The New England Patriots are no strangers when it comes to playing in the cold. Over the years, the team has appeared in eleven games that had a kickoff temperature of 20°F or below. Among them are memorable contests such as the 2014 divisional round shootout with the Baltimore Ravens or the meeting with the Tennessee Titans eleven years earlier, still the coldest home game in franchise history at chilly 4°F.
Whether temperatures will drop that low on Sunday, when the Patriots play the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC championship, remains to be seen. The early forecast, however, is encouraging when it comes to low temperatures: the game at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium — which will be kicked off at 5:40 p.m. local time — is projected to be played at between 10°F and -5°F, depending on the outlet.
The Weather Channel has the most optimistic outlook when it comes to temperature, for example, going with an estimate of 11°F to 1°F for the day. Meanwhile, Accuweather sees the thermometer drop to between 8°F and 4°F and the National Weather Service goes with a 9°F to 1°F prediction. However, they are all on the positive side of the scales when compared to what others are expecting:
AFC Championship game is in Kansas City --> Sunday evening. #ChiefsKingdom(-3.0) #Patriots— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) January 14, 2019
6-day weather forecasts are BRUTALLY cold -- and I mean very COLD. Game time temperatures from models range from -5°F to 10°F
Arctic blast is centered right over Arrowhead Stadium pic.twitter.com/if7MnZ3YDw
Weathermodels.com’s Ryan Maue and other prognosticators focus solely on the air temperature, however. The wind chill factor might drop significantly below the -5°F as the following graphic by FOX 4 News meteorologist Evan Andrews shows:
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a true WINTER football game Sunday night in Kansas City! Temps (left) near kickoff expected to be in the ballark of -5 with wind chills (right) -15 to -20. May the best team not freeze! #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/X91pDdGco7— Evan Andrews (@EvanAndrewsFox4) January 14, 2019
If the temperature indeed drops below zero, it would mark the coldest game in franchise history for both teams: New England’s current record holder is a 1989 contest at Pittsburgh that was kicked off at 3°F, while the Chiefs’ is a 1983 game at home against Denver which was played at 0.5°F. Neither team has yet to kick off a game in the negatives.
Of course, Bill Belichick will take all the forecasts with caution. Numerous times in the past, the Patriots’ head coach has pointed out his displeasure with predicting the weather — and a press conference during the 2014 season can be seen as the high-point of this. “I’m not saying I could do it better than them, I’m just saying they’re wrong a lot,” Belichick said back then. “That’s a fact. They’re wrong a lot. I’m not being critical of them, I’m just saying I don’t think you can go based on that.”