Update 1/15/2021: Patriots’ playoff bout with Bills will be one of the coldest games in franchise history
With only a few hours to go until kickoff at Orchard Park’s Highmark Stadium it will be a near-certainty that the wild card playoff game against the Buffalo Bills will be one of the coldest in New England Patriots history. According to current forecasts, temperatures could drop to 6 degrees by the time the game gets kicked off at 8:15 p.m. ET with a wind chill factor of -3.
Original story 1/13/2021: Patriots’ playoff bout with Bills could be one of the coldest games in franchise history
In Week 13, it was the wind. Now, it might be the temperature that could have an impact on the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills.
With the two AFC East rivals set to meet in the wild card playoff round, the weather conditions at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium come into focus once again. The game, after all, could go down as one of the coldest in NFL postseason history. It certainly could be one of the coldest in Patriots franchise history.
Current forecasts project a kickoff temperature of around 4 degrees at the game’s scheduled kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday.
This would tie the January 2004 divisional round matchup with the Tennessee Titans for the coldest game ever played by the Patriots. If the forecasts turn out to be accurate, the game in Buffalo also would be just the third ever single-digit kickoff in team history alongside that 2004 game and a December 1989 contest in Pittsburgh that was kicked off at 5 degrees.
The Patriots themselves are taking conditions into consideration, but the weather is no chief concern at the moment.
“I’m more worried about the Bills than the weather,” said head coach Bill Belichick. “I think the Bills are what we have to focus on and that’s who we have to beat. The weather is the weather.”
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels echoed Belichick’s remarks, and also added that the passing game would not be impacted by low temperatures.
“The temperature will be what it will be,” he said. “We’ve certainly played and practiced in cold weather. Maybe haven’t practiced in that type of weather yet this year, but I’d say it’s been below 20 degrees at times. It is what it is. You’ve got to dress appropriately for it and go out there and coach and play. ...
“It’s just more of a mental thing than anything else. Our guys are used to practicing and playing in whatever the conditions are up here in New England, and we’re going to be ready to go.”
While both Belichick and McDaniels pointed towards the team’s previous preparation, single-digit temperatures are not coming up every day. This season so far, for example, the team has not had a chance to prepare in this kind of climate.
It remains to be seen what the game-day temperature will actually look like, though, and whether or not it will have any impact on the contest whatsoever. If indeed dropping into single-digits, Patriots versus Bills would become just the 13th playoff game of the Super Bowl era played under such conditions.