by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 10-06-2017 18:00
It’s no secret that Andy Dalton has had his problems in crucial matchups but when the redhead competes in crummy conditions, the Cincinnati gunslinger is surprisingly one of the NFL’s more underrated passers.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain will blanket the greater Cincinnati area all weekend long with a minimal chance of it easing up for Sunday’s 1pm kickoff. Temperatures should be in the mid-to-high 70s with a light wind of 5-6 mph. The playing surface inside Paul Brown Stadium, a UBU Sports’ Speed Series S5-M synthetic turf, won’t get too slippery but the pigskin on the other hand will be the real issue for both sides.
Dalton and the Bengals (1-3) might not be off to the best of starts in 2017, but according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the team is 5-3 in the rain game since 2010 and 4-1 at home. In five career rain games, Dalton has found the end zone five times and only tossed a pair of picks but three fumbles are a little alarming. If he can avoid coughing up the ball, Dalton will be expected to air it out often, given he averages over 33 passing attempts per rain game.
Even with showers in Sunday’s forecast, Mother Nature won’t dictate how often the team unleashes its aerial assault but if the Bengals can’t establish any sort of ground game, the early season woes will certainly continue. Rookie Joe Mixon is finally being handed the reins, racking up 35 carries over the last two games but only tallying just over 90 yards total during that span. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are still seeing some action but the fantasy stock in both players is plummeting.
The only must-start in fantasy in the Bengals lineup is an obvious choice, AJ Green, but ever since Tyler Eifert went down a surprising upstart has emerged as a solid streaming option at tight end. Tyler Kroft saw seven targets last weekend against Cleveland and hauled in two for touchdowns. Even USA Today’s Steve Gardner admitted to underestimating him last week and now Kroft looks to be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Kroft wasn’t the only player Gardner mentioned in his most recent article, with Buffalo’s Andre Holmes receiving some praise as well. “With No. 1 wide-out Jordan Matthews out at least a month with a thumb injury, Holmes should see an uptick in targets,” Gardner wrote. Behind Holmes, really all that’s left in Buffalo’s mediocre passing attack is Zay Jones and tight end Charles Clay.
The Bills (3-1) are off to a hot start and hoping a Mid-western rainstorm won’t dampen their momentum. But, playing conditions shouldn’t slow down a Bills side that’s plenty familiar with heavy home game precipitation. Last season, the Bills were 1-1 in snow games at home but over the last few seasons when rain or snow have been apparent, Buffalo has struggled mightily.
The Bills are 3-7 since 2010 when rain is a factor and 0-4 on the road during that span. The team is also winless in rain games since 2013 and 0-2 when current starter Tyrod Taylor is under center. Even though Taylor averages 38 drop backs per rain game, Taylor is a tricky fantasy play against the league’s third-best passing defense. That being said, maybe LeSean McCoy could see 30+ touches.
The weather on Sunday will be pretty darn dreary, much like the rest of Cincinnati’s season if they can’t turn it around and pull out a win at home against a very beatable Bills side. But don’t sleep on Buffalo, a win on Sunday and suddenly the Bills are 4-1 and tied for the second-best record in the AFC.
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-29-2017 17:00
The Sunshine State really hasn’t been living up to its name lately….For the second time in four weeks, torrential rain is about to impact a Tampa Bay Buccaneers regular season game but at least this time around the Bucs will actually get to play!
In the days leading up to the first NFL Sunday of the season with Hurricane Irma bound for the Florida coast, the league forced the Bucs and Dolphins to reschedule the opener for later in the season. Thankfully, Florida isn’t bracing for another devastating Hurricane, but plenty of precipitation is forecasted for the weekend ahead.
According to NFLWeather.com, heavy rain is expected throughout the day with winds picking up as the day goes on, maxing out at 16-18 mph. Temperatures should stick in the low-80s and feel that way for most of the game with humidity not likely an issue. But the real issue will be muddy field conditions with storms arriving in Tampa Friday and Saturday. It looks like a notoriously awful field is about to get that much worse.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been vocal about his disdain for the grass inside Raymond James Stadium after he obtained a calf injury back in 2015. He even went as far as to say some surfaces in the league are more likely to create injury than prevent one. Crummy playing conditions aside, whether Rodgers likes it or not, the game in Tampa will go on!
The Buccaneers (1-1) don’t exactly have promising statistics in rain games over recent seasons but at least the team is plenty familiar with having to battle the damp elements at home. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Tampa is 1-4 in the rain since 2011 including back-to-back losses at home a year ago to the Rams and Broncos.
In both rain game losses last season, neither the offense nor defense could find any sort of consistency but the Bucs did see random spurts of sunshine in the form of Jameis Winston. The former Heisman winner did have his problems battling the weather, tossing three picks and coughing up a pair of fumbles, but the turnovers shouldn’t discourage fantasy owners from playing the young gunslinger who also averaged two touchdowns, over 290 passing yards and over 46 passing attempts per game.
Winston will be the star of the show Sunday but he’ll need support from his cast. Wide-outs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will see their fair share of targets and should spread the field nicely to leave some open space between the hashes for tight end Cameron Brate, who USA Today’s Steve Gardner likes as one of his “trove of TE’s” following his performance week three and his increasing involvement in the passing game. The backfield duties will likely be split by Jacquizz Rodgers and Chris Sims who need to establish some sort of a rushing attack for an offense that’s had a less than stagnant ground game thus far.
The New York Football Giants (0-3) can sympathize, being another team that’s genuinely struggled to move the ball on the ground. Paul Perkins has been and will continue to be the starter but being the top dog in a backfield that’s stuck in the mud, certainly isn’t worth starting fantasy-wise.
One of the few Giants actually worth starting is stud wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and perhaps a few of the counterparts around him. USA Today’s Gardner also wrote this week that he’s a big fan of fellow WR Sterling Shepard who will “get plenty of targets this week against Tampa,” Gardner wrote.
Despite the incoming storms, both Beckham and Shepard will see plenty of looks from veteran QB Eli Manning who historically averages 43 passing attempts per rainy road game. If the rain gets too heavy, the game plan will likely shift to pounding the ball between the tackles but until that’s the case, the weather won’t dictate how often Manning drops back. That being said, veteran Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Eric Engram could be sneaky fantasy plays.
Lightning and a downpour featured in Thursday night’s Bears-Packers game, marking the first of what could be a handful of NFL games affected by nasty weather this weekend. It begins again early Sunday across the pond when rain is expected in the London forecast for the Saints-Dolphins game. Check back to NFLWeather.com early Sunday for weather updates on all NFL matchups this weekend!
by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-23-2017 10:00
As the NFL prepares for the first of four regular season games in London, the only thing more welcoming than the English hospitality is the impending rain for Sunday’s kickoff inside Wembley Stadium.
According to NFLWeather.com, drizzle is expected on Sunday afternoon in London with temperatures lingering in the high-50s. Wind won’t be a factor inside the English National Soccer Team’s home venue but the slick grass surface, a Desso GrassMaster intended primarily for soccer matches, might cause some serious slippage and force players to adjust their cleats both prior to and during the game.
Back in 2015, the New York Jets brought both molded and hard-rubber cleats along with multiple sizes of both, with the intention of testing each out in the week leading up to the game and during the pregame as well at the famous football.
Over the last decade or so, the Ravens (2-0) have been a very difficult team to beat in weather-impacted games, both at home and away. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Baltimore is 8-1 in rain games since 2009 and 2-0 on the road. Much of the team’s success in damp conditions can be attributed to the fact that Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the Ravens offense, averaging almost 28 points per game over that nine game span.
Spearheading that attack is quarterback Joe Flacco who despite poor weather conditions in the forecast, still averages 30 or more passing attempts per game and just over 230 ypg. Most impressively, he has a career 13-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio in the rain. In Flacco’s last few most recent games featuring precipitation, the veteran QB spreads the ball nicely but if he has to hone in on one target in particular, it’s traditionally been his tight end, Dennis Pitta. But with Pitta gone, the security blanket role falls on Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle or Maxx Williams. With the TE situation being such a crap-shoot, the only real fantasy football guarantee in the passing game is that newcomer Jeremy Maclin will see the majority of targets for a wide out.
In the backfield with Danny Woodhead out, Terrance West and Javorious Allen will carry the work load for the Ravens. Neither is a very enticing fantasy play, but in Baltimore’s most recent rain game, the backfield collectively racked up over 150 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Both will be heavily involved in alleviating the pressure off Flacco’s shoulders.
Jacksonville (1-1) hasn’t quite had the same success in crummy conditions as Baltimore has but the Jags are still a reasonably competitive team in weather related matchups. Since 2010 in rain games, the team is 2-2 with both losses occurring away from home.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has prepped for games like this, literally since the opening practice of camp this summer when a torrential downpour welcomed the Jaguars to the 2017 season. But practice aside, Bortles has very little NFL experience in rain games. If the Jags can’t establish a run game early, anchored by prized rookie Leonard Fournette, Baltimore could put this one out of reach early. Especially now that top wideout Allen Robinson is done for the remainder of the year. All eyes are on Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns to fill the gaping void.
Back in 2014 when Detroit and Atlanta played at Wembley, the grounds crew spent all of halftime fixing divots and collecting chunks of sod that had been ripped from the field… and that was with minimal rain. If a drizzle turns to a downpour on Sunday, this game has the potential to be the sloppiest and wettest one yet in the UK.
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-16-2017 09:00
Despite massive week one road wins for Kansas City and Philadelphia, it may literarily and metaphorically rain on someone’s unbeaten parade this weekend when both the Eagles and mid-western storms visit Kansas City on Sunday.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected both in the morning and early evening so intermittent showers during the game are very much a possibility. The Saturday forecast in Kansas City calls for a 20% chance of precipitation so the grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium could end up getting pretty sloppy come the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 1pm EST kickoff. So even if the forecast remains partly cloudy at game time, the slick surface could cause a couple of turnovers.
Wind isn’t expected to be much of a factor, maxing out around 5-7 mph, and humidity won’t be too overwhelming with temperatures likely to be in the mid-70s for most of the game.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia (1-0), the Eagles don’t seem to play their best football when weather is a factor. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Philly is only 2-5 in rain games since 2009 and 1-2 on the road during that span.
The most recent rain game being a December 2016 loss in Baltimore, 27-26, where Carson Wentz fumbled twice and threw an interception. Even though the team rushed 38 times for 169 yards, forcing Wentz to drop back 42 times (only completed 22 attempts) was not the winning formula then and it certainly won’t be today. The offensive workhorse needs to be bruising back LeGarrette Blount if Philly can escape week two with a second consecutive win away from home.
On the other hand, Kansas City (1-0) has been superb in weather impacted games, especially at home. Since 2010, the Chiefs are 8-4 in rain games and 3-0 at Arrowhead. Much of that can be attributed to the team’s sensational defense, surrendering 22 points or more only three times over that 12 game span and allowing on average only 17.3 points per game.
Aside from the Chiefs’ stout defense, one surprising constant in KC has been veteran quarterback Alex Smith. Last season in weather-related games, Smith averaged over 34 drop backs per game, had an impressive 65% completion percentage and managed to post a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. He’ll be on the lookout for his top target Tyreek Hill and red zone threat Travis Kelce.
But just like Philly’s chances for offensive success, the ground game will ultimately have to reign supreme in a game where avoiding turnovers and winning the time of possession battle are absolutely crucial. Kareem Hunt will be the top dog in a backfield that is 4-0 in the rain since 2015 when the RB corps sees 20+ touches.
In two extremely competitive divisions where every win matters, grinding out an early season in the rain could be the difference maker in playing in a January wildcard game and cleaning out the locker. Every turnover, every first down, every muddy yard will matter on Sunday. Smash mouth football will be at its finest in Missouri this weekend, and it’s only week two!
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-09-2017 10:00
As hurricane season peaks and powerful storms pummel the coast, the National Football League is forcing the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take cover week one and reschedule their season opener for week 11 as Florida and the majority of the southern east coast brace for Hurricane Irma.
Just over a week after Hurricane Harvey mercilessly ripped through Texas and Louisiana, Mother Nature is on another collision course with Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas; and is expected to hit the coast by the weekend. The NFL debated between moving the game up a few days to Thursday night, playing in a different city or pushing it back until later in the season; ultimately opting to play the game later in the season when both teams have their schedule bye week in mid-November.
Up until the game was officially postponed on Tuesday, the same day Irma was upgraded to a Category 5 Hurricane, both teams were still prepping as though the Sunday 1pm kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was still the game plan. Had the hurricane not been on a kamikaze mission with the Caribbean, a little rain would not have phased Tampa Bay nor Miami given both teams are extremely familiar with late-summer Florida heat and precipitation, and rain games in general having both played in a two-a-piece last season.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, both sides combined for a 1-3 record in rain games last season and a combined 4-10 record since 2009. Not exactly an encouraging statistic for either team, however, but Miami is 3-3 at home over that span which includes a rain game win in December over Arizona, 26-23.
Prior to the ‘Phins-Bucs game officially being rescheduled to week 11, according to NFLWeather.com, conditions were expected to be extremely rainy with dangerous winds and precipitation was only going to get heavier and heavier as the game endured. Humidity would have made the 80-degree day felt more like the mid-to-low 90’s so a sticky, muggy afternoon was in store had the storms not been expected.
Come week 11, if Mother Nature rears her ugly head in Florida for the rescheduled matchup, check back with NFLWeather.com and we’ll be here for the coverage…. Again!
by The NFLWeather Team | 09-06-2017 11:00
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-20-2017 11:00
Both of these storied franchises have met in similar potential Super Bowl-bound circumstances before, twice since 2002, but never have the Patriots hosted the Steelers in a clash for the AFC title in Foxboro and in the previous two bouts, never was weather much of a factor. Well, it looks like the scenery and conditions have changed. Pittsburgh will head to New England for the AFC Conference Championship game on a chilly Sunday evening inside Gillette Stadium.
According to NFLWeather.com, game time temperatures will only top out in the mid-to-low 40’s and most of the time it will feel 5-10 degrees colder than what the thermometer reads. Even though precipitation isn’t expected around kickoff at 6:40 pm EST, there’s a small chance once the temps drop in the second half that rain or flurries could fall from the overcast skies. As of Thursday, the forecast called for winds to max out around 10-12 mph, but who knows if winter conditions will worsen in Foxboro before Sunday.
But a frigid winter front shouldn’t faze either team, having both played in sub-freezing temps just a week ago during victories in the AFC Divisional round. In fact, four of Pittsburgh’s last five games dipped below 32 degrees while the other two were still below 40. The Steelers ended up winning all six games but experience in arctic conditions alone won’t nearly be enough to get an early edge on Tom Brady heading into Sunday’s showdown in New England where the Pats seemingly never lose, especially when the season is on the line.
It’s no secret that the Patriots are almost unbeatable at home in the month of January, but the team hasn’t exactly been flawless as most would expect. The Pats are 10-3 at home in Jan. since 2010 but surprisingly less than half of those contests featured freezing temperatures. When the temp does dip below freezing, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, New England is 13-2 at home and 18-4 overall since 2009.
Much of that success can be credited to the team’s unshakeable leader under center, three-time Super Bowl winning MVP Tom Brady. Tom Terrific doesn’t seem to let the elements ever get to him who is 9-1 in his last 10 games impacted by weather and has anchored an offense that’s averaged over 35 points per game. Even when weather concerns are in the forecast, Brady still averages 36 passing attempts per game and little will change against Pittsburgh given this matchup between two high powered offenses could turn into an explosive shootout.
Julian Edelman, who’s seen double-digit targets in seven of the last eight games, will be Brady’s go-to option followed by a pair of questionable wide outs in Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. If one of the two can’t go, newly acquired veteran and former Arizona Cardinal Michael Floyd could have a decent afternoon. Tight End Martellus Bennett, who was limited in practice on Thursday with Hogan and Mitchell, has filled in nicely for Gronk this season and will see plenty of action close to the red zone along with short yardage passing situations, especially if precipitation ends up falling or winds heavily pick up.
New England has plenty of solid receiving options but the one weapon they won’t have Sunday is a superstar wide-out like the Steelers have in Antonio Brown. A.B. saw double-digit targets in 11-of-16 games this season and when weather is a factor, he seems to get involved even more. In early December during a trip to snowy Buffalo, Brown saw 11 passes come his way and during the 2016 playoffs alone, he’s been targeted 20 times. If New England can’t disrupt AB’s chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger, the Pats could easily get upset this weekend.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, it’s a legitimate argument that there might not be a better quarterback in the league to have under center in crummy conditions, especially in the postseason. The large-framed scrambler has lead Pittsburgh to a 12-2 record in weather impacted games since 2012 and most impressively, only turned the ball over six times. If he can avoid the turnovers like he did a week ago in Kansas City’s frozen tundra, Big Ben and company could keep this one close.
But that will also depend on how much of a factor Le’Veon Bell will be against a New England defense that allowed less than 90 rushing yards per game during the regular season. Pittsburgh had to endure freezing temperatures in each of the last two weeks and prevailed, much in part thanks to Bell’s unstoppable play. Over the last two games, Bell has amassed 237 yards from 59 touches and two scores. That doesn’t even include his contribution to the passing game which featured four catches from seven targets. Six times this season Bell was targeted seven times or more so expect him to be heavily involved in both the rushing and passing game, as per weekly tradition.
His counterpart across the field and former teammate when he was a Steeler, LaGarrette Blount, will be out to haunt his old club. Blount is an ideal bruising back for harsh playing conditions and he should see a slightly heavier workload than Dion Lewis since Pittsburgh has had more trouble against the more pounding RB’s in the league this season. Blount only saw eight carries last week, the first time he saw single-digit touches in a game this season so expect that number to potentially double.
Like the Pats, Pittsburgh has had plenty of January success over the last few years and lucky for Steeler Nation that the Black and Gold have an even better road record than at Heinz Field. Since 2009, Pittsburgh is 6-2 on the road in January. and 10-3 overall and when temps are below freezing, the Steelers are an astonishing 7-1 on the road and 14-4 overall. As the snow falls, apparently so does the Steel Curtain given the defense on the road in freezing conditions has surrendered a mere 17.8 points per game over the last seven seasons.
Envisioning the Black and Gold beating Brady in Foxboro this weekend seems next to impossible. After all, it’s been over five years since Pittsburgh last beat the Pats and a win in New England is one of the few feats Big Ben has yet to conquer in his Super Bowl-winning NFL career. After two AFC Championship losses at home within a three-year span, even though it was roughly 15 years ago, the Steelers are still itching for revenge. Let’s not forget that revenge is a dish best served cold and it’ll be colder than a witch’s tit in Foxboro on Sunday.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-13-2017 15:00
The Chiefs and Steelers have both endured seemingly every type of weather distraction this season. So, it seems only fitting that the Sunday forecast in Kansas City is calling for arctic conditions featuring freezing temperatures and mixed precipitation for this black and blue AFC Divisional Playoff bout.
According to NFLWeather.com, two-to-four inches of snow is predicted in the Sunday forecast with temperatures teetering around freezing. But, if the temperatures go up as the game goes on, the snow could potentially turn to a freezing rain. Even though pregame temps will be around 30-32 °, the minimal seven mph wind chill will make it feel closer to mid-to-low 20’s. The grass surface inside Arrowhead Stadium has already taken a beating this season, and if the snow eventually turns to rain, the pace of the game could come to a muddy and grinding halt.
Kansas City (12-4) hasn’t played in a snow game this season but the Chiefs are 2-1 in the rain and 1-1 in freezing conditions. Weather wasn’t a factor when they were pummeled at Pittsburgh in week four, 43-14, so KC will be aiming to use that to their advantage, having already hosted three weather-related games since early December so factoring Mother Nature into the game plan shouldn’t be much of an issue. Especially coming off of a bye, where head coach Andy Reid is 19-2 following a bye over the course of his career.
But in order for sweet redemption over the Steelers, the offense will need to do what it couldn’t against them earlier, and that’s move the ball and reduce the three-and-outs which were allowing Pittsburgh entirely too many opportunities on offense.
Quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 30-of-50 attempts for 287 yards with a pair of TD’s and a turnover against Pittsburgh, has an impressive 65% completion percentage in weather impacted games this year and will need a turnover free game in order to advance to the AFC Championship. This year on average when weather is a factor, Smith still drops back over 32 times per game and racks up close to 240 passing yards with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. Not necessarily intimidating statistics, but it’s evident he still gets the green light to pass often even in unfavorable conditions so Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill will see plenty of targets against an inconsistent secondary.
Smith has been fortunate to have a formidable backfield behind him, even in the absence of Jamaal Charles all year. Spencer Ware has stepped up and served as the top back and even though he’s only averaged under 18 carries a game in weather games this season, he’ll see a heavy workload against a Steelers’ D that’s surrendered 405 rushing yards over the last three games. Despite his limited carries in crummy conditions, Ware still has managed to average 80 yards on the ground per game.
One player that certainly won’t have to worry about his offensive involvement is the focal point of Pittsburgh’s entire offense, running back Le’Veon Bell. In his short career, spanning only five weather-related games, Bell has tallied a remarkable 673 yards (134 ypg) and five touchdowns. His talent was best showcased in the wintery Buffalo snow back in week 14 when Bell barreled thru the Bills defense for 236 yards on 38 carries and a trio of TD’s. He’s the ideal back for rain or snow and if KC doesn’t keep him contained, the Steelers are headed to their first AFC Championship game in six years and ninth in 23.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2009 Pittsburgh (12-5) is 15-5 when precipitation is a factor and much of that can likely be credited to the stoic and scrambling play of Ben Roethlisberger. Despite poor conditions, Big Ben still averages over 30 passing attempts and almost 245 passing yards per game. But his most impressive rain game stat is a remarkable TD-to-INT ratio of 28:9.
It’s no secret who Ben’s top target will be, as Antonio Brown went off last week against Miami for 124 yards and two scores en route to a 30-12 Wildcard drumming of the Dolphins. Against KC weeks ago, AB only had four receptions but he turned half of those grabs into scores. Brown and Bell will be the one-two punch but speedy slot receiver Eli Rogers and, if Ladarius Green can’t go, tight end Jesse James could see another opportunity to find the end zone for the second time against KC this season.
It’s only fitting that both black and blue style defenses will clash in Ice Bowl-like conditions, and whichever defensive unit can create the most turnovers will likely be headed to the AFC Championship in New England (barring a miracle). With possibly two NFL Divisional Playoff games in the cozy confines of indoors (No word yet on the Dallas Dome), the best of all four games could end up being the sloppy slugfest in KC.
Both sides are two of the AFC’s best in bad weather outings, posting a combined 24-10 record in weather impacted games since 2009. Neither team seems to let the natural elements get to them but we’ll see if a little playoff pressure mixed with freezing rain will change that.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-05-2017 17:00
Visiting teams traveling to the Pacific Northwest understand rain is almost a given once November rolls around but freezing temperatures and snow flurries aren’t always on the radar. That will change during the opening NFC Wildcard game on Saturday when the sixth-seed Detroit Lions head to the third-seed and NFC West Champions, Seattle Seahawks.
According to NFLWeather.com, mixed precipitation and frigid temps are expected in and around the Pungent Sound for Saturday’s late kickoff. An early drizzle could potentially turn to snow during the fourth quarter but wind shouldn’t be much of a factor, swirling under five mph at the max. Temperatures for game time will start in the mid-to-high 30’s but by the third, CenturyLink Field will feel closer to 30 degrees.
Seattle (10-5-1) is no stranger to playoff games in unfavorable conditions. The ‘Hawks had no trouble with the Saints in the rain at home in 2014, downing Drew Brees and company 23-15. Even arctic conditions on the road couldn’t stop them as they beat the Vikings, 10-9, in the third coldest playoff game in NFL history last season. But they’re not unstoppable, a week after beating Minnesota the defending NFC champions were downed by Carolina on a slippery, soggy and re-sodded field in the NFC playoffs less than a year ago.
What’s intimidating about the Seahawks is their record in the rain, especially at home. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Seattle is 8-2 over the last ten rain games and average close to 30 points per game. But when freezing temperatures are the factor and precipitation is nonexistent, the ‘Hawks are only 1-4 in their last five matchups and the offensive production is cut in half to roughly 15 points per game.
Similar results are seen with Seattle’s usually stout defense. In the rain, the D only surrenders 15 points per game while in strictly frigid conditions the average leaps to almost 31. In order to pull off the upset, Detroit better hope for a chilly and dry afternoon if they have any intention of downing a team that’s been to two of the last three Super Bowls.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has produced a rock solid record in the rain, despite completing only 55% of his passes and having a 13:10 touchdown to interception ratio over his professional career. But a win is a win is a win. In chilling conditions, Wilson’s completion percentage remains roughly the same at 56% but his ratio flip-flops to three interceptions for every two TD’s. With weather a factor, his security blanket will be tight end Jimmy Graham who surprisingly has only averaged four targets a game over the last four weeks while Doug Baldwin, his clear cut top target, saw a staggering 19 looks two weeks ago.
Wilson will desperately need the running game to establish itself against a Detroit D that’s allowed 110 yards or more on the ground over each of the last three weeks. However, Seattle hasn’t had an individual 100-yard rushing performance since Thomas Rawls did just that back in week 13. Rawls hasn’t been much of a threat, averaging a measly 35 yards per game since week 14 and if that trend continues, rookie Alex Collins will likely steal some touches.
Detroit (9-7) is far from impressive in the snow or rain, posting a winless 0-4 record over the last few seasons. As for playing in the cold however, conventional thinking would be that a dome team like the Lions would instantly struggle in the near-freezing temps but competing in the NFC North means playing in plenty outdoor games in the Midwest in December. When precipitation is in the forecast, the Lions offence averages only 17.5 points per game but in chilling temps the offense puts up four points a game more and posts a 1-6 record since 2010.
Matthew Stafford needs to be the Lions’ saving grace under center. Having dropped back 40 times or more in almost half of the regular season games this season, regardless of what the conditions will be, he’ll be airing it out plenty. In his most recent frigid game on the road, Stafford completed 28-of-39 attempts for 298 yards and three scores en route to a 24-20 win.
It’s felt like Stafford’s top targets have fluctuated every week. Tight end Eric Ebron has seen 25 targets over the last three weeks but hasn’t found the endzone since week one. Off season acquisition Marvin Jones Jr. appeared to be the number one option for a few weeks but has taken a back seat to Golden Tate who prior week six, Tate averaged only six targets a game. Since then, the speedy wide-out has asserted himself as the number one and has seen almost 10 targets a game.
But despite the passing game’s success all season, if the running game can’t get rolling, Detroit is in trouble. With Theo Riddick on injured reserve, Zach Zenner has leapfrogged Dwayne Washington as the top back. Zenner over the last two weeks has tallied a total of 136 yards on 32 touches and three scores. If the rain and snow picks up, Zenner and Washington will feature more than if the conditions solely called for cold.
Seattle may be the heavy favorite but don’t sleep on Detroit’s ability to unleash a powerful aerial assault. Earl Thomas, who is out with an injury, believes the Lions have no chance of winning in the cold. The last time I remember a Seahawk making a bold prediction in a frigid playoff game, Matt Hasselback did just that and promptly threw a pick six to end his season against another NFC North team. Let’s see if Thomas just jinxed the 12th Man.
by The NFLW Team | 01-01-2017 08:00
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-23-2016 10:00
Mother Nature has exposed her ugly side over the last few weeks around the NFL and little is expected to change on Sunday in Kansas City where the Chiefs and Broncos will not only battle for postseason survival, but the harsh elements featuring swirling winds and a piercing rain.
According to NFLWeather.com, both a heavy breeze and torrential rain will be relentless inside Arrowhead Stadium. Gusts of wind will top out around 20 mph and the downpour will soak into that battered grass surface that was already pretty worn down during last week’s home loss to the Titans. Temperatures will be manageable in the mid-to-low 50s but it’s the wind that could be the real factor on Sunday.
Both AFC West rivals have been impacted by weather on a number of occasions this season and both have been reasonably successful. The same goes for how well they’ve done historically, especially in the rain.
Kansas City (10-4) is already 2-1 in rain games this season and 8-4 since 2010. But according to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, KC is a flawless 3-0 at home when rain hits Arrowhead. The Chiefs were stunned at home last week against Tennessee in freezing conditions but aside from that unexpected loss, they’re extremely difficult to beat at home especially when weather plays a key role. Having already beaten the Broncos in Denver earlier this year, it’s tough to see KC not locking up a playoff spot for the second week in a row.
But, that will all depend on how effective the KC offense is against Denver’s stout D which currently leads the league in passing yards allowed with less than 185 surrendered per game. Veteran Alex Smith has been very consistent during his time in KC and the same goes for competing in crummy conditions. On average over his last five rain games where four of which were victories, Smith dropped back 32 times while completing 22 attempts for 227 yards and a score. He’s also only turned the ball over three times during that stretch.
Credit on the offensive side of the ball also needs to go to KC’s running back committee who since 2015 are 4-0 in rain games when they see 20+ touches. Spencer Ware has been the most effective recently but Jamaal Charles and Charcandrick West have also been utilized and found success when healthy. Over his last five rain games, Ware has tallied 442 rushing yards from 79 touches (an impressive 5.5 ypc) and two touchdowns.
Denver (8-6) is in deep do-or-die territory and a postseason berth is starting to look pretty grim. Having lost three of their last four games, the Broncos were once a game back from the summit of the AFC West division but things have gone south fast for Trevor Siemian and the struggling offense. You know things aren’t going well when your own defensive captain points the finger at the offenses’ glaring woes during postgame locker room interviews. Siemian’s offense has averaged a measly 12 points per game over the last three outings, but the ground game isn’t exactly doing their part towards taking the pressure off the young QB.
A few weeks ago, USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned how newly-acquired Justin Forsett might steal some carries from Devontae Booker since he’s already familiar with Gary Kubiak’s offense. Well, that was certainly the case last week when Forsett out touched Booker by four carries so we may be seeing yet another changing of the guard in Denver’s backfield. Neither RB is a solid start in fantasy this week, especially since most leagues have championships during week 16. Sadly, the same could arguably be said for Denver’s top two wide-outs, Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryius Thomas. However, Sanders has had terrific recent success against KC, scoring four times in the last four matchups.
A loss for Denver will likely put an end to their topsy-turvy season while KC can still bounce back if they end up dropping a second straight game at home. But given KC’s recent rain game success and Denver is a sinking ship, it appears that on Sunday it will literally rain on and put an end to the Bronco’s postseason parade.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-17-2016 11:05
|Matt’s Value Players:|
Rivers is playing a questionable Oakland defense that will give up points. At home against a divisional rival, I expect Rivers to play well here. Indianapolis can’t stop the run and Asiata has four TD’s in the last five games. If he can get into the endzone with 15 touches, he will out produce his price. Lee is the best WR this year for the Jags. For that price, it gives you the opportunity to pay up for top talent. Brown is minimum price and saw six targets last week. Green Bay is not that good against the pass making Brown such an intriguing option that could go very low owned.
|Will’s Value Players:|
A little rain won’t get to Flacco on Sunday against Philly’s weak secondary. For a sub-$6,000 price tag, Flacco could be a tremendous value play. Denver has a solid defense but it’s clear the Patriots will use Blount to grind down any opponent. That’ll be the game plan on the road this week as New England will stick to a ground and pound to limit the potential for turnovers. Sticking with the NE offense, Mitchell may be the new surprise receiving threat. Having been on the field last week for 54-of-68 plays, it’s clear he’s a new weapon in the Pats’ already lethal aerial arsenal. Lastly, Taylor targeted Clay heavily last week in the snow against Pittsburgh. Conditions are the same but the opposing defense is now substantially worse making him a great cheap buy.
Matt’s Pick: CIN +3.5 vs PIT
Did you follow both our calls last week? I sure hope so. Now, with Big Ben struggling on the road and this being a divisional game, the likelihood of a blowout is very slim. These games usually end with a field goal and I expect nothing less in this one. Mark me down for another win.
Will’s Pick: TEN +5.5 @ KC
Tennessee just seems to win when it matters most. Even though a victory in Arrowhead is a tough feat, the Titans can keep it close this week. Kansas City’s unimpressive offense won’t run away with this one.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-17-2016 11:00
Start ‘em: Alex Smith, Tyrod Taylor
With the Tennessee defense playing pretty well against the run, I can see Smith doing pretty well here. Kelce has virtually been unstoppable and with Tyreek Hill’s big play ability, I see the KC QB playing above average Sunday with clear skies expected.
Snow and/or fog will hit Buffalo on Sunday but Taylor showed last week against Pittsburgh he can handle the winter elements. Against Cleveland’s awful defense, he’ll have an absolute field day.
Sit ‘em: Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford
Arrowhead is a tough place to play. The Chiefs did a fantastic job shutting down Carr and with 1st place on the line for the AFC West, plan on seeing more of the same. Mariota has been pretty good this season but I also believe the matchup between the Titans receivers and Chiefs defensive backs favor KC.
Stafford claims his finger is fine but if the Giants’ D gets to him early and often, the entire Detroit offense will struggle. It also doesn’t help his stock this week that rain is in the Sunday forecast.
Start ‘em: Rashard Jennings, Kenneth Farrow
Players have come and gone in the New York backfield this season but Jennings continues to assert himself as the top dog. Rain will be relentless on Sunday so expect Jennings to see an increase in touches.
With Melvin Gordon doubtful, as USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned in his fantasy injury report this week, Farrow is slated to see most of the touches for the Chargers. Against an Oakland D, the floor is pretty high here. He also caught balls out of the backfield so I love his chances for a score in this one.
Sit ‘em: Jay Ajayi, all Philly RB’s
I have been wrong every time I’ve mentioned to sit him. But this time, the Jets should been loading up the box since Miami is rolling out their backup QB, forcing Miami to throw the ball. This is one of the plays that will make or break your playoff dreams.
Despite rain expected in Baltimore which will likely result in more carries for Eagle’s running backs, none of them are worth playing. Ryan Matthews still isn’t 100%, Darren Sproles is going through concussion protocol and Kenjon Barner hasn’t done anything to prove himself. Move along.
Start ‘em: Sammy Watkins, Robby Anderson
Forget the snow and his questionable tag; Taylor will be eyeing Watkins all afternoon.
Robby Anderson has seen 23 targets in the last 2 weeks. It’s quite clear he and Petty have a connection. Anderson has really come on as of late for the Jets and why wouldn’t he be able to do it again against a Miami secondary that is very exploitable?
Sit ‘em: Jordan Matthews, Terrelle Pryor
Philly’s offense can’t seem to figure it out and rain won’t help. The Ravens are back home and playing much better against the pass. I do not like Matthews’ chances to score which makes him a liability for your championship run.
He’s been the lone bright spot for the Browns all season but Pryor isn’t a wise play again the Bills. Snow will be a factor on Sunday and the Cleveland offense has struggled mightily to get him involved the last few weeks.
Start ‘em: Antonio Gates, Martellus Bennett
With Gates approaching Tony Gonzalez’s touchdown record, what better way to do it against one of your rivals? Oakland can’t guard the tight end so look for SD to get him this record on Sunday.
Bennett is back and we saw last week that New England can rack up the passing stats, even if they hold off to do so until the second half. Bennett will be targeted heavily against Denver’s solid D.
Sit ‘em: Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron
See a trend here? I do not like Philly’s passing game for so many reasons. Wentz will be running for his life and he will not have the time to throw to anybody. Sit this man!
If Stafford is healthy, Ebron is a great play. But if the Detroit game plan is to protect a banged up Stafford, Ebron could be used for pass protection more than usual.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-16-2016 12:00
Both teams are 9-4 and few people are talking about either side making a deep run in the NFC playoffs, but don’t sleep on the New York Giants or NFC North leading Detroit Lions who clash in the rainy Big Apple on Sunday in what could be a damp and dreary post season preview.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is in the forecast but temperatures appear to hover in the mid-to-low 40s so snow is unlikely. As of Wednesday, it didn’t look like wind would be much of a factor; topping out around 10mph, but the real issue could be the slick field turf inside MetLife Stadium if the drizzle turns to downpour.
A few weeks ago, we mentioned how weak the Giants are on the road in rain games, but they’re a completely different side at home where they average about 29 points per game. Eli Manning deserves a ton of credit for that, earning his best weather-related numbers in East Rutherford. In his last five home rain games, Manning averages 238 yards and two touchdowns while completing 19 of 29 attempts while posting a 4-1 record. Against Detroit’s secondary that allows over 250 passing yards per game, Manning will have no issues spreading the ball around to superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and his other emerging young wide-out, Sterling Shepard.
Perhaps the most impressive weather stat of all has nothing to do with Manning, rather, the New York football Giants have not lost at home in the rain since 2009. Much of this is because of how well the team often times dominates the time of possession game while giving the opposition a heavy dose of the run in the rain. Rashad Jennings is a running back built for any era with his large frame yet quick, shifty feet. Lucky for him, he’s on an offense that regardless of which back is taking snaps, the entire backfield seems to always find success. Since 2012, only once in six games did an individual RB not accumulate 100 yards or more.
As for Detroit’s run game, the visitors might be without top running back, Theo Riddick, who missed last week’s game against Chicago. USA Today’s Steve Gardner believes Riddick questionable tag could mean that Dwayne Washington could be the lead back for the Lions.
The Lions, who play their home games in dome, are miserable in weather impacted road matchups. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, in Detroit’s four most recent games that features precipitation, the team is 0-4 and surrendered 34 points or more in three of those.
Offensively, with the exception of an absolute drumming they suffered to Baltimore in 2009, the team still manages to put up decent numbers in the rain or snow, averaging roughly 22 points per game. But with a banged up Matthew Stafford and Riddick heading into week 15, the offense doesn’t seem quite as dynamic as it’s previously been all season. If Stafford does play in the rain and tape up his injured finger, his numbers historically fall well short of impressive. Over his last two rain games, Stafford is 29-of-71 for 513 yards, two scores and a pick.
Both teams can afford a loss but that’s the last thing on Detroit’s and New York’s minds. A win for the Giants inches them a game closer to leapfrogging Dallas in the NFC East. A loss means a division title is likely out of reach. A win for the Lions and it’ll feel like one hand is already on the division crown. A loss and bitter rivals Minnesota and Green Bay are back in the division title discussion. Neither team can afford a mistake, but with terrible weather looming, that’s easier said than done.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-10-2016 22:05
Start ‘em: Carson Palmer, Jameis Winston
Facing a poor secondary could be the right play for the Arizona QB. He hasn’t won you too many games this year but if Flacco can succeed against the Dolphins, so can Palmer.
Winston has been a stud all season and at home against New Orleans’ awful secondary; the former Heisman winner will thrive. With zero weather concerns expected, Winston might get close to 40 attempts in ideal passing conditions.
Sit ‘em: Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor
Even though he has the weapons, Siemian hasn’t really put it together this year consistently. Having to rely on the defense to win games, his point expectations this week makes me want to keep him benched.
Pittsburgh doesn’t exactly have the best secondary but snow is expected to hit Buffalo all weekend. The Bills will lean on a heavy dose of McCoy over Taylor this week.
Start ‘em: Jonathan Stewart, Matt Forte
We didn’t like him against Seattle’s solid defense last week but against San Diego’s inconsistent defensive unit, J-Stew is back on track for a big afternoon with zero weather concerns.
A young QB is getting back under center for the Jets and who better to rely on than your “do it all” running back? A big plus here, he faces one of the worst defenses in the league in San Francisco.
Sit ‘em: Mark Ingram, James Starks
Tampa has a great run defense and I don’t see Ingram winning you a playoff game here. Rather, I see New Orleans throwing a ton in this one having to play from behind.
The Seahawks thwarted Jonathan Stewart a week ago and the same will go for Starks. Even though GB is expected to run a decent amount because of snow and bitter cold in the forecast, Christine Michael could steal a handful of carries against his old team.
Start ‘em: Julian Edelman, Tyler Lockett
Now that he is healthy, Seattle can put Lockett to good use against a Green Bay secondary that lacks the ability to stop the pass. He also has special teams upside that can put you over the top.
Sit ‘em: Brandon Cooks, Allen Robinson
Cooks has struggled to consistently to be involved in this offense and is no longer the #1 receiver. He is better on the turf and has been posting boom or bust numbers this year.
Blake Bortles has turned into the king of garbage time points but aside from that, the passing game in Jacksonville has been virtually nonexistent. Despite the perfect weather conditions, Xavier Rhodes will be covering Robinson all afternoon which hasn’t bode well for other top receiving targets this season.
Start ‘em: Ladarius Green, Jason Witten
Green was targeted 11 times last week and appears to be Big Ben’s new favorite redzone weapon. Seeing that same number of targets this week might be a stretch, but moving forward, he’s a must own a potential must start every week. Not to mention, with snow in the forecast, Big Ben might be looking for shorter routes to his sure-handed tight end.
Last week was the first game that Witten didn’t record a single catch. I believe they will make it up to him in a big rivalry game.
Sit ‘em: Dwayne Allen, Will Tye
Having gone off last week, Allen will be heavily owned in daily fantasy. Three TD’s in a game is hard to replicate, especially since he only saw four targets all day. Don’t fall for the trap!
Unless Tye falls into the endzone, his expectations are pretty low. Do you want to risk your playoff hopes on this play?
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-10-2016 22:00
|Matt’s Value Players:|
Cousins’ yardage prediction this year is the best in his career and the Eagles are getting worse on offense. This gives Washington more time and possession on offense, resulting in more opportunities for Cousins to rack up some points. As for Miller, Indianapolis is poor at best against the run and if he gets between 18-22 touches, he has the chance to smash value. Gabriel could also see a ton of action now that Sanu is out and Jones is not 100 percent, according to USA Today’s Steve Gardner. Expect more looks for the speedy receiver against LA. Lastly, at home against the Bears in a game where Stafford could throw more than 40 times, Ebron will eat Chicago up if given the opportunity.
|Will’s Value Players:|
Manning tossed a trio of TD’s against the Cowboys already this season, and that was down in Dallas. Having found the endzone multiple times in five straight games, there’s a good chance he’ll make it six this week. Snow is expected to hit Cleveland on Sunday and with uncertainty at the QB position, the Crow could get a ton of touches against the Browns’ in-state rival. As a slot receiver, Cobb won’t see much of Richard Sherman this week and with Earl Thomas banged up, there’s a good chance he’ll be Rodgers’ top target in frigid Green Bay. Kendricks might not be a glamorous play, but he’ll be low-owned and dirt cheap meaning having the LA tight end in your lineup will allow you to stack the rest of your roster with expensive superstars.
Matt’s Pick: NYG +3 vs DAL
At home in a divisional game that New York already beat in Dallas? Ya, I like the G Men to keep up with Dallas and possibly win outright.
Will’s Pick: CAR -1.5 vs SD
San Diego is a total wildcard this season. One week they’re downing playoff bound teams and the next week they’re losing at home to a sub-.500 team. With Carolina needing to prove itself after last week’s embarrassment in Seattle, Cam and company will come out guns blazing this week.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-10-2016 12:00
A handful of NFL games this weekend will likely see some snow but in a do-or-die clash between two AFC playoff hopefuls in Tennessee, neither the Broncos nor the Titans can afford a loss in what’s expected to be a riveting rain-soaked showdown.
According to NFLWeather.com, the forecast has been wobbling back and forth between overcast skies and a light rain but precipitation is expected to hit Nashville sometime during Sunday afternoon. Wind shouldn’t be much of a factor, topping out around eight mph, and same goes for the local temperature which should hover around the low-to-mid 40s. But if rain hits the 419 Tifway Bermuda grass inside Nissan Stadium early in the day, we could be in for a sloppy must-win matchup.
If the season ended today, Denver (8-4) would wind up as the sixth seed heading into Baltimore while Tennessee (6-6) would miss out on the postseason based on tiebreakers within the division. In order to make the playoffs, the Titans need to win out and have Indianapolis lose once. If the Broncos win their final four games, they’re a lock for at least a wildcard spot but a loss on Sunday results in a remote chance for the AFC West crown and invites seven AFC competitors into contention for the sixth seed (pending Sunday’s results).
That being said, we’re in must win territory for both teams and Mother Nature won’t be making it any easier for either side.
Denver is historically a strong side in weather impacted matchups but the rain seems to cause problems. A few weeks ago heading into a weather-related game with freezing temperatures on the radar, NFLWeather.com stats showed the Broncos were 5-2 in recent cold weather matchups but in the rain over the last few seasons, the team is just 2-3 and has allowed 30 points or more in three of those five games. Denver’s D has been pretty stout this season so the real concern could be on the other side of the ball with a QB under center still recovering from an injury.
However, USA Today’s Steve Gardner made a promising point for Bronco’s fans in his article this week regarding the health of quarterback Trevor Siemian, who missed last week’s game in Jacksonville. “He’s shed his walking boot which is good news for the receivers after Paxton Lynch threw for just 104 yards last week,” Gardner wrote. Even with rain present, Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryius Thomas are poised for big afternoons against an inexperienced secondary that recently cut veteran cornerback Perrish Cox and has to scramble to find a youngster capable of stepping up and slowing down one of the NFL’s most dynamic receiving duos. But a banged up Siemian could also result in Devontae Booker seeing close to 30 touches after having carried the ball 24 times in two of his last three games.
Unlike the Bronco’s offense, the Titans are healthy and seem to be on the up and up. However, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Titans have been victorious only once in their last five rain games and on average surrender close to 30 points per game. It certainly hasn’t helped that the offense has been as stagnant as the rain puddles that will collect on the field on Sunday, averaging a mere 18 points per game.
But that was the old Titans, not the division title chasing Titans of today anchored by a Heisman winning QB that hasn’t turned the ball over in three straight games. November’s Player of the Month, Marcus Mariota, has thrown multiple TD’s in eight straight games but will that trend continue in a downpour? Mariota played in one rain a year ago and finished the afternoon with three TD’s but two INT’s and a 46% completion percentage just won’t cut it when you’re competing for a division title. Unlike last year, Mariota has weapons in his arsenal with bruising running back DeMarco Murray in the backfield that not only still grinds out the tough yards but has also been a threat in the passing attack. Tight end Delanie Walker is still the go-to target and will be just that once again in Sunday’s crummy conditions.
Not many people thought Tennessee would be in playoff contention at this point, but here we are. It’s the biggest game of the Titan’s season thus far and it’ll also be the dampest. If they can avoid the weather disrupting their mojo and avoid Von Miller getting to Mariota, Tennessee could earn some major respect this week as they inch closer to the summit of the AFC South.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-02-2016 18:00
|Matt’s Value Players:|
$5,200 price tag of Fitz is so cheap for a guy going against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. As for Hill, at this price combined with the touches he should get now that Gio Bernard is out makes Hill a tremendous value play. In what will be a colossal shootout for Detroit at New Orleans, there is going to be plenty of looks to go around and Jones will see close to a dozen of them. McDonald has emerged as one of the go-to guys for San Francisco now and averaging just over six targets since week seven puts him in a good spot as a cheap daily play.
|Will’s Value Players:|
or only $5,300 and going against a Miami D that was absolutely torched by Kaep, Flacco is a great play with likely a low percentage in ownership. Starks is the top dog in GB’s ground game but he hasn’t put up Lacy-like numbers just yet. Houston’s defense is good but not great and with flurries in the Sunday forecast, Starks has a chance to see 20+ touches and finally prove to coaches that the Packers no longer need to keep trading for RB’s. Like Shepard who’s a must-start, Cruz is a sneaky play in daily and against Pittsburgh’s weak secondary, he could easily go off with all eyes on OBJ. Green was the Steelers’ big off season acquisition and made his debut last week against Indianapolis. He should play more of a role this week now that he’s back to full health.
Matt’s Pick: OAK -3 vs BUF
Oakland’s offense will be too much for the Bills. McCoy and company will fade later in the second half allowing the Raiders to put this one away. Lock it up!
Will’s Pick: ARI -2.5 vs WAS
On the road, Washington isn’t very impressive defensively on the road and Palmer has averaged two touchdowns a game over the last four weeks. Arizona is finally getting it together, probably too little too late, but all of a sudden they’ve looked like the threatening team we expected to see week one.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 12-02-2016 00:00
Start ‘em: Phillip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick
Tampa has been above average against the run this year and I see them forcing San Diego to thrown a ton in a potential shootout. He has a high floor this Sunday, have no fear.
Kaep looked like his old self last week against a decent Miami defense that allowed him to rack up over 110 yards rushing on top of his 296 through the air. With rain in Chicago’s forecast, Kaep could end up with 10+ carries.
Sit ‘em: Ryan Tannehill, Trevor Siemian
Baltimore is going to force Tannehill to throw the ball rather than letting the Dolphins run on them. I do not see him winning you any match ups this week.
Jacksonville’s D has eight sacks in the last two weeks and Denver’s o-line is looking shaky. With drizzle expected on Sunday, Siemian might not be taking as many deep shots down field as he normally does.
Start ‘em: Matt Forte, Jordan Howard
Simply put, Indianapolis just flat out stinks on defense this season. I can see Forte getting into the endzone this week and adding a few catches as well.
Even though SF held Miami to under 100 yards rushing last week, the Niners D has seen three teams rack up over 240 yards on the ground already this season. With Barkley under center in Chicago, Howard might end up seeing 30+ touches in the rain.
Sit ‘em: Frank Gore, Jonathan Stewart
The Jets have a stout front seven that should eat the Colts’ line alive. I do not anticipate Gore going off in this spot.
Stewart is a tough guy to sit because he dominates all the carries in Carolina but the Panthers will struggle mightily against Seattle’s stout rushing defense in the rain. If J-Stew couldn’t produce against LA’s tough front seven, expect similar disappointing results against the Seahawks.
Start ‘em: Emmanuel Sanders, Sterling Shepard
Sanders has seen double digit targets in three of the last four weeks. Look for plenty of the same here against Jacksonville.
It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s secondary is mediocre at best and regularly get lit up against strong passing teams like the Giants. Despite the crummy conditions, Shepard will see a ton of targets with safeties keeping tabs on Odell Beckham Jr. all afternoon.
Sit ‘em: Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin
With one touchdown all season and seeing less targets than last year means Landry’s upside is limited. Find someone else because there’s a good chance you will be disappointed by this play.
Like J-Stew, another tough playmaker to sit from Carolina’s offense but as USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned last week that the power of Richard Sherman is one to be feared as he allows a league-low 59.1 passer rating heading into week 12. There are better options in better weather games than Benjamin this week.
Start ‘em: Cameron Brate, CJ Fiedorowicz
Behind Mike Evans, Brate is the top receiving threat in Tampa’s passing attack. With clear skies in San Diego’s forecast, Winston will be airing it out early and often against the Charger’s swiss cheese D.
Houston will be down in this game and will have to pass a ton. Since Week five, CJ has not seen less than six targets. I like him a lot here..
Sit ‘em: Julius Thomas, Jack Doyle
Thomas is banged up and only saw five targets last week at Detroit who’s terrible against defending TE’s. Even if he suits up, he won’t be much of a factor against a solid Denver D.
With Allen back and the Jets pretty fair against the tight end, I see this play as a recipe for disaster. Anyone but Doyle will do.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-01-2016 18:00
They were ten picks apart from each other in the 2004 draft and share four Super Bowls between them.
To some, they already have an in to the Hall of Fame at the end of their decorated and memorable careers. But on Sunday when the weather conditions will be anything but favorable in the damp and dreary Steel City, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning will clash in what will be a classic heavyweight bout in the rain between two of the league’s most storied franchises.
According to NFLWeather.com, a drizzle is expected and temperatures will be in the high-30’s at kickoff but come fourth quarter, it will likely dip below freezing (just like we saw when Pittsburgh hosted Dallas two weeks ago). As of Wednesday, the wind didn’t seem to be much of a factor but the open end zone at Heinz Field is notorious for creating a wind tunnel and causing major trouble for either side’s kicking game. The real issue could be freezing rain as the temperature plummets and once that happens, snow could make a second half appearance.
The visiting New York Giants (8-3) have played in plenty of weather impacted games over the last few seasons but the difference between their performances at home and away is night and day. Since 2009 in rain games, the Giants are 5-4 but only 1-3 on the road. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, offensively the team averages almost 29 points per game at home compared to only 17 on the road.
One might speculate this 12 point difference could be because the team wants to run the ball more in an effort to win the time of possession battle while decreasing the possibility of throwing an interception. However, statistics show that on average Manning drops back only 29 times per game at home versus 43 on the road. Could this be from having to play catch up on the road thus having to abandon the run earlier than expected? Not likely, because New York is a traditionally tough rushing team to stop in crummy conditions. Since 2013 in poor weather outings, Big Blue is 3-0 when handing the ball off 35 times or more.
Over the last few seasons Pittsburgh (6-5) has also had plenty of ground game success in the rain. Since 2013 when Le’Veon Bell entered the league, the Steelers are 5-1 in the rain while averaging roughly 115 rushing yards per outing. Of those six, Bell only played in three and has managed 270 yards from 50 carries. He’ll be a major factor in both the running and passing attack but don’t count out his veteran backup returning to full health, DeAngelo Williams. USA Today’s Steve Gardner mentioned in a recent piece that he’s a must-have handcuff in fantasy leagues and given Bell’s history of injuries late in the year, Williams could end up being the guy down the stretch. He’s also been a stud in rain games, racking up 127 yards on 21 carries against New England last season.
But the main man in Pittsburgh’s rain game attack is still Big Ben. Since 2009, the Steelers are 10-4 in the rain and haven’t lost at Heinz Field in a drizzle since 2010. Not to mention, over those 14 games the offense has averaged just under 24 points per game but at home the average leaps to 30 ppg. Against New York’s shaky D, Roethlisberger is going to spread the ball around but it’s still safe to assume Antonio Brown will easily see over 10 targets. Keep an eye on a healthy Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh’s big off-season acquisition who made his debut on Thanksgiving.
Neither of the two teams sits atop their divisions yet this still feels like perennial Super Bowl matchup. Pittsburgh and New York are the only two franchises in NFL history to win the Super Bowl as a six seed. They’re two teams that are impossible to write off and frightening to go up against in the postseason. Here’s to hoping these two link up in Houston in a couple months, under slightly more ideal weather conditions.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 11-23-2016 21:00
A pivotal battle for the AFC West summit alongside Oakland is on the line when the Kansas City Chiefs visit their heated and hated rivals, the Denver Broncos in what the forecast is calling close to freezing temperatures in the Mile High City.
According to NFLWeather.com, temps will start in the lower 40’s and trickle down close to freezing for Sunday evening’s kickoff. Both the wind and wind chill shouldn’t be much of a problem, topping out around 6-8mph. Precipitation is currently 0% but who knows what could happen come Sunday, we’ve seen some flurries in a handful of games already but right around this time of year is when the Denver home games regularly feature weather issues.
About two weeks ago, we started to see NFL games dip into arctic-like conditions. The cold weather hit the rust belt hard last week, where Pittsburgh at Cleveland and Buffalo at Cincinnati endured below freezing temps and all four offenses struggled tremendously. The most concerning stat was that in both those games a total of three extra points were missed. Despite the thin air from the high altitude in Denver, the kicking game could really be an issue on Sunday.
But both Denver (7-3) and Kansas City (7-3) are plenty familiar with competing in the cold. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the Chiefs are 4-2 since 2013 when the temperature dips below 32-degrees with Denver 5-2 over the same span. In 2014, both sides battled in less than ideal winter conditions with the Broncos escaping KC with a 29-16 road win.
This might be Denver’s first cold weather impacted matchup this season and it certainly won’t be the last. Rookie QB Trevor Siemian has already played in a weather-related game this season but the team focused on the running game tallying 32 total carries. Coming off a bye, the well-rested Broncos offense will be looking to do the exact same against a KC D that allows over 120 rushing yards per game. Devontae Booker will be the workhorse and will easily see 20+ touches but that doesn’t mean Denver is going to avoid Siemian taking shots downfield. The Chief’s D just isn’t what it used to be so if they stack the box, Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryius Thomas will have an absolute field day despite the frigid temps.
Kansas City might not have the most intimidating or high octane offenses in the league, but KC does have one of the most consistent QB’s in crummy conditions. Veteran Alex Smith is notorious for protecting the pigskin and making smart decisions, and in his six career games with the Chiefs in freezing temperatures he’s only tossed five INT’s and fumbled once compared to his eight touchdowns. Smith has a completion percentage of 64% in the cold and 167 yards on average per game, not the most herculean numbers but enough to get the win.
The Chiefs backfield has taken a number of hits this season but Spencer Ware has seized his opportunity and has done everything but cool off. Charcandrick West will get a handful of touches if he’s healthy but West didn’t practice Wednesday so his status is looking grim. In his last seven games, Ware has averaged roughly 16 carries and will see substantially more than that on Sunday night. Like West, Jeremy Maclin didn’t practice and if the Chief’s most dynamic offensive threat can’t go, all eyes are on Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to cause problems in Denver’s secondary.
This is a must win game for both sides trying to keep pace with the 8-2 division-leading Raiders. A win simply means the division title is within grasp while a loss indicates plenty of work needs to be done to even be mentioned in the AFC West title discussion. Sunday night we have a bitter rivalry in the bitter cold to look forward to, what more could you ask for? Well, maybe a change of pace from the Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 11-19-2016 10:00
|Matt’s Value Players:|
Green Bay is so bad against the pass and Cousins is very good at home. If DeSean Jackson misses this game, feel free to pair him up with Pierre Garcon ($3900) to give you ultimate flexibility. A WR turned RB here is a great value. Easing Rawls back into the game is highly probable which gives more touches to CJ Prosise. More of a cash game option here, but either way there is value. Alex Smith hates down field throws which is a fact. That combined with Maclin being out gives Hill an advantage and the opportunity to possibly see more than the 13 targets he saw last week. Get Ty “freak” on your roster. McDonald has seen 18 total targets in the last 3 games. The 49ers will be playing from behind and I see many garbage time points here. A slight gamble but he will be low owned and a great pivot from Martellus Bennett.
|Will’s Value Players:|
Bortles has become the king of garbage time points in fantasy. His team might be atrocious but the young QB still consistently racks up respectable numbers. For the price, he’s a solid play. Pittsburgh allows on average over 100 yards rushing and this week will be no different. The injury bug is plaguing the Steelers and the Crow will benefit tremendously. The Browns won’t get their first win but Crowell is in for a career day. There was a time when it appeared rookie Tyler Boyd would emerge as the number two option behind AJ Green but the veteran LaFell has impressed all season. He’s dirty cheap and he’ll see close to 8-10 targets, making him a phenomenal buy for four G’s. Lastly, the reliable veteran Witten seems to have great chemistry with his rookie QB. Baltimore has a solid defensive unit so Dak will look to his security blanket early and often.
Matt’s Pick: SEA -6.5 vs PHI
Ok so I messed up last week. My bad! But do you think the Hawks are gonna let Philly do anything offensively? I do not. Lock. Of. The. Week.
Will’s Pick: GB +3 @ WAS
After surrendering 47 points on the road to Tennessee last week, there’s no way Green Bay can play any worse this time around. Washington at home this season has yet to hold its opposition to under 20 points and with the Pack getting +3 this week, it’s tough to see them lose by more than that in DC.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 11-19-2016 09:00
Start ‘em: Andy Dalton, Derek Carr
With the shuffling of the Bills secondary during their bye week combined with the fact that Eifert is healthy, I see Dalton having a nice day here and a good fill in QB if your starter has a bye.
Houston has a top-five defensive unit but the altitude in Mexico City could play a role in negatively affecting the defensive backs like it did in week seven. Having already lost once in Denver’s high altitude venue where a Trevor Siemian-lead offense put up 29 points, Carr could end up having a career day south of the border.
Sit ‘em: Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston
In his last four games, Wentz has managed to cough up six fumbles and toss four picks. The rookie’s stock has been fading fast and with rain in Sunday’s forecast against Seattle’s punishing defense, Wentz is in for a long and disappointing afternoon.
Winston is headed to Arrowhead where the Chiefs D is always tough. Think elsewhere here.
Start ‘em: Isaiah Crowell, Robert Kelly
With near freezing temperatures and 25mph winds, the passing game for both Pittsburgh and Cleveland will struggle mightily along the banks of Lake Erie this week. Now that defensive end Cameron Heyward out for the Steelers, Pittsburgh’s mediocre run defense might end up getting burned in the cold by a winless rival.
Kelly is a great bye week sub and will see the majority of the carries in a potential shootout.
Sit ‘em: Latavius Murray, Doug Martin
Houston has a pretty legit run defense and I can see Murray stalling out in the high altitude in Mexico. Not so sure he can keep his same output like he did against Denver.
Finally activated for a mouthwatering matchup against a KC D that allows over 120 rushing yards per game but Martin is by no means a lock to get 20+ touches. The coaching staff will be monitoring him closely and it’s not like Tampa’s rushing attack has been anything to be feared.
Start ‘em: Doug Baldwin, Robert Woods
The secondary for the Eagles has been quite poor, giving up way too many big plays. The Sea Chickens are passing a lot more these days and look for Baldwin to be the beneficiary.
If Woods can put up the numbers he did against Seattle’s secondary, he shouldn’t have any issues tormenting Cincinnati’s average-at-best DB’s. Weather looks to be a nonfactor this week and if the Bengals keep eight in the box to shadow McCoy or even Taylor, Woods will have a handful of chances for big play opportunities.
Sit ‘em: Jordan Matthews, DeVante Parker
His rookie QB is heading to Seattle where it is not a friendly place to play. I don’t see Matthews being successful at all here.
Even with Jarvis Landry dinged up and perfect passing conditions expected in Los Angeles on Sunday, Parker still can’t be trusted. With Pouncey out, Tannehill could be under pressure from LA’s stellar D-line all afternoon.
Start ‘em: Zach Miller, CJ Fiedorowicz
Jay Cutler’s favorite target is suspended. Enter his 2nd favorite, Zach Miller. The Bears will be down this game and will be required to pass a lot. There is a legitimate chance he sees double digit targets Sunday.
Fiedorowicz has been a pleasant surprise in Houston’s passing game while superstar DeAndre Hopkins has been virtually nonexistent. Oakland’s defense can’t keep a team under 300 yards passing and Monday night in Mexico City will be no different.
Sit ‘em: Cameron Brate, Zach Ertz
KC’s defense is so good against the TE due to the greatness of Eric Berry. FIND SOMEONE ELSE.
Ertz draws Cam Chancellor this week. Who else is on the waiver wire?
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 11-19-2016 08:00
Four years have passed since the Philadelphia Eagles last competed in a rain game and come Sunday, they’ll have an uphill battle against a stout Seattle Seahawks side that spends half the year in a seemingly endless monsoon.
According to NFLWeather.com, rain is expected to hit the Pacific Northwest all weekend with swirling winds topping out around 10-12 mph and temperatures in the mid-50s. CenturyLink Field is no stranger to rain, having hosted 10 rain games since 2011, but with a FieldTurf playing surface it’s unlikely the field would get slick. The ball on the other hand, well, we’ll find out early if Carson Wentz did any damp-football prep work before this massive NFC showdown.
The rookie quarterback was outstanding early on but has tapered off the last few weeks which most fans and experts alike expected. The Seahawks defense might get to him a little but the elements shouldn’t, having played his college ball at frigid North Dakota State University. Wentz has yet to play in a weather impacted professional game so it’s yet to be seen if the coaching staff trusts him to drop back 30+ times but through week 11 he’s averaged almost 35 passing attempts per game. However, with a total of four interceptions and six fumbles over the last four weeks, a turnover is almost as much a guarantee in this game as the impending rain itself.
To take the pressure off the young franchise QB, the unpredictable running back committee of Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood will be relied upon heavily to eat up clock against a front seven that surrenders less than 100 yards rushing on a weekly basis. Sproles has emerged as the more versatile back and is especially dangerous in the passing game. With a drizzle looming, short passing routes will be Philly’s focus and Sproles has been targeted 26 times in his last three games.
Seattle (6-2-1) on the other hand, has an experienced QB in Russell Wilson who historically has thrived in weather-related games. Armed with an accurate cannon and quick, decisive footwork, the former Wisconsin Badger is a multi-tool weapon at Pete Carroll’s disposal. As unpredictable as the weather in Seattle, Carroll’s game plan for utilizing his QB’s arm is next to impossible to plan for.
According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics Database, in four of the Seahawks’ last nine poor weather outings, Wilson has dropped back 19 times or less. In the other five, he’s averaged over 30 passing attempts. He might be a tough guy to bank on in daily fantasy, but he’s a lock for pulling out a win in crummy climates.
As equally as unpredictable as Wilson’s rain game performances is who will be the top wide-out in Seattle’s passing attack? Doug Baldwin consistently sees plenty of action while Tyler Lockett is still battling back to full health, but Jimmy Graham has risen up as Wilson’s most trusted target. Primary RB entering the season, Thomas Rawls, has returned but will compete with C.J. Prosise has the lead back for week 11. With rain in the forecast and uncertainty in the backfield, Graham is the lone must-start this week.
Philadelphia’s (5-4) been fading fast but a big win on the west coast could turn around this downward spiral. We saw it before when a dismal Rams team stormed into Seattle last year and shocked the ‘Hawks in the rain. If Case Keenum can pull it off, why can’t Wentz?
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 11-12-2016 12:30
|Matt’s Value Players:|
Cousins has been very good at home and tripling his point per dollar basis in every start. Jordan Reed coming back also helps out his numbers. In a smash mouth game, this is where Blount excels. Seattle has a banged up defense and he’ll receive all the goal line carries. Bumped up to #2 on the depth chart and playing the porous 49’ers team, I see Nelson returning his value here and more. With Gronk possibly being guarded by the returning Cam Chancellor, I see Bennett as a good option that will not be highly owned. Take a chance!
|Will’s Value Players:|
If you have Blake Bortles as your starting fantasy QB, you’ve experienced some unexpected highs and lows. He might not be the best QB to lean on but it’s astonishing how many points he racks up in garbage time. For dirt cheap and with the likelihood of 40+ passing attempts, he’s a solid cheap play this week. Time and time again Matt Jones has missed out on the opportunity to impress as the lead back in Washington. Coach Gruden handed the job over to Kelly so let’s see what he can do this week as the top dog. Stephon Diggs went off last week so all eyes will be on him, leaving the speedy and versatile Patterson looking at single coverage all day. Lastly, McDonald had a tremendous week last week and even though he might not be able to replicate that performance, he may have just earned some respect and trust from Kaep. He’ll see plenty of targets again this week.
Matt’s Pick: ATL +2 @ PHI
Atlanta has a great offense that is firing on all cylinders. They will outscore Philly here and that’s all that matters. Good golly miss molly I am hooking you up here!.
Will’s Pick: TB +1.5 vs CHI
I’m not saying Chicago’s victory last week was a fluke, but there’s no way they can replicate that defensive performance against an offense with tremendous aerial weapons. We could see a career day here for Winston and if that’s the case, Chicago is hopeless on Sunday.
by Will Strome and Matt Aloisi | 11-12-2016 12:00
Start ‘em: Eli Manning, Jameis Winston
Manning has an average low total point at home this year of 16 in fantasy. Cincinnati is exploitable in the secondary where they do not have a person that can cover OBJ 1-on-1. Look for Eli to perform well in this spot.
The former Heisman Trophy winner might not be able to carry a fantasy team on his own, but he’s a formidable backup when your #1 QB is unavailable. With players like Luck, Stafford, and Carr on a bye, Winston is a solid waiver wire grab.
Sit ‘em: Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler
A week after recommending Tannehill, I believe to you should stay away this week. If he can’t even perform well at home against the Jets secondary, what do you expect from him in week ten? Quite frankly, he is just not that good.
As mentioned above, there is a trio of top QB’s on a bye this week and while free agents like Winston might be available to pick up, Jay Cutler isn’t. Steer clear of this fading veteran.
Start ‘em: Paul Perkins, DeVontae Booker
Last week, Perkins split carries with Rashad Jennings and was easily more effective. With the coaches talking about getting him more involved, I could easily envision 15 touches at least. He’s a decent flex fill in during the bye week for some solid teams.
Once CJ Anderson went down, few people saw what John Fox saw in Booker. Against a high-octane New Orleans offense in the dome, the Broncos need balance and eating up the clock while Brees is on the sidelines is a recipe for victory against the Saints.
Sit ‘em: Spencer Ware, Christine Michael
Kind of a crazy call but I could totally see Carolina stacking the box and making Alex Smith throw it here. Now that Ware is coming back from a concussion, will they give him the majority of the touches? I might not want to take a chance here.
He’s been a workhorse all season but against New England’s stout front seven with a banged up o-line, Michael will struggle to find seems between the tackles. Not to mention, there’s a good chance they’ll be playing catchup against Tom Terrific.
Start ‘em: Julian Edelman, Alshon Jeffery
Speaking of Brady, Tom is not going to have all the time in the world here. Shorter routes and quicker plays will allow Edelman to be that guy for the Pats. Ten targets here is not out of the question.
Boy, we’ve really been hating on this guy for the last couple of weeks. But against Tampa’s secondary and weather a nonfactor, I’m not saying Cutler will have great day but Jeffery might put up the 100-yard receiving numbers we’ve come to expect.
Sit ‘em: DeAndre Hopkins, John Brown
I know since you drafted him so high he is a must start. Eh, I just can’t expect much here. Jalen Ramsey is only a rookie but has been pretty affective shadowing team’s #1 receiver. Please also let me remind you the Brock-star is just flat out wet sand for his offensive weapons.
This guy is plummeting down the depth chart. Even against the 49er’s atrocious defense, John Brown is a must sit. Honestly, cut him loose for a waiver wire wideout with a higher ceiling.
Start ‘em: Delanie Walker, Zach Miller
In a shootout, every player is in play in the Tennessee offense but especially Walker. He is Mariota’s favorite target and his floor will be very high in this one.
Miller is still seeing plenty of targets week in and week out and Tampa is notorious for surrendering TD’s to TE’s. Play him.
Sit ‘em: Travis Kelce, Kyle Rudolph
Going out on a limb here but I believe this game will be very slow paced and I see limited opportunities for Kelce. Maybe look elsewhere.
Rudolph has become the quintessential touchdown dependent tight end but it’s doubtful he’ll snag one here. Sit the big man.
by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 11-11-2016 10:00
Once considered to be the NFL’s greatest rivalry, having clashed in a pair of Super Bowls during the 1970s and again in 1995; the Steelers and the Cowboys are a classic heavyweight bout and for this particular round with a fall chill in the air, both storied franchises are sitting atop their respected divisions. The stage seems very fitting for two organizations that share 11 Super Bowl victories between them.
According to NFLWeather.com, clear skies are currently in the forecast for Sunday’s late afternoon kickoff at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Temperatures will linger in the lower-50s but come fourth quarter, temps could dip into the 40s with a wind chill that could feel close to freezing. With Heinz Field’s open end zone, along the banks of the Ohio River, once the wind picks up the kicking game notoriously turns to absolute rubbish that will likely be the case Sunday evening.
Dallas (7-1) has been red hot all season but once the temperature dips into the 40s or below, the Cowboys are 8-10 since 2010. In fact, the last time Dallas played in Pittsburgh was a frigid December night in 2008 where the Steelers scored 17 unanswered fourth quarter points en route to an improbable comeback. It didn’t help the Cowboys’ cause that Deshea Townsend picked off Tony Romo and returned it to the house for the go-ahead TD with less than two minutes in regulation.
Speaking of Romo, whether it’s the veteran or rookie sensation Dak Prescott under center, Dallas will rely heavily on their bruising rookie running back who leads the entire league in rushing, Ezekiel Elliot. Dallas averages over 185 rushing yards per game and against Pittsburgh’s front seven that surrenders just under 100 rushing yards per game, if the Cowboys can find daylight between the tackles and dominate the time of possession battle then the Steelers are in big trouble. Pittsburgh has also struggled to shut down the tight end and top wide-outs all season so expect Jason Witten and Dez Bryant to see 10+ targets a piece.
Pittsburgh (4-4) doesn’t feel like a .500 team but having only played one full game with all three of their coveted offensive weapons (Big Ben, AB, Bell), the offense just isn’t as intimidating or effective without one of their three playmakers. However, when cold weather is a factor, the offense doesn’t seem to cool down, averaging over 25 points per game since 2012. Much of this can be contributed to their immovable QB.
It’s tough to find a better quarterback for games in crummy playing conditions than Ben Roethlisberger. The veteran QB has a 6’ 5’’ frame and looks seemingly impossible to bring down while he’s shaking off defenders and extending plays. The two-time Super Bowl winner might not be the most graceful scrambler, but he somehow manages to get the win when it matters most. Even in unfavorable passing conditions, he’s led Pittsburgh to an 8-2 record in his last ten weather impacted matchups and 10-4 in freezing conditions since 2009.
According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Big Ben averages roughly 33 passing attempts in weather impacted matchups and over 240 yards per game over the last six seasons. He’s also thrown for 21 touchdowns over that span and astonishingly only four interceptions. He looked atrocious last week but beat writers in Pittsburgh suspected he came back a week too early. A healthier Ben means plenty more offensive production from Antonio Brown and his new favorite red zone target, tight end Jesse James.
Here’s to hoping this is a Super Bowl preview but don’t expect it. A fourth meeting between two respected franchises in the Super Bowl would be both historic and riveting, but it isn’t going to happen. In a game featuring two elite running backs and mediocre [at best] defensive units, the weather might be brisk but the intensity will be electric.
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