FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have played 955 games since their inception in 1960, and this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs has the potential to be the coldest yet.
An “arctic blast” is set to hit Kansas City this weekend, with some forecasts projecting a kickoff temperature below zero at Arrowhead Stadium, which would make this the coldest game in Patriots history.
The Patriots certainly are accustomed to playing in frigid conditions, but their coldest game this season was 26 degrees. Only three games in franchise history have had a kickoff temperature below 10 degrees, and the most recent of those was 15 years ago (4 degrees; 2003 divisional round vs. the Tennessee Titans).
What kind of effect will the weather have on Sunday’s game, which will determine the AFC representative in Super Bowl LIII?
“I donât think it will be much of a factor,” Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said Thursday, “because itâs not like weâre playing in 10 (degrees) and theyâre playing in 50. Weâre both playing in the same temperatures, so we both have got to adjust and both have to be ready for it.â
“Thereâs not really much you can do with the cold,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower added. “… Give us a ball and a field and weâll be there.”
Safety Duron Harmon expanded on those points, saying players owe it to themselves not to let the weather impact their preparation and performance.
“For us, no factor,” Harmon said. “It could be cold, but at the end of the day, youâve got to play football. Youâve got to tackle, youâve got to catch the ball, youâve got to block, youâve got to run. Youâve got to do everything you can to win the game. For us, you just have to block that cold out, because at the end of the day, you might not get this opportunity to be in this game again, and you donât want to think about it down the road that you let the cold (have) an effect on how you played.
“Itâs going to be cold,” Harmon added. “Theyâre going to be cold. Everybody is going to be cold. The guy that understands it and is mentally tough enough to get through it and fight through it and help (give their team a chance to win) is going to be the team thatâs standing at the end.â
The coldest game in Patriots history currently is a 1989 game in Pittsburgh that had a kickoff temperature of 3 degrees. The coldest of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era was the aforementioned Titans matchup in January 2004.
Only six games in NFL history have been played in sub-zero temperatures, according to Pro Football Reference, with the most recent coming in the 2015 postseason (minus-6 degrees; Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings).