by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 01-14-2018 08:00
In the Jags five coldest games in franchise history, the team posts a 1-4 record with the lone win coming against the Black and Gold. The only team to beat the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season was Jacksonville, and that second win was a frigid January playoff win. This game seems like a slam dunk win for the Steelers but if weather-related history between these former division rivals has taught us anything, it’s that the Jaguars have Pittsburgh’s number.
According to NFLWeather.com, game time temps for the 1:05pm EST kickoff will be in the 18-20 range but will feel more like a shivering ten given the light wind. In the days leading up to the rematch from the regular season, Pittsburgh is going to experience a heavy dose of a wintery mix with rain and snow to open the weekend. With horrendous weather on Friday and into Saturday, once temperatures plummet (as they’re expected to do), there’s a chance for icy conditions on Sunday. Since temps will be so low and precipitation still very much a possibility, snow could also sneak its way into the game day forecast.
In early October, the Jags ripped through the Steelers with a shocking 30-9 road win at Heinz Field which was the victory that solidified the team as a legit contender this season. Jacksonville pulled off the win by pounding the ball between the tackles with Leonard Fournette who finished the afternoon with two touchdowns and 181 yards from 28 touches. Quarterback Blake Bortles didn’t need to be a hero that afternoon with the former first-rounder finishing the day completing 8-of-14 attempts for only 85 yards and an interception. Nothing needs to change from the team’s previous game plan and Fournette should see another massive workload against a defense that allows on average over 105 rushing yards per game and terrible winter weather is expected in the weekend forecast.
In the Jags’ last two road games featuring below freezing temps, the team was 0-2 including a Week 17 15-10 loss at Tennessee (most starters were rested). Pittsburgh in sub 32-degree weather on the other hand, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, is 16-4 in the cold since 2009 and 10-3 at home. Having won nine straight in frigid conditions, it seems nearly impossible to lose this week, but if Antonio Brown is a no-go, the Steelers could be in trouble against one of the league’s top defenses.
If AB can’t shake his illness and lingering calf injury, Juju Smit-Schuster and Martavis Bryant will be Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to targets and both speedsters have made plenty of big plays this season. USA Today’s Steve Gardner even included Smith-Schuster in his All-Waiver Wire Team. “There were several times fantasy owners could have grabbed the rookie wideout off waivers, but a touchdown catch in Week 4 signaled his arrival,” Gardner wrote in his most recent article. “Smith-Schuster caught seven passes for 193 yards and a score in Week 8 – and he dominated over the final two weeks of the season (218 yards, 2 TD’s, plus a kick return TD) with Antonio Brown sidelined by injury.”
With or without AB, the passing game anchored by Big Ben will have to find a way to flourish. Thankfully Roethlisberger is the ideal QB to have under center is a game featuring crummy weather conditions, but with a running back like Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers’ offense instantly becomes one of the most high-octane offenses in the league. Bell, who didn’t dress Week 17, has also become the most dynamic running back in football and his weekly fantasy numbers in Draft Kings back it up. In his last five starts, Bell has averaged an impressive 30.44 points per week, making him worth every penny.
Three months after pulling off a remarkable upset, the AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars are headed back to Pittsburgh to do something they’ve done before... beat the Steelers in the Burgh in the postseason. With New England the destination for the victor, if Jacksonville can hold off Mother Nature and the Steelers constricting defense, we could see the upset of the postseason thus far.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 01-04-2018 20:00
Arctic temperatures and blizzards have swept through much of the East Coast and the Midwest this week and Saturday late afternoon in Kansas City will be no different when the Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans in a Wildcard weekend ice bowl opener.
According to NFLWeather.com, clear skies are expected in Arrowhead Stadium for Saturday’s 4:35pm EST kickoff but the grass surface will resemble a frozen tundra given temperatures will feel more like 15 degrees despite a thermometer reading of about 10 degrees higher. The breeze is expected to pick up as the evening goes on but for now the wind will likely swirl in the 10-12mph range. As of Wednesday, there was less than a 5% chance of precipitation but with rain/snow in the Sunday forecast, there’s a good chance flurries could make a cameo appearance.
Just over a year ago, the Titans stormed into Kansas City on a freezing afternoon and stunned the Chiefs in identical playing conditions (if not colder). The Titans didn’t play the perfect game, tossing a pick and fumbling twice, but they successfully grinded out a difficult win in an extremely tough atmosphere to snag a coveted road win. If they can cut back on the turnovers, Tennessee has the potential to pull off a massive playoff upset and escape Arrowhead with another shocking win in less than favorable winter conditions.
Prior to beating the Chiefs last season, fourth-seeded Tennessee (9-7) was 0-4 in their previous four games when temps dipped below freezing but the Titans have been victorious in their last two straight. The most recent being a 15-10 win over Jacksonville to seal a spot in the playoffs and sweep the AFC South champions. Tennessee did it not by pounding the ball nor picking apart the Jags’ stout D thru the air, they did it by simply winning the turnover and time of possession battle.
Whether the team can pull it off again will all come down to the play and decision-making of quarterback Marcus Mariota whose inconsistency has been the team’s Achilles heel all year. Against the Jaguars last week in the freezing conditions, the former Heisman winner had a humble 12-for-21 afternoon for only 134 yards and a touchdown (10 rushes for 60 yards as well) but the goose egg in the INT department was really the only statistic that mattered. He’ll need to be more of a presence against the KC D and the only way to do so is having his top targets, wideout Rishard Matthews and tight end Delanie Walker, find some space in the Chiefs’ secondary. Especially with running back DeMarco Murray still a bit dinged up, the ground game may have to rely on Derrick Henry who’s been a stud the second half of the second but without an impactful aerial assault, the Titans’ offense could freeze up in the cold.
Like Tennessee, fifth-seeded Kansas City (10-6) has had tremendous success pounding the football all season. The Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt stormed onto the scene this season and is a genuine candidate for rookie of the year. USA Today’s Steve Gardner pointed out in his most recent article that Hunt wasn’t expected to be much of a factor last week, surprising fantasy owners when he found the end zone. “Hunt wasn’t expected to play much, if at all with the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff position secure,” Gardner wrote. “He touched the ball once – a 35-yard touchdown run – and that was it.” He’ll be the go-to back this week and being a $1,600 cheaper play in Draft Kings than Todd Gurley this week makes Hunt a solid start in daily fantasy likely to see tons of action, especially given the winter wonderland setting on Saturday which could lead to increasingly awful passing conditions in the wind picks up or rain/snow arrives.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2010 the Chiefs are 9-8 in games featuring freezing temperatures including a 6-5 record at home over that span. In fact, the last two KC wins this season have been in back-to-back weeks, with the most recent victory being a 27-24 win in Denver last week where all the KC starters were rested for the playoffs. The week before the Chiefs solidified the AFC West title following a 29-13 drumming of Miami where QB Alex Smith had his best game of the season by completing 25-of-39 attempts for 304 yards and a TD.
Smith had a terrible outing the last time KC hosted a playoff game so all eyes will be on the former first overall pick to shine. The loss to Pittsburgh in the Divisional round last season was a rough one, which featuring Travis Kelce picking up a personal foul penalty at the worst possible moment late in the fourth quarter. Time for Kelce and company to redeem themselves, and this time around the team has Tyreek Hill ready to be the explosive offensive weapon he’s been all season.
If you go by what Vegas thinks, Kansas City is expected to be the frontrunner to advance this weekend with a -8.5 opening line, the largest of any of the four wildcard matchup spreads. But this, my friends, is the playoffs and with Mother Nature rearing her ugly head in Missouri, anything and everything can happen on Saturday!
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 12-29-2017 08:00
According to NFLWeather.com, clear skies are expected in Nashville on Sunday for the 4:25pm EST kickoff but a piercing wind will be the real challenge for both divisional rivals. Temperatures will be in the mid-20’s but will feel more like single digits since the breeze will likely be a constant 10-12 mph frigid swirl. There’s currently less than a 5% chance of precipitation but given the recent blizzards that have hit the Great Lakes, who knows if we’ll see a dusting of snow on the Bermuda grass inside Nissan Stadium.
A win for Tennessee (8-7) clinches the sixth seed in the AFC that will likely mean a trip to Jacksonville (10-5) next weekend in the wildcard round. A loss won’t necessarily eliminate the Titans, but the team would need losses from both Buffalo and the Los Angeles Chargers in order to sneak in. So it’s pretty simple for the Titans, a win and they’re in, but they’ll need to conquer both the Jags and the frosty winter conditions to do so.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Titans are 1-4 since 2010 in games featuring below-freezing temperatures while Jacksonville is 0-1 over the same span. The frozen win came last season when Marcus Mariota valiantly brought the Titans back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to stun the Chiefs in Kansas City, 19-17. If Mariota can do it in KC in mid-December, the former Heisman winner can do it again at home this week. He’ll just need help from his bruising backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to wear down the league’s third best defensive unit.
If you look at the Titans’ performances over the past few weeks, the team is ice cold. Tennessee has dropped three straight, all of which by five points or less. But there’s hope, given TEN has already played and pummeled JAX once this season, a 37-16 thrashing in Florida. In that win, the Titans were able to shut down the strength of the Jacksonville offense, the punishing ground game which has steamrolled through top defenses all season and averages over 145 rushing yards per game. But after last week’s defensive performance against the LA Rams rushing attack, the Tennessee D needs to step up big time or enjoy watching the playoffs from the couch.
USA Today’s Steve Gardner had nothing but praise for the running back that absolutely torched the Titans last week and likely elevated fantasy owners to a league title, Todd Gurley. Gardner pointed out in his most recent article that “Gurley carried the ball 22 times for 118 yards and added 10 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. That translated to 39.6 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues, and 49.6 in PPR leagues,” Gardner wrote. If Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette can accumulate half of what Gurley did, then the rookie RB might drive the final stake through the heart of the Titans’ playoff hopes.
The Jaguars’ punishing ground game has been the strength of the JAX offense all season, but don’t sleep on the passing attack. Quarterback Blake Bortles has shockingly been remarkable the last few weeks, pointing up at least 23 points or more in Daily Fantasy in four of his last five games. Given, Bortles hasn’t played many games in winter conditions so it’s difficult to predict how he’ll handle the elements, but with the ground game that Jacksonville has, there’s no reason why the team needs to relay on the former first-rounders’ cannon. It’ll be the Fournette show for sure.
Tennessee fans can hope and pray that their team will heat up on Sunday given a postseason berth is on the line, but the freezing temperatures on the other hand, well, there’s little to no chance of that heating up.
by The NFLWeather Team | 12-28-2017 08:00
Check out the great work of Tyler Sullivan covering the Patriots, over at 247sports.com. Also, have in mind that there is a weather alert for Foxborough for the regular season finale.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 12-23-2017 17:00
The 2017 campaign for both the Browns and the Bears has been a dark and dreary one, in fact, both seasons for the storied franchises have been about as bleak as the ice-cold Christmas Eve weather destined for Chicago on Sunday.
According to NFLWeather.com, conditions along the banks of Lake Michigan will be nothing short of miserable. The thermometer will read in the low-20s for the 1pm EST kickoff but a piercing 10-14mph breeze will drop the wind chill down to almost single digits. Precipitation is not currently in the forecast but the lake-effect could easily provide some afternoon flurries.
Both teams have already played in and lost one game featuring freezing temperatures this season, but a week 16 win would be the perfect early Christmas gift for fans crazy enough to brave the frozen front inside Solider Field. Week 16 is particularly important, as it is typically the championship week in most fantasy playoff formats, and this cold matchup could provide an option that could potentially win a fantasy championship; despite both teams never once being mentioned in the NFL postseason debate all year.
USA Today's Steve Gardner believes that particular play could be in the form of the Chicago Bears defense, which has scored double digits in daily fantasy five times already this season. "The Bears are this week's click to pick, playing at home against the winless Cleveland Browns" Gardner wrote. "QB DeShone Kizer has thrown an NFL-high 19 interceptions. Defenses matched up against the Browns rank first in fantasy points, with an average of 12.8 per week." In a frosty matchup against Cincinnati in week 14, the Bears defense put up 11 in Draft Kings following the 33-7 frigid road win.
Against the Bengals, it wasn't just the Chicago (4-10) defense that rose to the occasion despite the crummy conditions. Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky had his best outing of the season, completing 25-of-32 attempts for 271 yards and a pair of touchdowns (one rushing). But his most impressive stat from the victory was zero turnovers. The rookie targeted Kendall Wright 11 times and the wideout hauled in 10 for 1-7 yards. Wright was one of eight different receivers Trubisky found against the Bengals. For only $4,700 in DK, Trubisky could be a sneaky cheap play this week against a D that allowed Brett Hundley to throw for three TD’s in similar playing conditions.
As electric as the Bears passing game was in the cold at Cincy, the ground game was even more on fire. Jordan Howard torched the Bengals for 147 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns while Tarik Cohen added 80 yards on 12 touches. The Browns haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher each of the last three weeks but given how dominating the Bears rushing attack has been all season, averaging almost 120 yards on the ground per game, that streak for Cleveland is likely to come to an end.
Like Chicago, the Browns (0-14) offensive strength has been the ground game and if Cleveland has any intention of breaking the winless streak this weekend, the boys in the backfield need to overcome the Bears front seven and the less than favorable conditions. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. have been the one-two punch all season and Sunday will be no different. While Johnson Jr. sees more action in the passing down on third downs, the Crow will dominate the early down touches and if snow becomes a factor as temps plummet, Crowell could see an even heavier dose of carries.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 the Browns are 6-10 when temps are below-32 including a devastating 27-21 overtime loss to Green Bay this season. Over the same span, Chicago isn’t exactly much better, posting an 8-11 record with the 33-7 shivering win over Cincy was the first frozen W for the Bears since November of 2014.
For Cleveland to break the duck, Kizer needs to play like the Browns QB of the future. In terrible conditions against GB, the rookie put up admirable numbers during his three TD performance but his two interceptions were the ultimate determining factor in the loss to the Packers. Josh Gordon was heavily involved in that loss at home and he'll be the go-to guy early and often against Chicago.
If the Bears can’t figure out a solution to stopping Gordon, Sunday night will be a silent night in Chicago.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 12-14-2017 10:00
The Pittsburgh forecast over the next few days is a wild one, featuring snow, rain and below freezing temperatures. With horrendous winter conditions expected on Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the New England Patriots for [practically] home field in the AFC, for die-hard and neutral football fans alike, it truly doesn’t get any better than this.
According to NFLWeather.com, Sunday temperatures are likely to be in the high-30s but will feel much closer to sub-freezing with the 5-6mph winds likely to pick up as the afternoon rolls on. Given the game is a 4:25pm EST kickoff inside Heinz Field, once the sun goes down conditions will only get colder. The Burgh is anticipating the cold front featuring snow to arrive Wednesday or Thursday (3-5 inches) with only a 20% of snow heading into the weekend as temps slowly pick back up. However, precipitation is expected on Sunday, and whatever the temperature is will dictate whether it’s freezing rain or snow flurries.
A win for Pittsburgh (11-2) will clinch a first-round bye but a win and a Jacksonville loss or tie solidifies the AFC top seed and home field advantage. Technically, all New England (10-3) needs this week to guarantee a playoff spot is a Baltimore loss or tie but if the Patriots win or tie against the Steelers then NE will be locked in for the AFC East crown. With so much on the line, neither side can afford to let Mother Nature be a negative intangible factor this weekend.
The Steelers rarely get flustered by the rain, snow or even frigid temperatures. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2010 the
Much of that success can be credited to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who is the ideal QB to have under center when weather is a factor. Since 2012, Big Ben has only turned the ball over six times in weather impacted matchups while posting an incredible 13-2 record over that span. It’s definitely helped to have playmakers like Antonio Brown as an outlet, but JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant have also been extremely effective in the passing game (when not suspended). Even if Roethlisberger throws half of the passing attempts he did a week ago, that’s 33 drop backs against a NE secondary that allows the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league.
But with weather a massive factor, Pittsburgh will likely lean on the best back in the league, Le’Veon Bell. USA Today’s Steve Gardner even blessed Bell’s most recent performance with his ‘Even Broader Shoulders Award’ in his article this week. “Bell did it all against the Baltimore Ravens, rushing for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns and catching nine passes for 77 yards and another score” Gardner wrote. “All that effort in a wild conclusion to Sunday’s NFL slate resulted in 30.5 standard fantasy points for Bell and 39.5 in PPR formats.”
Shutting down Bell is absolutely imperative if New England has any shot of escaping a frozen Heinz Field with a crucial win this Sunday. The Pats' rushing defense surrendered over 300 yards on the ground over the last two weeks but has stymied solid rushing attacks previously this season, like a New Orleans group that was held to only 81 yards on the ground. The NE defense has stepped up before this season and can do it again, and we all know Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady have Pittsburgh’s number, having won the last four straight meetings.
Speaking of Brady, Tom Terrific has truly lived up to his name even more so as the weather worsens. In his last dozen games impacted by the elements, Brady is 11-1 and averages over 35 passing attempts an outing. That being said, a light snow or scattered shower won’t deter TB12 from unleashing against the Steelers’ secondary that was absolutely torched by Joe Flacco a week ago.
With Rob Gronkowski returning from suspension, expect the massive to tight end to get a massive number of targets against that weakened Ryan Shazier-less D. Wideouts Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan had abysmal performances against the Miami Dolphins on Monday but the speedsters should have no issues torching that defense, even in the snow.
With all the makings of a high scoring shootout, it’s absolutely awesome that home field advantage in the AFC can potentially all come down to who has the ball last. Both teams have the most clutch quarterbacks and kickers in the league so let’s hope this is just another intense chapter in this incredible rivalry.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 12-08-2017 08:00
The Browns over the last few years have been about as riveting as shoveling snow but the Dog Pound will have a much happier holiday season if Cleveland can play Grinch and steal Green Bay’s wildcard wishes.
According to NFLWeather.com, flurries are expected for the 1pm kickoff between these two storied franchises on Sunday inside FirstEnergy Stadium. A 20mph wind will be swirling off Lake Erie, giving players and fans alike a frigid lake effect where the thermometer might show low-30s but it will feel less than half that, in the low-teens for game time temps.
Cleveland (0-12) have little to play for, aside from the top overall draft pick, but the next two games are against fringe playoff contenders so the opportunity to play the role of spoiler is definitely a reason to finish the season strong. The team is coming off a frustrating loss to the Chargers where the Browns let a second half lead slip away. But there was a positive talking point postgame, the return of Josh Gordon to the Browns offense and his immediate involvement.
If the Browns have any hopes of pulling off the snowy upset, they’ll need Gordon to play like a veteran and make some plays for his rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. Kizer’s accuracy has been an issue but if the snow gets extremely heavy, the rookie will see plenty of designed run plays which could make him a decent cheap start in daily fantasy for less than $5,000. With the weather being a major factor this week, Kizer can’t afford any turnovers like he did a week ago with a fumble late in the fourth and an INT.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Cleveland is 0-4 in their last four snow games and if the Browns’ mediocre ground game can’t manage better than the 105 yards per game they currently average, you can bank on that trend continuing. Only once this season has Isaiah Crowell seen less than double digit carries and in a game featuring terrible weather, the Crow should see more action than Duke Johnson Jr. who’s generally more of a factor in the passing game when the team is trailing. Maybe this will finally be the week the team isn’t trailing when the clock hits 0:00.
Green Bay (6-6) is still very much in the hunt for a wildcard spot but need to grind out gritty wins against weaker opponents in crummy conditions, like in the snow on Sunday at the winless Browns. With a 3-1 record in their last four games featuring flurries, the Pack know a thing or two about how to approach and game plan for freezing matchups late in the year.
The easiest way to do that, win the battle in the trenches and create holes between the tackles for the Green Bay running backs to do all the work and dominate the time of possession. It’s been tough to predict who the lead back will be each week in GB, but USA Today’s Steve Gardner thinks that GB running back Aaron Jones is back on the up-and-up. “Jones had a pair of 100-yard games earlier in the season before a knee injury moved Jamaal Williams into the starting role,” Gardner wrote this week. “Although Williams has been solid, Jones came back on Sunday with a game-winning 20-yard touchdown run in overtime. With Aaron Rodgers’ return on the horizon, the Packers offense could be much better down the stretch.” It’s also worth noting that Jones is $1,200 cheaper on Draft Kings than his counterpart.
Speaking of star QB Aaron Rodgers, the former Super Bowl winner has returned to throwing the football but won’t suit up for at least another week. Brett Hundley will continue to start under center and after a terrific performance at Pittsburgh in a game featuring freezing temperatures; the young QB looked less than impressive this past week against Tampa Bay but Hundley pulled out the all-important win.
If the fate of the game comes down to kickers, with the colder temps typically not allowing the ball to travel quite as far, GB’s Mason Crosby gets the edge solely based on experience. The Packers vet has missed four FG’s this season, one less than Cleveland’s Zane Gonzalez whose botched five in 2017, four of which were shanked at home. Let’s see how that Kentucky bluegrass holds up in the snow…
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-30-2017 16:00
Only the Buffalo Bills could manage to freeze out their starting quarterback, bring him back, and still somehow be in the thick of contention for a playoff spot. With a pivotal divisional matchup on the horizon against the seemingly unstoppable Patriots is a tall task but with the help of a cold front and flurries in the forecast, maybe Mother Nature can help the Bills pull off a desperately needed upset in the snow and keep their postseason hopes alive.
According to NFLWeather.com, snow flurries are possible for the 1pm EST kickoff at Orchard Park, NY inside New Era Field with light winds around 10mph. The thermometer may only show mid-30s but the wind chill will feel much more like the high-20s for the bundled up fans and players.
New England (9-2) has been an absolute juggernaut in the snow for a number of years now but the Pats are definitely beatable, though highly unlikely. New England did lose in Denver, 30-24, back in 2015 but prior to that loss to the Broncos the Pats won their previous two snowy road games by outscoring the opposition a ridiculous 70-10.
Quarterback Tom Brady deserves much, but not all of the credit, for New England’s terrific success in weather impacted match-ups. There’s no question he’ll be heavily targeting tight end Rob Gronkowski, especially if the weather worsens, but the weekly debate continues of which WR will step up as Brady’s top target alongside Gronk and emerging superstar Brandin Cooks? Since Chris Hogan is listed as questionable, count on Danny Amendola to surprise fantasy owners against a secondary that surrenders over 240 passing yards per game.
Like the receiver situation, it’s been tough to predict the lead dog in the Pats’ crowded backfield. But USA Today’s Steve Gardner believes Rex Burkhead is the top fantasy play lining up behind Tom Terrific. “He’s getting consistent touches in the red zone,” Gardner wrote. “Even though Dion Lewis is the primary ball carrier (for now), Burkhead’s additional value in the passing game makes him the Patriots back to own in fantasy.” Despite Lewis seeing double digit touches in six straight games, being $500 cheaper in Draft Kings makes Burkhead an attractive play in a game featuring crummy playing conditions.
On the opposing sideline, Gardner believes Zay Jones could be a sleeping giant in the Bills’ passing attack. “It’s taken awhile for Jones’ role in the offense to expand, but injuries to Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews have led to an uptick in targets,” Gardner said in his most recent article. “The rookie is coming off a career-high 10 targets and his second career touchdown.” The rookie may see more targets, but bank on running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Charles Clay being the primary focal points of the Bills offense.
Jones will desperately need to provide some support to QB Tyrod Taylor who has seen his fair share of successes and failures in the falling snow. Last year in a 33-13 snowy win over Cleveland, Taylor completed 17 of 24 attempts for 174 yards and touchdown, while also adding 49 rushing yards from seven carries. Most importantly, Taylor avoided turning the ball over, something he couldn’t do in a 27-20 loss to Pittsburgh in the snow in 2016. Taylor’s only tossed three picks all season, but the shifty QB has fumbled on a number of occasions and simply can’t afford to do so on Sunday.
Buffalo (6-5) this season has been about as unpredictable as the local weather. After dropping three straight to beatable opponents, the Bills stunned the Chiefs in Kansas City and are immediately back in the hunt for a postseason berth. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Bills are 2-3 in their five most recent snow games including 1-1 last season. If Buffalo can win the turnover and time of possession battle, maybe they’ll have a chance this week.
The A-Turf surface in Buffalo has hosted plenty of great snow games over the years and here’s to hoping we see another snowy classic. A win for the Bills might not exactly add them to the conversation of AFC East title contender, but a wildcard possibility would be just as likely to feature in the upcoming forecast as the inevitable upstate NY winter blizzards.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-24-2017 08:00
Weather in the Bay Area is always unpredictable and what better time for a potential rain storm than when the Raiders host the Broncos for a classic showdown featuring one of the NFL’s most beautifully black and blue rivalries.
According to NFLWeather.com, overcast skies will be present for the 1:25 PST kickoff inside the Oakland Coliseum but a light rain is expected in the early evening. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-low 60s but a swirling wind of 10-12mph could be an issue if the gusts pick up. With the addition of some drizzle, the bluegrass surface routinely torn up when the weather turns nasty will hopefully do just that on Sunday, much like all the Turkey Bowl fields scattered across America on Thanksgiving Day.
Even though both sides are struggling mightily, this week’s matchup is absolutely crucial if either team has any postseason ambition. Denver (3-7) is making a change at Offensive Coordinator while Oakland (4-6) is doing the same defensively. Will that have a major impact on the Broncos offense against the Raiders defense? Well, it will probably feel like the change couldn’t have done any worse.
Denver started the season strong but the recent cold streak has resulted in Paxton Lynch getting the nod under center this week. If wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders can’t shake off the secondary and find some space in the seams for Lynch, the Denver passing game is in real trouble.
That being said, a lot lies on the stagnant Broncos rushing game that’s currently ranked 29th in the league. C.J. Anderson will likely share some carries with Devontae Booker but maybe this will finally be the week Jamaal Charles shows us the unstoppable Charles of old. With wind and rain a potential factor, it was afternoons like this where the veteran shined his brightest.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Raiders are 3-6 in the rain since 2009 while the Broncos are 3-3. Oakland has already played and lost in one rain game this season, a 34-14 drumming by the Bills in Buffalo, but the Raiders are a team built for rain games and a win on Sunday leaves them only one game shy of getting back to .500.
Quarterback Derek Carr appears to be back to full health, and given that the Fresno State grad has 49 or more passing attempts in three of his last four outings, there’s no reason to believe he won’t come out gunning; despite going against a Denver D that surrenders less than 200 passing yards per game. With Carr back to 100% and the duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on both of his flanks, the Raiders passing attack still seems like a sleeping giant ready to go off.
But the rain could force Oakland to the ground game where bruising back Marshawn Lynch will see the majority of carries over Deandre Washington and Jalen Rishard. All three backs are simply boom-or-bust fantasy plays, but a high ceiling this week with wind being a factor could make one of them a very sneaky play, especially Lynch who is only $4,000 in Draft Kings.
A loss for either Denver or Oakland this week basically would bring each of their respective seasons to a disappointing close. Well, not necessarily, but what more motivation does either of these two rivals need than to gloriously rain on the other’s entire 2017 parade.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-23-2017 08:00
The Turkey Bowl is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as the pumpkin is with Halloween. Whether it’s a game of touch or tackle football in the yard or park, the only proper way to do the holiday is to start it with football and it end with football.
With three NFL games spread beautifully across the holiday afternoon, there’s no shortage of action to catch when sneaking away from the family. Of the three NFL Thanksgiving Day games, the only outdoor game is at FedEx Field where the Washington Redskins (4-6) host the New York Giants (2-8) in what will certainly be a sizzling battle between bitter division rivals in extremely frigid conditions.
According to NFLWeather.com, temperatures for the 8:30pm kickoff will begin in the mid-30s but could potentially dip into the 20s. Even if the thermometer might not show 20 degrees, the players and fans will definitely feel the below freezing temps since the wind chill will be unavoidable. Rain isn’t likely but weekly forecast have seen a fluctuation from a 10-30% chance of precipitation so it won’t be a huge surprise if flurries or freezing rain make an appearance on the grass surface.
If the partly cloudy skies indeed send rain, both the Redskins and Giants have already played in at least one rain game this season. Washington lost at home to Dallas, 33-19, but downed the Seahawks in Seattle, 17-14. The New York Football Giants beat Tampa Bay with Eli Manning having one of his best games of the season by completing 30-of-49 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. The passing attack has been the strength of the NY offense but it’ll take more than a solid Manning performance to beat the ‘Skins in an icy D.C.
The Giants’ offensive issues start with an extremely shaky and constantly changing o-line that hasn’t been able to help any of the countless players who have lined up in the New York backfield this season. Orleans Darkwa, if healthy, will likely be the lead back on Thursday with Wayne Gallman, Shane Vereen, Paul Perkins and Shane Smith as the other potential victims for the Washington defense to gobble up. Wide-out Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram are Giants fans’ last lone hope for possible players to find the end zone but as conditions worsen on Thanksgiving, the team might be forced to resort to the ground game.
Washington’s offense has been up and down all season and absolutely plagued by injuries. USA Today’s Steve Gardner wrote about the crushing injury to the ‘Skins backfield with Chris Thompson suffering a season-ending injury. But as Gardner mentioned, “the silver lining is that fellow rookie RB Samaje Perine had by far his best game, rushing for 117 yards and a TD on 23 touches.” Gardner also noted in his most recent article that Byron Marshall might be a worthy pickup as Perine’s backup who will see “plenty of third down action” and if rain is a factor, QB Kirk Cousins might favor checking down to his backs.
Gardner offered another piece of advice regarding Redskins players by keeping an eye out for wideout Josh Doctson on the waiver wire. Now that Terrelle Pryor is out with an injury, Doctson is the clear number two option behind Jamison Crowder who’s been targeted an average of almost 11 times per game over the last three weeks. There’s a chance TE Jordan Reed may miss another week, allowing veteran Vernon Davis to step up as Cousins’ go to in the redzone.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Washington is 2-3 in freezing temps since 2009 while the Giants are 2-5. Neither has necessarily found a ton of success in recent seasons but maybe this matchup in freezing conditions will spark a hot streak for either struggling side.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-16-2017 12:00
According to NFLWeather.com, it will be overcast and rain is probable with the temperatures dipping below freezing overnight. There’s a good chance freezing rain could be in the mix for the 8:25pm Thursday night kickoff. Wind should only top out around 8mph but the unpredictable open end zone at Heinz Field could cause some issues in the kicking game. Snow hasn’t been mentioned just yet but with flurries in Cleveland’s Sunday forecast, who knows just how bad the weather can get on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh (7-2) historically has been a tough team to beat when rain or freezing temps are a factor, let alone both. Since 2010, the Black and Gold are 10-3 in rain games including victories in eight of their last nine. More impressively, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Pittsburgh has won seven straight games when the temp is below freezing and the team is 14-4 since 2009.
Much of the Steelers’ success can be attributed to veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who with his large frame and ability to shrug off defenders makes him a top QB for competing in crummy conditions. Since 2012, Big Ben is 12-3 in weather impacted games and over that 15 game span, he’s only turned the ball over seven times. Roethlisberger has had his troubles this season but against a secondary that surrenders over 230 passing yards per game, this could be the matchup to get Big Ben back on track. With Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and Antonio Brown running routes with rookie sensation JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger has no excuses for an inability to move the football.
Tennessee (6-3) has quietly been sitting atop the AFC South and now that the team is finally starting to see its stars at full health, this could be a dangerous team to see in January. The recent bye week looks to have done tight end Delanie Walker some good as well as lead back DeMarco Murray whose name seems to pop up on the injury report on a weekly basis. But as the weeks go by, Murray appears to be sharing more of his carries with Derrick Henry who now has double digit carries in three of his last four games. With rain in the forecast, expect both backs to see plenty of touches.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota might not have the rain game NFL experience as Big Ben has but the former Heisman winner played his college ball at Oregon so the young gunslinger knows a thing or two about prepping for rain. One thing that Mariota does have in common with Roethlisberger is his mobility in the pocket and in a rain game like Thursday’s, don’t be surprised to see a few Cam Newton-like designed QB runs.
But without help from his receivers, Mariota could be in for a long, frigid night. USA Today’s Steve Gardner was high on Corey Davis last week and for all the right reasons, Gardner was spot on with Davis seeing double digit targets. Rishard Matthews is the other receiving threat (Eric Decker has been non-existent) but Walker at TE is Mariota’s primary go-to.
Heinz Field is notorious for having one of the more battered and bruised playing surfaces in the league and with weather a factor on Thursday, this game, ultimately, could come down to which kicking game messes up the least.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-09-2017 08:00
Fall is fading fast and now that the foliage has come and gone, snow will slowly creep into the forecasts and Sunday afternoon when the Bills host the Saints in the rain, as temperatures drop the likelihood for sleet or even snow is very much a frigid possibility.
According to NFLWeather.com, Buffalo will be blanketed by overcast skies on Sunday with rain expected for the 1pm kickoff. Too bad the game isn’t the primetime match up since the potential for snow is very likely. Temperatures should be in the mid-to-low 30s with minimal wind of around 8-10 mph.
This will be the Bills’ (5-3) third rain game of the season, having lost 20-16 at Cincinnati but the team bounced back by handling the Raiders and the rain at home nicely for a 34-14 win. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Bills are 4-8 in the rain since 2010 and if flurries happen to fall, the team has posted a snowy 2-3 record at home since ’10.
Buffalo has an offense built for bad weather. They’re anchored by a mobile and versatile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, who despite only a 1-3 career record in rain games is an underrated fantasy start when weather is an issue given Taylor has 35 or more passing attempts in three of his four career rain games. Running back LeSean McCoy will see plenty of carries but the shifty running back has also snagged six receptions in each of his last two rain games.
Buffalo’s balanced rushing and passing attack has been solid all season and with Kelvin Benjamin joining the mix, the Bills are a legitimate force in the AFC. USA Today’s Steve Gardner thinks Deonte Thompson could be the sneaky fantasy play of the week, especially in daily fantasy where the Buffalo wide-out is only $3,600 on Draft Kings. “The addition of Kelvin Benjamin will cut into Thompson’s targets, but his seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown last Thursday may help keep Thompson on the field,” Gardner wrote.
New Orleans (6-2) doesn’t compete in many matchups featuring precipitation, but a few weeks ago the Saints waltzed into Lambeau Field and escaped the Green Bay storms with a 26-17 victory. Veteran QB Drew Brees, who normally wears gloves when weather is a factor, ditched the gloves against the Pack which resulted in a huge road win. Well, maybe it wasn’t the glove that was the problem, but whatever was causing the Saints rain game woes is no more.
The Saints’ offense over recent years has basically been the Drew Brees show but in the victory against GB where weather was an issue, it was the RB’s in the backfield behind him that reigned supreme. Mark Ingram was the lead back who racked up 105 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown with Alvin Kamara chipping in nine touches for 57 yards. Both backs also aided the passing game with a combined nine receptions but it was Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Thomas who stole the show with a combined 14 receptions for over 220 yards.
New Era Field’s A-Turf Titan has already hosted one rain game this season but here’s to hoping we see some flurries stick to the artificial surface in Orchard Park. We’ve seen wind, rain and lightning feature in NFL games this season; maybe this week we’ll get the first glimpse of a snowy winter wonderland.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 11-03-2017 13:30
The New York Football Giants season, thus far, has been about as stagnant as a mud puddle, and as the G-men brace for rain and the Rams high-scoring offense on Sunday, is anything expected to change for the better? Well, for the sake of some decent football, let’s hope so!
According to NFLWeather.com, light rain is expected in East Rutherford on Sunday and likely will linger all afternoon. MetLife Stadium’s Field turf has hosted plenty of rainy matchups and the effects of the drizzle will only slick the artificial surface and pigskin a bit. The wind shouldn’t be much of an issue, hanging around 8-10 mph, and cool temperatures will be in the mid-60s. But if this weekend’s weather is anything like last weekend’s unpredictable forecast, a drizzle could turn to a downpour in an instant.
Los Angeles (5-2) doesn’t get the chance to play in many weather-impacted games but the team has found success in the rain as of late. Since 2009, the Rams are 4-1 in rain games with the lone loss being an absolute dismantling by the Patriots in London, 45-7. Aside from that, the elements don’t seem to slow the offense down, averaging over 25 points per rain game.
Offensively, the team that had the top pick just a few years ago now features one of the more potent and well-rounded rushing and passing units. The lead dog in the backfield has been Todd Gurley who’s racked up 22 or more touches in four of his last five games. He’s a bruising back between the tackles and the heavier the rain gets, the more carries we’ll see go to Gurley.
But it’s not just the running game that’s helped the Rams find a share of the summit of the NFC West with Seattle. Sophomore sensation Jared Goff genuinely looks like a polished professional and even though the kid doesn’t have a rain game start under his belt, he played in plenty of precipitation during his college days in the Bay Area at Cal. The real question isn’t whether the weather will get to Goff, it’s more so which of his receiving threats will emerge as his top target Sunday. Former first rounder Sammy Watkins is the lone big name but Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have also contributed to the passing attack.
While LA has a couple receiving threats, the Giants (1-6) have been hit hardest by the injury bug at the wide out position. USA Today’s Steve Gardner has mentioned Sterling Shepard in a couple of his previous preview pieces and while Shepard has had a handful of great games, the poor kid is a tough spot by being expected to fill the void left by Odell Beckham Jr and veteran Brandon Marshall. An unfair expectation, but after his seven receptions for 133 yard performance, Shepard has the potential to put up elite WR numbers especially with a veteran Super Winning quarterback like Eli Manning.
The only thing for Giants fans to witness that’s more unbearable to watch than the passing attack has been the ground game. Whether it’s been Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa or Wayne Gallman; to call them subpar would be a heavy understatement. The safe play in fantasy regarding the NY backfield is to simply steer clear, even if weather conditions may force the team to hand off a heavy amount.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Giants are 7-4 in the rain since 2009 with one loss coming in Tampa Bay earlier this season, 25-23. Manning finished the afternoon 30-for-49 for 288 yards and a pair of scores. Clearly the rain didn’t dictate the offensive play calling and barring a massive storm, little should change for this week nine matchup.
The reason for New York’s struggles can’t be pin-pointed to a specific position or even one side of the ball. As a whole, they’ve been brutal, and unless Eli can give us a Peyton-esc performance, the Rams will be a shocking 6-2.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-28-2017 10:00
Fall is officially in full-swing and while snow flurries are actually expected in some corners of the country, rain is once again east coast bound with the Redskins and Cowboys anticipating the worst of it at FedEx Field Sunday night.
According to NFLWeather.com, the Chesapeake forecast calls for heavy rains all day Sunday with swirling winds raging deep into the night. As the evening goes on, the precipitation will decrease but so will the temperatures. The temp at game time will be in the high-40s but it will feel more like mid-to-low 40s once the sun sets since it’s a 4:25p kickoff.
It’s been over five years since Dallas last won a rain game and Washington has snagged only one win in its last four previous rainy outings. Those subpar numbers are pretty astonishing given the NFC East features some nasty weather during the last two or three months of the regular season.
Washington (3-3) last won a rain game in 2015 when Kirk Cousins stormed into Chicago and stunned the Bears, 24-21. But even factoring in the win over the Bears, the ’Skins offense is stuck in the mud when weather is a factor, given the team averages less than 14 points per rain game. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Washington is 3-5 in the rain since 2009 with an 0-2 record at home.
Cousins will need to carry the Washington offense thru the mud given the team doesn’t have the effective running game that Dallas does. In his lone rain game start, Cousins completed 10 of his first 11 passes against Chicago and while battling the damp conditions, he ended the afternoon 24-of-31 with over 300 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley will split the workload with Thompsons likely to snag a few receptions but don’t expect big numbers from either rusher.
The Cowboys (3-3) lean heavily on their second year back Ezekiel Elliot and with this Sunday’s game featuring heavy wind and torrential rain, why change anything for Week Eight? USA Today’s Steve Gardner gave Elliot his Broad Shoulders Award following last week’s stellar performance. Elliott “single handedly carried his fantasy owners to victory,” Gardner wrote this week, noting the bruising back racked up 219 total yards and three touchdowns which amass to 36.5 fantasy points in a standard scoring league.
The top fantasy play from this matchup could end up being Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. An elusive runner in college, even tho Prescott has matched his interception total from a year ago, his mobility in Sunday’s mud bowl could be the x-factor Dallas needs for a crucial road win within the division. Even if Prescott turns the ball over once or twice, as long as he doesn’t let that get to him then the young gunslinger shouldn’t have a problem putting up solid numbers against the ‘Skins D.
Since Josh Norman will be blanketing Dez Bryant, the likelihood for punches to be thrown is equally as high as hail in the forecast! Well, hail might not be happening, nor should punches be thrown, but bank on a mud bowl Sunday night. In fact, the only thing that may be dirtier than the players’ jerseys by the end of the game could be the trash talk between Bryant and Norman.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-19-2017 16:00
There’s a reason why half of the NFC North plays home games indoors and this Sunday both venues lacking a roof will also be lacking a dry pigskin for most of the day. According to NFLWeather.com, overcast skies are expected all weekend in Chicago with rain on Sunday morning. Luckily the Windy City won’t be too windy, maxing out around 10mph with temperatures lingering in the low-60s. The grey skies will stretch all the way to Green Bay where an overcast forecast will likely feature some scattered showers over the course of the weekend. Like Chicago, high winds and lower than usual temperatures won’t be a factor, just an incredibly slick grass surface.
Even though the Bears (2-4) haven’t exactly been an intimidating opposition the last few seasons, the team does have the ability to grind out gritty victories in the rain. According to NFLWeather.com analytics, Chicago is 4-1 in the rain since 2013 and 3-0 at Soldier Field. What’s most impressive about that record is the team did it with three different quarterbacks. If Matt Barkley can get it done, there’s no reason why rookie gunslinger Mitchell Trubisky can’t have similar success.
Traveling to Chicago are the NFC South Division-leading Carolina Panthers (4-2) who, since 2010, are 4-4 in rain games. Luckily for Carolina, the team has an ideal multi-tool QB who can handle the elements and scramble if need be. In six career rain games, Cam Newton averaged nine carries per outing and only once did he have less than 33 passing attempts. Newton’s ability to run in the rain and still manage to rack up over 30 passing attempts makes him an extremely potent fantasy option for week seven.
A little over 200 miles north from muddy Soldier Field is Lambeau where the Packers (4-2) will play host to showers and the Saints. Weather is typically a factor in Green Bay (having experienced a lightning delay already this season) but seeing someone under center other than Aaron Rodgers is a bona fide rarity. Former UCLA QB Brett Hundley will get the start but just because he’s from sunny SoCal doesn’t mean he can’t handle the rain. Back in his college days, Hundley starred against hated rivals USC in a downpour and pulled out a 38-28 victory.
USA Today’s Steve Gardner believes that Hundley is definitely worth considering, given he has “plenty of weapons at his disposal and the 26th ranked New Orleans Saints defense up next,” Gardner wrote in his most recent article. Hundley won’t be able to make the precise passes Rodgers can but at least the Packers offense is so pass-heavy, and given the injuries in the backfield, that Hundley will need to be expected to make a few plays. The training wheels will be off on Sunday.
His starting debut will come against a New Orleans Saints (3-2) side that has only played in two rain games since 2013. Despite losing both games (and having to wear gloves), Drew Brees still managed to average decent fantasy numbers (27-for-44, 295 ypg, TD per game). If the weather worsens though, the team may have to lean more heavily on bruising running back Mark Ingram to carry the load.
Both Chicago and Green Bay are tough enough cities to snag a road win in, let alone with crummy playing conditions being a glaring factor. The Bears and Packers are built for conditions like this, but don’t count out Cam and former Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. A little rain likely won’t bother these proven winners.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-13-2017 16:00
It’s starting to feel like every NFL game in the Sunshine State this season has been effected by rain and Sunday in Jacksonville will be no different when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Los Angeles Rams.
According to NFLWeather.com, Jacksonville is expecting rain this weekend with an all-day drizzle on Sunday ending in the early evening. Temperatures will hover in the mid-to-low 80s with a light 8-10 mph wind. The rain shouldn’t be very heavy so anticipating a downpour won’t be a problem, but a slick pigskin and Bermuda grass surface inside EverBank Field are a completely different story.
Jacksonville (3-2) is perfectly prepped for a game like this, having already played in and won two rain games this season. But success in the rain for the Jags hasn’t always been the case. Since 2010, the team is 4-2 in rain games but 2-2 prior to this season, picking up both wins at home. These last two weather impacted games though, both away from home, Jacksonville has outside its opposition 74-16.
It’s been a lethal combo of suffocating defense and unpredictable offense in both rain game victories for the Jags, and it was a different player each day that played the role of hero. In round one against Baltimore, a 44-7 drumming in London, quarterback Blake Bortles tossed four TD’s, completed 65% of his passes and steered clear of turning the ball over. As for round two, a shocking 30-9 win in Pittsburgh, Leonard Fournette proved once and for all he’s totally legit with a 28 touches for 181 yard performance including a pair of scores. Everyone else, like receivers Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee, have been virtually nonexistent but will each be a lurking threat this week.
As for Los Angeles (3-2), a team that’s played home games for decades under a dome in St. Louis or cloudless LA sunshine, the Rams are surprisingly a tough team to beat when poor weather is a factor.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 the Rams are 4-1 when rain is in the forecast with the most recent being a 37-32 come from behind win at Tampa Bay. Quarterback Jared Goff, who’s having a sensational sophomore season, hasn’t played in a rain game since his days at Cal when the Golden Bears were thumped in Eugene years ago.
Even if Goff shines in Sunday’s damp and dreary conditions, if the running game gets stuck in the mud, the entire offense will struggle against JAX’s impressive defense. Bank on Todd Gurley seeing over 20+ touches and being a total workhorse in both the running and passing attack.
Both the Rams and Jags are extremely fortunate to have arguably two of the top three or four young running backs in the league. USA Today’s Steve Gardner praised Fournette’s week five performance in his most recent fantasy article, pointing out the rookie runner racked up 30.4 points in a standard scoring league. Could he recreate another historic performance? Not likely, but the Rams do allow over 133 rushing yards per game and have surrendered a league-leading seven rushing touchdowns so another big outing could absolutely be in the forecast.
If the LA defense doesn’t slow down and contain Fournette, the long-time laughingstock Jacksonville Jaguars will be a respectable 4-2 on the summit of the AFC South. If they don’t, well guess what, the Rams will be the surprising 4-2 team and former laughingstock who are sadly stuck in a market where no one will even notice.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-06-2017 18:00
It’s no secret that Andy Dalton has had his problems in crucial matchups but when the redhead competes in crummy conditions, the Cincinnati gunslinger is surprisingly one of the NFL’s more underrated passers.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain will blanket the greater Cincinnati area all weekend long with a minimal chance of it easing up for Sunday’s 1pm kickoff. Temperatures should be in the mid-to-high 70s with a light wind of 5-6 mph. The playing surface inside Paul Brown Stadium, a UBU Sports’ Speed Series S5-M synthetic turf, won’t get too slippery but the pigskin on the other hand will be the real issue for both sides.
Dalton and the Bengals (1-3) might not be off to the best of starts in 2017, but according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the team is 5-3 in the rain game since 2010 and 4-1 at home. In five career rain games, Dalton has found the end zone five times and only tossed a pair of picks but three fumbles are a little alarming. If he can avoid coughing up the ball, Dalton will be expected to air it out often, given he averages over 33 passing attempts per rain game.
Even with showers in Sunday’s forecast, Mother Nature won’t dictate how often the team unleashes its aerial assault but if the Bengals can’t establish any sort of ground game, the early season woes will certainly continue. Rookie Joe Mixon is finally being handed the reins, racking up 35 carries over the last two games but only tallying just over 90 yards total during that span. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are still seeing some action but the fantasy stock in both players is plummeting.
The only must-start in fantasy in the Bengals lineup is an obvious choice, AJ Green, but ever since Tyler Eifert went down a surprising upstart has emerged as a solid streaming option at tight end. Tyler Kroft saw seven targets last weekend against Cleveland and hauled in two for touchdowns. Even USA Today’s Steve Gardner admitted to underestimating him last week and now Kroft looks to be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Kroft wasn’t the only player Gardner mentioned in his most recent article, with Buffalo’s Andre Holmes receiving some praise as well. “With No. 1 wide-out Jordan Matthews out at least a month with a thumb injury, Holmes should see an uptick in targets,” Gardner wrote. Behind Holmes, really all that’s left in Buffalo’s mediocre passing attack is Zay Jones and tight end Charles Clay.
The Bills (3-1) are off to a hot start and hoping a Mid-western rainstorm won’t dampen their momentum. But, playing conditions shouldn’t slow down a Bills side that’s plenty familiar with heavy home game precipitation. Last season, the Bills were 1-1 in snow games at home but over the last few seasons when rain or snow have been apparent, Buffalo has struggled mightily.
The Bills are 3-7 since 2010 when rain is a factor and 0-4 on the road during that span. The team is also winless in rain games since 2013 and 0-2 when current starter Tyrod Taylor is under center. Even though Taylor averages 38 drop backs per rain game, Taylor is a tricky fantasy play against the league’s third-best passing defense. That being said, maybe LeSean McCoy could see 30+ touches.
The weather on Sunday will be pretty darn dreary, much like the rest of Cincinnati’s season if they can’t turn it around and pull out a win at home against a very beatable Bills side. But don’t sleep on Buffalo, a win on Sunday and suddenly the Bills are 4-1 and tied for the second-best record in the AFC.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-29-2017 17:00
The Sunshine State really hasn’t been living up to its name lately….For the second time in four weeks, torrential rain is about to impact a Tampa Bay Buccaneers regular season game but at least this time around the Bucs will actually get to play!
In the days leading up to the first NFL Sunday of the season with Hurricane Irma bound for the Florida coast, the league forced the Bucs and Dolphins to reschedule the opener for later in the season. Thankfully, Florida isn’t bracing for another devastating Hurricane, but plenty of precipitation is forecasted for the weekend ahead.
According to NFLWeather.com, heavy rain is expected throughout the day with winds picking up as the day goes on, maxing out at 16-18 mph. Temperatures should stick in the low-80s and feel that way for most of the game with humidity not likely an issue. But the real issue will be muddy field conditions with storms arriving in Tampa Friday and Saturday. It looks like a notoriously awful field is about to get that much worse.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been vocal about his disdain for the grass inside Raymond James Stadium after he obtained a calf injury back in 2015. He even went as far as to say some surfaces in the league are more likely to create injury than prevent one. Crummy playing conditions aside, whether Rodgers likes it or not, the game in Tampa will go on!
The Buccaneers (1-1) don’t exactly have promising statistics in rain games over recent seasons but at least the team is plenty familiar with having to battle the damp elements at home. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Tampa is 1-4 in the rain since 2011 including back-to-back losses at home a year ago to the Rams and Broncos.
In both rain game losses last season, neither the offense nor defense could find any sort of consistency but the Bucs did see random spurts of sunshine in the form of Jameis Winston. The former Heisman winner did have his problems battling the weather, tossing three picks and coughing up a pair of fumbles, but the turnovers shouldn’t discourage fantasy owners from playing the young gunslinger who also averaged two touchdowns, over 290 passing yards and over 46 passing attempts per game.
Winston will be the star of the show Sunday but he’ll need support from his cast. Wide-outs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will see their fair share of targets and should spread the field nicely to leave some open space between the hashes for tight end Cameron Brate, who USA Today’s Steve Gardner likes as one of his “trove of TE’s” following his performance week three and his increasing involvement in the passing game. The backfield duties will likely be split by Jacquizz Rodgers and Chris Sims who need to establish some sort of a rushing attack for an offense that’s had a less than stagnant ground game thus far.
The New York Football Giants (0-3) can sympathize, being another team that’s genuinely struggled to move the ball on the ground. Paul Perkins has been and will continue to be the starter but being the top dog in a backfield that’s stuck in the mud, certainly isn’t worth starting fantasy-wise.
One of the few Giants actually worth starting is stud wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and perhaps a few of the counterparts around him. USA Today’s Gardner also wrote this week that he’s a big fan of fellow WR Sterling Shepard who will “get plenty of targets this week against Tampa,” Gardner wrote.
Despite the incoming storms, both Beckham and Shepard will see plenty of looks from veteran QB Eli Manning who historically averages 43 passing attempts per rainy road game. If the rain gets too heavy, the game plan will likely shift to pounding the ball between the tackles but until that’s the case, the weather won’t dictate how often Manning drops back. That being said, veteran Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Eric Engram could be sneaky fantasy plays.
Lightning and a downpour featured in Thursday night’s Bears-Packers game, marking the first of what could be a handful of NFL games affected by nasty weather this weekend. It begins again early Sunday across the pond when rain is expected in the London forecast for the Saints-Dolphins game. Check back to NFLWeather.com early Sunday for weather updates on all NFL matchups this weekend!
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-23-2017 10:00
As the NFL prepares for the first of four regular season games in London, the only thing more welcoming than the English hospitality is the impending rain for Sunday’s kickoff inside Wembley Stadium.
According to NFLWeather.com, drizzle is expected on Sunday afternoon in London with temperatures lingering in the high-50s. Wind won’t be a factor inside the English National Soccer Team’s home venue but the slick grass surface, a Desso GrassMaster intended primarily for soccer matches, might cause some serious slippage and force players to adjust their cleats both prior to and during the game.
Back in 2015, the New York Jets brought both molded and hard-rubber cleats along with multiple sizes of both, with the intention of testing each out in the week leading up to the game and during the pregame as well at the famous football.
Over the last decade or so, the Ravens (2-0) have been a very difficult team to beat in weather-impacted games, both at home and away. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Baltimore is 8-1 in rain games since 2009 and 2-0 on the road. Much of the team’s success in damp conditions can be attributed to the fact that Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the Ravens offense, averaging almost 28 points per game over that nine game span.
Spearheading that attack is quarterback Joe Flacco who despite poor weather conditions in the forecast, still averages 30 or more passing attempts per game and just over 230 ypg. Most impressively, he has a career 13-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio in the rain. In Flacco’s last few most recent games featuring precipitation, the veteran QB spreads the ball nicely but if he has to hone in on one target in particular, it’s traditionally been his tight end, Dennis Pitta. But with Pitta gone, the security blanket role falls on Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle or Maxx Williams. With the TE situation being such a crap-shoot, the only real fantasy football guarantee in the passing game is that newcomer Jeremy Maclin will see the majority of targets for a wide out.
In the backfield with Danny Woodhead out, Terrance West and Javorious Allen will carry the work load for the Ravens. Neither is a very enticing fantasy play, but in Baltimore’s most recent rain game, the backfield collectively racked up over 150 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Both will be heavily involved in alleviating the pressure off Flacco’s shoulders.
Jacksonville (1-1) hasn’t quite had the same success in crummy conditions as Baltimore has but the Jags are still a reasonably competitive team in weather related matchups. Since 2010 in rain games, the team is 2-2 with both losses occurring away from home.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has prepped for games like this, literally since the opening practice of camp this summer when a torrential downpour welcomed the Jaguars to the 2017 season. But practice aside, Bortles has very little NFL experience in rain games. If the Jags can’t establish a run game early, anchored by prized rookie Leonard Fournette, Baltimore could put this one out of reach early. Especially now that top wideout Allen Robinson is done for the remainder of the year. All eyes are on Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns to fill the gaping void.
Back in 2014 when Detroit and Atlanta played at Wembley, the grounds crew spent all of halftime fixing divots and collecting chunks of sod that had been ripped from the field… and that was with minimal rain. If a drizzle turns to a downpour on Sunday, this game has the potential to be the sloppiest and wettest one yet in the UK.
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-16-2017 09:00
Despite massive week one road wins for Kansas City and Philadelphia, it may literarily and metaphorically rain on someone’s unbeaten parade this weekend when both the Eagles and mid-western storms visit Kansas City on Sunday.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected both in the morning and early evening so intermittent showers during the game are very much a possibility. The Saturday forecast in Kansas City calls for a 20% chance of precipitation so the grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium could end up getting pretty sloppy come the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 1pm EST kickoff. So even if the forecast remains partly cloudy at game time, the slick surface could cause a couple of turnovers.
Wind isn’t expected to be much of a factor, maxing out around 5-7 mph, and humidity won’t be too overwhelming with temperatures likely to be in the mid-70s for most of the game.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia (1-0), the Eagles don’t seem to play their best football when weather is a factor. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Philly is only 2-5 in rain games since 2009 and 1-2 on the road during that span.
The most recent rain game being a December 2016 loss in Baltimore, 27-26, where Carson Wentz fumbled twice and threw an interception. Even though the team rushed 38 times for 169 yards, forcing Wentz to drop back 42 times (only completed 22 attempts) was not the winning formula then and it certainly won’t be today. The offensive workhorse needs to be bruising back LeGarrette Blount if Philly can escape week two with a second consecutive win away from home.
On the other hand, Kansas City (1-0) has been superb in weather impacted games, especially at home. Since 2010, the Chiefs are 8-4 in rain games and 3-0 at Arrowhead. Much of that can be attributed to the team’s sensational defense, surrendering 22 points or more only three times over that 12 game span and allowing on average only 17.3 points per game.
Aside from the Chiefs’ stout defense, one surprising constant in KC has been veteran quarterback Alex Smith. Last season in weather-related games, Smith averaged over 34 drop backs per game, had an impressive 65% completion percentage and managed to post a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. He’ll be on the lookout for his top target Tyreek Hill and red zone threat Travis Kelce.
But just like Philly’s chances for offensive success, the ground game will ultimately have to reign supreme in a game where avoiding turnovers and winning the time of possession battle are absolutely crucial. Kareem Hunt will be the top dog in a backfield that is 4-0 in the rain since 2015 when the RB corps sees 20+ touches.
In two extremely competitive divisions where every win matters, grinding out an early season in the rain could be the difference maker in playing in a January wildcard game and cleaning out the locker. Every turnover, every first down, every muddy yard will matter on Sunday. Smash mouth football will be at its finest in Missouri this weekend, and it’s only week two!
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-09-2017 10:00
As hurricane season peaks and powerful storms pummel the coast, the National Football League is forcing the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take cover week one and reschedule their season opener for week 11 as Florida and the majority of the southern east coast brace for Hurricane Irma.
Just over a week after Hurricane Harvey mercilessly ripped through Texas and Louisiana, Mother Nature is on another collision course with Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas; and is expected to hit the coast by the weekend. The NFL debated between moving the game up a few days to Thursday night, playing in a different city or pushing it back until later in the season; ultimately opting to play the game later in the season when both teams have their schedule bye week in mid-November.
Up until the game was officially postponed on Tuesday, the same day Irma was upgraded to a Category 5 Hurricane, both teams were still prepping as though the Sunday 1pm kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was still the game plan. Had the hurricane not been on a kamikaze mission with the Caribbean, a little rain would not have phased Tampa Bay nor Miami given both teams are extremely familiar with late-summer Florida heat and precipitation, and rain games in general having both played in a two-a-piece last season.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, both sides combined for a 1-3 record in rain games last season and a combined 4-10 record since 2009. Not exactly an encouraging statistic for either team, however, but Miami is 3-3 at home over that span which includes a rain game win in December over Arizona, 26-23.
Prior to the ‘Phins-Bucs game officially being rescheduled to week 11, according to NFLWeather.com, conditions were expected to be extremely rainy with dangerous winds and precipitation was only going to get heavier and heavier as the game endured. Humidity would have made the 80-degree day felt more like the mid-to-low 90’s so a sticky, muggy afternoon was in store had the storms not been expected.
Come week 11, if Mother Nature rears her ugly head in Florida for the rescheduled matchup, check back with NFLWeather.com and we’ll be here for the coverage…. Again!
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-06-2017 11:00
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-20-2017 11:00
Both of these storied franchises have met in similar potential Super Bowl-bound circumstances before, twice since 2002, but never have the Patriots hosted the Steelers in a clash for the AFC title in Foxboro and in the previous two bouts, never was weather much of a factor. Well, it looks like the scenery and conditions have changed. Pittsburgh will head to New England for the AFC Conference Championship game on a chilly Sunday evening inside Gillette Stadium.
According to NFLWeather.com, game time temperatures will only top out in the mid-to-low 40’s and most of the time it will feel 5-10 degrees colder than what the thermometer reads. Even though precipitation isn’t expected around kickoff at 6:40 pm EST, there’s a small chance once the temps drop in the second half that rain or flurries could fall from the overcast skies. As of Thursday, the forecast called for winds to max out around 10-12 mph, but who knows if winter conditions will worsen in Foxboro before Sunday.
But a frigid winter front shouldn’t faze either team, having both played in sub-freezing temps just a week ago during victories in the AFC Divisional round. In fact, four of Pittsburgh’s last five games dipped below 32 degrees while the other two were still below 40. The Steelers ended up winning all six games but experience in arctic conditions alone won’t nearly be enough to get an early edge on Tom Brady heading into Sunday’s showdown in New England where the Pats seemingly never lose, especially when the season is on the line.
It’s no secret that the Patriots are almost unbeatable at home in the month of January, but the team hasn’t exactly been flawless as most would expect. The Pats are 10-3 at home in Jan. since 2010 but surprisingly less than half of those contests featured freezing temperatures. When the temp does dip below freezing, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, New England is 13-2 at home and 18-4 overall since 2009.
Much of that success can be credited to the team’s unshakeable leader under center, three-time Super Bowl winning MVP Tom Brady. Tom Terrific doesn’t seem to let the elements ever get to him who is 9-1 in his last 10 games impacted by weather and has anchored an offense that’s averaged over 35 points per game. Even when weather concerns are in the forecast, Brady still averages 36 passing attempts per game and little will change against Pittsburgh given this matchup between two high powered offenses could turn into an explosive shootout.
Julian Edelman, who’s seen double-digit targets in seven of the last eight games, will be Brady’s go-to option followed by a pair of questionable wide outs in Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. If one of the two can’t go, newly acquired veteran and former Arizona Cardinal Michael Floyd could have a decent afternoon. Tight End Martellus Bennett, who was limited in practice on Thursday with Hogan and Mitchell, has filled in nicely for Gronk this season and will see plenty of action close to the red zone along with short yardage passing situations, especially if precipitation ends up falling or winds heavily pick up.
New England has plenty of solid receiving options but the one weapon they won’t have Sunday is a superstar wide-out like the Steelers have in Antonio Brown. A.B. saw double-digit targets in 11-of-16 games this season and when weather is a factor, he seems to get involved even more. In early December during a trip to snowy Buffalo, Brown saw 11 passes come his way and during the 2016 playoffs alone, he’s been targeted 20 times. If New England can’t disrupt AB’s chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger, the Pats could easily get upset this weekend.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, it’s a legitimate argument that there might not be a better quarterback in the league to have under center in crummy conditions, especially in the postseason. The large-framed scrambler has lead Pittsburgh to a 12-2 record in weather impacted games since 2012 and most impressively, only turned the ball over six times. If he can avoid the turnovers like he did a week ago in Kansas City’s frozen tundra, Big Ben and company could keep this one close.
But that will also depend on how much of a factor Le’Veon Bell will be against a New England defense that allowed less than 90 rushing yards per game during the regular season. Pittsburgh had to endure freezing temperatures in each of the last two weeks and prevailed, much in part thanks to Bell’s unstoppable play. Over the last two games, Bell has amassed 237 yards from 59 touches and two scores. That doesn’t even include his contribution to the passing game which featured four catches from seven targets. Six times this season Bell was targeted seven times or more so expect him to be heavily involved in both the rushing and passing game, as per weekly tradition.
His counterpart across the field and former teammate when he was a Steeler, LaGarrette Blount, will be out to haunt his old club. Blount is an ideal bruising back for harsh playing conditions and he should see a slightly heavier workload than Dion Lewis since Pittsburgh has had more trouble against the more pounding RB’s in the league this season. Blount only saw eight carries last week, the first time he saw single-digit touches in a game this season so expect that number to potentially double.
Like the Pats, Pittsburgh has had plenty of January success over the last few years and lucky for Steeler Nation that the Black and Gold have an even better road record than at Heinz Field. Since 2009, Pittsburgh is 6-2 on the road in January. and 10-3 overall and when temps are below freezing, the Steelers are an astonishing 7-1 on the road and 14-4 overall. As the snow falls, apparently so does the Steel Curtain given the defense on the road in freezing conditions has surrendered a mere 17.8 points per game over the last seven seasons.
Envisioning the Black and Gold beating Brady in Foxboro this weekend seems next to impossible. After all, it’s been over five years since Pittsburgh last beat the Pats and a win in New England is one of the few feats Big Ben has yet to conquer in his Super Bowl-winning NFL career. After two AFC Championship losses at home within a three-year span, even though it was roughly 15 years ago, the Steelers are still itching for revenge. Let’s not forget that revenge is a dish best served cold and it’ll be colder than a witch’s tit in Foxboro on Sunday.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-13-2017 15:00
The Chiefs and Steelers have both endured seemingly every type of weather distraction this season. So, it seems only fitting that the Sunday forecast in Kansas City is calling for arctic conditions featuring freezing temperatures and mixed precipitation for this black and blue AFC Divisional Playoff bout.
According to NFLWeather.com, two-to-four inches of snow is predicted in the Sunday forecast with temperatures teetering around freezing. But, if the temperatures go up as the game goes on, the snow could potentially turn to a freezing rain. Even though pregame temps will be around 30-32 °, the minimal seven mph wind chill will make it feel closer to mid-to-low 20’s. The grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium has already taken a beating this season, and if the snow eventually turns to rain, the pace of the game could come to a muddy and grinding halt.
Kansas City (12-4) hasn’t played in a snow game this season but the Chiefs are 2-1 in the rain and 1-1 in freezing conditions. Weather wasn’t a factor when they were pummeled at Pittsburgh in week four, 43-14, so KC will be aiming to use that to their advantage, having already hosted three weather-related games since early December so factoring Mother Nature into the game plan shouldn’t be much of an issue. Especially coming off of a bye, where head coach Andy Reid is 19-2 following a bye over the course of his career.
But in order for sweet redemption over the Steelers, the offense will need to do what it couldn’t against them earlier, and that’s move the ball and reduce the three-and-outs which were allowing Pittsburgh entirely too many opportunities on offense.
Quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 30-of-50 attempts for 287 yards with a pair of TD’s and a turnover against Pittsburgh, has an impressive 65% completion percentage in weather impacted games this year and will need a turnover free game in order to advance to the AFC Championship. This year on average when weather is a factor, Smith still drops back over 32 times per game and racks up close to 240 passing yards with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. Not necessarily intimidating statistics, but it’s evident he still gets the green light to pass often even in unfavorable conditions so Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill will see plenty of targets against an inconsistent secondary.
Smith has been fortunate to have a formidable backfield behind him, even in the absence of Jamaal Charles all year. Spencer Ware has stepped up and served as the top back and even though he’s only averaged under 18 carries a game in weather games this season, he’ll see a heavy workload against a Steelers’ D that’s surrendered 405 rushing yards over the last three games. Despite his limited carries in crummy conditions, Ware still has managed to average 80 yards on the ground per game.
One player that certainly won’t have to worry about his offensive involvement is the focal point of Pittsburgh’s entire offense, running back Le’Veon Bell. In his short career, spanning only five weather-related games, Bell has tallied a remarkable 673 yards (134 ypg) and five touchdowns. His talent was best showcased in the wintery Buffalo snow back in week 14 when Bell barreled thru the Bills defense for 236 yards on 38 carries and a trio of TD’s. He’s the ideal back for rain or snow and if KC doesn’t keep him contained, the Steelers are headed to their first AFC Championship game in six years and ninth in 23.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 Pittsburgh (12-5) is 15-5 when precipitation is a factor and much of that can likely be credited to the stoic and scrambling play of Ben Roethlisberger. Despite poor conditions, Big Ben still averages over 30 passing attempts and almost 245 passing yards per game. But his most impressive rain game stat is a remarkable TD-to-INT ratio of 28:9.
It’s no secret who Ben’s top target will be, as Antonio Brown went off last week against Miami for 124 yards and two scores en route to a 30-12 Wildcard drumming of the Dolphins. Against KC weeks ago, AB only had four receptions but he turned half of those grabs into scores. Brown and Bell will be the one-two punch but speedy slot receiver Eli Rogers and, if Ladarius Green can’t go, tight end Jesse James could see another opportunity to find the end zone for the second time against KC this season.
It’s only fitting that both black and blue style defenses will clash in Ice Bowl-like conditions, and whichever defensive unit can create the most turnovers will likely be headed to the AFC Championship in New England (barring a miracle). With possibly two NFL Divisional Playoff games in the cozy confines of indoors (No word yet on the Dallas Dome), the best of all four games could end up being the sloppy slugfest in KC.
Both sides are two of the AFC’s best in bad weather outings, posting a combined 24-10 record in weather impacted games since 2009. Neither team seems to let the natural elements get to them but we’ll see if a little playoff pressure mixed with freezing rain will change that.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-05-2017 17:00
Visiting teams traveling to the Pacific Northwest understand rain is almost a given once November rolls around but freezing temperatures and snow flurries aren’t always on the radar. That will change during the opening NFC Wildcard game on Saturday when the sixth-seed Detroit Lions head to the third-seed and NFC West Champions, Seattle Seahawks.
According to NFLWeather.com, mixed precipitation and frigid temps are expected in and around the Pungent Sound for Saturday’s late kickoff. An early drizzle could potentially turn to snow during the fourth quarter but wind shouldn’t be much of a factor, swirling under five mph at the max. Temperatures for game time will start in the mid-to-high 30’s but by the third, CenturyLink Field will feel closer to 30 degrees.
Seattle (10-5-1) is no stranger to playoff games in unfavorable conditions. The ‘Hawks had no trouble with the Saints in the rain at home in 2014, downing Drew Brees and company 23-15. Even arctic conditions on the road couldn’t stop them as they beat the Vikings, 10-9, in the third coldest playoff game in NFL history last season. But they’re not unstoppable, a week after beating Minnesota the defending NFC champions were downed by Carolina on a slippery, soggy and re-sodded field in the NFC playoffs less than a year ago.
What’s intimidating about the Seahawks is their record in the rain, especially at home. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Seattle is 8-2 over the last ten rain games and average close to 30 points per game. But when freezing temperatures are the factor and precipitation is nonexistent, the ‘Hawks are only 1-4 in their last five matchups and the offensive production is cut in half to roughly 15 points per game.
Similar results are seen with Seattle’s usually stout defense. In the rain, the D only surrenders 15 points per game while in strictly frigid conditions the average leaps to almost 31. In order to pull off the upset, Detroit better hope for a chilly and dry afternoon if they have any intention of downing a team that’s been to two of the last three Super Bowls.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has produced a rock solid record in the rain, despite completing only 55% of his passes and having a 13:10 touchdown to interception ratio over his professional career. But a win is a win is a win. In chilling conditions, Wilson’s completion percentage remains roughly the same at 56% but his ratio flip-flops to three interceptions for every two TD’s. With weather a factor, his security blanket will be tight end Jimmy Graham who surprisingly has only averaged four targets a game over the last four weeks while Doug Baldwin, his clear cut top target, saw a staggering 19 looks two weeks ago.
Wilson will desperately need the running game to establish itself against a Detroit D that’s allowed 110 yards or more on the ground over each of the last three weeks. However, Seattle hasn’t had an individual 100-yard rushing performance since Thomas Rawls did just that back in week 13. Rawls hasn’t been much of a threat, averaging a measly 35 yards per game since week 14 and if that trend continues, rookie Alex Collins will likely steal some touches.
Detroit (9-7) is far from impressive in the snow or rain, posting a winless 0-4 record over the last few seasons. As for playing in the cold however, conventional thinking would be that a dome team like the Lions would instantly struggle in the near-freezing temps but competing in the NFC North means playing in plenty outdoor games in the Midwest in December. When precipitation is in the forecast, the Lions offence averages only 17.5 points per game but in chilling temps the offense puts up four points a game more and posts a 1-6 record since 2010.
Matthew Stafford needs to be the Lions’ saving grace under center. Having dropped back 40 times or more in almost half of the regular season games this season, regardless of what the conditions will be, he’ll be airing it out plenty. In his most recent frigid game on the road, Stafford completed 28-of-39 attempts for 298 yards and three scores en route to a 24-20 win.
It’s felt like Stafford’s top targets have fluctuated every week. Tight end Eric Ebron has seen 25 targets over the last three weeks but hasn’t found the endzone since week one. Off season acquisition Marvin Jones Jr. appeared to be the number one option for a few weeks but has taken a back seat to Golden Tate who prior week six, Tate averaged only six targets a game. Since then, the speedy wide-out has asserted himself as the number one and has seen almost 10 targets a game.
But despite the passing game’s success all season, if the running game can’t get rolling, Detroit is in trouble. With Theo Riddick on injured reserve, Zach Zenner has leapfrogged Dwayne Washington as the top back. Zenner over the last two weeks has tallied a total of 136 yards on 32 touches and three scores. If the rain and snow picks up, Zenner and Washington will feature more than if the conditions solely called for cold.
Seattle may be the heavy favorite but don’t sleep on Detroit’s ability to unleash a powerful aerial assault. Earl Thomas, who is out with an injury, believes the Lions have no chance of winning in the cold. The last time I remember a Seahawk making a bold prediction in a frigid playoff game, Matt Hasselback did just that and promptly threw a pick six to end his season against another NFC North team. Let’s see if Thomas just jinxed the 12th Man.
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