The forecast shows weather will impact some football games in the coming days as we inch our way closer to the Superbowl. This weekend’s games in the NFL are called the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Just like last week, there will be 4 games played, 2 each on Saturday and Sunday. The 3rd seeded Seattle Seahawks will visit #2 Atlanta late Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening will see the 4th seeded Houston Texans heading up to New England to play the top seeded Patriots. On Sunday, early in the afternoon the 3rd seeded Pittsburgh Steelers will head to Kansas City to face the 2nd seeded Chiefs and the last game of the weekend will occur late in the afternoon as the 4th seeded Green Bay Packers travel to Dallas to battle the top seeded Cowboys.
Before we take a look at the weather pattern across the country and the details weather-wise for each game, last weekend’s wildcard playoff games was rather tame in terms of weather impacts. In Green Bay, temperatures were around 10 above zero but with little wind, the weather did not play a huge role in this game played Sunday evening. Seattle saw light winds and a light rain began well after the end of the game Saturday night so besides chilly temperatures in the mid 30s the weather had little impacts in this game too.
Houston hosted the Oakland Raiders Saturday afternoon with the retractable roof closed so the weather was obviously not a factor there. This past Sunday afternoon was very cold in Pittsburgh when the Steelers defeated the Miami Dolphins with temperatures in the low teens. There was a consistent 10 mph wind with gusts to 20 mph causing the wind chill to be near 0. An extra point was missed and the wind may have played a role in that. The bitter cold may have factored in on the Dolphins’ miserable performance in this game, especially considering how they are more used to playing in the balmy temperatures of southern Florida.
The general weather pattern this weekend will see a major ice storm occurring across the central and southern Plains. This icy weather will stretch eastward just north of the Ohio River and south of the Great Lakes and into interior portions of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic by Sunday. North of this disturbance will be a pair of arctic high pressure systems, one centered over the Intermountain West and the other over the Great Lakes.
Right off the bat, the first game played Saturday afternoon at 4:35 PM (all time Eastern) will be in Atlanta between the Seahawks and the Falcons and will take place in a dome. So obviously no weather concerns for the game itself. For tailgaters pregame, the weather will be dry and temperatures will be mild, with temperature near 70.
The second game on Saturday will start at 8:15 PM and will take place in Foxborough, Massachusetts; a bustling community that is found almost exactly halfway between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. The Patriots have been the home team for some truly awful weather playoff games in January (see below) and luckily this game will not join that list. Though chilly, any wintry weather in New England will wait until Sunday to occur. For this game, expect temperatures in the mid to upper 20s, no chance of snow or ice and light winds. As said about the game in Green Bay last week, the weather conditions could be a whole lot worse this time of year.
The 1st game Sunday afternoon will kickoff at 1:05 PM in Kansas City as the Chiefs play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game is at risk of the icy weather mentioned above. Temperatures will be right near freezing and winds will be out of the northeast at 8-16 mph.
The finale for the Divisional playoffs will be held at 4:40 PM in Dallas as the Dallas Cowboys welcome the Green Bay Packers to town. The Cowboys state of the art stadium features a retractable roof so we know that the game will not be impacted by any weather even if there was adverse conditions. Outside, rain looks likely with temperatures in the 60s with a gusty southwest wind as north-central Texas is on the warm side of the same weather system that will be affecting the Chiefs and Steelers game.
Getting back to how lucky the Patriots and Texans will be when it comes to the weather Saturday night, here are some examples of truly awful weather in Foxborough:
Dec. 12, 1982: Miami at New England:
With the temperature around 20 degrees, heavy snow, and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour, this game had all the bad weather one could stand. This game between the two AFC East division opponents was more of a struggle than a football game. The snow was so heavy that the yeard markers were impossible to see and neither team was able to score points until 4:45 remaining in the game, when Patriots kicker John Smith somehow managed a 33 yard field goal to win the game, 3-0.
This game became referred to “The Snowplow Game” because a snowplow was used to actually clear a clean strip of grass on the field for the winning field goal. Miami coach Don Shula was livid the home team Patriots ordered a member of their ground crew to do this.
January 19, 2002 AFC Divisional playoffs, Oakland at New England:
The weather featured temperatures around 25 degrees, with gusty winds blowing around a heavy snow. Over 6 inches of snow fell during the game.
This game is often referred to as the “Tuck Rule Game” or the “Snow Job”. The New England Patriots celebrated a 16-13 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders. The snowy field allowed Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins to mark the win by making snow angels in the end zone.
The game was given the name “Tuck Rule Game” and the “Snow Job” after the Raiders appeared to win the game when cornerback Charles Woodson hit quarterback Tom Brady from behind and knocked the ball out of his hands with Oakland clinging to a 13-10 lead with only 1:43 to play in the game. However, officials ruled that Brady “tucked” the ball in towards his body as he was hit, which can’t result in a fumble. Former Raiders players and fans of the team still complain about this call to this day.