Wednesday, January 6, 2016
|Richard Sherman looking ferocious during week 13 vs the Vikings
|Credit: Ian Leonard, FOX 9 Minneapolis Chief Meteorologist|
|ECMWF 500mb heights and sea-level pressure on 6 pm CST Sunday
Credit: Unisys Weather
The models are consistently showing a large mass of cold air moving down from the arctic into the Midwest. This is the famed “polar vortex.” El Niños tend to keep any frigid air bottled up far north and often bring record warmth to the northern tier of the country, and that is what has happened this year, particularly east of the Rockies. This cold blast looks to be relatively short-lived, with temperatures rebounding to near-normal by the middle of next week.
I was reading the Seattle Times this morning, and I found a neato article by Matt Calkins where he talks about the effects of cold temperatures on the body and on the game of football. I suggest reading the whole article, but just to summarize, it doesn’t sound like cold temperatures affect teams that much. During games with temperatures under 10 degrees, a quarterbacks completion percentage falls by roughly 2%, field goal accuracy drops by 1.7%, and punts are, on average, 3 yards shorter, as colder, drier air is denser and increases resistance on the football. The coldest game in NFL history, the “Ice Bowl,” of 1967, featured temperatures of -13 degrees with a -48 degree windchill, yet Bart Starr, the hall-of-fame quarterback for the victorious Packers, went 14/24 for 191 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a 111.6 passer rating. These are very impressive numbers, particularly when you consider that the NFL, and particularly the Lombardi Packers, were a power running team and NOT a pass happy team like so many teams in the NFL today.
It would seem like this cold weather would put the Seahawks at a disadvantage. Even though we claim to be a running team, we haven’t seemed like it this year, as we have the most prolific passing attack in franchise history. It would seem to me that passing would be more affected by cold weather than running. Moreover, Minnesota has more experience playing in these super cold games. Also, their sideline will be in the sun, while the Seahawks will have to endure being in the shade for the entire game, and that will make a difference. For what it’s worth, the Seahawks have historically done pretty poorly in cold-weather games, and the Carroll-era Hawks are 0-2 when game temperatures are 20 degrees or lower.
Still, these guys are working so hard that it’s hard to believe they will get too cold. Take a look at New Orleans Saints nose tackle Hollis Thomas during the 2007 NFC Championship game in Chicago. He doesn’t look very cold.
|Credit: REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES)|
Neither does Brandon Jacobs during the -4 degree NFC championship game a year later at Lambeau Field (with a windchill of -24 degrees, I might add).
|Credit: NFL/David Stluka|
The main thing I worry about is their extremities; will there be more dropped balls because the receiver’s hands are colder and less responsive? Will the quarterbacks not be as precise with their passes? Possibly. Still, I have a hard time imagining anybody playing poorly because they find themselves shivering. Additionally, Minnesota-based WSI sports will be supplying the players with high-tech cold weather gear.
As for the fans? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Minnesota hospitals are treating a few cases of mild frostbite on Monday.
|Credit: National Viking Association|