One of the Coldest ?! Games in NFL History?


Basic Game Theory:  if you're the upperdog, you want to minimize luck.  The less chaos, the better.  Anything that randomizes the outcome is to the underdog's advantage.

Classic example:  Backgammon.  If you're a 2:1 favorite, you want few loose "blots" on the board, even if your opponent has them too.  In chess, a Grandmaster does not want a time scramble, 2 minutes for each side, against his duffer opponent.

That's why, in all sports, a team that is ahead by 2 touchdowns / 3 runs / 15 points wants to avoid a hectic flurry of action.

And that's why, this Sunday, the Seahawks would much prefer a game that was randomized by STRANGE weather.


If the game is played in -1 to -10 degrees wind chill, is that mildly bad for the Seahawks or majorly bad?  We cruised around the 'net for a while and found two fave articles on the subject.  Brian Burke's 2010 research showed the following:

(1) Very cold weather is a big disadvantage for teams that come from hot climates or play in domes.

(2) Passing is not as affected as you might think.  But visiting teams have bigger problems throwing the ball, if it gets very hot or very cold:

(3) Wind and rain are bigger problems than cold weather is.  Actually, rain takes points-per-game down by quite a bit more than freezing temperatures do.  There's a reason that teams fear going to The Windy City for a big game.  Some images to reinforce ...


Yards per Pass by Temp
Yards per Pass by Temp

Yards per Pass by Wind
Yards per Pass by Wind

GB-Dallas 1967
GB-Dallas 1967


The 1967 Ice Bowl was the last championship for an aging Lombardi dynasty.  Green Bay barely pulled out the win, but Dallas was a hot-weather team.  Jerry Kramer said when he came out, the weather was so cold it hurt but then he looked across the field and felt sorry for the Cowboys.  "We were freezing, and they were dying."


This college thesis by Mark Zimmerman does an excellent job.  It's not just important-sounding, written in gobbledegook and buzzwords with thirty citations; it uses common sense, and it puts its finger on the right issues.  You will enjoy the read.  Zimmerman was aware of the above Burke study, and others, and he pointed out:


Teams tended to have inferior passing success in low temperatures and

consequently supplant passing attempts with rushing attempts in those conditions. The results suggest that

teams perform better at home and that

visiting teams are more sensitive to extreme weather conditions. The results also indicate that

visiting teams playing in significantly colder conditions than their home stadium are the most vulnerable to inclement weather.  - from the abstract


Here's another important quote, in which Zimmerman shows his willingness to consider "wisdom" as well as mathematical data:


When asked if he thought severe weather can affect National Football League (NFL) player performance and team general strategy, former Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl winning Head Coach Jimmy Johnson responded with a definitive “Yes”. Many other fans, athletes, and coaches agree that sufficiently inclement weather can significantly impact the performance of even the most highly skilled professional athletes. Anecdotal evidence of freezing temperatures and strong winds influencing passing, rushing, and play-calling abound; Jimmy Johnson remembers “being on the sideline during a winter game at the Meadowlands (home of the New York Jets and New York Giants) when it was so cold I didn’t know what down it was, much less what play to use!” (Advanced NFL Stats). 


Dr. D will throw in here that a forwardgoing ATTITUDE is key.  Here's an article in which Tom Brady gleefully boasts, "I'm a MACHINE in cold weather!"   Compare Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.  So, Russell Wilson's experience in the rain and wind is a cheery thought.  It was a pretty lousy weather day, IIRC, when the Seahawks beat the Patriots in a home game a few years ago.


(1) Zimmerman's article goes to the issue of whether a WR's or QB's hands become insensitive (they do, and by a lot).  

(2) He answers the Q of whether you think slower in cold weather (you do, and a lot).  Nobody would want to take their SAT's outside in -7 degree weather, right?   Of course, the coordinators will be warm.  It won't be a day for Darrell Bevell to stand on the sidelines and look at his cheat notes.  They'll want to be up in the booth.  Defensively, the Legion of Boom just isn't going to be able to read the pass patterns as quickly as they would in warm weather.

(3) Surprisingly, dehydration is a big problem in Eskimo weather.  Read the paper to find out why.

An add-on here - anybody with muscle injuries, such as Adrian Peterson, is going to have serious problems getting loose.  Anybody here have a sore hamstring - and want to run a 100 meters in 0 degrees?


The problem can be huge for visitors.  Zimmerman quotes Burke:


Brian Burke of calculated the road team win-percentage by game temperature of all non-preseason games from the 2000 through 2011 seasons, anddiscovered that teams from domes did not win a single game in 11 - 22 degree weather in his entire sample. According to his analysis, visitors from domes win less than 20% of games played at or below freezing.  


Zimmerman also quotes another study that gives "5 to 10 days" as the body's acclimation period to this kind of weather.  Does anybody know if Carroll was taking the Seahawks to Minnesota several days ahead of time?



Very cold weather CAN be a big problem for visitors.  Here is an article by a handicapper on the subject.  Of course, we quote these shmucks not because gambling is good for your family budget, but because they're the only guys whose profession is to predict the future.  Bloggers blog, but the handicappers are accountable for their predictions.  They've got a lot on the, um, line.

This handicapper warns:  (1) the public overestimates weather conditions, because advantages even out for the offense and defense.  (2) teams that live and die by the passing game do suffer in wind and rain.  (3) the betting line has already taken into account everything you could possibly think of.

Current line, Seattle -5 or 62% - 38% favorites.  But a lot of handicappers have Seattle as a "best bet" at those odds.  Still, a 70% favorite is a lot different from a 97% favorite, amigo.


On paper, at least, the weather probably will not be a decisive problem for the Seahawks specifically, since:

  • They can run the ball, if passing and drops are an issue
  • Russell Wilson is good anyway, when the weather is unfavorable
  • Their attitude is excellent

But, still, 0-degree weather is in the Vikings' favor and causes Dr. D, at least, to be less confident in the outcome.






I hate that weather is even a factor. But I still think we win. Russell talked about it today in his presser, that he practiced and played in mighty cold weather while he was at Wisconsin. He grew up playing in the snow, and is used to it. He never wears a glove, and won't for this game. He mentioned how unusually large his hands are, giving him great grip. I also heard a guy on the radio talk about how Minny has a heater underneath the turf, which should bring the ground temp up to about 17 degrees even if the air temp is below 0. So the ground won't be ice bowl levels of concrete. The things I'm worried about: our most productive pass catcher, Baldwin, is from Florida and may not acclimate as well. I know Pete has the guys flying out tomorrow, so they'll have two full days to prepare. I'm also a bit worried about Beast Mode getting loose in his first game back. I worry about re-injury in such extreme conditions, not about his toughness. I still think we take 'em. I think Teddy Bridgewater's passing game will suffer big time in the weather, forcing them to lean on AP going right into our Run D. With Kam back, we should be able to stuff 'em. I hope!


great 'put Dan.  As we're talking here I like Wilson a looonnnnnng ways in front of Bridgewater.

Also didn't know that the turf was warmed.  Another plus.


You'd have to ask Dr. Grumpy but I personally (as a guy who's had major abdominal surgery) would consider the cold either neutral or a plus.  For whatever reason, the area feels* less vulnerable when it's tighter.

I wonder if it is the long stretching muscles, like AP's hamstring, that are more at risk when not warmed up.  I dunno.


Usually I hesitate to embrace this kind of thinking, but not this time.  As a flag football QB myself, I can relate to the idea that the farther the throw is, the more the weather conditions hurt you.  You may only be 5% affected on slants, 10% on outs but 75% affected on deep balls, especially if you're moving around sideways or backwards before you try to let the ball go.


The weather will be very cold which will make the ball hard and more difficult to throw. Bridgewater has small hands … 9.25 inches. RW3 has large hands …10.25 inches. The average hand size for an NFL QB is 9.6 inches. Bridgewater is not noted for throwing the deep ball.

Not only does he not get the time to get it off but his small hands inhibit his ability to throw it very far. Early in the game watch for balls coming out that do not have that classic spin. This is a sure sign the QB is affected by the cold. If the ball is fluttering the defenses will move their safeties closer to the LOS knowing they need not fear the deep ball. I expect this will make the Vikings one dimensional. The Hawks will stack the box, shut down AP and it will be all over.

The Seahawks could win a ground based game using the combined running of Beast Mode and RW on the scramble.


Now I'm fretting again.  LOL.  Exposed skin gets frostbitten at those temps, doesn't it?  Doesn't Brady wear gloves in that weather?  Wonder if Favre and Rodgers do ...

You're saying that Wilson played in subZERO practices/games at Wisconsin without gloves?  Hm.


Heh. It seems kind of crazy! But he said he's only worn a glove 10-15 times every, and he's not worried about it. Earl said once you're below 20, it's all the same. I guess at the very least it's not in their heads, which is a great sign. Good point about the abs maybe being more secure when tightened up vs. a hamstring. I could definitely see that. Can't imagine how bad a trucking from Beast Mode would sting though. Marshawn may be thinking this is his last run of glory in the NFL. So keep an eye out for a special game from him.


Even though Marshawn is a CA boy, he spent several years in Buffalo before he came to Seattle... so IFFF he is healthy and playing, he may rule the day


One more thought. Minny's been playing in a dome all these years, so I don't really buy into their acclimation too much. Our boys have probably seen more elements than they have. AP is a Texas guy...

And WOW I had no idea Teddy's hands were a full inch smaller than Russ'. That is... pretty amazing. His deep game was already pretty weak, and I dont think it will improve this week. I see Russ and Marshawn taking this one over early.


The Vikings won't be acclimated either.  They have yet to have temps like that this winter and it doesn't really get cold until tonight.  Getting out there early won't help the Seahawks, but already being out there won't help the Vikings either.

One of the biggest advantages Wilson has as a QB is the size of his hands.  I'm sure he'll be protecting them as much as possible.

Anything can happen in the NFL as we know, but ultimately if the Seahawks play as well as they can play, there is no team in the NFL that can hang with them.  They simply have the best combination of roster and system.  They can win 17-6 (my prediction) and be in absolute control from about mid 2nd quarter onward.  Plus they'll have the added benefit of putting this on their extensive list of obstacles to overcome this season.  It'll make them even tougher for the Cams to beat.


The Seahawks are a team on a mission: To erase the bad taste of last year's Super Bowl from their mouths. If the cold means both teams will struggle with the temptation to hit "quit shots" or the acceptance of defeat, the Vikings will be much more vulnerable. 

If this is going to be the Football equivalent of the Battle of the Bulge, I fully expect it will be the Seahawks who dig in and say "Nuts" to surrender.


Welp, looks like Marshawn is out for the game. Didn't even travel with the team to Minny, after a geat week of practie and Pete assuming he'd be playing. Apparently came as a shock to the team. Now, Marshawn gets the benefit of the doubt to me with all he's done. But you have to imagine how unhappy the team is, after ponying up $12M to him this year, letting him rehab away from their guys for 7 weeks, having a good week of practice, and then all of a sudden decide not to get on the plane at the last minute... Best case here is that he was genuinely not ready to play, and it's better to stay out of the -20 temps and lose 2-3 days of rehab to be ready for Carolina. Let's hope. It's on C-Mike and Bruce Brown now.


My feeling is that the fans at FG are being way too harsh on Marshawn.  When you get surgery on your core, you feel like BOWLING is something you'll never do again.  Much less play in the NFL some weeks later.  I'd lay 10:1, cheerfully, that he tried to get back and his mind told him, "um, this is not the best idea you've ever had."  Am sure the doctors agreed with him.

Just my $0.02, having walked a mile in his moccasins.  There's tough and then there's ill-advised ...

If I were on track about that, then Lynch would be done for the 2015 season, ya.


Yep, the Seahawks paid $12M for the possibility that Lynch would defy RB gravity at his age.  The evidence all came in on the other side.  Hard to imagine the case FOR bringing him back.  Sigh.


As we get closer to game time, my FEELING is that the weather is going to totally randomize the game, that we won't even recognize the teams.  Hope the feeling is baseless.

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