by Will Strome | 11-22-2019 07:00
With both sides sitting atop their respective divisions, every set of football-loving American eyeballs will be glued to the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots heavyweight bout this weekend. Come game time, there's no question the stands in Foxborough will be rowdy and rocking. Those same stands will also be drenched in a torrential downpour.
Sunday features a massive matchup between two storied franchises who could genuinely meet again in the Super Bowl this season. But I'll guarantee you, if these two meet again, the playing conditions will be much more playable.
According to NFLWeather.com, a drizzle is expected all day Sunday with game time temperatures lingering in the high-30s. The precipitation percentage does take a dip as the game goes on, however, the lowest it drops is only 26% by the fourth quarter. As of Thursday,the likelihood of rain come kickoff is nearly 60%. With a constant wind swirling around 10-12 mph through the entirety of the game, and a tireless drizzle descending from above, the chances for a handful of turnovers will go up significantly.
The New England Patriots (9-1) returned to winning ways last weekend after narrowly escaping the Eagles on the road, 17-10. Despite the cold temps, and Tom Brady not throwing a touchdown, Bill Belichick's men still pulled out the win. Clearly the wind and cold didn't force NE to make changes to the game plan, as Brady still made 47 passing attempts for over 200 yards.
If the rain does happen to hurt the passing attack, Brady has plenty of options in his backfield to lean on. For example, if the drizzle turns into a downpour, the bruising back Belichick likes to use between the tackles, Sony Michel, could see the bulk of touches.
In the short passing game, rain or shine, James White will be utilized early and often. As for receivers though, Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett are all listed as questionable so there is no guarantee any will be available for Sunday night's showdown. However, Edelman is the most likely to be good to go given he was a limited participant in Thursday's practice.
For a team that plays it's game indoors, the Dallas Cowboys (6-4) can handle the natural elements just fine.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Dallas is 2-2 in their last four rain games and averaged just under 20 points per game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has experienced a topsy-turvy season thus far and given it's a contract year for him, what better way to prove to your boss that you're worth the big bucks than to storm into Gillette Stadium and stun the Patriots.
The Cowboys have been inconsistent this season but when they're on, they're on. If they're off, however, Sunday will be another easy win for Brady and his boys.
by Will Strome | 10-18-2019 15:00
Fall weather is in full force and it appears the greater Chesapeake region will get the full-on soggy experience. After struggling mightily for much of the season, the Washington Redskins offense will need all the help they can get against a stout San Francisco 49ers defense on Sunday. Too bad Mother Nature won’t be doing them any favors.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected in the District of Columbia all day Sunday, but the precipitation percentage does slowly decrease over the course of the day. However, the grass surface inside FedEx Field has seen some serious mud matchups over the years and this game is looking like it will follow suit.
Neither side has been historically impressive in precipitation but both teams do have plenty of recent rain game experience. The San Francisco 49ers are 3-5 in the rain since 2011 and 1-3 on the road. The Niners (5-0) are a team that’s built for bad weather. The defense has been one of the toughest in the league and as the offensive returns to full health, SF very well could finish the season at the summit of the NFC West.
Quarterback Jimmy Garappolo has carried himself well and having spent the majority of his career in New England he’s no stranger to bad weather. Even though Jimmy G is the star of the show, it’ll be a slew of running backs that carry San Francisco to 6-0 this week. Whether it’s Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert or Devin Coleman, all three will have plenty of opportunities to get a handful of touches.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Redskins are 3-7 since 2009 and 1-3 at home. With Jay Gruden out as head coach and a sad QB debate between Case Keenum, Colt McCoy or Dwayne Haskins; it’s safe to say Washington is in trouble. However, poor weather always favors the underdog and despite playing on their home turf, there’s no question the ‘Skins (1-6) are ‘dogs here. Maybe the coaching change will do some good for Washington but if not, it’s back to joining the ‘Phins in the “Tank for Tua” bowl.
by Will Strome | 10-12-2019 09:00
Winter weather is creeping in and even though it’s not snow, chilly precipitation is headed straight for the Big Apple this weekend.
The New York Jets (0-4) have been anxiously awaiting the return of their young quarterback, Sam Darnold, who is making his first start since his spell with mononeucleosis. What the struggling Jets have not been anxiously awaiting is rain all weekend just in time for the Dallas Cowboys (3-2) to come to town.
According to NFLWEATHER.com, clouds are expected all day Sunday with only a chance of rain. However, heavy rains are in the area all day Saturday and could easily last longer than a day. The heavy winds should die down by Saturday but the forecast for gameday is looking more and more iffy by the minute.
Not only will the return of Darnold be helpful to the NY Jets lowly offense, but the rain may actually have a positive impact. The Jets have not taken a ton of deep shots downfield and have stuck to a short passing game, predominantly to Le’Veon Bell. This plan of attack is perfect for poor weather matchups. The Jets are 3-6 in rain games since 2009 and 1-2 at home.
If Darnold drops back frequently, this is an opportunity for Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder to finally have a breakout game. Regardless of whether the weather is good or bad at Metlife Stadium it’s first and foremost the Lev Bell show in NY. There’s no question he’ll get his touches, even if the Jets are trailing.
According to NFLWEATHER.com Historical Analytics, Dallas is 2-2 in the rain since 2011. The last time the Dallas Cowboys played in the rain on the road, the offense managed to rack up 33 points. Pretty good for a team that plays their games indoors.
With a mobile QB in Dak Prescott and the bruising running style of Ezekiel Elliott, the ‘Boys are built for the rain. Especially since they have one of the best offensive lines in the game.
Dallas should easily handle Darnold’s hapless Jets but Mother Nature could seriously derail the Texan team’s game plan. Let’s not forget how close the Nick Faulk-led Jets hung with the New England Patriots a few weeks ago. This game is far from an easy win for the Cowboys.
by WIll Strome | 10-06-2019 08:00
Rain is headed straight for Kansas City on Saturday and expect those showers to continue soaking into Sunday’s showdown. Sunday night’s national broadcast between the Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) and the Indianapolis Colts (2-2) could feature plenty of points as well as lingering rain storms that might roll over from Saturday.
According to NFLWeather.com, mostly cloudy skies are in the all day forecast but by the second half thankfully the chance of precipitation finally drops to zero. However, with rain still a possibility throughout the day, a dry forecast isn’t out of the question just yet.
The Chiefs are extremely tough to beat in Arrowhead Stadium when rain makes an appearance. Since 2010, KC is 6-0 at home in the rain and in four of those soggy matchups managed to score at least 30 points of more. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to slow this offense down too much.
The Colts play their home games in a dome but the way the offense is built, Indy shouldn’t have too much trouble handling the unfavorable elements. Running back Marlon Mack averages 18 carries per game and will easily handle over 20 if the Colts can keep this game close. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has averaged over 41 passing attempts per game over his last two outings and will have no issues picking apart a weak KC defense, especially if T.Y. Hilton is healthy enough to go.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics,
by Wil Strome | 09-28-2019 22:00
Fall is here and the Midwest is currently experiencing the harsh reality of it. Illinois has been hit hard with heavy rains over the last few days and there is a good chance the terrible weather will linger around just long enough to impact a classic NFC North rivalry when the Chicago Bears (2-1) host the Minnesota Vikings (2-1).
According to NFLWeather.com, the Windy City will be partly cloudy all day with the chance of precipitation slowly decreasing over the course of the day. However, flood warnings were in full effect around the greater Chicago area on Friday and are still in effect into at least Saturday. Scattered thunderstorms are expected early Sunday so hopefully a later kickoff time of 4:25 p.m. ET will help to avoid the heavy rains.
Minnesota doesn’t have too many rain games under their belts over the recent years and are only 1-1 since 2013. Rain or shine though, running back Dalvin Cook will be the workhorse, in both the rushing and passing game. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, when under pressure, will likely check down to Cook or his reliable tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Unless the rain turns into a torrential downpour, wideout Adam Thielen will still see his fair share of targets. Stefan Diggs is the wildcard who could either be eliminated by the Bears stellar defense or ultimately be the difference maker on a rainy day.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Chicago is 4-4 in rain games since 2013 but only 1-4 over their last five including three straight losses.
During the Bears’ last rain game quarterback Mitch Trubisky still dropped back 43 times and threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown so bad weather won’t deter Chicago from opening up Matt Nagy’s offense. With Taylor Gabriel dinged up, Allen Robinson should see the majority of targets.
It’s easy to assume the Bears are a heavy favorite at home, but with heavy rains in the Sunday forecast, anything can happen. There’s a good chance Minnesota can keep this one close and close games typically favor the underdog.
by Will Strome | 09-19-2019 18:00
If opposing defenses can't slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' high octane offense, then maybe the rain can.
Sunday's heavyweight bout between the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) and the Baltimore Ravens (2-0) likely won't be the high scoring shootout fans were hoping for. Instead, Mother Nature's cameo appearance could turn this slugfest into a muddy slopfest.
According to NFLWeather.com, partly cloudy skies are expected throughout the day but late morning showers could linger into the early afternoon. As of Wednesday, the precipitation percentage at kickoff is currently 44% but with rain on the weekend forecast arriving as early as Friday, there's a chance the greater Kansas City area could be blanketed by rain until early next week.
Kansas City has won four of its last five rain games with the most recent being a 30-14 win over Jacksonville last October Mahomes finished the damp outing completing 22-of-38 attempts for 313 yards, one rushing touchdown and two interceptions. Travis Kelce saw his regular share of targets and will continue to see the same in this matchup but it will be Sammy Watkins as his #1 wideout. As for the rushing attack, KC ran the ball 30 times last rain game and the same should be expected in this one.
Baltimore is a team that's built for the rain. The Ravens have a rock solid defense and a bruising ground game, with the newest addition being veteran Mark Ingram. But the surprise of the season has been the man under center, Lamar Jackson. The former Louisville Cardinals gunslinger is a threat through the air and with his feet. With weather a factor, Jackson could be the difference maker.
The Chiefs might be favorites at Arrowhead, but don't count out Baltimore. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Ravens have won their last five straight rain games dating back to December 2013.
by Will Strome | 09-06-2019 08:00
The off-season clouds have parted and a new NFL season is upon us. However, week one may feature some potential storm clouds given that Hurricane Dorian continues to wreak havoc along the east coast. And that will mean a handful of games along the Atlantic Coast could be impacted. Opening weekend features three Florida teams at home with humidity expected in all three.The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon with temperatures hovering in the low-90s. According to NFLWeather.com, the temperature won't fluctuate too much over the course of the game but the thick humidity will make it feel more like mid-to-low 100s. A healthy Leonard Fournette lining up behind newly-acquired Nick Foles under center will hopefully provide a jolt to the Jaguars offense and let's hope it does or Kansas City will steamroll the hosts; like they did most teams last season.
In Miami, the humidity will be in full force for the Dolphins home opener against the Baltimore Ravens Here's another matchup with a game time temp of 90-91 but the humidity will make it feel like 102. Baltimore ended its season on a low last year, but with Lamar Jackson starting to open the season, it almost seems like a new era. Especially with newcomer Mark Ingram in the backfield who will get plenty of touches in the Florida heat on Sunday.
Like the other two Floridian cities, Tampa Bay will avoid the rain from the storm but not the lingering heat. The humidity won't nearly be as bad as in Jacksonville or Miami, but it will definitely be in attendance. The Buccaneers host the San Francisco 49ers with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo back running the SF offense.
The Carolina Panthers also have a home game but are hoping Hurricane Dorian will have moved along by Sunday. The hurricane was expected to hit the coast on Thursday, with North and South Carolina issuing storm surge warnings. With bad weather currently unlikely, clear skies look like the case for the Panthers opener against the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.
One surprising matchup that might be impacted by the storm is the Sunday night showdown between the defending World Champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers Over the course of the weekend, the storm will push north and may even impact the greater Boston-area by Sunday evening. As of now, NFLWeather.com is reporting possible drizzle later in the day. This matchup is definitely worth keeping tabs on.
by The NFLW Team | 01-20-2019 16:00
by Will Strome | 01-19-2019 08:00
There’s no question that the two most deserving teams will go head-to-head in the AFC Championship on Sunday There’s also no question that both teams can hold their own in the freezing cold, as noted from last weekend's victories in the AFC Divisional round.
According to NFLWeather.com, one week after KC was covered with snow, it appears another blizzard is headed for the heart of the Midwest. The new storm will bring snow Friday and Saturday but the precipitation should be gone by Sunday, as of Wednesday. However, if snow doesn’t fall on Sunday then the storm should leave a trail of freezing single-digit temperatures. By game day, temps should be in the low-teens but feel like single-digits through the entire game and close to zero by the final whistle. The wind will be light, 3-5mph, but just strong enough to make the 6:40pm EST kickoff seem like the AFC Championship game is being played in Siberia.
Both the Pats and Chiefs have already played once before in Foxboro but this one is in arctic conditions and a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line. No pressure.
But one player who never seems to let the elements or pressure get to him is Tom Brady. Even when the Patriots downed the LA Chargers, 41-28 last weekend in frigid New England Tom Terrific still attempted 44 passes and completed 34 of them for 343 yards and a touchdown. Even in the cold, the season veteran clearly still has it and will be trusted, regardless of playing conditions.
Brady deserves much of the credit, but not all. As a team, even without Brady (rare occasion), the Patriots are practically unbeatable in the cold. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, New England is 20-3 since the 2010 regular season when the thermometer dips below 32. They’ve also won seven straight.
Many might assume that the Pats impressive cold game record is because of Brady, but the ground game has held it’s own. Even when it’s not just one stud in the backfield carrying the load. Sony Michel has emerged as the lead back and with crummy condition likely, Michel will see another 20+ carries which would grant him his fourth 20+ touch outing over the last eight games. Rex Burkhead has been averaging about six touches a game since week 15, earning him the backup role, while James White has been prolific in the passing game and didn’t even see a carry last week.
While the roles in the ground game have become more defined for New England the same can’t be said for the passing attack. Sure Julian Edelman is the top target but there’s no true #2 behind him once Josh Gordon went down with an injury. White saw a team-high 17 targets last week and while he’ll still see close to double-digits, 17 won’t be replicated. Tight end Rob Gronkowski hauled in his only target last week and hasn’t seen five or more targets since week 15. With a chance of snow likely, Gronk will need to be utilized more in the short passing game this week. That leaves Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett who both average about five targets per game over the last three weeks and one could be the difference maker in this game.
The Pats took the first meeting between these two juggernauts, 43-40, but it was that very game that proved to the doubters that Kansas City can hang with the best despite the loss.
If Patrick Mahomes remembers anything from that October showdown, he’ll remember his two costly turnovers. Mahomes might be young, but he’s not dumb and knows full well in order to get to the Super Bowl, turnovers won’t fly. The young gunslinger needs a near perfect performance against the NE defense, a performance that could put the feather in the hat of his MVP campaign. Even in the snow, Andy Reid trusted him to drop back well over 40 times so expect the same this week.
Mahomes is lucky to have arguably the league’s top WR-TE combo in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Last week, the snow had zero negative impact on either All-Pro and nothing will change this week (Hill saw 13 targets, Kielce saw 10). One wide out to keep tabs on is former first round pick Sammy Watkins, who’s only listed at $4,000 in daily fantasy this week. Watkins snagged six catches from eight targets last week and will only be involved more now that his injury is long gone.
But the strength of KC’s offense over the last few weeks has been the ground game. Spencer Ware is still listed as questionable, leaving Damien Williams as the starter once again. Over the last four games, Williams averages just under 15 carries a game and has produced two 100+ yard performances. Without Williams’ production, despite Mahomes’ success, KC could be in trouble without an established ground game against a franchise that’s no foreigner on the stage of a big game.
With two of the top offenses on the opposite sides of the field, this potential shootout could come down to kicking, which has been the common theme of the playoffs this season. Let it be known, KC’s Harrison Butker is 24/27 on field goals this season and 65/69 on extra points while NE’s Stephen Gostkowski is 27/32 on FGs and missed only one extra point this year. The cold makes kicking the ball much more difficult (ball won’t travel as far through the air) so no FG or extra point should be taken for granted. Just ask Chicago and Indianapolis fans.
by Will Strome | 01-12-2019 10:00
Whether it’s rain or snow, the midwest is destined to be a winter wonderland this weekend. With a heavy wintery mix headed straight for < ahref="http://www.nflweather.com/en/game/2018/divisional-playoffs/colts-at-chiefs">Kansas City it will take much more than Luck for either the Colts or Chiefs to advance to next weekend’s AFC Champion game.
Wildcard weekend featured mild weather in Baltimore and Chicago but this weekend’s Divisional round in Kansas City will more closely resemble a blizzard. A winter weather advisory has been issued in the greater KC area leaving playing conditions for this massive playoff matchup far from favorable.
According to NFLWeather.com, flurries are in the Sunday forecast featuring between 2-5 inches of snow expected Saturday before the 4:35pm EST kickoff. Snow will start early and continue on through the day, however, if temperatures rise as anticipated, the snow will turn to freezing rain meaning playing conditions only go from bad to worse. Temperatures come kickoff will be in the mid-30’s but feel much more like the high-20’s given the piercing wind chill. Even though temperatures may increase as Saturday rolls on, the wind will still be a factor around 10mph leaving players and fans alike feeling much more frigid than the thermometer may show.
But the Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) now cold. Since 2012, the Chiefs have played in 15 outdoor games when the temp dipped below freezing and won eight of them. The rain is no different and doesn’t seem to impact this franchise, given KC is 10-4 in rain games since 2010 and 5-0 at home. As the top-seeded team in the AFC, all the pressure is on the Chiefs to continue this trend in crummy conditions and beat a team that can’t handle the elements. At least in terms of history.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Colts are 0-2 in the snow since 2010, 0-4 in the rain since 2014 and 1-3 in outdoor freezing conditions since 2010. However, that one lone win, was in Kansas City back in 2013. It’s been done before and it could happen again.
While the Indianapolis Colts (10-6) are riding a high of winning 10 of their last 11 games, the team with a .500 road regular season record this year travels to the league’s top offense. However, while KC is home to the league’s top touchdown throwing quarterback, Indy’s is in second. Both teams boast a high octane offense, but with atrocious winter weather lingering, it’s all about which team can limit the turnovers and allow their suspect defense to take command.
It’s no secret that the Chiefs have the league’s second-worse defense in the league. It also doesn’t help that KC has lost two of it’s last three and surrenders the most yards to game to any team in the NFL. If the Chiefs can’t clamp down on a sturdy Indy offense, they’ll need their offense to take over. Something that’s been the common theme all season.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has far exceeded his expectations for 2018 and produced as 5,000 yard and 50 touchdown campaign. But with terrible weather on the horizon, it might take his legs over his sensational arm to beat the Colts this weekend. Mahomes is a scrambler, but also a turnover machine in big games. Against the Rams in a massive Monday night outing, Mahomes threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. That won’t fly against a sneaky stout Indy D.
Luckily, Mahomes has no shortage of help in the passing game. Wideout Tyreek Hill broke a KC record for receiving yards in a single season with 1,479 and eight times this season he’s seen eight targets or more. Weather will have no impact on Hill’s involvement in the game. Same goes for tight end Travis Kelce who was second in receptions for TE’s this year and over the last six games was targeted a total of 64 times. While all eyes will be on Hill and Kelce, Sammy Watkins ($4,500) and Demarcus Robinson ($4,100) could be the sneaky daily fantasy plays given both seen a decent number of targets when healthy.
But with weather a factor the real daily fantasy play should be running back Damien Williams. Priced at only $5,100 for a starting running back and with rain/snow in the forecast, Williams will be relied upon heavily and has seen double digit carries each of the last three weeks. Not to mention, Williams averages over a touchdown a game and with Spencer Ware listed as questionable heading into the playoff round, the workload falls on Williams. The team also has another Williams, Darrel, ready to roll on Saturday and will see plenty of touches is Ware can’t suit up.
While KC debates which Williams to roll with, Indianapolis found it’s lonesome stud in the backfield. Marlon Mack has become the perfect complement to the Colts passing game and with bad weather on the horizon, Mack will be the go-to guy. Over his last five games, Mack has three 100+ yard rushing performances and six total touchdowns. However, he’s also fumbled twice over that span and can’t afford a single turnover against the NFL’s most dynamic offense.
Behind KC’s top tier offensive attack is the Colts passing game. Stanford’s Andrew Luck had the second-most passing TD’s in the NFL this season but it’ll be his legs in this wintery mix that lead the Colts to a shock upset. In his last five games he’s accumulated almost 30 carries.
While the passing game has been subdued by the lack of offense, one stud emerged during the passing process. Wideout T.Y. Hilton has routinely shined but the rest of the bunch crumbled. However, it doesn’t matter if it’s Chester Rogers or Dontrelle Inman, both are dirt-cheap in DK and see plenty of targets when healthy, are worth a cheap flyer.
Despite beating Houston 21-7 and winning 10 of their last 11, the Colts aren’t being taken seriously. The Chiefs have lost two of their last three, proving their beatable.
If it comes down to a ‘double-doink’, I’ll take Indy’s Vinatieri over Harrison Butker all day. Let it snow! Vinatieri’s great uncle led General Custer’s band. Could an AFC Championship game in Foxboro against his former club, New England Patriots, be Vinatieri’s last stand?
by Will Strome | 01-05-2019 08:00
Weeks ago, it appeared as though the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles were going to be frozen out of the playoffs following a cold spell during the regular season.
Now, the one thing frozen for the red-hot Eagles trip to Chicago to take on the Bears Wildcard weekend might be Lake Michigan, if at all. After cold fronts moved through the Midwest and Northeast during December, January looks much more mild. At least for the first round of the NFL Playoffs.
According to NFLWeather.com, despite rain rolling into Chicago on Monday, conditions will be mild for the 4:40pm EST Sunday matchup with pregame tailgating temperatures in the low-40’s but once the sun goes down, temperatures will plummet into the 30’s and feel about 10 degrees colder with the wind chill. Come kickoff, temps will be in the high-30’s but will feel below freezing so the second half rolls around, freezing conditions are expected (as of Friday). Wind inside Soldier Field will be in the 10-13mph range but Chicagoans know that the weather can change in the drop of a hat.
Neither the Bears nor Eagles are foreigners to frozen playing conditions. Philadelphia beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 last postseason in freezing temperatures and Chicago is already 2-0 this season when the thermometer dips below 32 degrees. A little cold in the air likely won’t negatively impact this heavyweight bout, which is wonderful news for a playoff battle that pairs the league’s highest-rated quarterback against the league’s most punishing defense. This playoff game could be another one for the ages, given the last and only time the Bears beat the Eagles in a playoff game was the 1988 Fog Bowl. Even though fog isn’t in the forecast this time around, fans should expect to witness another classic.
Not much has phased the Chicago Bears (12-4) this season and this weekend’s weather will be no different. However, in the month of January when freezing temps are prevalent, the Bears are only 1-3 since 2011. But not all is bad for the Bears in the cold. Since 2010, Chicago is 10-9 in freezing conditions including 7-5 at home.
When unfavorable conditions are in the forecast, what’s better to have than a stout defense? Well, Da Bears have that and more. Chicago ranks first in points allowed per game (17.7), rushing yards allowed (80 ypg) and takeaways (36). Oh, they’re also third in sacks and sixth in forced fumbles.
But the Bears are more than that, they also have a solid ground and pound rushing attack. Jordan Howard is the lead back who despite finishing the season just shy of 1,00o yards rushing (935 total), the former Big Ten back racked up the sixth-most carries in the league with 250. Fellow RB, Tarik Cohen, saw his fair share of handoffs this season but Cohen is far more valuable in the passing game. He even led the team in receptions with 71 and was second on the team in receiving yards. Whether or not the wind picks up or precipitation makes an appearance, Howard will see a ton of carries and Cohen will be a force in the short passing game.
Even the Bears quarterback made his presence felt in the ground game. Only five more QB’s in the NFL had more rushing attempts than Mitchell Trubisky and the former UNC Tar Heel will likely have some designed rushing plays for him in Sunday’s game plan. Not that Trubisky wasn’t a solid passer (threw for over 3,200 yards and had a 24:12 TD-to-INT ratio), but as the weather worsens, Trubisky’s ability to run outside the tackles could be the X-factor Chicago needs to put an end to Philly’s repeat run.
It should also be noted that while Trubisky excelled both on the ground and through the air this year, he’s done it without a genuine number one wideout, which makes the young gunslinger’s 2018 campaign look even more impressive. Behind Cohen in receptions were veterans Taylor Gabriel (67) and Allen Robinson (55), neither of whom stole the show in a single game this season. But tight end Trey Burton was a decent reliable go-to for Trubisky, despite only averaging just under five targets a game. Cohen and Burton will likely continue to be the most called upon options in the passing attack, especially with weather a potential factor.
Unlike Chicago, the Philadelphia Eagles had one stud in the passing game who hauled in well over 100 receptions this season. Tight end Zach Ertz not only snagged 116 receptions for 1,163 yards, but was the most targeted tight end in the league with 9.8 targets per game. If having to cover Ertz isn’t enough, Philly still has Alshon Jefferey, Nelson Agholor and Golden Tate in it’s arsenal. With no shortage of options, the Eagles might be the one team this season to find seams in the Chicago secondary.
In order to make that happen, Super Bowl winning QB Nick Foles needs to shine under cloudy skies and immense pressure, which didn’t seem to be a problem for him one year ago. Fast forward to now, Foles is back in the driver seat for a sidelined Carson Wentz and since taking the offensive reins Foles leads the league in completion percentage (77%). Let’s not forget, he’s pulled the great escape and got Philly into the postseason by finishing the season 3-0 as a starter and passing for 962 yards over the last three games which is tops in the entire NFL. Last postseason, Foles had a 6:1 TD-to-INT ratio, a 71.9% completion, and it’s hard to see those numbers fluctuating negatively unless the weather or Chicago front seven shakes him up.
While the Birds’ passing game looks in full strength, the rushing attack is anything but. Once Jay Ajayi went down, a clear cut starter never stood out from the rest of the pack. Wendell Smallwood was the official Week 17 starter but Josh Adams has been the most efficient. Adams finished the season with the most carries on the team (120) and will likely carry the load Sunday. But the wildcard in the Philly backfield could be veteran speedster Darren Sproles who despite only tallying 16 carries and five receptions over the last few weeks, he has the ability to be the difference maker in a single play. In a game featuring the NFL’s best defense, all it might take is one play.
The last few Super Bowl champions proved that the old cliche ‘defense wins championships’ isn’t always correct. But the Bears have the defensive foundation that’s delivered an NFC North title this season and possibly more. The road ahead will be a long and frigid one if Da Bears want to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Chicago. The first step, downing the former champs who happen to have the hottest QB in the league.
Can the best D in the league stop the QB who stormed through the playoffs last season and this time around snuck the Eagles into the postseason? Philly is heating up at the right time and the crummy conditions won’t slow them down. Let’s see if Khalil Mack and company can.
by Will Strome | 12-28-2018 17:00
The final week of the regular season is here and there will be zero calm before the weekend storm.
Everything is on the line Sunday night in Nashville when the Tennessee Titans host the Indianapolis Colts with the winner earning an AFC wildcard spot in the playoffs. There won’t be an empty seat in the house inside Nissan Stadium which will make an electric atmosphere for this play-in game. The only problem, there’s a chance Winter Storm Eboni will also be in attendance.
According to NFLWeather.com, overcast skies will turn to rain clouds late afternoon on Sunday, just in time for the 8:20pm EST kickoff. As the day goes on, the chance of precipitation only increases but with temperatures in the mid-40’s there’s little to no chance of the rain turning to snow. Over the last few days blizzards have blasted the midwest and even forced a college football bowl game in Texas to cancel. As of Thursday, Tennessee is bracing for heavy rain and whipping winds (as high as 45mph) which already prompted the cancelation of Friday’s Battle of the Bands prior to Saturday’s Music City Bowl. Long story short, this massive matchup is going to have some seriously bad weather.
Unfortunately for the Indianapolis Colts (9-6), bad weather, especially rain, is their kryptonite. The Colts are 0-5 in their last handful of rain games but only lost three of those by seven points or less. However, the team is heating up, having won three straight games and eight of their last nine to put themselves in a position to control their own destiny. They also have a quarterback who is < ahref="http://www.nflweather.com/en/searches/99198">10-0 against the hosts.
Maybe this is the week the team from the comfy confines of their indoor dome can finally win an outdoor game in crummy conditions. If they have any hope of pulling it off, they’re going to need a little “Luck”, literally and figuratively speaking.
Andrew Luck is back to full health and playing like this old self which isn’t good news for the Titans The former Stanford QB has the second-most touchdown passes in the league and has his offense rolling like it was during the Peyton Manning era. Despite Luck not having a ton of high profile weapons to work with, the intelligent gunslinger finds ways to win by simply making the smart decisions and not turning the ball over.
Luck’s lone big-name target, T.Y. Hilton, has been a stud all season. Hilton only hauled in six touchdowns this season but managed to rack up over 1,200+ yards in 2018. For a little guy, Hilton makes big time plays and will be called upon to do so this week. Rain or shine.
But a new weapon emerged over the course of the year at the tight end position for Indy. Eric Ebron has revitalized his career with the Colts and led the team in receiving TD’s with 12. He’s also been targeted 104 times this year, fourth most in the NFL. With rain a major factor on Sunday, Ebron will be force-fed the ball early and often in the passing game.
As for the Indianapolis rushing attack, Marlon Mack has taken control of the starting job and could see 20+ touches given the terrible playing conditions. Mack hasn’t been the most dynamic back in the league, but the youngster only fumbled once the entire year. If he can protect the rock in the rain, Indianapolis just might be able to stroll into the postseason with a shock win on the road.
The Tennessee Titans (9-6) may need to rely on the ground game a little more than the visitors. Quarterback Marcus Mariota left Sunday’s game with a shoulder stinger, forcing Blaine Gabbert into the game. As of Thursday, Mariota is still listed as questionable, which would leave the fate of the Titans playoff hopes in the hands of a former first-round bust. Not ideal.
If Mariota is healthy enough to play, thankfully for Tennessee fans the former Heisman Trophy winner won’t be phased by a little rain, having played his college ball in the soggy Pacific Northwest for Oregon. Bad weather is nothing new to Mariota, or the Titans who managed to shut out the New York Giants on the road this season with rain dripping down for most of the game.
According to the "NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Titans are 2-2 in their last four rain games including 1-1 at home. It might not be the most impressive statistic, but at least they’ve been able to do something in the rain that Indianapolis can’t. Win.
One stat that makes the Titans a favorite heading into a damp Week 17 is that their stout defense has only surrendered 28 total touchdowns this season, fewest in the league. Tennessee also has the league’s most dominant running back in the month of December, Derrick Henry. The combination of a smothering defensive unit and a tough mudder in the backfield makes for an ideal foundation in a game with horrendous weather in the forecast.
In the month of December, Henry has found the end zone eight times and tallied 532 rushing yards, both a league’s best for backs in December. As Henry’s stock rises, Dion Lewis has faded into a third down back but still sees action in the passing game. Over the last five games, Lewis has averaged five catches per outing but only once during that stretch has he seen double digit carries. Rain shouldn’t diminish either players’ playing time with Henry set to see the bulk of carries and Lewis the go-to in the passing game.
The rain will dictate how Tennessee approaches the passing game, especially if Mariota is out. Unlike the Colts, the Titans do not have a solid security blanket at the tight end position. Both Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith have landed on IR so it’s up to the unproven Luke Stocker to step up. Stocker has only seen four targets in three games, leaving him as a terrible option to play in daily fantasy.
At the wide out position, Corey Davis is the number one wide out but statistically you would never know. With only four TD receptions this season and 843 total yards, Davis desperately needs to shine in the spotlight and what better a day to do it then Sunday’s do-or-die heavyweight bout. Behind him, Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor are on the depth chart but neither WR has stepped up as a solid number two. This week is the perfect week for one wideout to finally make a name for himself.
It’s clear both teams have glaring strengths and weaknesses but in a win or go home game in the rain it’s all about who can make the least amount of mistakes. An entire NFL season has come down to one game, and it could be one simple mistake that ruins an entire body of work that was earned over four grueling months.
Let’s just hope this mud bowl in Nashville is a classic, and not an ugly mess like the weather certainly will be.
by Will Strome | 12-19-2018 18:00
With one team clinging to a wildcard spot and the other still dreaming of home field advantage, plenty is on the line Sunday when the Chiefs clash with the Seahawks in a heavy rain storm. Both franchises are fresh off a loss last week and another defeat could see the losing side’s season spiral down the storm drain.
It looks like both the Chiefs and Mother Nature could literally and metaphorically rain on Seattle’s playoff parade.
According to NFLWeather.com, a light rain will roll in early Friday morning and will continue throughout the entire weekend. Temperatures will be in the mid-40’s come the 5:20pm late kickoff and a lingering breeze will only top out around 8-10 mph, leaving the endless downpour as the game’s lone weather concern. If fans are hoping the heavy rain will die down come the second half, they’ll be disappointed and drenched given the chance of precipitation only increases as the game goes on.
Sitting at the top of the AFC summit is the Kansas City Chiefs (11-3), but a Week 16 loss in the rain not only might wash away a first-round bye but a home playoff game as well (in the wildcard round at least). After KC’s last-gasp loss at home to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, the AFC postseason waters got a whole lot more murky. If the Chiefs plan on keeping a firm hold on the top spot, the visitors can’t let the crummy conditions let the game or the pigskin slip away.
Braving bad weather is something the Chiefs are used to. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Seattle D that held Minnesota to only seven points two short weeks ago.
The Seattle Seahawks (8-6) aren’t in quite as comfortable a postseason position as the Chiefs but a win against KC in the rain and the ‘Hawks can breath easier. In fact, one win in the next two games might be all it takes to slip into the playoffs. So what better time than now for Seattle to pick up a soggy win at home, a very familiar feeling for the ‘Hawks who regularly have a handful of rain games a year.
Poor playing conditions are definitely not something that throws off Seattle’s game day approach. Since 2010, the Seahawks are 9-4 when rain is in the forecast and 8-3 at home over that span.
Unlike KC the Seattle QB has plenty of experience competing in crummy conditions in December. Russell Wilson is an ideal player lining up under center when unpredictable weather is in the forecast. Wilson is shifty, can read defenses well and rarely turns the ball over. Over Wilson’s last six games, the former Super Bowl winner has only tossed one pick. If Seattle plans to shock KC, Wilson will need to play a perfect game. Not perfect in the sense that he has to throw for 350+ yards and multiple TD’s, but perfect in the sense that he needs to have a goose egg in the turnover category.
While the Chiefs have superstars in the tight end and wide receiver position, the Seahawks do not. Veteran WR Doug Baldwin has four TD’s in four games but had a silent start to the season and still has never emerged as a top wideout. Behind him, Tyler Lockett, who not once has seen double digit targets all season. Both Seattle TE’s Ed Dickson and Nick Vannett are only $2,500 in daily fantasy this week but should never be trusted in a fantasy championship matchup this week. Clearly, it’s going to have to be the ground game that will carry Seattle to a desperately needed and damp victory.
One bright spot to the Seahawks offense this season has been the rise of Chris Carson. Over his last five games, Carson has averaged 18 carries and it looks like his workload is only going to increase. Not to mention, Carson was targeted six times in the passing game and is a major contributor to Seattle’s sneaky offense. His backup, Rashaad Penny, is listed as day-to-day leaving Mike Davis as the third down back.
The Seahawks have a massive home field advantage playing inside < ahref="http://www.nflweather.com/en/stadium/centurylink-field'>CenturyLink Field with a storm rolling through and one of the league’s loudest fan bases raining down verbal abuse on the visiting team. But the Chiefs have THE loudest fanbase and bad weather doesn’t bother an outdoor team from the midwest.
The elements and fans won’t shake a strong a Kansas City side. Seattle needs something or someone special to do just that and keep their playoff hopes from washing down the sewer.
by Will Strome | 12-14-2018 20:00
Christmas is still more than a week away yet it already feels like the Grinch has paid a visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Once 7-2-1 and soaring towards to potential first-round bye, the Steelers are now avalanching towards missing out on the playoffs as the team braces for a massive and rainy Sunday showdown against the New England Patriots. The Steelers need all the help they can get against a Pats team that Pittsburgh seemingly can’t beat, but Mother Nature won’t be doing either side any favors.
Right now the Steelers look about as fragile and delicate as new fallen snow and if temperatures continue to drop, actual snow flurries could make an appearance. If the elements weren’t enough to battle, having Tom Brady in town only increases the likelihood that an offensive blizzard could roll through Pittsburgh and sweep away a playoff spot that looked so secure only a few weeks ago.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected early in the day with overcast skies blanketing the ‘Burgh all afternoon The weekend forecast calls for rain Friday, Saturday and Sunday but as of Thursday, the low over that three-day span is 32 on Sunday so given the late 4:25pm kickoff, there’s a small chance snow could descend but rain is much more likely (will be in the low 40’s at kickoff). Wind is usually a factor at Heinz Field but the breeze looks to be minimal, maxing out around 5-6 mph.
The real issue will be the grass playing surface which could have a huge impact on the kicking game. Just ask Steelers kicker Chris Boswell who missed two field goals last week in the loss at Oakland with the last try at the end of regulation missing horrendously after his cleats slipped in the turf. That was with in ideal playing conditions so it can only get worse with rain expected.
Like the Steelers the New England Patriots (9-4) had a tough and unexpected loss last week. New England lost on a last-gasp rugby-esc lateral play from Miami which kept the Dolphins playoff hopes alive. The win would have secured the division but now all the Pats needs to do is beat Pittsburgh and see Miami lose/tie this week and the division title is theirs. If New England wins and Tennessee loses/ties, it locks up a playoff spot for Bill Belichick’s men.
But a playoff spot isn’t secured unless the Patriots take care of business in the rain against Pittsburgh Week 15.
Thankfully for the New England faithful, even when crummy conditions are a factor like they will be Sunday, the Steelers can’t beat Tom Brady. Pats fans can rest easy, Tom Terrific is 11-2 all-time against Pittsburgh and has beaten the Steelers in five consecutive outings.
Despite Brady’s statistical dominance over the Steel City, it’s been a team effort. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Patriots have won an astonishing 10 straight rain games dating back to 2012 and since 2009, New England is 13-2 in the rain and has beaten the Steelers three soggy times over that impressive span.
In each of those three rain game wins over Pittsburgh (2017, 2015, 2010), not once did New England have a running back top 100-yards. Collectively, however, the NE RB corps has done plenty of damage against the Steelers Last year, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead each rushed for a touchdown and contributed nicely in the passing game along with James White. This time around in the rain, expect the versatile White to see action in both the passing and ground game with rookie Sony Michel likely to handle the bulk of the carries. Rex Burkhead should see the occasional handoff (possibly more than usual given the poor playing conditions) but if the Patriots need a goal line TD, lately fullback James Develin has been the go-to guy.
Just like in the backfield, the Patriots have an array of weapons at their disposal and Brady will utilize all of them. Trusted target Julian Edelman has returned to his #1 wideout role with Josh Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson and Chris Hogan all are regular contributors to NE’s offensive arsenal. But the ultimate wildcard in the passing attack is tight end Rob Gronkowski. When healthy, he’s the best in the business and after hauling in all eight targets last week, it’s safe to say he’s back and he’ll torch Pittsburgh in the frigid rain.
Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) have been a mess as of late and just can’t seem to beat New England, they are one of the toughest teams to beat in the rain. Since 2010, the Steelers are 12-4-1 in the rain and 9-2 at home. The only concern with that 12-4-1 record is that three of those four losses came against New England.
With a rain game against the Patriots and a trip to New Orleans still on the schedule before Christmas, Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes are on thin ice, regardless of previous success in bad weather. If the Steelers have any intention of playing in January, the fate of the team rests on the broad shoulders of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is the ideal QB for a rain game with his large frame making him difficult to bring down and ability to extend plays with his feet. Despite taking a few shots to the ribs last week and missing Wednesday’s practice, Ben will be good to go Sunday but desperately needs to improve upon his 7:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last four games or the once promising Steelers season will only be a distant memory.
To take the pressure off Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh needs to establish some sort of ground game which has been nonexistent over the last few weeks. James Connor is still listed as questionable and didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice leaving Jaylen Samuels and former-Pat Stevan Ridley as the lead dogs in the Steelers backfield. Without Connor, the Steelers ground game is a stagnant rain puddle and unfortunately for them, they’ll also be playing in one on Sunday.
While the rushing attack hasn’t been consistent as of late, at least Big Ben’s receivers continue to torment opposing secondaries. Nobody is surprised by Antonio Brown’s feats but JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the head-turner this season. Despite Pittsburgh not having a true #3 wideout, AB and JuJu have done more than enough to carry this mediocre offense. Another surprise has been the emergence of tight end Vance McDonald who’s averaged over five targets a game since week six. The heavy the rain will get, the more McDonald will be Ben’s go-to for short yardage.
Both the Steelers and Patriots sit atop their divisions yet this game doesn’t have the same feel as the last few matchups. Is it because Pittsburgh is in a funk? Is it because both teams lost in brutal fashion a week ago? Or is it because Pittsburgh just isn’t as good as everyone thought they were?
The time is now or never for Pittsburgh and quite possibly Mike Tomlin as well. A loss this week to make it four in a row and there’s a good chance the Grinch will swing through Pittsburgh not only to steal a playoff spot, but a few coaches’ jobs as well.
by Will Strome | 12-07-2018 18:00
The Saints don’t think there is a chance it might rain on game day, they all but guarantee it will.
To get ready for the damp divisional matchup, New Orleans head coach Sean Peyton is preaching to his players that preparing for unfavorable playing conditions is just as important as prepping for the next opponent.
So important, that Thursday the Saints are stepping outside and practicing in less than ideal conditions in preparation for the division rival Buccaneers and a December rain storm down in < ahref="http://www.nflweather.com/en/team/Buccaneers">Tampa Bay on Sunday.
According to NFLWeather.com, thunderstorms are in the early Sunday forecast with rain likely to linger all afternoon. As of Thursday, there was well over a 90% chance of precipitation and a 12-14 mph breeze is expected. Temperatures will hover in the mid-to-low 70’s which seems pleasant for early winter, but a swirling wind and endless downpour will get real old real fast for players and fans gutting it out in the rain.
Coach Peyton is having his players focus on wet ball drills for ball security and testing out a couple different lengths of cleats to handle the slippery grass surface inside Raymond James Stadium He’s so focused on the elements and even knows which way the wind will be blowing come kickoff.
"The wind will be blowing from the Tampa Bay ocker room towards the pirate ship," Peyton said during a press conference this week. Sounds like he’s plenty ready for Mother Nature, but will he have his defense ready to square up against the league’s best passing attack?
The New Orleans (10-2) passing game has been consistently one of the league’s most dangerous for years but who would have thought the Saints don’t even have the best passing attack in their own division this season? Quarterback Drew Brees has been his exceptional self for most of the season but did put up a dud last week in a surprising loss to Dallas. Brees has racked up 340 yards or more five times this season and if the rain subsides a bit, against the NFL’s fifth-worst defense against the pass (average over 274 yards per game), the future Hall of Famer will give fantasy owners something to smile about.
Unless the wind and heavy rain slow Brees down, the veteran should have no trouble picking apart the Tampa secondary. Aside from the last two weeks, Michael Thomas has stolen the show as Brees’ top target and been virtually unstoppable. But once Ted Ginn Jr. went down for the season, nobody really stepped up as the number two and teams have wisely began doubling Thomas. Two weeks ago Tre’Quan Smith had a field day against Philadelphia then was only targeted once against Dallas Even tight end Ben Watson hasn’t been able to become a consistent presence in the offense, having only hauled in two catches over the last four games. Aside from Thomas, fantasy-wise, nobody should be trusted in the passing game.
The ground game for the Saints though is a completely different story. It doesn’t matter if it’s Alvin Kamara or Mark Ingram, both have had tremendous success when healthy or dealing with a suspension. Kamara will be a force in both the passing and rushing attack, but Ingram’s carries could be dictated by the weather. The worse the conditions, the more carries Ingram will see, and with terrible weather extremely likely then the Saints’ road to the playoffs will have to include a week 14 grinder in the rain.
Somehow, someway, Tampa Bay (5-7) is still in the NFC playoff hunt. There’s no question they are a long shot, but there’s still hope. If the Bucs can win out, 9-7 might be enough to sneak in but they’ll need help in the form of losses by similar fringe teams like the Vikings, Redskins, Eagles and Panthers.
If the Buccaneers hope to pull off the great escape and sneak into the NFC playoffs, the fate of the entire team lies in the hands of Jamies Winston. Winston might not be the most reliable QB to show quality leadership when it matters most, but now is his chance to put the past behind him, show critics his maturity and prove to his doubters he is indeed the franchise QB in TB. He does has a 6:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last three weeks and finally might be returning to the phenom he was at Florida State.
But he’ll need help.
Like Thomas in New Orleans there’s no question Mike Evans is the star wideout in South Florida and the QB’s go-to guy. Now that DeSean Jackson is down thought, it’s Adam Humphries and Chris Godwin next up and both have already proven themselves as thirsty targets for Winston. Tight end Cameron Brate on the other hand has been a hit-or-miss guy in fantasy and doesn’t see enough targets to be worth starting in fantasy.
The sneaky fantasy play in the Tampa offense this week is starting running back Peyton Barber. Let’s face it, Winston has a history of turnovers and with rain in the forecast, the Bucs will force-feed the ball to establish the ground game. Barber is the proven lead dog and has seen double digit carries every game since week six. Listed at only $3,600 in daily fantasy, if Barber just falls into the end zone he’s a worthy play and allows owners to spend big elsewhere. The heavier the downpour, the more likely a chance Barber will see his first career 20+ carry game.
To many fans’ surprise, this game is a kind of a toss-up. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, neither team has had tremendous recent rain game success with the Saints posting a 1-2 soggy record since 2013 while the Bucs are 2-4. At home though, Tampa Bay is 2-2 over that span with the last game being a 25-23 win over the New York Giants last year. This game is no gimme for New Orleans.
If you think Tampa Bay doesn’t have a chance, maybe you forgot week one when the Bucs stormed into NO and hung 44 points on one of this season’s best defenses and pulled out a win with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Nobody thought New Orleans would lose last week to a dismal Dallas side, but it happened.
The Bucs have everything to play for this week because a loss basically all but pulls the plug on a topsy-turvy 2018 season. But a win over New Orleans, a massive upset win over the hated rivals, and they’re still alive.
In all honesty though, it’s much more likely the Saints play the role of Grinch and steal whatever hopes and dreams TB still has of postseason glory. Man oh man, the holidays can be so cruel.
by The NFLW Team | 12-07-2018 08:00
The people over at Usa Today have posted a great article with images of weather games through the years.
by Will Strome | 11-30-2018 10:00
Winter isn’t coming, winter is here.
Weeks have come and gone and both the East Coast and Midwest have seen their fair share of snow days already. But as the monthly calendar turns to December, a much more mild front is about to sweep through. The good news, temperatures will be higher than usual. The bad news, rain will be in the Sunday forecast when the New England Patriots host the Minnesota Vikings in a massive non conference matchup with major playoff implications on the line for both contenders.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected all Sunday afternoon but there’s a chance that the downpour could reduce to drizzle by the time kickoff rolls around at 4:25pm. While Thanksgiving weekend resembled a winter wonderland in some regions, the Northeast will get a breather for Week 13 with temperatures in the mid-50’s and a cool breeze around 5-6 mph. That will be short lived though so enjoy it while it lasts.
It usually doesn’t matter whether or not the rain will have an impact on the New England Patriots (8-3). Bad weather in Foxboro typically only has a negative impact on the opposition. The Pats are 12-2 in rain games since 2009 and a flawless 8-0 at home. Minnesota will have a slippery mountain to climb.
Currently listed as the second-seed in the AFC, if New England can win it’s next three games then the team will feel much more comfortable about claiming a first round bye. After the Vikings, Bill Belichick’s men head to Miami who’s still shockingly in the hunt then a huge game in Pittsburgh. Houston is hot on NE’s tail but the Texans still have the Colts to shake in their own division.
But before all the stars can align and home field advantage appear, business needs to be tended to on a soggy Gillette Stadium turf against the visiting Vikings.
Rain or shine, there’s no question Tom Brady will be ready to roll. Despite putting in a limited practice Wednesday, he’ll be be golden come Sunday. Not only does he never let Mother Nature bother his play long, neither did a slow start to the season. Over the last eight games, Tom Terrific is 7-1 with 12 touchdowns and over 250 passing in every game. Simply put, he’s back to being the most trusted QB in the league, and what better a time than deep in a playoff push with the outdoor elements only getting worse.
It’s never felt like Tom Brady has quite had all his offensive weapons at his disposal this season, whether it was via injury or suspension. But not this week. Trusted wideout Julian Edelman has reemerged as Tom’s top target while Josh Gordon has seen double digit targets in two of the last three weeks. And last week, Rob Gronkowski finally put forth a decent performance since his injury and finding the end zone.
While the passing game is back to looking it’s best, the same can be same for Brady’s backfield. James White has been a stud, Sony Michel is healthy again and even Rex Burkhead has been lifted from IR in time for Sunday’s game. White’s versatility will be relied upon heavily in the rain this week, as will Michel’s shiftiness following his 21 carry, 133 yard performance against the Jets last week that was capped off by a TD.
With all the cylinders in motion offensive for New England right now, the Vikes third-best overall defense in the league is about to be tested and probably in trouble.
The Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) are currently in the thick of the NFC wildcard race and clinging for dear-life onto the fifth seed. Even though the Minneapolis team are plenty used to living in the cold temps, rain or snow; they don’t need to worry about playing in them. When they do though, it doesn’t go well.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Vikings are 0-3 when precipitation is apparent over the last few years and haven’t won a rain game since they beat the Steelers in damp and dreary London back in 2013.
Even though the team hasn’t had the most recent success, at least their quarterback has. Veteran Kirk Cousins won his last rain game on the road, last season under center for the Washington Redskins in Seattle. Cousins is notorious for avoiding turnovers but tossing five picks in his last six games just isn’t good enough against a swarming Pats’ D. The former Michigan State grad is plenty use to playing in bad weather, and given the gunslinger has registered at least one passing TD a game this season, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if this game turns into a shootout if the downpour can disappear. And listed at only $5,500 this week in daily fantasy, Cousins could be the cheap play to beef up the lineup elsewhere while still producing a top-six or eight performance.
Another reason that Cousins shouldn’t be counted out this week to put up big numbers is that the guy has the best WR combo in the league right now. Adam Thielen and Stefan Diggs have become superstars and it’s doubtful a little rain will slow their All-Pro runs down. If veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph can be more than just a touchdown here-and-there weapon in the Minnesota offense, the Pats will have their hands full.
As for the ground game, Dalvin Cook is finally healthy but Latavius Murray is still a 10+ touches a game back. With rain in the forecast, Cook will still see plenty of action and start the game but Murray will definitely get his fair share of carries. Murray is also only listed at $3,700 and if Minnesota has a goalie opportunity, the bruising back that is Murray will get the nod. This could be a crazy cheap sleeper if all he does is fall over the goal line once.
New England might seem like a heavy favorite but the Vikings are a tricky team. When they’re on, they’re one of the league’s most electric offenses and dominating defenses. When they’re off, they’re a sad stagnant puddle on all fronts. If the latter shows up Sunday, this game will be a stroll for the Patriots. Even in the heavy rain.
by Will Strome | 11-24-2018 20:00
The Turkey Bowl.
It’s as American as a Western flick and equally as synonymous with Thanksgiving as the roasted turkey itself. This year as thousands of Turkey Bowls kickoff nationwide first thing in the morning on a frigid Thanksgiving Day, snow has blanketed the backyard football fields for most of the East Coast and Midwest. Making holiday travel a nightmare but playing conditions absolutely perfect. However, that glistening snow will be long gone and converted into freezing rain and slush just in time for the weekend NFL action in the greater Chesapeake area when the Baltimore Ravens host the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon.
Despite this being Thanksgiving weekend, it’s safe to assume that neither the Raiders nor the Ravens have much to be thankful for this NFL season. While Oakland took a heavy loss before the season even started by trading away Khalil Mack, Baltimore has been on a slow and steady decline over the last few weeks. With the forecast calling for a wintery mix, Mother Nature could make these two struggling sides look and play even worse than they already are.
According to NFLWeather.com, a drizzle is expected for the 1pm kickoff with overcast skies hovering above through the rest of the afternoon. Baltimore is anticipating rain both Friday and Saturday so the Sunday grass surface inside M&T Bank Stadium is likely going to be a massive mud bowl by the second half. Temperatures should be in the low-50’s so unless a cold front storms through, snow isn’t very likely. The wind shouldn’t be too much of a bother, topping out around 6-8 mph, but a damp and dreary afternoon is virtually a guarantee.
It didn’t seem like all that long ago that the Baltimore Ravens (5-5) were perched atop the AFC North and fresh off a pummeling of the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Oh, how things have changed… both for Baltimore and veteran Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Flacco.
Despite the recent free fall, Baltimore has endured, the team does have a stat that should get fans excited heading into the Week 12 match; the Ravens recent success in the rain. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 the Ravens are an astonishing 11-1 in rain games and unbeaten in their last four outings. Over those four rainy wins, the B-More offense averaged 28.5 points per game while defensively surrendering only 15 per game.
Even though it’s been the stout Baltimore D that’s carried the team this season, the Ravens will look to an unlikely hero on the other side of the ball to elevate their recent run of poor performances. Rookie QB Lamar Jackson will make his second career start but his first with poor playing conditions likely to be an issue. Jackson lead the Ravens to a crucial win over Cincinnati, 24-21 and racked up 117 rushing yards on 27 carries (the most by a QB in the Super Bowl era) on the ground while completing 13-of-19 passes as well. The versatile and shifty former Louisville gunslinger will have all eyes on him Sunday and if Baltimore sticks with the same game plan regarding a handful of designed QB rushes in the rain, Jackson could turn heads for a second straight week and keep the Ravens in wildcard contention.
Even though a lot will be expected from Jackson against a horrific Oakland defense, he won’t be the only rushing threat in the Baltimore backfield Sunday. Running back Alex Collins returned to practice Friday but despite not producing a 100-yard rushing game this season, a matchup against the league’s second-worst defensive unit against the run could finally see triple digits in Collins’ box score. One concern for Collins owners, aside from Baltimore limiting his touches following his injury, has been the emergence of undrafted rookie Gus Edwards who piled on 115 yards and a touchdown last week against the Bengals. There’s a chance the Ravens could ride the hot hand despite Collins being the lead back all season.
As for the passing attack, not having Flacco under center and seeing rain in the forecast will definitely diminish the likelihood of Jackson having a massive day through the air. That does not bode well for Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV fantasy owners; not that either of the three has consistently provided fantasy-worthy performances in 2018. The best way to avoid figuring out the Baltimore passing game from a fantasy perspective is to avoid it completely.
Even though Baltimore is still very much in the playoff mix, it really doesn’t feel that way. But a convincing win over a struggling Jon Gruden’s Raiders side could eliminate any lingering concern from the Ravens faithful.
As for Oakland little, if nothing at all, has gone well for the Raiders (2-8) this season. Once Mack was shipped to Chicago, the avalanche began. And statistically, much like the upcoming weekend weather, nothing looks bright in the Raiders immediate future. Since 2009, Oakland is 3-7 in the rain and 0-4 on the road during that dismal and damp stretch.
Quarterback Derek Carr has looked like a shadow of himself this season and desperately needs a solid performance to show Coach Gruden he’s still the franchise QB when the team moves to Las Vegas. Against the league’s top D Sunday, Carr could be in for a long afternoon and now that Amari Cooper has been traded to Dallas, the former Fresno State quarterback doesn’t have many weapons to work with.
Veteran wideout Jordy Nelson hasn’t been the deep threat the Raiders desperately needed this season and even though Nelson returned to practice midweek, the former Green Bay WR has consistently underperformance and little is expected to change in the rain this week. Carr’s top target has actually been tight end Jared Cook who’s been targeted 15 times over the last two weeks. With Cook being a solid security blanket for Carr and crummy conditions in the forecast, Cook could see a ton of dump passes and gobble up most of the redone targets.
As for the Oakland backfield, once Marshawn Lynch was sidelined for the season the starting duties were handed to veteran Doug Martin and the Muscle Hamster has seized the moment. Jalen Richard still controls third downs and passes out of the backfield, but since taking over as the lead back Martin has racked up double digit carries in four straight games. If Martin can find the endzone, listed at only $3,900, it’s rare to see a starting RB at such a low daily fantasy price which will allow owners the opportunity to spend up on other positions this week.
While the Raiders are just about ready to pack it in for the 2018 campaign, Sunday’s matchup is an absolute must-win for the Ravens who are very much still in the playoff picture. A Baltimore win and the pressure will subside for now, but a loss and we could see a massive changing of the guard across the harbor from Fort McHenry. I’m not talking about Flacco officially handing over the offensive reigns to Jackson, I’m talking about the end of the John Harbaugh era on a rainy Sunday on the banks of the Chesapeake. Even during the holiday season, sometimes when it rains, it pours.
by Will Strome | 11-18-2018 12:00
Two fierce rivals will clash in the Chicago snow on Sunday night when the Minnesota Vikings visit the Bears with first place in the NFC North on the line.
Heated rivals forced to do battle in the snow with so much to play for. Does it get any better than this?
I would say absolutely not unless your the idiot in the nosebleeds of Soldier Field who forgot to layer up.
According to NFLWeather.com, it will definitely be a cold one with the possibility of snow. Chicago is expecting precipitation Friday and Saturday and those familiar with the Windy City's unpredictable weather patterns know flurries in the forecast should never be counted out. Game time temperatures will be in the low-30's then dip into the 20's as the game unfolds. Wind shouldn't be too much of a factor, topping out around 10-12 mph, but as the east coast gets an unexpected warm break from the early winter, the midwest will be the polar opposite.
Despite being a cold weather team, the Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) haven't played many recent games in the snow. In fact, the last snow game the Vikings competed in was a 21-13 loss to Chicago back in 2014. Since 2012, the Vikings are 0-2 in the snow with both losses coming at the hands (paws, excuse me) of the Bears.
If they have any intention of keeping pace with Chicago at the top of the division and overturning their recent lack of success in the snow, quarterback Kirk Cousins desperately needs to shine. Since week three, only twice has Cousins put up 20+ points in daily fantasy and with a healthy Chicago D featuring Kahlil Mack, Cousins could be in real trouble behind his sometimes shaky offensive line.
Pending Cousins has the time to drop back, thankfully he has two of the league's most dangerous threats to find downfield. Stefan Diggs and Adam Thielan are an electric pair and they'll be relied on heavily to help their veteran QB in the cold. Thielen typically dominates the targets but only saw seven targets each of the last three weeks whereas all season he's been targeted 10+ times per game. Diggs is the speedster who if the flurries turn to full-on blizzard, short passes and screens to Diggs could be the move.
Speaking of short passes, expect Dalvin Cook to finally be a threat in the passing and rushing attack. Cook was a "full-go" this week after only appearing in four games all season. Even with a healthy Cook, as the weather worsens the Vikings will turn to their more bruising back, Latavius Murray. Between Murray and Cook, if Minnesota can establish the ground game and alleviate the pressure off Cousins, the Vikings might just pull this thing out.
Like the Vikings, the Chicago Bears (6-3) have dueling options in the backfield as well. Jordan Howard demands the bulk of the carries while Tarik Cohen has emerged as a formidable threat in the passing game. At $4,300, even though Cohen is the more explosive play, Howard is extremely cheap and given the crummy conditions in Chicago Sunday night that Howard could have himself a big game.
Not only has Chicago had success in the ground game, but over the years the team has also done extremely well competing in the snow. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Bears are 4-1 in the snow since 2010 and have scored 20 or more points in all four of their frigid wins.
While the team has had tremendous success and experience in the snow, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is a newbie. Since week four, Trubisky has only tossed four interceptions and if the young gunslinger wants to keep his team's momentum going, avoiding turnover against Minnesota's solid defense is a must. Trubisky has been inconsistent at times so it will be interesting to see which Mitch shows up and if the snow has a major impact on the QB.
Trubisky doesn't have the best depth on his outsides, but they've certainly done the job. Veteran Allen Robinson is the top wideout with Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller making significant offensive contributions. While Gabriel is fading from the mix, Miller has stepped up and has seen 26 targets over the last four weeks. Listed at $4,200 in DK this weekend, Miller could be the sleeper play of the day from this game.
Both teams, despite hating each other, are very similar. They both have stout defensive units, they both have high octane offenses and they both have a completely touchdown dependent tight end in Trey Burton and Kyle Rudolph (which is beyond frustrating from the fantasy owner perspective).
Both teams also have the opportunity to take control of the division as Green Bay continues to sink, something that's seemed unfathomable the last few years. This is a massive game, for both teams.
It's starting to feel like playoffs....
by Will Strome | 11-09-2018 08:00
The reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles knew the road to repeat wasn't going to be an easy one but freezing rain in the forecast definitely doesn't help.
Not only will Philly need to battle the elements Sunday night, but the Birds will have their most hated rival to conquer as well, the Dallas Cowboys. Even the frozen forecast bound for the City of Brotherly Love has no chance of cooling down the intensity of this must-win matchup.
According to NFLWeather.com, the Sunday forecast still claims partly cloudy skies on Sunday but a Northeastern-bound storm has yet to do it's eventual damage. A cold rain and gusty winds are likely to roll through the Appalachian Mountains on Friday and roll through Pennsylvania and New York. Saturday is expected to still see rain but if the storm lingers longer than expected, Sunday could be a damp and dreary one at Lincoln Financial Field. Temperatures will likely be in the high-30's with wind roughly 4-5 mph but a late 8:20pm kickoff means a frigid fourth quarter is a guarantee.
Lucky for the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4), this will be the fourth game featuring rain the Eagles have played in this season. Quarterback Nick Foles started the opening rain game with a win over Atlanta and Carson Wentz has guided the Eagles to victories in the last two. This team has proven they have both big game experience and rain game experience, meaning Dallas has a tall order to handle on Sunday.
The statistics for this one really favor Philadelphia. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Philly has won it's last four straight rain games at home and hasn't lost at home since 2012. Overall, since that loss at The Link in '12 the team is an impressive 5-1. Whether it would be Foles or Wentz under center this weekend (don't worry, it's definitely Wentz), history says Eagles fans have minimal need to worry.
The real concern for Philly fans would be if Mother Nature negatively impacts the passing game, then who would step up in the backfield?
Veteran scat back Darren Sproles was eyeballing a return this week but the seasoned speedster was a nonparticipant in Thursday's practice leaving Wendell Smallwood as the listed lead running back once again. Corey Clement also missed Thursday's practice so Smallwood could see almost the entire workload in the ground game. Listed at only $3,400, if Clement and Sproles don't dress on Sunday then Smallwood could be a phenomenal cheap play.
While uncertainty surrounds the Philly ground game, there are zero questions when it comes to the passing attack. Unless the rain turns from drizzle to downpour, Wentz will have himself a field day in the freezing rain. Good or bad weather, tight end Zach Ertz is the perfect security blanket but the rich just got a whole lot richer given the teams' recent trade day acquisition. Golden Tate joins Alson Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews as the league's most dynamic wide receiving corps and if the Cowboys had trouble game planning how to handle the original trio of wideouts before the trade; this game could get out of hand quickly.
The Dallas Cowboys (3-5) are bending big time right now but the 'Boys haven't broken just yet. A loss at Philadelphia this weekend though could open the flood gates.
The Cowboys haven't fared well in poor weather recently, posting a 2-2 rain game record since 2012 but did manage an impressive 33-19 rainy road win in Washington last season. Quarterback Dak Prescott didn't put forth his most impressive performance in that win, but he got that win, and that's all he'll need to do this Sunday.
Prescott has definitely had his ups and downs over his short career, but his gritty style should embrace an ugly game featuring curly conditions, like this one. Thankfully he has the perfect weapon for a rain game in his arsenal, his running back Ezekiel Elliot. Even though Elliot has less than 20 touches in each of his last two games, expect Prescott to feed the beast well over 25+ times this game. Zeke will be an absolute freak this week and the Cowboys will force feed their star RB, rain or shine.
Despite the heavy workload Zeke will take on, the passing game can't be and won't be a stagnant puddle Sunday. Newly-acquired Amari Cooper is the new #1 target in town and much like Zeke is relied on in the ground game, expectations are high for Cooper so 12+ targets isn't a crazy thought. Cole Beasley will still see his underneath targets but given the uncertain health of tight end Geoff Swain, Coopers involvement will only increase.
Typically a high scoring contest, Philly against Dallas has always been a fun matchup to sit back and enjoy from the unbiased spectators perspective. But given the playing conditions and direction both NFC East rivals are headed, this could be the moment during the season where we pinpoint when the Cowboys finally fell through the thin ice that was their 2019 season.
by Will Strome | 11-01-2018 10:00
Two potential playoff bound teams, the Chargers and the Seahawks, are basically in identical situations midway through the season. They both seem to be flying under the radar despite fantastic records, they both trail seemingly unbeatable teams in their divisions and on Sunday, they'll both be completely soaked.
According to NFLWeather.com, a light rain will begin in the morning with a constant drizzle continuing throughout the day. Come kickoff, temperatures will hover in the mid-50's with wind only topping off around 8-10 mph. With wind not much of an issue, if the worst of the weather if merely a drizzle, hopefully that won't have any negative impact on the game. However, if the drizzle turns to downpour then this massive non conference matchup will see two top teams look sloppy.
The Los Angeles Chargers (5-2), used to playing in sunny Southern California, will no doubt be out of their comfort zone this weekend. Since 2012, the Chargers have only played in three rain games and lost each of them. All three losses were within a single score but the offense could only muster a total of 22 points. Not 22 points per game, 22 points over three games.
If LA has any intention of beating Seattle on the road with terrible weather in the forecast, the team can't rely on the stout play of the defense while the offense is loaded with talent. Veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers hasn't had much success in the rain but here's a golden opportunity to do so while trying to keep pace with Kansas City at the top of the division. Rivers has been careful with the ball this season, limiting his turnovers which he'll need to continue in the damp Pacific Northwest.
But limiting turnovers alone won't bring the Chargers back to LA with a win, they'll need someone to step up and help their veteran QB. Rain definitely won't help the passing game but a lot will be expected of wideouts Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams. Allen is long overdue for a big game, having not found the end zone since week one, while Williams has been getting better and better. As the rain worsens tho, Rivers will likely target his third down back Austin Ekeler who's been a force in the short passing attack.
While Ekeler has been a delight in Rivers' aerial assault, he's been nonexistent in the ground game. There's a chance he'll get the start again but all signs are pointing to Melvin Gordon returning from his hamstring injury. With a healthy Gordon and heavy rainfall, the Chargers will without question favor keeping the ball on the ground with their sensational young RB.
The Seattle Seahawks (4-3) too have had to deal with injuries to running backs but it looks like the team finally has a strong lead runner. Chris Carson has been on a tear his last four games and he'll get a heavy workload on Sunday given how mediocre the 'Hawks passing game has been.p>Even with the state of the passing game, Seattle shouldn't be worried. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Seahawks are 8-3 in the rain at home since 2010 and have scored 24 or more points in eight of them. Clearly a little rain doesn't slow this train down.
Aside from Seattle's stellar defensive units over the years, much of the rain game success credit should go to their versatile gunslinger. Russell Wilson is the perfect player under center when the elements are working against the offense. However, over the last couple seasons Wilson's rushing attempts have slowly dimmed down. Only once this season has Wilson rushed for six times or more in a game, but the 'Hawks might feature more rushing plays for their QB as the weather worsens this week.
Another reason why we might see Wilson scramble more than usual this week is the lack of help he's getting from his offensive weapons. Doug Baldwin has been a dud, Tyler Lockett still isn't emerging as a legitimate #2 and David Moore is slowly becoming more and more involved. All three players are below $5,500 in daily fantasy but not even worth a look.
Nobody is talking about both of these teams but nobody in the league wants to play either of them. In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, "I never get any respect!" Well, with a statement win this weekend in crummy conditions, maybe one of two will finally start getting some love around the league.
by Will Strome | 10-26-2018 15:00
Unlike destructive tropical storms that have been a constant threat to the East Coast over the last few weeks, Eli Manning and the New York Giants are the gentle eye of the hurricane. Despite being right in the heart of all the NFC East action, the Giants have been the calm, non-threatening break during any opposition's regular season schedule. While the rest of the chaotic division features a trio of teams considered dangerous and all legitimate contenders for the conference title, heading to play the Giants is now an easy win. But in the Big Apple this weekend, the soft eye of the hurricane will be far from New York City as a coastal storm is expected bring rain and gusty winds to the Northeast.
According to NFLWeather.com, Sunday sees mostly cloudy skies throughout the day but the weather is beginning to look increasingly worse with the storm headed straight towards New Jersey. As of Wednesday, the low could dip into the high-40's and winds are in the 10-12 mph range but as the storm approaches, expect that temperature to plummet and the wind to only worsen. There's currently a 15-18% chance of precipitation for Sunday but with the Northeast expecting heavy rain all day Saturday, don't be surprised if the rain storm continues.
The New York Giants (1-6) have been a stagnant puddle in the NFL for a while now but at least the team is competitive in the rain. Since 2010, the Giants are 7-5 when rain is in the forecast and 5-2 at home over that span. They'll need Mother Nature to be on their side if they have any intention of pulling of this upset within the division and saving their season from all but seeming officially over.
One thing that helps when rain is a factor is a strong ground game and the Giants have one of the best backs in the biz. Rookie Saquon Barkley has done everything expect disappoint and even though the running back only averages 12.5 carries a game, the former Penn State star has been a monster in the passing game. Over the last two weeks, Barkley's been targeted 22 times and expect that trend to continue into week eight.
While Barkley has thrived on a weekly basis, superstar Odell Beckham Jr. seems to come and go. Every other week, OBJ has racked up over 100+ receiving yards but only twice has he seen less than 10 targets. Beckham might disappear from time to time, but Barkley is without question the foundation of this struggling offense.
One major reason for the offensive struggles have been the atrocious play of the offensive line. Quarterback Eli Manning has been the second-most sacked QB in the league thus far and don't expect much to change against a stout Washington defense. Since he'll have little time for the deep ball, given the awful o-line and the potential elements from the storm won't allow it, Manning must stick to the short swing pass to Barkley and get Sterling Shepard (averages over seven targets per game) and now-healthy tight end Evan Engram involved in what's been a pathetic passing game.
Like the Giants the division-leading Washington Redskins (4-2) haven't had the most intimidating offense this season but Washington does have a QB who's had plenty of experience winning in the rain. Veteran Alex Smith has seen it all when it comes to weather conditions having previously played in Kansas City and the former first-overall pick knows what it takes to pulling out an ugly win in crummy conditions.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Smith is 7-3 in the rain since 2013 and 3-3 on the road. Since 2010, the Washington Redskins franchise is 4-5 in the rain over that span so having an experienced quarterback under center when playing conditions could be unpredictable is a nice upgrade from the youngsters in the past.
Alex Smith is hoping to have a healthy Chris Thompson for both the rushing and passing game. As the weather worsens the team will look to get Adrian Peterson and Thompson more involved on the ground but Thompson has been much more effective catching out of the backfield. Expect Thompson to see opportunities via carries and receptions will AP will be the lead back in the ground game. At a reasonable $4,900 price tag in daily fantasy and averaging about 20 carries over the last two weeks, AP could be a great start if winds get heavy.
If the 'Skins don't have to abandon the passing game because of the weather, it will be interesting to see who finally steps up for Smith. Both Paul Richardson Jr. and Jameson Crowder missed last week and as of Wednesday, don't appear on track to play this week. Tight end Jordan Reed will need to be the number one target, despite only seeing 6 or more targets only once this year. Wide receivers Josh Doctson and Michael Floyd are listed as the starters but Reed finally needs to play to his potential.
The last time Smith threw for 200+ yards was week four and coincidentally, that was also the last game he turned the ball over. Even though he's not getting help from his mediocre receiving corps; forcing deep balls and straying from the short game that's been working could lead to Washington surrendering the NFC East lead.
This game will be nasty on a number of fronts. The weather will be nasty, the hate these two rivals have for each other and will show is genuinely nasty, and the final score will likely leave a nasty taste in the mouths of the home teams' players, coaches and fans. Little has gone right for the New York Football Giants this season and as long as Washington can avoid any self-inflicted wounds, the 'Skins are going to win an ugly one in some ugly weather.
by Will Strome | 10-19-2018 20:00
In the friendly confines of the Superdome, the New Orleans Saints high octane offense is absolutely electric and routinely puts up substantial points with ease and grace. One reason for that, aside from the obvious home field advantage, is the team never has to worry about battling the outdoor elements.
Well, come Sunday in Baltimore the team that plays it's home games indoors is going to have to endure swirling 15-18 mph winds on a chilly night. Oh, and they'll have to handle a Ravens' defense that forced 11 sacks inTennessee last week.
According to NFLWeather.com, partly cloudy skies and an endless breeze will be in the Sunday forecast with temperatures dipping into the high-40's. A late 4:05pm kickoff in M&T Bank Stadium will leave for a frigid second half, but thankfully for fans and players alike there's a minimal chance of precipitation as of Thursday.
New Orleans (4-1) hasn't played in a poor weather game in quite some time so it might take a quarter or two for this offense to get rolling, if it indeed can.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, it's been over three years since the last time the Saints played a rain or snow game and only six times since 2013 has New Orleans played an outdoor game when temperatures dipped into the 40's or lower.
Quarterback Drew Brees, who loves the deep ball, might be a bit more limited in his passing attack as the wind picks up. Brees, a trusted veteran, is notorious for making smart decisions and avoiding forcing the ball into areas that result in turnovers but a breeze could easily create unexpected issues where there typically isn't (the same goes for the kicking game).
If Mother Nature forces Brees to abandon the long ball, luckily he has no shortage of offensive weapons. Wideout Michael Thomas has become an elite WR in the NFL with veterans Ted Ginn Jr. and Cameron Meredith alongside him, however, Ginn Jr. and Meredith have a questionable tag leaving Tre'Quan Smith as the potential #2 target this week. If both veterans can't suit up, Smith will look to add to his 111-yard receiving performance from a week five against Washington and a $3,700 price tag in daily fantasy makes him a sneaky potential sneaky sleeper play worth monitoring.
While the passing game gets most of the attention for the league's second-best offense, it's been the Saints' ground game that's been extremely impressive and will be relied upon heavily given the expected crummy conditions for Sunday's non-conference bout. Alvin Kamara is a force in both the passing and rushing attack but now that Mark Ingram has returned from suspension, Kamara's touches might decrease a bit but the two-headed monster will be even more effective as a whole. In other words, the rich just got richer.
Like the Saints, the Baltimore Ravens (4-2) have more than one option in the backfield and both will be leaned on heavily to try to eliminate the wind-factor. Alex Collins has been the lead back who's seen double digit carries each of the last four weeks while Javorious Allen has been more involved in the passing game and even redone appearances. Even though Allen's on the field for less than 40% of offensive plays last week, the worse the weather gets will only increase his usage.
While Baltimore will want to control possession by dominating the ground game, Joe Flacco will desperately need to do something he hasn't done since Week Four if the Ravens want a second straight win and that's avoid throwing an interception. Flacco has yet to drop back less than 34 times a game so even with wind a factor, it's impossible for the Ravens to completely avoid the passing game. Flacco will still attempt well over 20-25 passes with John Brown, Michael Crabtree and former Saint Willie Snead IV as his veteran go-to's.
This matchup is a classic great offense pitted against a great defense with Brees and Terrell Suggs as the proven leaders. But if the wind gets out of hand, it could be the kickers, not the future Hall of Famers, who might steal the show. Let's not forget, Saints' Will Lutz is used to living life indoors while Justin Tucker has never missed a PAT in his career. On a nicer day, this could be a shootout but a strong breeze could turn this battle into a low-scoring chess match.
by Will Strome, Columnist | 10-12-2018 20:00
Nothing has been able to simmer down a piping hot Los Angeles Rams offense this season but a cold front in the Rocky Mountains could be just the thing that can cool down the league's most sizzling offense.
As Hurricane Michael heads towards the East Coast, the midwest is in full-fall mode but apparently Denver is skipping straight to winter. Only six weeks into the 2018 campaign and snow is already in the NFL forecast when the Denver Broncos host the undefeated Rams on Sunday at 4:05 EST.
According to NFLWeather.com, a 90% chance of precipitation is expected and with the temperature come kickoff lingering in the mid-to-high 20's, the first snow of the season is very much a possibility. As of Thursday, about 2-4 inches is anticipated at Broncos Stadium at Mile High Wind shouldn't be much of a factor, maxing out around 8-10 mph, but a slick grass surface is very likely even if the snow doesn't stick after the pregame tarp is removed.
Los Angeles (5-0) hasn't played in a snow game in years but the Rams are definitely a team built to play in poor weather which is surprising for a side that plays in sunny LA. The Rams foundation is built around, arguably, the best defensive front seven in the league, making rushing the football against LA extremely difficult and forcing the opposition to use additional blockers for pass protection against the Rams' merciless pass rush.
But, the offense is equally as ideal a group to compete in crummy conditions. Even though the Rams have been recently getting plenty of praise for their passing game, it'll be the solid rushing attack that works so well in the snow. While the team averages over 131 rushing yards per game (7th in NFL), top dog Todd Gurley handles the bulk of that work. Gurley averages over 20 touches a game but the more the snow falls, the more Gurley will get handed the rock. However, the worse the weather gets, the more likely Gurley will be involved in the passing game as well.
Leading that aerial assault is quarterback Jared Goff, heading into his first career NFL snow game, who seems to improve every week. Goff already mentioned how it's the wind, not the snow, that bothers him the most during a game but even if he has no issue with his release, he'll desperately need to avoid losing control turning the ball over which has been the lone criticism of his performances this season.
If the forecast features flurries and the passing game is available, there's a chance Goff still might struggle if he'll be without his top targets. Receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp were non-participants in practice midweek after a concussion last week, leaving Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds as the potential primary receiving threats. Reynolds could be a sneaky daily fantasy play, listed at only $3,900.
While the Rams offense has flourished and thrived this season, the Denver Broncos (2-3) desperately need the natural elements to help slow down the visitors attack so the hosts can control possession on offense as much as possible. The best chance Denver has of downing an unbeaten LA team is keeping Goff and Gurley off the field, plain and simple.
However, the Broncos do have success in the snow at home in big games. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Denver's last snowy Mile High win was a 30-24 overtime thriller over New England in 2015. By the way, that dealt the Patriots their first loss of the season. Sounds like a familiar opportunity is in front of Denver this week.
What the Broncos will have to do well in the snow if they want to pull off this massive upset is do the one thing they've been able to do well this season, run the football. The team is third in the league in rushing, averaging 137 mpg, with Phillip Lindsay featuring as the lead back who's seen double digits carries in four of five games this season.
Despite the team's rushing success, the Broncos ground game unfortunately hasn't quite opened up the passing attack. That being said, Denver can't rely on Case Keenum to win this one for them, battling both the Rams staunch defense and a frigid Mother Nature. If Keenum's ineffective, sadly for fantasy owners expect star wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryius Thomas to have frustrating afternoons.
Both the Rams and Broncos boast two of the NFL's most dynamic rushing attacks and both will be on full display, especially as the snow falls more and more. If this game was in Los Angeles, nobody would give Denver a chance but the Rams have only played one game this season outside of the state of California. With snow in the forecast, the Rams players will very much be out of their comfort zones.
by Will Strome | 10-04-2018 16:00
Whether it’s been against a good defense, in a difficult away atmosphere, or down two scores late in the fourth quarter, this season the Kansas City Chiefs have already proven they can overcome anything.
Well, just about anything, because the Sunday environment in KC could feature something the undefeated host team has yet to encounter. This week when the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town, we’ll see if the Chiefs can overcome a new feat; battling both Mother Nature and a strong AFC side.
According to NFLWeather.com, a light rain is expected for the 1pm Sunday kickoff but precipitation will be apparent all day from morning through the evening. Kansas City is anticipating on rain arriving Saturday or possibly late Friday night but thunderstorms are in the Saturday and Sunday forecasts. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-high 60’s and wind will hover around 10mph, making a slick pigskin and grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium the midweek concern for both sides.
Kansas City (4-0) has played in over a dozen rain games since 2010 but the team’s young quarterback has yet to participate in a single one. Sophomore QB Patrick Mahomes seems to look better and better each week and we’ll see if the backyard football-style gunslinger can shine through the upcoming weekend storm.
Lucky for him, his team has been almost perfect when the weather is anything but. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Chiefs are 9-4 in rain games since 2010 (8-2 since ‘13) and 4-0 at home during that span. Clearly the elements don’t slow down the offense too much, given the team has scored almost 80 points over its last three rain games.
Much of that rain game success can be attributed to the team’s ability to avoid turning the ball over and control possession by dominating the ground game. This dominance in rushing began years ago with Jamaal Charles but Kareem Hunt is now the top dog in the KC backfield. Hunt, who torched Denver last week for 121 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, is listed at only $5,800 on DK this weekend (cheaper than Chris Thompson) which is the lowest his price tag has been all season.
Two regularly expensive players in daily fantasy on the Chiefs offense can be found in the passing game, tight end Travis Kelce and speedy star wideout Tyreek Hill. However, Hill’s price plummeted from $8,200 to $6,900 this week and if Sammy Watkins is a no-go following last week’s injury, like Hunt, Tyreek the Freak are at a price worth considering. Pick with caution though, the reason for the cheap listing is a combination of the potential thunderstorms and the Jags stingy D.
Unfortunately for the Jags this week, they’ll be without their most coveted rain game weapon, Leonard Fournette. Now that Fournette has been ruled out, T.J. Yeldon will be left with full-time running back duties while Corey Grant will see the occasional snap. With the rushing attack down it’s best best man, it’s up to the JAX passing game to put together a second straight perfect performance if the team wants any chance of pulling off this damp away game upset.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is a surprising 3-0 in rain games and could surprise a few doubters this weekend. In his three rain games, Bortles has a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 63% completion percentage. He’ll need his trio of WR’s to cause issues in the KC secondary but guessing who the weekly top target will be is turning into quite the mystery. Keelan Cole emerged as an early favorite for Bortles but both Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief had a pair of 100-yard receiving performances last week while Cole only saw three targets.
Despite Bortles’ rain game success, it’s truly been the Jaguars defense that should get all the credit. Especially given the unit gets better when the weather worsens. Over the last three rain games, the team has only surrendered an average of 11 points per game.
The red hot Kansas City offense hasn’t been weathered by much this season but a stout Jacksonville defense and crummtions come game time could be the storm that finally brings rain to the Chiefs’ 2018 unbeaten parade. A parade that lasted much longer than anyone expected.
by The NFLW Team | 10-01-2018 18:00
by Will Strome | 09-28-2018 18:00
The two most difficult forecasts in Florida to anticipate around this time of year are incoming tropical storms and the weekly performances of Blake Bortles. Tropical Storm Kirk is lurking far off the East Coast, midweek, but weekend weather will potentially be disrupted as the storm moves northwest, directly towards Jacksonville where the Jaguars host the New York Jets Sunday at 1p.
According to NFLWeather.com, a drizzle is expected early in the day with the percentage chance of precipitation increasing as the game goes on. Jacksonville is likely going to begin experiencing scattered thunderstorms as early as Friday and extending through Tuesday. Game time temperatures will be in the mid-to-low 80’s with humidity around 70-72%. Wind shouldn’t be much of an issue, maxing out around 10mph, but a slick surface and football will be an interesting obstacle for both sides.
Jacksonville (2-1) is well aware rain is on the horizon this weekend, but the team has zero idea which Blake Bortles will show up. Will it be the quarterback who torched the Patriots for 376 yards and four scores with no Leonard Fournette or the QB who was a no-show against a mediocre Tennessee team?
If history tells us anything, expect Bortles to make it rain in the rain. In his two career rain games (both wins), Bortles completed 35-of-63 attempts for 330 yards, two touchdowns and only one turnover. If Fournette is once again a no-go this week, the Jags will lean heavy on the young gunslinger who still seems to be searching for a number one wideout to emerge this season.
Young receiver Keelan Cole has seen 17 targets over the last two weeks and appears to be Bortles’ early favorite, but WR’s Dede Westbrook and veteran Donte Moncrief have also been involved in the passing game. Another veteran waiting for a breakout game, tight end and former New York Jet Austin Seferian-Jenkins, has a juicy matchup for revenge given the visiting teams’ inability to stop the TE and the crummy conditions.
Poor playing conditions haven’t seemed to be a recent problem for the Jags. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2010 the team is 4-2 in the rain and 2-0 at home. Despite the team’s and the QB’s recent rain game triumphs; if they can’t establish somewhat of a ground game without Fournette, this could surpringly be a close one. Backup T.J. Yeldon didn’t practice on Wednesday but at least Fournette suited up, along with third stringer Corey Grant who could see an uptick in touches this week.
Like the Jags, the New York Jets (1-2) don’t exactly have a concrete starting running back headed into this week four matchup either. It’s been a split backfield between veterans Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, with neither being an exciting start this weekend despite the bad weather. The Crow has slowly emerged as the lead back and has found the end zone four times already, but big RB fantasy points against the JAX D is hard to come by.
Another player who is an absolute must-sit this weekend is rookie QB Sam Darnold. Aside from this being Darnold’s first career rain game, we’re still waiting on the rookie to create some chemistry with at least one of his wideouts. Veterans Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have been invisible, but an interesting top target for Darnold has been Quincy Enunwa. Enunwa has averaged almost 10 targets per game and could be a sneaky cheap play in daily fantasy given his $4,300 price tag.
Since 2009, the Jets are 3-5 in rain games and haven’t had a rain game road win since 2012. The Jets have a rookie QB under center going up against one of the league’s most tenacious defensive units. The Jets are staring at a brutal forecast coming up and Mother Nature isn’t going to be giving them any favors. This could get ugly and sloppy in more ways than one.
by Will Strome | 09-21-2018 19:00
The Carolinas have been devastatingly crushed by Hurricane Florence and finally for the first time in a chaotic week, the East Coast will get a temporary breather from the downpours. But, it won’t last long. Hurricane season is far from over but for the moment, North and South Carolina can expect a brief few days of dry weather before more rain rolls through towards the end of this coming weekend. Charlotte is expecting rain Sunday all the way through Thursday, arriving just in time for the Cincinnati Bengals’ trip to the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon.
According to NFLWeather.com, overcast skies are in the forecast with rain in the morning. Even if the precipitation dies down come the 1pm kickoff, the grass surface inside Bank of America Stadium should be slick. It won’t be a surprise to see players try out a couple different lengths of cleats during warmups. Temperatures should stay in the high-70’s with wind being a minimal factor, maxing out around 4-5 mph.
The last time the Carolina Panthers (1-1) hosted a rain game was a 20-17 loss to Kansas City in 2016. But, prior to that, the Panthers last home loss in the rain was to the Bengals back in 2010 Since 2010, the Panthers are 4-4 in rain games but their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback does post a career rain game winning record.
Cam Newton is a perfect QB for competing in crummy conditions. With a 4-2 record in the rain, Cam’s ability to control the game while battling the elements is not something all NFL quarterbacks can do. With a 56% completion rate in the rain (112-of-200), he’s totaled 1,325 yards and seven passing touchdowns. He’s also ran for two scores and over 180 yards, making him a dangerous dual threat in games where passing is considered a premium.
But against the Bengals, Carolina will likely lean on their sophomore sensation Christian McCaffrey, both in the ground game and passing attack. McCaffrey managed only 37 yards rushing last week but caught 14 passes for 102 yards out of the backfield. As the weather worsens, quick screens and short passes to the former Stanford star will likely be the go to.
With Greg Olsen likely out for a minimum of five weeks, Carolina needs someone to step up in the passing game to avoid solely having to rely on Cam and McCaffrey. Wide out Devin Funchess is penciled in as the number one receiver but still has yet to produce impressive starting WR statistics. Along with Funchess, tight ends Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz could see some heavy targets, especially in the red zone.
Like Carolina’s QB, the Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) have a gunslinger under center who doesn’t seem to get flustered when bad weather is looming in the forecast. Andy Dalton is a career 5-1 in rain games and averages 34 passing attempts per game, meaning a damp football doesn’t deter Dalton from veering away from the passing game. Wide out AJ Green will without question garner the most targets but Tyler Boyd has stepped up and performed well over the last two weeks. They’ve needed another threat in the passing game given tight end Tyler Eifert has only been targeted seven times this season. Expect Sunday to likely be Eifert’s breakout game.
The Bengals will need guys to step up for Dalton, especially if running back Joe Mixon can’t play. If Mixon doesn’t dress, Gio Bernard will get the bulk of touches and a lot will be expected from the versatile veteran back. Over the last few rain games, it appears Dalton favors finding his tight ends and running backs and little will likely change this weekend.
According to the NFLWeather Historical Analytics, since 2010 the Bengals are 6-3 in the rain with the last road rain game victory being against Carolina (20-7) back in 2010. If Cincinnati can continue playing a complete game like it has been the last two weeks, the Bengals will be a shocking 3-0 and easily one of the most deceivingly dangerous team in the league.
While the rest of the country, the Midwest especially, is expecting the first signs of autumn this weekend by welcoming cooler weather; the East Coast is still very much focused on the Tropical Storms still in the Atlantic basin. Just because Florence has come and gone, doesn’t mean we’re through the thick of it yet... and there’s a good chance that’ll be glaringly apparent for Sunday’s non conference Panthers-Bengals bout.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 09-13-2018 15:00
Wasington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has already declared a state of emergency regarding the impending arrival of Hurricane Florence, the first major storm of the year which is likely destined for the Chesapeake this weekend. Despite the inevitable arrival of the hurricane, the NFL has yet to move the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts game to a different time or location.
The game is currently set for Sunday at 1pm inside FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. However, the league is considering contingency plans but zero information has been released. As of Wednesday, three NCAA top-25 teams’ have cancelled games while a number of other college games have been moved to an entirely different location or date/time to avoid the powerful storm with landfall expected Friday.
Catastrophic wind, rain and flash flooding are expected to hit the Carolinas and crawl up the coast this weekend, complements of the Category 4 Hurricane which is still lingering off the East Coast.
According to NFLWeather.com, the forecast currently says mostly cloudy with overcast skies throughout the afternoon but that will be a best case scenario. The closer we get to kickoff, the closer the storm is getting to the Carolina’s, Georgia, Virginia and the Chesapeake. Keep an eye on the NFLW forecast because East Coast weather will be changing dramatically and drastically over the next few days. As the weather worsens in the greater D.C. area, anticipate torrential rain and raging wind for Sunday’s non-conference bout (if the league doesn’t move it).
Rain has not led to many favorable results in recent years for the Washington Redskins (1-0). Since 2009, the ‘Skins are 3-6 in rain games and 0-3 at home during that span Perhaps an experienced veteran under center like Alex Smith, who has played in dozens of professional games in crummy conditions, can reverse the curse in D.C.
When asked by reports about how to handle the rain, Smith simply said, “ball security and ball handling are a premium. Fundamentals and attention to detail are a premium when playing in bad weather.” Smith is certainly one to know about ball security given the former first overall pick has only turned the ball over five times in his last seven games impacted by poor weather.
Given how well Washington ran the ball last week at Arizona (24-6 victory) the team might not even need to rely on Smith’s arm. The ‘Skins only averaged 90.5 rushing yards per game a year ago but managed to roll through the Cardinals’ defense for a league-best 182 rushing yards. Newly acquired veteran RB Adrian Peterson torched Arizona for 96 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. AP even tacked on 70 yards receiving, showing us signs of the AP of old but he wasn’t alone. Chris Thompson averaged 13 yards a carry from only five touches but Thompson tacked on a TD and 63 receiving yards. This two headed monster in the backfield is what Indy should fear most, especially in a mud bowl.
Like the ‘Skins, the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) are pretty poor in rain games. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Colts are 0-3 in the rain since 2014 including a 23-16 loss to Baltimore last season followed the very next week by the famous Blizzard Bowl in Buffalo which the Colts lost as well. Even though Indy plays it’s home games in a dome, it’s time to adapt to the conditions and finally win one in the rain.
But there is hope. Finally, the Colts have a healthy Andrew Luck back at quarterback who nearly beat the Panthers in a rain game in 2015 until Indy fell in overtime. Against Carolina, Luck still dropped back 47 times so it’s clear rain won’t deter the gunslinger from dropping back. Heavy winds, however, could alter the passing game plan of attack all together.
If winds do pick up, the Colts are hopeful running back Marlon Mack will be healthy enough to suit up. Mack missed the 34-23 loss to Cincinnati last week and in his place was Jordan Wilkins who had an incredibly ineffective 40 yards from 14 carries performance. Given, the team was without star left tackle Anthony Castonzo (also protects Luck’s blindside) who hopefully will be good to go for week two.
If Sunday rolls around and the league hasn’t moved the game to a different time/location, assume Hurricane Florence will completely disrupt both sides’ passing games. That said, it appears the ‘Skins have the edge both defensively and in the ground game. But just because the Colts haven’t won in the rain in a few years doesn't mean they can’t handle both the natural elements and the home team. If it comes down to a field goal, don’t forget Indy has the most clutch kicker in the history of the league in Adam Vinatieri.
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