The Impact of Weather in Football
Many of us watched a game last night where weather was obviously a factor. It was cold, and the wind was blowing 25mph with gusts around 50mph. Weather meant a lot in that game, but it means a lot in many, many games and doesn't get mentioned nearly as much as it should.
New England knows their quarterback, Mac Jones, does not have a strong arm, so they let him throw the ball a grand total of three times in the entire game. The fact that the Patriots won the game was a testimony to how smart the New England coaching staff was and how dumb the Bills coaching staff was to not make any significant changes to try to stop the running game until the 4th quarter. The Bills finally started run blitzing which stopped the running attack cold turkey (no pun intended). I can tell you with confidence that nobody knows who would have won the game under reasonable wind conditions. Without strong wind, the short field goal try by the Bills kicker would have been good, meaning the drive at the end of the game could have resulted in another short field goal try which would have won the game by two points for the Bills. I'm glad they get to play again in a few weeks. Maybe then we will see who the better team is. It might still be New England. We just don't know thanks to the wind.
Everybody has been talking about the struggles of Patrick Mahomes over the last few weeks. Nobody has talked about the fact that there has been significant wind in three of the last four games he has played in. The only one that had no wind was the Las Vegas game. The Raiders played the same 2-high safety look that has supposedly given Mahomes fits, but Mahomes torched them for five touchdowns and a bunch of yards with no interceptions. Many of Mahomes' interceptions have been throws that are just slightly off causing them to bounce off of receivers hands and then be picked off. The wind can and does make that much difference in many games. Historically, Mahomes hasn't thrown for as many yards in the second half of the year. Why? Wind along with colder weather, but mostly wind! Have you checked the stats of all the opposing quarterbacks in those wind games? They are horrible, so it's not just Mahomes; it's everybody. The Chiefs defense has gotten a lot better but not "shut you down to less than 10 points" better! It seems like the wind has to be so bad that it blows a football sideways before the TV announcers will mention it. Almost always, I check the wind before my favorite teams play. I know how much difference it makes. If it's more than 15mph, look out!
Now, let's talk about the age-old saying that defenses get better later in the year. It's very true. Wonder why? Nobody waves a magic wand over the defenses late in the year causing them to play better, and it's not because defenses are learning what the offenses are trying to do to them. The playbooks of most NFL teams are so large that they could probably play three games without running the same play. Cold weather makes some difference if it's below 32 degrees, but wind picks up dramatically starting sometime in November in most of the country. That makes a huge, monstrous difference.
So, if you want to be a smarter football fan, check the weather just before the game starts, especially the wind, and watch what happens regarding interceptions, dropped balls and slightly offline throws if it's 15mph or more. Your team better be able to run the ball some if it is.
May God always be your number 1 draft pick!