdowns which amass to 36.5 fantasy points in a standard scoring league.
The top fantasy play from this matchup could end up being Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. An elusive runner in college, even tho Prescott has matched his interception total from a year ago, his mobility in Sunday’s mud bowl could be the x-factor Dallas needs for a crucial road win within the division. Even if Prescott turns the ball over once or twice, as long as he doesn’t let that get to him then the young gunslinger shouldn’t have a problem putting up solid numbers against the ‘Skins D.
Since Josh Norman will be blanketing Dez Bryant, the likelihood for punches to be thrown is equally as high as hail in the forecast! Well, hail might not be happening, nor should punches be thrown, but bank on a mud bowl Sunday night. In fact, the only thing that may be dirtier than the players’ jerseys by the end of the game could be the trash talk between Bryant and Norman.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-19-2017 16:00
There’s a reason why half of the NFC North plays home games indoors and this Sunday both venues lacking a roof will also be lacking a dry pigskin for most of the day. According to NFLWeather.com, overcast skies are expected all weekend in Chicago with rain on Sunday morning. Luckily the Windy City won’t be too windy, maxing out around 10mph with temperatures lingering in the low-60s. The grey skies will stretch all the way to Green Bay where an overcast forecast will likely feature some scattered showers over the course of the weekend. Like Chicago, high winds and lower than usual temperatures won’t be a factor, just an incredibly slick grass surface.
Even though the Bears (2-4) haven’t exactly been an intimidating opposition the last few seasons, the team does have the ability to grind out gritty victories in the rain. According to NFLWeather.com analytics, Chicago is 4-1 in the rain since 2013 and 3-0 at Soldier Field. What’s most impressive about that record is the team did it with three different quarterbacks. If Matt Barkley can get it done, there’s no reason why rookie gunslinger Mitchell Trubisky can’t have similar success.
Traveling to Chicago are the NFC South Division-leading Carolina Panthers (4-2) who, since 2010, are 4-4 in rain games. Luckily for Carolina, the team has an ideal multi-tool QB who can handle the elements and scramble if need be. In six career rain games, Cam Newton averaged nine carries per outing and only once did he have less than 33 passing attempts. Newton’s ability to run in the rain and still manage to rack up over 30 passing attempts makes him an extremely potent fantasy option for week seven.
A little over 200 miles north from muddy Soldier Field is Lambeau where the Packers (4-2) will play host to showers and the Saints. Weather is typically a factor in Green Bay (having experienced a lightning delay already this season) but seeing someone under center other than Aaron Rodgers is a bona fide rarity. Former UCLA QB Brett Hundley will get the start but just because he’s from sunny SoCal doesn’t mean he can’t handle the rain. Back in his college days, Hundley starred against hated rivals USC in a downpour and pulled out a 38-28 victory.
USA Today’s Steve Gardner believes that Hundley is definitely worth considering, given he has “plenty of weapons at his disposal and the 26th ranked New Orleans Saints defense up next,” Gardner wrote in his most recent article. Hundley won’t be able to make the precise passes Rodgers can but at least the Packers offense is so pass-heavy, and given the injuries in the backfield, that Hundley will need to be expected to make a few plays. The training wheels will be off on Sunday.
His starting debut will come against a New Orleans Saints (3-2) side that has only played in two rain games since 2013. Despite losing both games (and having to wear gloves), Drew Brees still managed to average decent fantasy numbers (27-for-44, 295 ypg, TD per game). If the weather worsens though, the team may have to lean more heavily on bruising running back Mark Ingram to carry the load.
Both Chicago and Green Bay are tough enough cities to snag a road win in, let alone with crummy playing conditions being a glaring factor. The Bears and Packers are built for conditions like this, but don’t count out Cam and former Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. A little rain likely won’t bother these proven winners.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-13-2017 16:00
It’s starting to feel like every NFL game in the Sunshine State this season has been effected by rain and Sunday in Jacksonville will be no different when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Los Angeles Rams.
According to NFLWeather.com, Jacksonville is expecting rain this weekend with an all-day drizzle on Sunday ending in the early evening. Temperatures will hover in the mid-to-low 80s with a light 8-10 mph wind. The rain shouldn’t be very heavy so anticipating a downpour won’t be a problem, but a slick pigskin and Bermuda grass surface inside EverBank Field are a completely different story.
Jacksonville (3-2) is perfectly prepped for a game like this, having already played in and won two rain games this season. But success in the rain for the Jags hasn’t always been the case. Since 2010, the team is 4-2 in rain games but 2-2 prior to this season, picking up both wins at home. These last two weather impacted games though, both away from home, Jacksonville has outside its opposition 74-16.
It’s been a lethal combo of suffocating defense and unpredictable offense in both rain game victories for the Jags, and it was a different player each day that played the role of hero. In round one against Baltimore, a 44-7 drumming in London, quarterback Blake Bortles tossed four TD’s, completed 65% of his passes and steered clear of turning the ball over. As for round two, a shocking 30-9 win in Pittsburgh, Leonard Fournette proved once and for all he’s totally legit with a 28 touches for 181 yard performance including a pair of scores. Everyone else, like receivers Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee, have been virtually nonexistent but will each be a lurking threat this week.
As for Los Angeles (3-2), a team that’s played home games for decades under a dome in St. Louis or cloudless LA sunshine, the Rams are surprisingly a tough team to beat when poor weather is a factor.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 the Rams are 4-1 when rain is in the forecast with the most recent being a 37-32 come from behind win at Tampa Bay. Quarterback Jared Goff, who’s having a sensational sophomore season, hasn’t played in a rain game since his days at Cal when the Golden Bears were thumped in Eugene years ago.
Even if Goff shines in Sunday’s damp and dreary conditions, if the running game gets stuck in the mud, the entire offense will struggle against JAX’s impressive defense. Bank on Todd Gurley seeing over 20+ touches and being a total workhorse in both the running and passing attack.
Both the Rams and Jags are extremely fortunate to have arguably two of the top three or four young running backs in the league. USA Today’s Steve Gardner praised Fournette’s week five performance in his most recent fantasy article, pointing out the rookie runner racked up 30.4 points in a standard scoring league. Could he recreate another historic performance? Not likely, but the Rams do allow over 133 rushing yards per game and have surrendered a league-leading seven rushing touchdowns so another big outing could absolutely be in the forecast.
If the LA defense doesn’t slow down and contain Fournette, the long-time laughingstock Jacksonville Jaguars will be a respectable 4-2 on the summit of the AFC South. If they don’t, well guess what, the Rams will be the surprising 4-2 team and former laughingstock who are sadly stuck in a market where no one will even notice.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-06-2017 18:00
It’s no secret that Andy Dalton has had his problems in crucial matchups but when the redhead competes in crummy conditions, the Cincinnati gunslinger is surprisingly one of the NFL’s more underrated passers.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain will blanket the greater Cincinnati area all weekend long with a minimal chance of it easing up for Sunday’s 1pm kickoff. Temperatures should be in the mid-to-high 70s with a light wind of 5-6 mph. The playing surface inside Paul Brown Stadium, a UBU Sports’ Speed Series S5-M synthetic turf, won’t get too slippery but the pigskin on the other hand will be the real issue for both sides.
Dalton and the Bengals (1-3) might not be off to the best of starts in 2017, but according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the team is 5-3 in the rain game since 2010 and 4-1 at home. In five career rain games, Dalton has found the end zone five times and only tossed a pair of picks but three fumbles are a little alarming. If he can avoid coughing up the ball, Dalton will be expected to air it out often, given he averages over 33 passing attempts per rain game.
Even with showers in Sunday’s forecast, Mother Nature won’t dictate how often the team unleashes its aerial assault but if the Bengals can’t establish any sort of ground game, the early season woes will certainly continue. Rookie Joe Mixon is finally being handed the reins, racking up 35 carries over the last two games but only tallying just over 90 yards total during that span. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are still seeing some action but the fantasy stock in both players is plummeting.
The only must-start in fantasy in the Bengals lineup is an obvious choice, AJ Green, but ever since Tyler Eifert went down a surprising upstart has emerged as a solid streaming option at tight end. Tyler Kroft saw seven targets last weekend against Cleveland and hauled in two for touchdowns. Even USA Today’s Steve Gardner admitted to underestimating him last week and now Kroft looks to be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Kroft wasn’t the only player Gardner mentioned in his most recent article, with Buffalo’s Andre Holmes receiving some praise as well. “With No. 1 wide-out Jordan Matthews out at least a month with a thumb injury, Holmes should see an uptick in targets,” Gardner wrote. Behind Holmes, really all that’s left in Buffalo’s mediocre passing attack is Zay Jones and tight end Charles Clay.
The Bills (3-1) are off to a hot start and hoping a Mid-western rainstorm won’t dampen their momentum. But, playing conditions shouldn’t slow down a Bills side that’s plenty familiar with heavy home game precipitation. Last season, the Bills were 1-1 in snow games at home but over the last few seasons when rain or snow have been apparent, Buffalo has struggled mightily.
The Bills are 3-7 since 2010 when rain is a factor and 0-4 on the road during that span. The team is also winless in rain games since 2013 and 0-2 when current starter Tyrod Taylor is under center. Even though Taylor averages 38 drop backs per rain game, Taylor is a tricky fantasy play against the league’s third-best passing defense. That being said, maybe LeSean McCoy could see 30+ touches.
The weather on Sunday will be pretty darn dreary, much like the rest of Cincinnati’s season if they can’t turn it around and pull out a win at home against a very beatable Bills side. But don’t sleep on Buffalo, a win on Sunday and suddenly the Bills are 4-1 and tied for the second-best record in the AFC.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-29-2017 17:00
The Sunshine State really hasn’t been living up to its name lately….For the second time in four weeks, torrential rain is about to impact a Tampa Bay Buccaneers regular season game but at least this time around the Bucs will actually get to play!
In the days leading up to the first NFL Sunday of the season with Hurricane Irma bound for the Florida coast, the league forced the Bucs and Dolphins to reschedule the opener for later in the season. Thankfully, Florida isn’t bracing for another devastating Hurricane, but plenty of precipitation is forecasted for the weekend ahead.
According to NFLWeather.com, heavy rain is expected throughout the day with winds picking up as the day goes on, maxing out at 16-18 mph. Temperatures should stick in the low-80s and feel that way for most of the game with humidity not likely an issue. But the real issue will be muddy field conditions with storms arriving in Tampa Friday and Saturday. It looks like a notoriously awful field is about to get that much worse.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been vocal about his disdain for the grass inside Raymond James Stadium after he obtained a calf injury back in 2015. He even went as far as to say some surfaces in the league are more likely to create injury than prevent one. Crummy playing conditions aside, whether Rodgers likes it or not, the game in Tampa will go on!
The Buccaneers (1-1) don’t exactly have promising statistics in rain games over recent seasons but at least the team is plenty familiar with having to battle the damp elements at home. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Tampa is 1-4 in the rain since 2011 including back-to-back losses at home a year ago to the Rams and Broncos.
In both rain game losses last season, neither the offense nor defense could find any sort of consistency but the Bucs did see random spurts of sunshine in the form of Jameis Winston. The former Heisman winner did have his problems battling the weather, tossing three picks and coughing up a pair of fumbles, but the turnovers shouldn’t discourage fantasy owners from playing the young gunslinger who also averaged two touchdowns, over 290 passing yards and over 46 passing attempts per game.
Winston will be the star of the show Sunday but he’ll need support from his cast. Wide-outs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will see their fair share of targets and should spread the field nicely to leave some open space between the hashes for tight end Cameron Brate, who USA Today’s Steve Gardner likes as one of his “trove of TE’s” following his performance week three and his increasing involvement in the passing game. The backfield duties will likely be split by Jacquizz Rodgers and Chris Sims who need to establish some sort of a rushing attack for an offense that’s had a less than stagnant ground game thus far.
The New York Football Giants (0-3) can sympathize, being another team that’s genuinely struggled to move the ball on the ground. Paul Perkins has been and will continue to be the starter but being the top dog in a backfield that’s stuck in the mud, certainly isn’t worth starting fantasy-wise.
One of the few Giants actually worth starting is stud wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and perhaps a few of the counterparts around him. USA Today’s Gardner also wrote this week that he’s a big fan of fellow WR Sterling Shepard who will “get plenty of targets this week against Tampa,” Gardner wrote.
Despite the incoming storms, both Beckham and Shepard will see plenty of looks from veteran QB Eli Manning who historically averages 43 passing attempts per rainy road game. If the rain gets too heavy, the game plan will likely shift to pounding the ball between the tackles but until that’s the case, the weather won’t dictate how often Manning drops back. That being said, veteran Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Eric Engram could be sneaky fantasy plays.
Lightning and a downpour featured in Thursday night’s Bears-Packers game, marking the first of what could be a handful of NFL games affected by nasty weather this weekend. It begins again early Sunday across the pond when rain is expected in the London forecast for the Saints-Dolphins game. Check back to NFLWeather.com early Sunday for weather updates on all NFL matchups this weekend!
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-23-2017 10:00
As the NFL prepares for the first of four regular season games in London, the only thing more welcoming than the English hospitality is the impending rain for Sunday’s kickoff inside Wembley Stadium.
According to NFLWeather.com, drizzle is expected on Sunday afternoon in London with temperatures lingering in the high-50s. Wind won’t be a factor inside the English National Soccer Team’s home venue but the slick grass surface, a Desso GrassMaster intended primarily for soccer matches, might cause some serious slippage and force players to adjust their cleats both prior to and during the game.
Back in 2015, the New York Jets brought both molded and hard-rubber cleats along with multiple sizes of both, with the intention of testing each out in the week leading up to the game and during the pregame as well at the famous football.
Over the last decade or so, the Ravens (2-0) have been a very difficult team to beat in weather-impacted games, both at home and away. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Baltimore is 8-1 in rain games since 2009 and 2-0 on the road. Much of the team’s success in damp conditions can be attributed to the fact that Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the Ravens offense, averaging almost 28 points per game over that nine game span.
Spearheading that attack is quarterback Joe Flacco who despite poor weather conditions in the forecast, still averages 30 or more passing attempts per game and just over 230 ypg. Most impressively, he has a career 13-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio in the rain. In Flacco’s last few most recent games featuring precipitation, the veteran QB spreads the ball nicely but if he has to hone in on one target in particular, it’s traditionally been his tight end, Dennis Pitta. But with Pitta gone, the security blanket role falls on Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle or Maxx Williams. With the TE situation being such a crap-shoot, the only real fantasy football guarantee in the passing game is that newcomer Jeremy Maclin will see the majority of targets for a wide out.
In the backfield with Danny Woodhead out, Terrance West and Javorious Allen will carry the work load for the Ravens. Neither is a very enticing fantasy play, but in Baltimore’s most recent rain game, the backfield collectively racked up over 150 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Both will be heavily involved in alleviating the pressure off Flacco’s shoulders.
Jacksonville (1-1) hasn’t quite had the same success in crummy conditions as Baltimore has but the Jags are still a reasonably competitive team in weather related matchups. Since 2010 in rain games, the team is 2-2 with both losses occurring away from home.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has prepped for games like this, literally since the opening practice of camp this summer when a torrential downpour welcomed the Jaguars to the 2017 season. But practice aside, Bortles has very little NFL experience in rain games. If the Jags can’t establish a run game early, anchored by prized rookie Leonard Fournette, Baltimore could put this one out of reach early. Especially now that top wideout Allen Robinson is done for the remainder of the year. All eyes are on Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns to fill the gaping void.
Back in 2014 when Detroit and Atlanta played at Wembley, the grounds crew spent all of halftime fixing divots and collecting chunks of sod that had been ripped from the field… and that was with minimal rain. If a drizzle turns to a downpour on Sunday, this game has the potential to be the sloppiest and wettest one yet in the UK.
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-16-2017 09:00
Despite massive week one road wins for Kansas City and Philadelphia, it may literarily and metaphorically rain on someone’s unbeaten parade this weekend when both the Eagles and mid-western storms visit Kansas City on Sunday.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected both in the morning and early evening so intermittent showers during the game are very much a possibility. The Saturday forecast in Kansas City calls for a 20% chance of precipitation so the grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium could end up getting pretty sloppy come the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 1pm EST kickoff. So even if the forecast remains partly cloudy at game time, the slick surface could cause a couple of turnovers.
Wind isn’t expected to be much of a factor, maxing out around 5-7 mph, and humidity won’t be too overwhelming with temperatures likely to be in the mid-70s for most of the game.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia (1-0), the Eagles don’t seem to play their best football when weather is a factor. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Philly is only 2-5 in rain games since 2009 and 1-2 on the road during that span.
The most recent rain game being a December 2016 loss in Baltimore, 27-26, where Carson Wentz fumbled twice and threw an interception. Even though the team rushed 38 times for 169 yards, forcing Wentz to drop back 42 times (only completed 22 attempts) was not the winning formula then and it certainly won’t be today. The offensive workhorse needs to be bruising back LeGarrette Blount if Philly can escape week two with a second consecutive win away from home.
On the other hand, Kansas City (1-0) has been superb in weather impacted games, especially at home. Since 2010, the Chiefs are 8-4 in rain games and 3-0 at Arrowhead. Much of that can be attributed to the team’s sensational defense, surrendering 22 points or more only three times over that 12 game span and allowing on average only 17.3 points per game.
Aside from the Chiefs’ stout defense, one surprising constant in KC has been veteran quarterback Alex Smith. Last season in weather-related games, Smith averaged over 34 drop backs per game, had an impressive 65% completion percentage and managed to post a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. He’ll be on the lookout for his top target Tyreek Hill and red zone threat Travis Kelce.
But just like Philly’s chances for offensive success, the ground game will ultimately have to reign supreme in a game where avoiding turnovers and winning the time of possession battle are absolutely crucial. Kareem Hunt will be the top dog in a backfield that is 4-0 in the rain since 2015 when the RB corps sees 20+ touches.
In two extremely competitive divisions where every win matters, grinding out an early season in the rain could be the difference maker in playing in a January wildcard game and cleaning out the locker. Every turnover, every first down, every muddy yard will matter on Sunday. Smash mouth football will be at its finest in Missouri this weekend, and it’s only week two!
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-09-2017 10:00
As hurricane season peaks and powerful storms pummel the coast, the National Football League is forcing the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take cover week one and reschedule their season opener for week 11 as Florida and the majority of the southern east coast brace for Hurricane Irma.
Just over a week after Hurricane Harvey mercilessly ripped through Texas and Louisiana, Mother Nature is on another collision course with Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas; and is expected to hit the coast by the weekend. The NFL debated between moving the game up a few days to Thursday night, playing in a different city or pushing it back until later in the season; ultimately opting to play the game later in the season when both teams have their schedule bye week in mid-November.
Up until the game was officially postponed on Tuesday, the same day Irma was upgraded to a Category 5 Hurricane, both teams were still prepping as though the Sunday 1pm kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was still the game plan. Had the hurricane not been on a kamikaze mission with the Caribbean, a little rain would not have phased Tampa Bay nor Miami given both teams are extremely familiar with late-summer Florida heat and precipitation, and rain games in general having both played in a two-a-piece last season.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, both sides combined for a 1-3 record in rain games last season and a combined 4-10 record since 2009. Not exactly an encouraging statistic for either team, however, but Miami is 3-3 at home over that span which includes a rain game win in December over Arizona, 26-23.
Prior to the ‘Phins-Bucs game officially being rescheduled to week 11, according to NFLWeather.com, conditions were expected to be extremely rainy with dangerous winds and precipitation was only going to get heavier and heavier as the game endured. Humidity would have made the 80-degree day felt more like the mid-to-low 90’s so a sticky, muggy afternoon was in store had the storms not been expected.
Come week 11, if Mother Nature rears her ugly head in Florida for the rescheduled matchup, check back with NFLWeather.com and we’ll be here for the coverage…. Again!
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-06-2017 11:00
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-20-2017 11:00
Both of these storied franchises have met in similar potential Super Bowl-bound circumstances before, twice since 2002, but never have the Patriots hosted the Steelers in a clash for the AFC title in Foxboro and in the previous two bouts, never was weather much of a factor. Well, it looks like the scenery and conditions have changed. Pittsburgh will head to New England for the AFC Conference Championship game on a chilly Sunday evening inside Gillette Stadium.
According to NFLWeather.com, game time temperatures will only top out in the mid-to-low 40’s and most of the time it will feel 5-10 degrees colder than what the thermometer reads. Even though precipitation isn’t expected around kickoff at 6:40 pm EST, there’s a small chance once the temps drop in the second half that rain or flurries could fall from the overcast skies. As of Thursday, the forecast called for winds to max out around 10-12 mph, but who knows if winter conditions will worsen in Foxboro before Sunday.
But a frigid winter front shouldn’t faze either team, having both played in sub-freezing temps just a week ago during victories in the AFC Divisional round. In fact, four of Pittsburgh’s last five games dipped below 32 degrees while the other two were still below 40. The Steelers ended up winning all six games but experience in arctic conditions alone won’t nearly be enough to get an early edge on Tom Brady heading into Sunday’s showdown in New England where the Pats seemingly never lose, especially when the season is on the line.
It’s no secret that the Patriots are almost unbeatable at home in the month of January, but the team hasn’t exactly been flawless as most would expect. The Pats are 10-3 at home in Jan. since 2010 but surprisingly less than half of those contests featured freezing temperatures. When the temp does dip below freezing, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, New England is 13-2 at home and 18-4 overall since 2009.
Much of that success can be credited to the team’s unshakeable leader under center, three-time Super Bowl winning MVP Tom Brady. Tom Terrific doesn’t seem to let the elements ever get to him who is 9-1 in his last 10 games impacted by weather and has anchored an offense that’s averaged over 35 points per game. Even when weather concerns are in the forecast, Brady still averages 36 passing attempts per game and little will change against Pittsburgh given this matchup between two high powered offenses could turn into an explosive shootout.
Julian Edelman, who’s seen double-digit targets in seven of the last eight games, will be Brady’s go-to option followed by a pair of questionable wide outs in Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. If one of the two can’t go, newly acquired veteran and former Arizona Cardinal Michael Floyd could have a decent afternoon. Tight End Martellus Bennett, who was limited in practice on Thursday with Hogan and Mitchell, has filled in nicely for Gronk this season and will see plenty of action close to the red zone along with short yardage passing situations, especially if precipitation ends up falling or winds heavily pick up.
New England has plenty of solid receiving options but the one weapon they won’t have Sunday is a superstar wide-out like the Steelers have in Antonio Brown. A.B. saw double-digit targets in 11-of-16 games this season and when weather is a factor, he seems to get involved even more. In early December during a trip to snowy Buffalo, Brown saw 11 passes come his way and during the 2016 playoffs alone, he’s been targeted 20 times. If New England can’t disrupt AB’s chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger, the Pats could easily get upset this weekend.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, it’s a legitimate argument that there might not be a better quarterback in the league to have under center in crummy conditions, especially in the postseason. The large-framed scrambler has lead Pittsburgh to a 12-2 record in weather impacted games since 2012 and most impressively, only turned the ball over six times. If he can avoid the turnovers like he did a week ago in Kansas City’s frozen tundra, Big Ben and company could keep this one close.
But that will also depend on how much of a factor Le’Veon Bell will be against a New England defense that allowed less than 90 rushing yards per game during the regular season. Pittsburgh had to endure freezing temperatures in each of the last two weeks and prevailed, much in part thanks to Bell’s unstoppable play. Over the last two games, Bell has amassed 237 yards from 59 touches and two scores. That doesn’t even include his contribution to the passing game which featured four catches from seven targets. Six times this season Bell was targeted seven times or more so expect him to be heavily involved in both the rushing and passing game, as per weekly tradition.
His counterpart across the field and former teammate when he was a Steeler, LaGarrette Blount, will be out to haunt his old club. Blount is an ideal bruising back for harsh playing conditions and he should see a slightly heavier workload than Dion Lewis since Pittsburgh has had more trouble against the more pounding RB’s in the league this season. Blount only saw eight carries last week, the first time he saw single-digit touches in a game this season so expect that number to potentially double.
Like the Pats, Pittsburgh has had plenty of January success over the last few years and lucky for Steeler Nation that the Black and Gold have an even better road record than at Heinz Field. Since 2009, Pittsburgh is 6-2 on the road in January. and 10-3 overall and when temps are below freezing, the Steelers are an astonishing 7-1 on the road and 14-4 overall. As the snow falls, apparently so does the Steel Curtain given the defense on the road in freezing conditions has surrendered a mere 17.8 points per game over the last seven seasons.
Envisioning the Black and Gold beating Brady in Foxboro this weekend seems next to impossible. After all, it’s been over five years since Pittsburgh last beat the Pats and a win in New England is one of the few feats Big Ben has yet to conquer in his Super Bowl-winning NFL career. After two AFC Championship losses at home within a three-year span, even though it was roughly 15 years ago, the Steelers are still itching for revenge. Let’s not forget that revenge is a dish best served cold and it’ll be colder than a witch’s tit in Foxboro on Sunday.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-13-2017 15:00
The Chiefs and Steelers have both endured seemingly every type of weather distraction this season. So, it seems only fitting that the Sunday forecast in Kansas City is calling for arctic conditions featuring freezing temperatures and mixed precipitation for this black and blue AFC Divisional Playoff bout.
According to NFLWeather.com, two-to-four inches of snow is predicted in the Sunday forecast with temperatures teetering around freezing. But, if the temperatures go up as the game goes on, the snow could potentially turn to a freezing rain. Even though pregame temps will be around 30-32 °, the minimal seven mph wind chill will make it feel closer to mid-to-low 20’s. The grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium has already taken a beating this season, and if the snow eventually turns to rain, the pace of the game could come to a muddy and grinding halt.
Kansas City (12-4) hasn’t played in a snow game this season but the Chiefs are 2-1 in the rain and 1-1 in freezing conditions. Weather wasn’t a factor when they were pummeled at Pittsburgh in week four, 43-14, so KC will be aiming to use that to their advantage, having already hosted three weather-related games since early December so factoring Mother Nature into the game plan shouldn’t be much of an issue. Especially coming off of a bye, where head coach Andy Reid is 19-2 following a bye over the course of his career.
But in order for sweet redemption over the Steelers, the offense will need to do what it couldn’t against them earlier, and that’s move the ball and reduce the three-and-outs which were allowing Pittsburgh entirely too many opportunities on offense.
Quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 30-of-50 attempts for 287 yards with a pair of TD’s and a turnover against Pittsburgh, has an impressive 65% completion percentage in weather impacted games this year and will need a turnover free game in order to advance to the AFC Championship. This year on average when weather is a factor, Smith still drops back over 32 times per game and racks up close to 240 passing yards with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. Not necessarily intimidating statistics, but it’s evident he still gets the green light to pass often even in unfavorable conditions so Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill will see plenty of targets against an inconsistent secondary.
Smith has been fortunate to have a formidable backfield behind him, even in the absence of Jamaal Charles all year. Spencer Ware has stepped up and served as the top back and even though he’s only averaged under 18 carries a game in weather games this season, he’ll see a heavy workload against a Steelers’ D that’s surrendered 405 rushing yards over the last three games. Despite his limited carries in crummy conditions, Ware still has managed to average 80 yards on the ground per game.
One player that certainly won’t have to worry about his offensive involvement is the focal point of Pittsburgh’s entire offense, running back Le’Veon Bell. In his short career, spanning only five weather-related games, Bell has tallied a remarkable 673 yards (134 ypg) and five touchdowns. His talent was best showcased in the wintery Buffalo snow back in week 14 when Bell barreled thru the Bills defense for 236 yards on 38 carries and a trio of TD’s. He’s the ideal back for rain or snow and if KC doesn’t keep him contained, the Steelers are headed to their first AFC Championship game in six years and ninth in 23.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 Pittsburgh (12-5) is 15-5 when precipitation is a factor and much of that can likely be credited to the stoic and scrambling play of Ben Roethlisberger. Despite poor conditions, Big Ben still averages over 30 passing attempts and almost 245 passing yards per game. But his most impressive rain game stat is a remarkable TD-to-INT ratio of 28:9.
It’s no secret who Ben’s top target will be, as Antonio Brown went off last week against Miami for 124 yards and two scores en route to a 30-12 Wildcard drumming of the Dolphins. Against KC weeks ago, AB only had four receptions but he turned half of those grabs into scores. Brown and Bell will be the one-two punch but speedy slot receiver Eli Rogers and, if Ladarius Green can’t go, tight end Jesse James could see another opportunity to find the end zone for the second time against KC this season.
It’s only fitting that both black and blue style defenses will clash in Ice Bowl-like conditions, and whichever defensive unit can create the most turnovers will likely be headed to the AFC Championship in New England (barring a miracle). With possibly two NFL Divisional Playoff games in the cozy confines of indoors (No word yet on the Dallas Dome), the best of all four games could end up being the sloppy slugfest in KC.
Both sides are two of the AFC’s best in bad weather outings, posting a combined 24-10 record in weather impacted games since 2009. Neither team seems to let the natural elements get to them but we’ll see if a little playoff pressure mixed with freezing rain will change that.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-05-2017 17:00
Visiting teams traveling to the Pacific Northwest understand rain is almost a given once November rolls around but freezing temperatures and snow flurries aren’t always on the radar. That will change during the opening NFC Wildcard game on Saturday when the sixth-seed Detroit Lions head to the third-seed and NFC West Champions, Seattle Seahawks.
According to NFLWeather.com, mixed precipitation and frigid temps are expected in and around the Pungent Sound for Saturday’s late kickoff. An early drizzle could potentially turn to snow during the fourth quarter but wind shouldn’t be much of a factor, swirling under five mph at the max. Temperatures for game time will start in the mid-to-high 30’s but by the third, CenturyLink Field will feel closer to 30 degrees.
Seattle (10-5-1) is no stranger to playoff games in unfavorable conditions. The ‘Hawks had no trouble with the Saints in the rain at home in 2014, downing Drew Brees and company 23-15. Even arctic conditions on the road couldn’t stop them as they beat the Vikings, 10-9, in the third coldest playoff game in NFL history last season. But they’re not unstoppable, a week after beating Minnesota the defending NFC champions were downed by Carolina on a slippery, soggy and re-sodded field in the NFC playoffs less than a year ago.
What’s intimidating about the Seahawks is their record in the rain, especially at home. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Seattle is 8-2 over the last ten rain games and average close to 30 points per game. But when freezing temperatures are the factor and precipitation is nonexistent, the ‘Hawks are only 1-4 in their last five matchups and the offensive production is cut in half to roughly 15 points per game.
Similar results are seen with Seattle’s usually stout defense. In the rain, the D only surrenders 15 points per game while in strictly frigid conditions the average leaps to almost 31. In order to pull off the upset, Detroit better hope for a chilly and dry afternoon if they have any intention of downing a team that’s been to two of the last three Super Bowls.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has produced a rock solid record in the rain, despite completing only 55% of his passes and having a 13:10 touchdown to interception ratio over his professional career. But a win is a win is a win. In chilling conditions, Wilson’s completion percentage remains roughly the same at 56% but his ratio flip-flops to three interceptions for every two TD’s. With weather a factor, his security blanket will be tight end Jimmy Graham who surprisingly has only averaged four targets a game over the last four weeks while Doug Baldwin, his clear cut top target, saw a staggering 19 looks two weeks ago.
Wilson will desperately need the running game to establish itself against a Detroit D that’s allowed 110 yards or more on the ground over each of the last three weeks. However, Seattle hasn’t had an individual 100-yard rushing performance since Thomas Rawls did just that back in week 13. Rawls hasn’t been much of a threat, averaging a measly 35 yards per game since week 14 and if that trend continues, rookie Alex Collins will likely steal some touches.
Detroit (9-7) is far from impressive in the snow or rain, posting a winless 0-4 record over the last few seasons. As for playing in the cold however, conventional thinking would be that a dome team like the Lions would instantly struggle in the near-freezing temps but competing in the NFC North means playing in plenty outdoor games in the Midwest in December. When precipitation is in the forecast, the Lions offence averages only 17.5 points per game but in chilling temps the offense puts up four points a game more and posts a 1-6 record since 2010.
Matthew Stafford needs to be the Lions’ saving grace under center. Having dropped back 40 times or more in almost half of the regular season games this season, regardless of what the conditions will be, he’ll be airing it out plenty. In his most recent frigid game on the road, Stafford completed 28-of-39 attempts for 298 yards and three scores en route to a 24-20 win.
It’s felt like Stafford’s top targets have fluctuated every week. Tight end Eric Ebron has seen 25 targets over the last three weeks but hasn’t found the endzone since week one. Off season acquisition Marvin Jones Jr. appeared to be the number one option for a few weeks but has taken a back seat to Golden Tate who prior week six, Tate averaged only six targets a game. Since then, the speedy wide-out has asserted himself as the number one and has seen almost 10 targets a game.
But despite the passing game’s success all season, if the running game can’t get rolling, Detroit is in trouble. With Theo Riddick on injured reserve, Zach Zenner has leapfrogged Dwayne Washington as the top back. Zenner over the last two weeks has tallied a total of 136 yards on 32 touches and three scores. If the rain and snow picks up, Zenner and Washington will feature more than if the conditions solely called for cold.
Seattle may be the heavy favorite but don’t sleep on Detroit’s ability to unleash a powerful aerial assault. Earl Thomas, who is out with an injury, believes the Lions have no chance of winning in the cold. The last time I remember a Seahawk making a bold prediction in a frigid playoff game, Matt Hasselback did just that and promptly threw a pick six to end his season against another NFC North team. Let’s see if Thomas just jinxed the 12th Man.
by The NFLW Team | 01-01-2017 08:00
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-23-2016 10:00
Mother Nature has exposed her ugly side over the last few weeks around the NFL and little is expected to change on Sunday in Kansas City where the Chiefs and Broncos will not only battle for postseason survival, but the harsh elements featuring swirling winds and a piercing rain.
According to NFLWeather.com, both a heavy breeze and torrential rain will be relentless inside Arrowhead Stadium. Gusts of wind will top out around 20 mph and the downpour will soak into that battered grass surface that was already pretty worn down during last week’s home loss to the Titans. Temperatures will be manageable in the mid-to-low 50s but it’s the wind that could be the real factor on Sunday.
Both AFC West rivals have been impacted by weather on a number of occasions this season and both have been reasonably successful. The same goes for how well they’ve done historically, especially in the rain.
Kansas City (10-4) is already 2-1 in rain games this season and 8-4 since 2010. But according to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, KC is a flawless 3-0 at home when rain hits Arrowhead. The Chiefs were stunned at home last week against Tennessee in freezing conditions but aside from that unexpected loss, they’re extremely difficult to beat at home especially when weather plays a key role. Having already beaten the Broncos in Denver earlier this year, it’s tough to see KC not locking up a playoff spot for the second week in a row.
But, that will all depend on how effective the KC offense is against Denver’s stout D which currently leads the league in passing yards allowed with less than 185 surrendered per game. Veteran Alex Smith has been very consistent during his time in KC and the same goes for competing in crummy conditions. On average over his last five rain games where four of which were victories, Smith dropped back 32 times while completing 22 attempts for 227 yards and a score. He’s also only turned the ball over three times during that stretch.
Credit on the offensive side of the ball also needs to go to KC’s running back committee who since 2015 are 4-0 in rain games when they see 20+ touches. Spencer Ware has been the most effective recently but Jamaal Charles and Charcandrick West have also been utilized and found success when healthy. Over his last five rain games, Ware has tallied 442 rushing yards from 79 touches (an impressive 5.5 ypc) and two touchdowns.
Denver (8-6) is in deep do-or-die territory and a postseason berth is starting to look pretty grim. Having lost three of their last four games, the Broncos were once a game back from the summit of the AFC West division but things have gone south fast for Trevor Siemian and the struggling offense. You know things aren’t going well when your own defensive captain points the finger at the offenses’ glaring woes during postgame locker room interviews. Siemian’s offense has averaged a measly 12 points per game over the last three outings, but the ground game isn’t exactly doing their part towards taking the pressure off the young QB.
A few weeks ago, USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned how newly-acquired Justin Forsett might steal some carries from Devontae Booker since he’s already familiar with Gary Kubiak’s offense. Well, that was certainly the case last week when Forsett out touched Booker by four carries so we may be seeing yet another changing of the guard in Denver’s backfield. Neither RB is a solid start in fantasy this week, especially since most leagues have championships during week 16. Sadly, the same could arguably be said for Denver’s top two wide-outs, Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryius Thomas. However, Sanders has had terrific recent success against KC, scoring four times in the last four matchups.
A loss for Denver will likely put an end to their topsy-turvy season while KC can still bounce back if they end up dropping a second straight game at home. But given KC’s recent rain game success and Denver is a sinking ship, it appears that on Sunday it will literally rain on and put an end to the Bronco’s postseason parade.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-17-2016 11:05
|Matt’s Value Players:|
Rivers is playing a questionable Oakland defense that will give up points. At home against a divisional rival, I expect Rivers to play well here. Indianapolis can’t stop the run and Asiata has four TD’s in the last five games. If he can get into the endzone with 15 touches, he will out produce his price. Lee is the best WR this year for the Jags. For that price, it gives you the opportunity to pay up for top talent. Brown is minimum price and saw six targets last week. Green Bay is not that good against the pass making Brown such an intriguing option that could go very low owned.
|Will’s Value Players:|
A little rain won’t get to Flacco on Sunday against Philly’s weak secondary. For a sub-$6,000 price tag, Flacco could be a tremendous value play. Denver has a solid defense but it’s clear the Patriots will use Blount to grind down any opponent. That’ll be the game plan on the road this week as New England will stick to a ground and pound to limit the potential for turnovers. Sticking with the NE offense, Mitchell may be the new surprise receiving threat. Having been on the field last week for 54-of-68 plays, it’s clear he’s a new weapon in the Pats’ already lethal aerial arsenal. Lastly, Taylor targeted Clay heavily last week in the snow against Pittsburgh. Conditions are the same but the opposing defense is now substantially worse making him a great cheap buy.
Matt’s Pick: CIN +3.5 vs PIT
Did you follow both our calls last week? I sure hope so. Now, with Big Ben struggling on the road and this being a divisional game, the likelihood of a blowout is very slim. These games usually end with a field goal and I expect nothing less in this one. Mark me down for another win.
Will’s Pick: TEN +5.5 @ KC
Tennessee just seems to win when it matters most. Even though a victory in Arrowhead is a tough feat, the Titans can keep it close this week. Kansas City’s unimpressive offense won’t run away with this one.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-17-2016 11:00
Start ‘em: Alex Smith, Tyrod Taylor
With the Tennessee defense playing pretty well against the run, I can see Smith doing pretty well here. Kelce has virtually been unstoppable and with Tyreek Hill’s big play ability, I see the KC QB playing above average Sunday with clear skies expected.
Snow and/or fog will hit Buffalo on Sunday but Taylor showed last week against Pittsburgh he can handle the winter elements. Against Cleveland’s awful defense, he’ll have an absolute field day.
Sit ‘em: Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford
Arrowhead is a tough place to play. The Chiefs did a fantastic job shutting down Carr and with 1st place on the line for the AFC West, plan on seeing more of the same. Mariota has been pretty good this season but I also believe the matchup between the Titans receivers and Chiefs defensive backs favor KC.
Stafford claims his finger is fine but if the Giants’ D gets to him early and often, the entire Detroit offense will struggle. It also doesn’t help his stock this week that rain is in the Sunday forecast.
Start ‘em: Rashard Jennings, Kenneth Farrow
Players have come and gone in the New York backfield this season but Jennings continues to assert himself as the top dog. Rain will be relentless on Sunday so expect Jennings to see an increase in touches.
With Melvin Gordon doubtful, as USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned in his fantasy injury report this week, Farrow is slated to see most of the touches for the Chargers. Against an Oakland D, the floor is pretty high here. He also caught balls out of the backfield so I love his chances for a score in this one.
Sit ‘em: Jay Ajayi, all Philly RB’s
I have been wrong every time I’ve mentioned to sit him. But this time, the Jets should been loading up the box since Miami is rolling out their backup QB, forcing Miami to throw the ball. This is one of the plays that will make or break your playoff dreams.
Despite rain expected in Baltimore which will likely result in more carries for Eagle’s running backs, none of them are worth playing. Ryan Matthews still isn’t 100%, Darren Sproles is going through concussion protocol and Kenjon Barner hasn’t done anything to prove himself. Move along.
Start ‘em: Sammy Watkins, Robby Anderson
Forget the snow and his questionable tag; Taylor will be eyeing Watkins all afternoon.
Robby Anderson has seen 23 targets in the last 2 weeks. It’s quite clear he and Petty have a connection. Anderson has really come on as of late for the Jets and why wouldn’t he be able to do it again against a Miami secondary that is very exploitable?
Sit ‘em: Jordan Matthews, Terrelle Pryor
Philly’s offense can’t seem to figure it out and rain won’t help. The Ravens are back home and playing much better against the pass. I do not like Matthews’ chances to score which makes him a liability for your championship run.
He’s been the lone bright spot for the Browns all season but Pryor isn’t a wise play again the Bills. Snow will be a factor on Sunday and the Cleveland offense has struggled mightily to get him involved the last few weeks.
Start ‘em: Antonio Gates, Martellus Bennett
With Gates approaching Tony Gonzalez’s touchdown record, what better way to do it against one of your rivals? Oakland can’t guard the tight end so look for SD to get him this record on Sunday.
Bennett is back and we saw last week that New England can rack up the passing stats, even if they hold off to do so until the second half. Bennett will be targeted heavily against Denver’s solid D.
Sit ‘em: Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron
See a trend here? I do not like Philly’s passing game for so many reasons. Wentz will be running for his life and he will not have the time to throw to anybody. Sit this man!
If Stafford is healthy, Ebron is a great play. But if the Detroit game plan is to protect a banged up Stafford, Ebron could be used for pass protection more than usual.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-16-2016 12:00
Both teams are 9-4 and few people are talking about either side making a deep run in the NFC playoffs, but don’t sleep on the New York Giants or NFC North leading Detroit Lions who clash in the rainy Big Apple on Sunday in what could be a damp and dreary post season preview.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is in the forecast but temperatures appear to hover in the mid-to-low 40s so snow is unlikely. As of Wednesday, it didn’t look like wind would be much of a factor; topping out around 10mph, but the real issue could be the slick field turf inside MetLife Stadium if the drizzle turns to downpour.
A few weeks ago, we mentioned how weak the Giants are on the road in rain games, but they’re a completely different side at home where they average about 29 points per game. Eli Manning deserves a ton of credit for that, earning his best weather-related numbers in East Rutherford. In his last five home rain games, Manning averages 238 yards and two touchdowns while completing 19 of 29 attempts while posting a 4-1 record. Against Detroit’s secondary that allows over 250 passing yards per game, Manning will have no issues spreading the ball around to superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and his other emerging young wide-out, Sterling Shepard.
Perhaps the most impressive weather stat of all has nothing to do with Manning, rather, the New York football Giants have not lost at home in the rain since 2009. Much of this is because of how well the team often times dominates the time of possession game while giving the opposition a heavy dose of the run in the rain. Rashad Jennings is a running back built for any era with his large frame yet quick, shifty feet. Lucky for him, he’s on an offense that regardless of which back is taking snaps, the entire backfield seems to always find success. Since 2012, only once in six games did an individual RB not accumulate 100 yards or more.
As for Detroit’s run game, the visitors might be without top running back, Theo Riddick, who missed last week’s game against Chicago. USA Today’s Steve Gardner believes Riddick questionable tag could mean that Dwayne Washington could be the lead back for the Lions.
The Lions, who play their home games in dome, are miserable in weather impacted road matchups. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, in Detroit’s four most recent games that features precipitation, the team is 0-4 and surrendered 34 points or more in three of those.
Offensively, with the exception of an absolute drumming they suffered to Baltimore in 2009, the team still manages to put up decent numbers in the rain or snow, averaging roughly 22 points per game. But with a banged up Matthew Stafford and Riddick heading into week 15, the offense doesn’t seem quite as dynamic as it’s previously been all season. If Stafford does play in the rain and tape up his injured finger, his numbers historically fall well short of impressive. Over his last two rain games, Stafford is 29-of-71 for 513 yards, two scores and a pick.
Both teams can afford a loss but that’s the last thing on Detroit’s and New York’s minds. A win for the Giants inches them a game closer to leapfrogging Dallas in the NFC East. A loss means a division title is likely out of reach. A win for the Lions and it’ll feel like one hand is already on the division crown. A loss and bitter rivals Minnesota and Green Bay are back in the division title discussion. Neither team can afford a mistake, but with terrible weather looming, that’s easier said than done.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-10-2016 22:05
Start ‘em: Carson Palmer, Jameis Winston
Facing a poor secondary could be the right play for the Arizona QB. He hasn’t won you too many games this year but if Flacco can succeed against the Dolphins, so can Palmer.
Winston has been a stud all season and at home against New Orleans’ awful secondary; the former Heisman winner will thrive. With zero weather concerns expected, Winston might get close to 40 attempts in ideal passing conditions.
Sit ‘em: Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor
Even though he has the weapons, Siemian hasn’t really put it together this year consistently. Having to rely on the defense to win games, his point expectations this week makes me want to keep him benched.
Pittsburgh doesn’t exactly have the best secondary but snow is expected to hit Buffalo all weekend. The Bills will lean on a heavy dose of McCoy over Taylor this week.
Start ‘em: Jonathan Stewart, Matt Forte
We didn’t like him against Seattle’s solid defense last week but against San Diego’s inconsistent defensive unit, J-Stew is back on track for a big afternoon with zero weather concerns.
A young QB is getting back under center for the Jets and who better to rely on than your “do it all” running back? A big plus here, he faces one of the worst defenses in the league in San Francisco.
Sit ‘em: Mark Ingram, James Starks
Tampa has a great run defense and I don’t see Ingram winning you a playoff game here. Rather, I see New Orleans throwing a ton in this one having to play from behind.
The Seahawks thwarted Jonathan Stewart a week ago and the same will go for Starks. Even though GB is expected to run a decent amount because of snow and bitter cold in the forecast, Christine Michael could steal a handful of carries against his old team.
Start ‘em: Julian Edelman, Tyler Lockett
Now that he is healthy, Seattle can put Lockett to good use against a Green Bay secondary that lacks the ability to stop the pass. He also has special teams upside that can put you over the top.
Sit ‘em: Brandon Cooks, Allen Robinson
Cooks has struggled to consistently to be involved in this offense and is no longer the #1 receiver. He is better on the turf and has been posting boom or bust numbers this year.
Blake Bortles has turned into the king of garbage time points but aside from that, the passing game in Jacksonville has been virtually nonexistent. Despite the perfect weather conditions, Xavier Rhodes will be covering Robinson all afternoon which hasn’t bode well for other top receiving targets this season.
Start ‘em: Ladarius Green, Jason Witten
Green was targeted 11 times last week and appears to be Big Ben’s new favorite redzone weapon. Seeing that same number of targets this week might be a stretch, but moving forward, he’s a must own a potential must start every week. Not to mention, with snow in the forecast, Big Ben might be looking for shorter routes to his sure-handed tight end.
Last week was the first game that Witten didn’t record a single catch. I believe they will make it up to him in a big rivalry game.
Sit ‘em: Dwayne Allen, Will Tye
Having gone off last week, Allen will be heavily owned in daily fantasy. Three TD’s in a game is hard to replicate, especially since he only saw four targets all day. Don’t fall for the trap!
Unless Tye falls into the endzone, his expectations are pretty low. Do you want to risk your playoff hopes on this play?
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-10-2016 22:00
|Matt’s Value Players:|
Cousins’ yardage prediction this year is the best in his career and the Eagles are getting worse on offense. This gives Washington more time and possession on offense, resulting in more opportunities for Cousins to rack up some points. As for Miller, Indianapolis is poor at best against the run and if he gets between 18-22 touches, he has the chance to smash value. Gabriel could also see a ton of action now that Sanu is out and Jones is not 100 percent, according to USA Today’s Steve Gardner. Expect more looks for the speedy receiver against LA. Lastly, at home against the Bears in a game where Stafford could throw more than 40 times, Ebron will eat Chicago up if given the opportunity.
|Will’s Value Players:|
Manning tossed a trio of TD’s against the Cowboys already this season, and that was down in Dallas. Having found the endzone multiple times in five straight games, there’s a good chance he’ll make it six this week. Snow is expected to hit Cleveland on Sunday and with uncertainty at the QB position, the Crow could get a ton of touches against the Browns’ in-state rival. As a slot receiver, Cobb won’t see much of Richard Sherman this week and with Earl Thomas banged up, there’s a good chance he’ll be Rodgers’ top target in frigid Green Bay. Kendricks might not be a glamorous play, but he’ll be low-owned and dirt cheap meaning having the LA tight end in your lineup will allow you to stack the rest of your roster with expensive superstars.
Matt’s Pick: NYG +3 vs DAL
At home in a divisional game that New York already beat in Dallas? Ya, I like the G Men to keep up with Dallas and possibly win outright.
Will’s Pick: CAR -1.5 vs SD
San Diego is a total wildcard this season. One week they’re downing playoff bound teams and the next week they’re losing at home to a sub-.500 team. With Carolina needing to prove itself after last week’s embarrassment in Seattle, Cam and company will come out guns blazing this week.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-10-2016 12:00
A handful of NFL games this weekend will likely see some snow but in a do-or-die clash between two AFC playoff hopefuls in Tennessee, neither the Broncos nor the Titans can afford a loss in what’s expected to be a riveting rain-soaked showdown.
According to NFLWeather.com, the forecast has been wobbling back and forth between overcast skies and a light rain but precipitation is expected to hit Nashville sometime during Sunday afternoon. Wind shouldn’t be much of a factor, topping out around eight mph, and same goes for the local temperature which should hover around the low-to-mid 40s. But if rain hits the 419 Tifway Bermuda grass inside Nissan Stadium early in the day, we could be in for a sloppy must-win matchup.
If the season ended today, Denver (8-4) would wind up as the sixth seed heading into Baltimore while Tennessee (6-6) would miss out on the postseason based on tiebreakers within the division. In order to make the playoffs, the Titans need to win out and have Indianapolis lose once. If the Broncos win their final four games, they’re a lock for at least a wildcard spot but a loss on Sunday results in a remote chance for the AFC West crown and invites seven AFC competitors into contention for the sixth seed (pending Sunday’s results).
That being said, we’re in must win territory for both teams and Mother Nature won’t be making it any easier for either side.
Denver is historically a strong side in weather impacted matchups but the rain seems to cause problems. A few weeks ago heading into a weather-related game with freezing temperatures on the radar, NFLWeather.com stats showed the Broncos were 5-2 in recent cold weather matchups but in the rain over the last few seasons, the team is just 2-3 and has allowed 30 points or more in three of those five games. Denver’s D has been pretty stout this season so the real concern could be on the other side of the ball with a QB under center still recovering from an injury.
However, USA Today’s Steve Gardner made a promising point for Bronco’s fans in his article this week regarding the health of quarterback Trevor Siemian, who missed last week’s game in Jacksonville. “He’s shed his walking boot which is good news for the receivers after Paxton Lynch threw for just 104 yards last week,” Gardner wrote. Even with rain present, Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryius Thomas are poised for big afternoons against an inexperienced secondary that recently cut veteran cornerback Perrish Cox and has to scramble to find a youngster capable of stepping up and slowing down one of the NFL’s most dynamic receiving duos. But a banged up Siemian could also result in Devontae Booker seeing close to 30 touches after having carried the ball 24 times in two of his last three games.
Unlike the Bronco’s offense, the Titans are healthy and seem to be on the up and up. However, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Titans have been victorious only once in their last five rain games and on average surrender close to 30 points per game. It certainly hasn’t helped that the offense has been as stagnant as the rain puddles that will collect on the field on Sunday, averaging a mere 18 points per game.
But that was the old Titans, not the division title chasing Titans of today anchored by a Heisman winning QB that hasn’t turned the ball over in three straight games. November’s Player of the Month, Marcus Mariota, has thrown multiple TD’s in eight straight games but will that trend continue in a downpour? Mariota played in one rain a year ago and finished the afternoon with three TD’s but two INT’s and a 46% completion percentage just won’t cut it when you’re competing for a division title. Unlike last year, Mariota has weapons in his arsenal with bruising running back DeMarco Murray in the backfield that not only still grinds out the tough yards but has also been a threat in the passing attack. Tight end Delanie Walker is still the go-to target and will be just that once again in Sunday’s crummy conditions.
Not many people thought Tennessee would be in playoff contention at this point, but here we are. It’s the biggest game of the Titan’s season thus far and it’ll also be the dampest. If they can avoid the weather disrupting their mojo and avoid Von Miller getting to Mariota, Tennessee could earn some major respect this week as they inch closer to the summit of the AFC South.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-02-2016 18:00
|Matt’s Value Players:|
$5,200 price tag of Fitz is so cheap for a guy going against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. As for Hill, at this price combined with the touches he should get now that Gio Bernard is out makes Hill a tremendous value play. In what will be a colossal shootout for Detroit at New Orleans, there is going to be plenty of looks to go around and Jones will see close to a dozen of them. McDonald has emerged as one of the go-to guys for San Francisco now and averaging just over six targets since week seven puts him in a good spot as a cheap daily play.
|Will’s Value Players:|
or only $5,300 and going against a Miami D that was absolutely torched by Kaep, Flacco is a great play with likely a low percentage in ownership. Starks is the top dog in GB’s ground game but he hasn’t put up Lacy-like numbers just yet. Houston’s defense is good but not great and with flurries in the Sunday forecast, Starks has a chance to see 20+ touches and finally prove to coaches that the Packers no longer need to keep trading for RB’s. Like Shepard who’s a must-start, Cruz is a sneaky play in daily and against Pittsburgh’s weak secondary, he could easily go off with all eyes on OBJ. Green was the Steelers’ big off season acquisition and made his debut last week against Indianapolis. He should play more of a role this week now that he’s back to full health.
Matt’s Pick: OAK -3 vs BUF
Oakland’s offense will be too much for the Bills. McCoy and company will fade later in the second half allowing the Raiders to put this one away. Lock it up!
Will’s Pick: ARI -2.5 vs WAS
On the road, Washington isn’t very impressive defensively on the road and Palmer has averaged two touchdowns a game over the last four weeks. Arizona is finally getting it together, probably too little too late, but all of a sudden they’ve looked like the threatening team we expected to see week one.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-02-2016 00:00
Start ‘em: Phillip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick
Tampa has been above average against the run this year and I see them forcing San Diego to thrown a ton in a potential shootout. He has a high floor this Sunday, have no fear.
Kaep looked like his old self last week against a decent Miami defense that allowed him to rack up over 110 yards rushing on top of his 296 through the air. With rain in Chicago’s forecast, Kaep could end up with 10+ carries.
Sit ‘em: Ryan Tannehill, Trevor Siemian
Baltimore is going to force Tannehill to throw the ball rather than letting the Dolphins run on them. I do not see him winning you any match ups this week.
Jacksonville’s D has eight sacks in the last two weeks and Denver’s o-line is looking shaky. With drizzle expected on Sunday, Siemian might not be taking as many deep shots down field as he normally does.
Start ‘em: Matt Forte, Jordan Howard
Simply put, Indianapolis just flat out stinks on defense this season. I can see Forte getting into the endzone this week and adding a few catches as well.
Even though SF held Miami to under 100 yards rushing last week, the Niners D has seen three teams rack up over 240 yards on the ground already this season. With Barkley under center in Chicago, Howard might end up seeing 30+ touches in the rain.
Sit ‘em: Frank Gore, Jonathan Stewart
The Jets have a stout front seven that should eat the Colts’ line alive. I do not anticipate Gore going off in this spot.
Stewart is a tough guy to sit because he dominates all the carries in Carolina but the Panthers will struggle mightily against Seattle’s stout rushing defense in the rain. If J-Stew couldn’t produce against LA’s tough front seven, expect similar disappointing results against the Seahawks.
Start ‘em: Emmanuel Sanders, Sterling Shepard
Sanders has seen double digit targets in three of the last four weeks. Look for plenty of the same here against Jacksonville.
It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s secondary is mediocre at best and regularly get lit up against strong passing teams like the Giants. Despite the crummy conditions, Shepard will see a ton of targets with safeties keeping tabs on Odell Beckham Jr. all afternoon.
Sit ‘em: Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin
With one touchdown all season and seeing less targets than last year means Landry’s upside is limited. Find someone else because there’s a good chance you will be disappointed by this play.
Like J-Stew, another tough playmaker to sit from Carolina’s offense but as USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned last week that the power of Richard Sherman is one to be feared as he allows a league-low 59.1 passer rating heading into week 12. There are better options in better weather games than Benjamin this week.
Start ‘em: Cameron Brate, CJ Fiedorowicz
Behind Mike Evans, Brate is the top receiving threat in Tampa’s passing attack. With clear skies in San Diego’s forecast, Winston will be airing it out early and often against the Charger’s swiss cheese D.
Houston will be down in this game and will have to pass a ton. Since Week five, CJ has not seen less than six targets. I like him a lot here..
Sit ‘em: Julius Thomas, Jack Doyle
Thomas is banged up and only saw five targets last week at Detroit who’s terrible against defending TE’s. Even if he suits up, he won’t be much of a factor against a solid Denver D.
With Allen back and the Jets pretty fair against the tight end, I see this play as a recipe for disaster. Anyone but Doyle will do.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-01-2016 18:00
They were ten picks apart from each other in the 2004 draft and share four Super Bowls between them.
To some, they already have an in to the Hall of Fame at the end of their decorated and memorable careers. But on Sunday when the weather conditions will be anything but favorable in the damp and dreary Steel City, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning will clash in what will be a classic heavyweight bout in the rain between two of the league’s most storied franchises.
According to NFLWeather.com, a drizzle is expected and temperatures will be in the high-30’s at kickoff but come fourth quarter, it will likely dip below freezing (just like we saw when Pittsburgh hosted Dallas two weeks ago). As of Wednesday, the wind didn’t seem to be much of a factor but the open end zone at Heinz Field is notorious for creating a wind tunnel and causing major trouble for either side’s kicking game. The real issue could be freezing rain as the temperature plummets and once that happens, snow could make a second half appearance.
The visiting New York Giants (8-3) have played in plenty of weather impacted games over the last few seasons but the difference between their performances at home and away is night and day. Since 2009 in rain games, the Giants are 5-4 but only 1-3 on the road. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, offensively the team averages almost 29 points per game at home compared to only 17 on the road.
One might speculate this 12 point difference could be because the team wants to run the ball more in an effort to win the time of possession battle while decreasing the possibility of throwing an interception. However, statistics show that on average Manning drops back only 29 times per game at home versus 43 on the road. Could this be from having to play catch up on the road thus having to abandon the run earlier than expected? Not likely, because New York is a traditionally tough rushing team to stop in crummy conditions. Since 2013 in poor weather outings, Big Blue is 3-0 when handing the ball off 35 times or more.
Over the last few seasons Pittsburgh (6-5) has also had plenty of ground game success in the rain. Since 2013 when Le’Veon Bell entered the league, the Steelers are 5-1 in the rain while averaging roughly 115 rushing yards per outing. Of those six, Bell only played in three and has managed 270 yards from 50 carries. He’ll be a major factor in both the running and passing attack but don’t count out his veteran backup returning to full health, DeAngelo Williams. USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned in a recent piece that he’s a must-have handcuff in fantasy leagues and given Bell’s history of injuries late in the year, Williams could end up being the guy down the stretch. He’s also been a stud in rain games, racking up 127 yards on 21 carries against New England last season.
But the main man in Pittsburgh’s rain game attack is still Big Ben. Since 2009, the Steelers are 10-4 in the rain and haven’t lost at Heinz Field in a drizzle since 2010. Not to mention, over those 14 games the offense has averaged just under 24 points per game but at home the average leaps to 30 ppg. Against New York’s shaky D, Roethlisberger is going to spread the ball around but it’s still safe to assume Antonio Brown will easily see over 10 targets. Keep an eye on a healthy Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh’s big off-season acquisition who made his debut on Thanksgiving.
Neither of the two teams sits atop their divisions yet this still feels like perennial Super Bowl matchup. Pittsburgh and New York are the only two franchises in NFL history to win the Super Bowl as a six seed. They’re two teams that are impossible to write off and frightening to go up against in the postseason. Here’s to hoping these two link up in Houston in a couple months, under slightly more ideal weather conditions.
© 2012 NFLWeather.comTM : Part of the USA Today Sports Media Group.
NFLWeather.com is not affiliated with the National Football League