The lineups are set and preseason is out of the way; it's finally time to see how your favorite NFL team stacks up against the competition. If you're a true fan, then you know your team needs support - especially during the most adverse weather conditions. And since most stadiums in the league were built before the advent of retractable or domed roofs, you also know that game-time temperatures can be bone-chillingly cold and - in rare cases - scorchingly hot. Here's a look at weather-related stats for the NFL over time, including those from some of the most extreme games ever played.
NFL football is primarily a cold-weather sport. It's not uncommon to tune in on any given Sunday to see teams battling it out under a blanket of snow and ice. But despite the recent expansion of season lengths into the winter months, the average temperature of an NFL game is actually on the rise. This is due partly to the season starting ever earlier in the month of September as well as the rise in the number of stadiums in cities with warmer climates. Teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans are all recent additions to the league, which cause a spike in the records of average game temperatures.
Coldest Games in History
The impact of cold weather on football games is significant. Icy conditions make it difficult to execute plays, a factor compounded by the joint-stiffening cold air temperatures. A vast majority of stadiums still feature open-roof constructions as well, which ensures that both players and fans alike are subjected to the will of Mother Nature.
Just how cold can it get on gameday? Anyone who watched football in the late '60s might recall the "Ice Bowl," a championship game between the Packers and Cowboys where the temperature dropped to minus-13 degrees with a terrifyingly low windchill of minus-48. At these temperatures, everything becomes difficult - resulting in constant loss of footing and plenty of turnovers. These fumbles wreak havoc on team strategies.
Hot and Cold
The top 10 coldest games in league history all took place in temps of single digits or below zero. One of the hottest games on record occurred in 2003 between the Arizona Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers when the game-day temp was a scorching 102 degrees. Both extremes take a significant toll on teams as they struggle to cope with abnormal field conditions.
Select a team below that plays in an open stadium and has played at least 1 home game below freezing between 2009 and 2013 to see their average attendance during those games.
Freezing-cold weather might be enough of a reason for most people to stay indoors where it's warm, but football fans aren't "most people." The attendance records for games played in below-freezing temps show that fans won't let this one factor stop them from cheering on their favorite team. MetLife Stadium, home to both the Giants and the Jets, racks up the highest attendance during these games with a slight advantage going to the Giants for the best showing of any team.
The winning percentage for teams in freezing weather reveals some interesting information. Teams whose home turfs are in colder climates manage a higher percentage of cold-game victories. The best cold weather record goes to the Packers by a large margin.
The presence of frosty air doesn't necessarily equate to a low-scoring game, however. Teams such as the Cardinals, Ravens, and Browns still rack up the points when the mercury drops. The teams on this list all manage an average of at least 26 points when the frost starts to permeate the air.
Looking for an advantage in your fantasy league this year? Perhaps it's time to consider the weather when choosing your Sunday lineup. Here's a list of teams that commit the most turnovers on days when the temps drop below freezing.
Temperature isn't the only external factor that can affect gameplay; windy weather can make passing plays and field goals much more difficult. The worst stadiums in this respect reside in the North, with the Patriots, Giants, and Jets ranking as the windiest home teams in the league.
As difficult as playing in the wind can be, some teams still manage to overcome the conditions and pile on the yards. In fact, the data show a positive trend between average wind speed and the number of yards a team averages.
There isn't a single field surface that is standard in the NFL. Teams can choose between real grass, synthetic turf, or a hybrid of the two. The decision matters too, as teams perform worse when they encounter unfamiliar turf types, making some away games more difficult. For both field types, eight out of the 10 winningest teams are virtually unstoppable when on a field that matches the makeup of their home stadium.
When the Temps Drop
Some people may shudder at the thought of spending hours exposed to the cold, but that's simply not the case for NFL fans. They seem to feed off of adversity, becoming ever more ravenous as temperatures plummet and the winds begin to howl. Teams harness this energy, drawing inspiration from the crowd when things get tough. This relationship helps ensure that these games will be exciting to watch - and provide some of the most memorable action of the year.
Using NFL meta stats and results pulled from pro-football-reference.com, we explored the weather conditions, stadiums, and field types for NFL games since 1960 and looked at which teams played in some of the most extreme conditions.
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