FOXBORO, Mass. — How cold is it going to be at this Sunday’s New England Patriots game? Well, the Patriots felt it necessary to send out a memo this week reminding fans that “hand and feet warmers are allowed and encouraged” inside Gillette Stadium.
So, yeah, pretty darn cold.
The forecast for Foxboro currently calls for a high temperature of 14 degrees and a low of negative-6 on Sunday. If that sticks, the Patriots’ early-afternoon matchup with the New York Jets will go down as one of the coldest games in franchise history.
Since 1993, the Patriots only have played in four games that featured kickoff temperatures below 20 degrees. Only one of those games was played at Gillette: a 2003 divisional-round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans that had a game-time temperature of 4 degrees and a wind chill of negative-10.
New England won that ice-cold contest 17-14 on a 46-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal with 4:06 remaining en route to its second Super Bowl title.
The Patriots are known as a team that thrives in cold weather, and the stats bear that out. Since 1993, they’re 42-10 when the temperature dips below 35 degrees and are 11-0 all time in home snow games.
Snow is in the forecast for this Saturday, but it’s expected to die down before game day.
“I don’t think we can really prepare for it,” safety Duron Harmon said of the bone-chilling cold. “In practice, you can put on as much stuff as possible to stay warm and just try to go out there and be focused through the cold.”
The Patriots have practiced outdoors in brutally cold conditions this week. The temperature at the start of Thursday’s session — which was held inside Gillette Stadium rather than on the usual practice field — hovered around 10 degrees with a wind chill of negative-6.
“Honestly, I think the good thing that helps us — hopefully, (Patriots coach Bill Belichick) doesn’t see this — is practicing in it,” safety Devin McCourty said Wednesday. “The games are not as cold as practice. We’ve got a heated bench. We’ve got heaters on the sideline.
“But when we go outside on a day like today, you see us in walkthrough and we’re kind of walking and standing. By the time we practice, we’ve already been outside in the freezing cold for 35 minutes kind of not even moving. So to a lot of us, practice is just way colder, getting through a cold practice, than just a game.”
At 12-3, the Patriots already have clinched an AFC East title and a first-round bye, but they need a win over the 5-10 Jets or a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the winless Cleveland Browns to secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
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