It’s going to be cold in Kansas City for Sunday’s AFC championship game between the Chiefs and Patriots, and while it won’t be record-shattering cold for an NFL game, the temperature certainly will be a talking point as we approach kickoff.
The forecast calls for temperatures just below 10 degrees at kickoff (5:40 p.m. local time), with the mercury plummeting toward 5 degrees as the game wears on.
The coldest game in league history is believed to be the Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL championship game between the Cowboys and Packers in Green Bay that saw game-time temperatures of minus-13 degrees with a wind chill of minus-36. More recently, a January 2016 playoff game between the Seahawks and Vikings in Minneapolis (before the opening of Minnesota’s domed home field) was played in temperatures of minus-6 degrees. Per Pro Football Reference’s records, there have been 12 playoff games with kickoff temperatures of 5 degrees or less.
With Tom Brady as their quarterback, the Patriots have gone 24-4 in games with a kickoff temperature lower than 30 degrees (12-1 in the playoffs, including Sunday’s win over the Chargers when it was 26 degrees at kickoff). But nine of the 15 regular season games and 12 of the 13 playoff games were in Foxboro.
The coldest game Brady ever has played in came in the second round of the playoffs in January 2004, when it was 4 degrees with a wind chill of minus-10 at kickoff of the Patriots’ game against the Titans at Gillette Stadium. Brady completed 21 of 41 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in New England’s 17-14 victory.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes obviously does not have as much experience as Brady, this being his second NFL season and first as a starter. The coldest game he started this season was a 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens in Kansas City on Dec. 9, when the temperature was 27 degrees (he completed 35 of 53 passes for 377 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception). His coldest college game at Texas Tech was a 38-degree contest at Iowa State in November 2016 (he completed just 18 of 36 passes for 219 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions).
Wind has more of an effect on scoring that temperature, and Sunday’s forecast calls for the barest of breezes. As noted by John Ewing of the Action Network, the over has gone 114-80-2 (58.8 percent) in NFL games played in temperatures lower than 30 degrees since 2003. In the playoffs since 1985, the over in such games has gone 14-8-1 (63.6 percent). But in the last 23 regular season and playoff games played in extreme cold — less than 10 degrees at kickoff — the under has gone 16-6-1 (78.6 percent), according to Pro Football Reference (11 of the last 14 super-cold games have gone under).
The total for Sunday’s game sits at 55.5 as of this writing on Tuesday morning.