Remember at the start of the week when we all thought there might be 3 to 5 inches of snow hitting Foxboro on Sunday afternoon? That was fun.
But anyone who’s spent more than a day in New England knows that just because the forecast says something one day doesn’t mean the weather will follow suit.
Forecast talk, however, remains a prevalent storyline ahead of the Patriots’ AFC divisional round clash with the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The flakes are unlikely to fly, but it will be chilly. The current forecast doesn’t see the thermometer breaking the 30-degree threshold all day.
Some believe that will be a decided advantage for the cold-weather Patriots against a Chargers team they say will fall apart like crashing icicles after they’re plucked from the sunny comfort of Sothern California.
But if the Patriots win Sunday, it will have more to do with their game plan and execution than anything Mother Nature serves up. It’s hard to believe the Chargers, who showed the mental toughness to win every single “road” game they’ve played this season, will open their weather apps Sunday morning and say “Screw this, it’s not worth a chance to play in the conference championship” and just roll over.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady does have a sparkling record in the cold. But Brady has a tremendous record in the cold, warm, snow, sun and rain. If the Patriots played their games on Mars, Brady would have a good record on Mars.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, meanwhile, is just 1-3 in games when the kickoff is 30 degrees or colder at kickoff. First of all, win-loss record primarily is a team stat, and when you dig into the numbers, it’s not like he’s played poorly in those games:
63 percent completion rate
279.5 passing yards per game
seven touchdowns/four interceptions
That includes the 2007 AFC Championship Game against the Patriots during which Rivers struggled mightily … because he was playing on a torn ACL. Do we really think someone with the physical and mental toughness to play through a busted knee has a problem with the cold?
Even with that game on the busted knee, Rivers’ passer rating in games when the temperature is colder than 30 degrees is 89.9. For what it’s worth, Brady’s passer rating in the same situation since 2011 (14 games) is just slightly better: 91.04. (If you go back farther, the numbers are actually worse.)
Of course, the Patriots’ record in those 14 games is 12-2 in large part because, you know, New England has been a much better team than the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers.
Sunday also won’t mark the first time the Chargers have been in the cold It’s much more likely Chargers running back Melvin Gordon — who was born in Wisconsin and played at Wisconsin in the chilly Big 10 — is bothered by two knee injuries than the weather.
Tight end Antonio Gates is from Detroit, as is cornerback Desmond King. Joey Bosa played his college ball at Ohio State, while backup running back Austin Ekeler is a Colorado native who went to school in his home state. Cornerback Casey Hayward was a Pro Bowler with the Green Bay Packers.
It’s cold in all of those places.
Does anyone have cold concerns about, say, Sony Michel, the Patriots rookie running back from Florida who played at Georgia?
The Patriots can and probably should win Sunday, not because of the weather but because they have the better coach and quarterback and they’ll probably be generally more prepared.
Few people particularly enjoy the cold, but if the Chargers (or any team) are that bothered by the weather, then they’d probably lose the game no matter where it’s played.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images