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The NFL’s TOP MUDDERS for 2016

by The NFLW Team | 08-24-2016 14:00

 

1. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

Eddie Lacy Eddie Lacy. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Spearheading the punishing Packers’ ground game is former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie Lacy. Entering his fourth season, Lacy has established himself as the ideal short-yardage and goal line rusher in the NFL…when he’s healthy, that is. Despite battling nagging injuries, Lacy still averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in 2015 but only found the end zone three times, a career-low.
But in poor weather match-ups when Lacy is healthy, Lacy is a battering ram. In six career weather-impacted match-ups, he’s rushed for 593 yards on 114 touches and seven touchdowns. Last year alone in a pair of rain games, the former University of Alabama running back averaged over 114 yards on 20 carries per game (roughly 5.7 yards per carry). Green Bay is 3-0 in poor weather when Lacy doesn’t cough up the pill.
Eddie Lacy will likely have a handful of weather-impacted match-ups to look forward to this season with three December home games at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, a trip to Chicago in mid-December, and if hurricane season hits Florida in early September, know that Green Bay opens the season at Jacksonville. According to NFLWeather.com, Green Bay has hosted six poor weather games since 2012. For 2016, Eddie Lacy leads the Pack and is #1 on NFLWeather.com’s list of the NFL’s Top Mudders.



2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

Jamaal Charles Jamaal Charles. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Yet another top tier running back that can’t seem to stay healthy for a full season, Jamaal Charles will continue to be the top ball carrier in Andy Reid’s rushing attack. However for the first time in a long time, he’ll have some competition from Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, who shined in damp and dreary weather conditions during Charles’ absence last season.
Heading into 2015, Charles was arguably the best all-purpose rusher in the rain, averaging roughly 6.6 yards per carry when the weather took a turn for the worse. But a groin injury last season allowed West and Ware to platoon at RB in KC’s pair of weather-impacted matchups. With Charles sidelined for both rain games, West and Ware combined for 220 yards on 37 touches (almost 6.0 ypc) and zero fumbles.
With the versatility of weapons in the KC backfield, it’s no surprise that the Chiefs had the sixth-best rushing attack in the league and were tied with Carolina and Buffalo for most rushing TD’s in 2015. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Kansas City has averaged at least two poor weather match-ups a season. That trend should continue with a trio of December home games and a late-November divisional matchup at Mile High Stadium in Denver.



3. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders

Latavius Murray Latavius Murray. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Despite only competing in three career weather-related games, the former sixth-round draft pick has already asserted himself as a premier back in lousy weather. Murray had the third-most carries in the league last season for the Raiders, 266, and the team has already indicated in multiple press conference interviews that that number could easily rise this season. So when Oakland gets hit with a gameday downpour, Murray will be the go-to option both early and often.
In his last two weather-impacted games, not only are the Raiders 2-0, but, Murray racked up 166 yards on only 26 carries (almost 6.4 ypc) and two touchdowns. One thing that Murray doesn’t have, that most other RB’s on this list do have, is experienced and reliable depth behind him (Marcel Reece is suspended for first three games of this season). With this being the case, Murray will absolutely dominate the workload and when conditions heavily damper the passing game, he’ll be relied upon even more so in all offensive situations. With a road game against the Broncos slated for New Year’s Day in Denver, hopefully we’ll see what he can do in the snow as well. In 2016, Latavius Murray jumps up to #3 on our list of the NFL’s Top Mudders.




4. Matt Forte, New York Jets

A staple in the Chicago offense for almost a decade, Matt Forte has finally moved from the Windy City, landing in the Big Apple. Both the Bears and Jets were top-10 teams in the league in '15 in rushing attempts so he’s basically transitioning from one run-heavy scheme to another. Despite missing a handful of games last season due to injury, Forte still accumulated over 200 carries for the eighth consecutive season, making him an ideal lead back for New York’s weakened rushing attack, following the departure of Chris Ivory.
Over the last three seasons, the 30-year-old veteran has featured in five weather-impacted matchups with the Bears posting a 5-0 record. Since 2013, Forte has rushed for 467 yards on 107 carries and two TD’s in those games.
According to NFLWeather.com, the Jets have played in five weather impacted games since 2012 meaning there’s a great chance he’ll partake in a snow or rain game at some point in '16. The Jets travel to Buffalo on New Year’s Day (last year the heavy snow in upstate New York forced the league to move this matchup to Detroit) and head to New England the week prior. The Jets host the Patriots at 8:30pm in late November and Indianapolis the following week for another frigid primetime kickoff.



5. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

A wildcard to make the list, having played all his home games in a dome last season, but the second-year star out of Georgia really made a case for himself last season in the rain against the league’s top rushing defense. At Seattle, in a downpour during his rookie season, Gurley rushed for 85 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown against the Legion of Boom who didn’t allow a single 100-yard rusher during the regular season. The statistics might not seem like much, but any back that averages over 4.0 ypc against that particular front seven is genuinely impressive.
Gurley is in an ideal situation with the Rams right now, a team that ranked seventh in rushing a year ago. Even though last year was his rookie campaign, the Rams turned Gurley into a workhorse as he finished the season ninth in the league in touches, 229. With first overall-pick Jared Goff likely to take over the reins at some point this season, there’s no reason why Gurley won’t see even more touches than the year before to alleviate the pressure on the rookie QB.
While Los Angeles weather updates often consist of smog reports, Gurley will get plenty of opportunities to showcase himself in weather related games this season. A cross country trip to New England in early-December and followed by a visit to rainy Seattle two weeks later. places Todd Gurley at #5 on NFLWeather.com's list of the NFL’s Top Mudders.


PEYTON MANNING’s LAST STAND and the WEATHER FORECAST for SUPERBOWL 50

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 02-04-2016 16:00

 

It’s the most celebrated sporting event in America and for only the 5th time in its 50 year history, the Super Bowl may be marred by rain. Levi Stadium in Santa Clara is located on San Francisco Bay, not far from the Santa Cruz Mountains and the southern tip of the Pacific NorthWest Rain Forest.

According to NFLWeather.com, partly cloudy skies are expected to be hovering over Levi’s Stadium with temperatures in the mid-60s come kickoff. But, Bay Area locals are well aware of just how unpredictable Mother Nature can be this time of year, especially with El Niño lingering offshore. Inconsistent scattered showers have been off and on over the last few weeks which could cause problems for the stadium’s most recent addition, a Bermuda grass hybrid surface.

Peyton Manning Peyton Manning. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Since the stadium opened in 2014, Levi’s Stadium has yet to host a rain game but players and coaches have been moaning about the awful playing surface since day one. However, the surface on Super Bowl Sunday will not be the same sod used during the regular season. In fact, the league replaces the playing surface each time the big game is played on natural grass, according to an ESPN report.

Weather has been a factor in only a limited number of Super Bowl matchups but none more memorable than in 2007 when the endless rain poured on the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears in Miami, FL. Ironically, this muddy matchup was the single game that ensured Peyton Manning’s legacy amongst the league’s most elite quarterbacks following his gutsy performance in a downpour.

Since joining Denver, Manning is 3-1 in rain games and averages just fewer than three passing touchdowns per game with a completion percentage of over 70%. A rainy day doesn’t seem to have an impact on the Broncos offensive play calling with Manning dropping back over 33 times and racking up over 250 yards on average each outing. He’s throwing fewer long balls and more short out patterns these days, a combination that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have near perfected in any weather.

According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Denver is 3-0 in rain games when Manning avoids throwing an interception. Not that a turnover will cost Manning and the Broncos a championship, having tossed a pick in Super Bowl XLI and still managed to down the Bears, 29-17, and return to Indianapolis with both the Lombardi trophy and the Super Bowl MVP honor.

Like Manning’s passing stats, his receiver’s production hasn’t been deterred by the elements either. Over the last two seasons, Demaryius Thomas averages over 12 targets in the rain with Emmanuel Sanders targeted over 10 times per game. Whether it’s a drizzle or a downpour, Thomas and Sanders will be relied upon heavily to alleviate the pressure on Denver’s rushing attack.

Cam Newton Cam Newton. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Even though the Broncos pass extremely well in the rain, the team’s zone blocking scheme creates glaring issues for the opposing defense as well. In the rain, Denver running backs average over 30 touches and well over 130 yards per game. Since 2012, the RBs have found the end zone eight times in six games. CJ Anderson, who rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries and two scores against New England in the snow, will be the lead back with Ronnie Hillman receiving a handful of touches as well.

Offensively in the rain, the Carolina Panthers don’t quite put up the impressive numbers as Denver does (Denver averages 29.6 while Carolina averages 18.5) but the defense more than makes up for it. The Panthers surrender just over 17 points per game in the rain and have allowed 20 or more only once since 2011.

But against Denver’s solid front seven, Carolina will need Cam Newton to give them a Superman-like performance if they want the Super Bowl trophy. In Newton’s most recent weather related matchup, the former Heisman winner bounced back from two turnovers and responded by completing 16-of-35 attempts for 248 yards and two scores en route to a 29-26 overtime win over the Colts.

Over the course of his six career weather-impacted professional outings, Newton is 5-1 and found the end zone in every rain game. However, in those six matchups Newton turned the ball over eight times, five of which were interceptions.

Surprisingly when the weather gets ugly, Newton doesn’t tuck any more often than he usually does. This season he averaged over eight carries a game but since his rookie season, Newton tallies roughly six carries a game in the rain. Not that the Panthers will need production from Newton on the ground, having the league’s top rushing attack averaging 148ypg, but it wouldn’t hurt and will definitely force Denver to respect the run and play eight in the box at all times.

The lead dog responsible for Carolina’s unstoppable ground game all season has been veteran Jonathan Stewart. Despite racking up only three 100-yard performances all season, he’ll be relied upon heavily if a torrential downpour hits the Bay.

Another key component for Carolina is Newton’s security blanket, tight end Greg Olsen. In rain games, Olsen averages nine targets a game and hauls in over five. This matchup could be crucial since Denver is notorious for allowing tight ends to put up solid offensive numbers in the rain. In six rain games, while opposing tight ends get targeted almost 10 times per matchup, the Denver defense has surrendered five touchdowns.

It’s too easy to assume that rain forces teams to hone in on the ground game and abandon the passing attack. If winds kick up, that could be the case. But don’t expect that a little rain will slow down these two high octane offenses. It’s a given that defenders will slip and passes will be dropped, but don’t think for a second that the tenacity and passion we’ve seen in previous Super Bowls will be compromised.

This damp Super Bowl will end one of two ways. We’ll either see a fairytale ending for arguably the greatest QB in NFL history, or we’ll witness a changing of the guard from the successful and wily veteran to the exciting young maverick. Either way, it’s going to rain on someone’s Super Bowl parade, come Sunday night.



Old Time Football: Steelers vs Bengals

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 01-07-2016 08:00

 
Steelers at Bengals Steelers at Bengals. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Ten years ago, Pittsburgh snuck into the playoffs and stormed into Cincinnati as the six-seed and stunned the Bengals. Here we are in 2016 and little has changed, aside from the weather.

According to NFLWeather.com, temperatures will be in the mid-40s but rain will be lingering in southwestern Ohio. Wind shouldn’t be too much of a factor, roughly 7-10 mph, but the rain is expected to start Friday and roll through Sunday.

When these two fierce AFC North division rivals square off on Saturday night, a damp and dreary night will be in full force in Cincy. Despite not playing in a rain game all season, the Bengals have had to prepare on a handful of potential poor weather matchups including an early season matchup at home against the Seahawks and again in late November with the Rams.

The last time the AFC North champions played in a legitimate rain game at home was a 13-6 dogfight against the New England Patriots. That was back in October of 2013 and the Bengals weren’t starting a backup quarterback. As Andy Dalton continues to watch from the sidelines, backup AJ McCarron is expected to be under center for the Wildcard matchup.

During the rain game win over N.E., the Bengals (12-4) defense rose to the occasion and held Tom Brady to only 18 completions of his 38 attempts, forced an interception and sacked him four times. Against the run, the defensive unit was equally as stout, holding the Pats ground game to 82 yards.

Shutting down the high-powered Pats offense was crucial, but out-possessing NE by 10 minutes and rushing for over 160 on almost 40 attempts was the blueprint to victory. If Cincinnati has any chance of getting the monkey off their back, they’ll need to stick to the same formula. Despite not having an elite passing defense, they more than make up for it with a solid front seven that holds its opposition to 92.3 rushing yards per game.

Unlike Cincy, who has avoided weather-related games over the last few seasons, Pittsburgh (10-6) has played in almost a dozen over the last three seasons. According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Pittsburgh is 8-2 in rains games since 2012 but 0-1 this season.

The loss came in week one on the road in New England where the Pats put on a passing clinic through much of the first half. By the time the Steelers could muster any sort of offense, the game was well out of hand.

But in the rain, Pittsburgh is notoriously a tough team to beat. Defensively, the team surrenders on average roughly 20 points per game and held the opposition to 14 points or less on five separate occasions when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Offensively, Ben Roethlisberger puts up favorable numbers despite the natural elements. Only once in 10 rain games has Big Ben not thrown a touchdown pass. The same goes for Antonio Brown who, in weather impacted matchups, averages over 10 targets per games.

The only glaring issue with the Pittsburgh offense is the potential to be without DeAngelo Williams who has been carrying the ground game since Le’Veon Bell suffered a season-ending injury. Fitzgerald Toussaint will be the starting running back which reminds Steelers fans of the Wildcard loss a year ago against Baltimore where an inexperienced backfield was unable to establish any sort of ground game.

If the Cincinnati defense can’t slow down the Steelers, it’s safe to assume that neither will the rain. This matchup has upset written all over it which won’t bode well for the Bengals’ faithful who may have to wait another long season to finally get over that playoff hump.


WInd and rain in Paul Brown Stadium

by The NFLW Team | 01-05-2016 20:00

 
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Get ready for some old time football as Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers knock helmets against the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday Night in the wind and rain at Paul Brown Stadium. For Details, see http://www.nflweather.com/game/2015/wildcard-weekend/steelers-at-bengals.


Prepping for a Patriots and Panthers Super Bowl

by The NFLW Team | 12-27-2015 08:00

 
Cam Newton Cam Newton.

There are still a few games left in the regular season and while we're not ones to count our chickens before they hatch, we're already dreaming of potential Super Bowl match-ups. There's one possibility that we're particularly excited about and that would be a rematch of the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. Both teams are playing terrific football this year, and if the two were to meet up in the big game, the real winners would be sports fans.

Fair weather fans will find themselves in luck for Super Bowl 50 if they're looking forward to nice weather on game day. The championship will be played at San Francisco's Levi's Stadium where it hasn't rained for the past 18 games . However, it is important to bear in mind that January and February are the rainy season for the northern part of California so it might not be a bad idea to pack a poncho should you head out.

According to NFLWeather.com NFLWeather.com, the Panthers have only had to play one rain game so far this season. Also, all of the team's closest games that have been won by less than a touchdown have occurred when it was either overcast or raining. Overcast skies are currently predicted for the Panthers upcoming game against the Atlanta Falcons (which won’t matter in the Georgia Dome , which could turn out to be one of the toughest challenges to its perfect season yet.

Carolina and New England previously met in the Panthers' only Super Bowl appearance back in 2004 in what is largely considered to be one of the better played and more exciting Super Bowls in recent memory. That's not even counting the additional frenzy caused by a certain "wardrobe malfunction" that took place during the halftime show of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. While halftime won't have nearly the same amount of fireworks with Coldplay scheduled to perform, the game has the potential to be just as good as both squads are arguably among the best either franchise has ever put on the field.

Patriots New England Patriots. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is staking his claim for league MVP and has helped lead the Panthers to a franchise best 12-0 start. Meanwhile the Patriots continue to do what the Patriots do, win with clinical efficiency. Although, the effectiveness of the New England offense has been greatly hindered by injuries to star tight-end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman.

As of right now, the two teams are co-favorites to win the Super Bowl, though we'd have to give the edge to the currently undefeated Carolina Panthers. By this point in the season, the Panthers have proven that their success is much more than just a fluke. Also, Newton's performances have only continued to improve in the clutch. Whether rain or shine, the Panthers have been able to weather all comers regardless of conditions. If nothing else, that fact proves the drive and versatility of this dynamic offense. The quarterback put up his best performance of the year in a barnstormer against New Orleans where he threw for 5 touchdowns in a 41-38 victory.

According to Bwin News, the Patriots lost the last two Super Bowls that they were favored to win (Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLIV) and generally perform better as underdogs or slight favorites (7 or fewer points). So in a bizarre twist of fate, Carolina's success could work in New England's favor. In last year's Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks, the choice of which teams was the favorite was a toss-up. And sure enough, it was a close match that the Pats won 28-24. It was also played in a dome, which meant the weather wasn't a factor. That being said, it's clear from the Pats' past few seasons that, rain or shine (or snow!), they tend to win.

The Patriots will desperately need all the offensive weapons they can get if they want a chance of home field advantage for this year's playoffs. As of this writing, both safety Patrick Chung and Rob Gronkowski have returned to practice (the latter sporting a knee brace), which definitely bodes well for New England's chances going forward. Edelman is expected to return by the end of the regular season, as is Danny Amendola (aka Edelman lite), but we'll have to wait and see if that will be in time to help the team. Meanwhile if the Panther's can remain healthy, there's no reason not to expect them to keep pounding all the way to Super Bowl 50. The largest variable will be the weather at Levi Stadium Santa Clara which is located on San Francisco bay at the Southern Top of the Pacific Northwest rainforest. There could very well be a February downpour similar to the one the Bay Area just experienced in this El Nino year. But on the bright side, if it’s raining in the Bay Area, its snowing in Lake Tahoe. Bring your BBQs, rain coats and your skis.


 
Richard Sherman Richard Sherman. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

The Rain City won’t exactly have monsoon-like conditions on Sunday when the surging Seattle Seahawks host the Cleveland Browns but wind and rain will certainly be in full force in the Pacific Northwest all weekend.

According to NFLWeather.com, the field turf inside CenturyLink Field will be slick with rain forecasted to hit the area hard Sunday and the days leading up to the non-conference matchup. Temperatures will be in the mid to low-40s with southwest wind gusts in the 8-10 mph range. See NFLWeather.com for further details.

Last year during the pregame warmups of the NFC Championship game, a torrential downpour engulfed Seattle’s stadium but simmered down as game time approached. Sunday’s conditions won’t be quite as harsh, but, the elements will certainly play a predominant role in the outcome of this mid-December matchup as the ‘Hawks enter the game with a flawless 8-0 record in weather-related games since 2012.

Legion of Boom aside, the biggest difference maker in Seattle’s rain game unbeaten run has been their dominant control of the ground game. The Seahawks greatest weather game weapon, Marshawn Lynch, may or may not play again this season which is extremely unfortunate because Lynch has 15 touchdowns and averages over 110 yards a game.

But even when Beast Mode is sidelined, the Seattle (8-5) rushing attack still thrives. Over the last three seasons in poor weather conditions, the ‘Hawks offense averages just under 200 rushing yards a game. But without the RB tandem of Lynch and Thomas Rawls (also on IR), former Buffalo Bills RBs Bryce Brown will get the start with Fred Jackson slated to be the third down back. Both backs are very familiar with awful playing conditions, having braved the Buffalo winters over the last few seasons.

Russell Wilson has also been a dangerous duel threat outside of the tackle box and already has one 100-yard rushing rain game performance under his belt. As for the passing attack, Wilson averages 22 drop backs in his eight career weather impacted outings but has 11 turnovers as well. He does a phenomenal job of utilizing all his offensive weapons, in turn, over eight games the ‘Hawks have only had two 100-yard receivers.

Cleveland (3-10) in the rain, however, is predictable and unimpressive with a 2-3 rain game record since 2012. Offensively, the team has put up 30+ points in two of its last three weather impacted matchups but over a five-game span the Browns average roughly 18 points per game.

According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, only once in five rain games have the Browns had a running back surpass 100 yards which spells trouble for an offense led by the shaky rookie, Johnny Manziel. The Browns can’t honestly believe that Manziel will beat the ‘Hawks in front of the 12th Man so the pressure is really on the offensive line and the one-two Cleveland punch featuring Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. to control the clock. Most importantly, keeping the high-octane Seattle offense at bay that averages 34 points per rain game. Will be key for the Browns. Of course if they lose, the consolation prize is taking the lead for the 2016 first draft pick.

With a bruising ground game and a solid defensive unit that seems to be getting better by the week, the only foreseeable way the ‘Hawks don’t soar past the Browns is a Manziel miracle in a monsoon. Unfortunately for the Cleveland faithful, that’s about as unlikely as the Browns not selecting a bust in the first round of the NFL draft.


Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers: Will It Rain on Romo’s Return?

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-12-2015 16:00

 

The cruel Wisconsin winter will show it’s frigid form with relentless rain on Sunday when the NFC Eastern contending Dallas Cowboys travel to Green Bay with high hopes of downing the Packers. According to NFLWeather.com, 14 mph winds will be a major concern for the kicking game with a relentless rain expected to linger all afternoon. Lambeau’s Desso Grassmaster surface will be put to the ultimate test, especially if temperatures drop. Come kickoff, temperatures should be low-50s but a late afternoon kickoff will result in a frigid second half.

Tony Romo Tony Romo. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

At the top of the NFC North is Green Bay (8-4), a team that’s already lost one rain game at home this season. On Thanksgiving against heated-rival Chicago, turnovers and missed opportunities lead to a major upset. Aaron Rodgers completed 22-of-43 attempts for 202 yards, a touchdown and an interception but it certainly didn’t help the passing game that Davante Adams only hauled in two of his 11 targets. Aside from his fumble, Eddie Lacy had a solid performance with 17 touches for 105 yards and a score. But the Rodgers pick and the Lacy fumble were ultimately too detrimental to overcome.

We all remember from Deflate-gate that in colder and damp conditions quarterbacks like their footballs with slightly less air. If the nonstop downpour turns to freezing rain, both quarterbacks will have major issues with their grip and release. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, both teams over the last four years have played in a combined 10 rain games and only once has either side had less than 20 passing attempts. Clearly neither offense allows Mother Nature to dictate when and how often the play calling commands for an aerial assault.

Since the 2011 season, Dallas (4-8) averages over 32 passing attempts per rain game. Tony Romo has been under center for all of them but Sunday’s starter will once again be veteran Matt Cassel whose last start on the road in the rain was back in 2012. Back then, Cassel was with Kansas City and his Chiefs lost a 16-13 overtime heartbreaker to Pittsburgh. He finished the afternoon 11/26 for 154 yards and one interception.

The Cowboys are 2-2 in rain games since 2011 but 0-2 against NFC opposition. Green Bay has played in six rain games since 2012 with three different starting quarterbacks, posting a 3-3 record. With Rodgers, the Pack are 2-1 with the lone loss coming against Chicago on Turkey Day.

But it’s the Green Bay ground game that routinely determines a Packers win or loss in weather impacted matchups. When Eddie Lacy and James Starks combine for 25 touches or more, the team is 3-1. Lacy is an ideal back for weather-related games because of his bruising running style, especially between the tackles. He averages over 75 yards per game in the rain and a touchdown.

Like GB, if the Dallas rushing attack gets 30 carries or more, then the Cowboys are 2-0. Against Miami in the Cowboys’ lone rain game victory (24-14) of 2015, the team rushed for 166 yards with Darren McFadden accounting for 129 on 29 touches.

During the downpour on Sunday, even though both sides will likely drop back at least 20 times or more, limiting turnovers will be crucial but an absent ground game will without a doubt result in a loss.


Wash-out Expected for Dolphins & Ravens Play-In Game

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 12-05-2015 08:00

 

It’s a make or break matchup for both the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens when the two wildcard hopefuls go head-to-head in a soggy Sun Life Stadium on Sunday. Despite firing head coach Joe Philbin weeks ago, Miami’s wildcard hopes are, surprisingly, very much alive. What’s not surprising are the Floridian rain storms expected to hit south Florida all weekend, just in time for a pivotal matchup against the Ravens on the exact same “in the hunt” boat as the ‘Phins.

According to NFLWeather.com, 20 mph winds will be swirling around the grass surface stadium with light rains rolling through south Florida. Thunderstorms are expected to hit the area on Friday and Saturday so the grass surface should be an absolute disaster.

Ryan Tannehill Ryan Tannehill. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

But this is all familiar territory for a Dolphins side that has expected and had to prep for rain prior to a handful of their regular season matchups thus far. Miami (4-7) has played in three weather-related games this season and almost had a fourth when east coast rain storms narrowly avoided the team’s divisional matchup in New York against the Jets.

This season alone, Miami is 1-2 in the rain and a dismal 1-5 since 2012. It’s glaringly apparent that the Dolphins struggle to run the ball when Mother Nature takes a turn for the worse. In three games this season, Lamar Miller averages only 43 yards per game but has two rushing scores and caught a TD.

Ryan Tannehill hasn’t exactly been stellar in rain games this season with two turnovers but he does a solid job of utilizing all of his offensive options. The top receiving option for Tannehill in the rain has changed from game to game which makes it very difficult for the defense to focus on one specific threat. Jarvis Landry is the most dangerous receiver but Rishard Matthews, Jordan Cameron and even Lamar Miller could see a lot of looks.

Baltimore (4-7) hasn’t played in a weather impacted game since 2013 and only 1-2 in the rain since 2012. Poor weather certainly doesn’t deter Baltimore from taking to the air but things could be very different on Sunday without starting QB Joe Flacco. In his three rain games, Flacco has averaged over 42 passing attempts but at least one interception in each outing. Former Viriginia Cavalier and Houston Texan Matt Schaub will be the starter for the second straight week.

In the rain, it’s clear the Baltimore passing attack prefers tight ends over any other wide out target. In two of the three weather games, Dennis Pitta (injured all of 2015) has seen the most targets with a seven reception for 125 yards and two TD performance back in 2012 and six grabs for 48 yards and a score in 2013.

Like Miami, Baltimore struggles to establish the ground game. With Justin Forsett done for the year, the bulk of the carries will be going to straight to Javorious Allen who will be making his professional rain game debut. But if Baltimore can’t get something going on the ground early, then the fate of Baltimore’s potential postseason berth lies in the arm of Matt Schaub.


RIVALRY WEEKEND: GIANTS vs. REDSKINS

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 11-28-2015 12:00

 
Odell Beckham Jr | Bashaud Breeland Odell Beckham Jr | Bashaud Breeland. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

The NFC East has been chalked-full of sloppy play all season and with poor weather in the forecast for Sunday’s divisional bout between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, it’s safe to say little will change when rains roll through the Chesapeake.

According to NFLWeather.com, temperatures will be in the mid to low-50s with a 5mph wind that shouldn’t be a factor. A drizzle could potentially turn to showers which could be trouble for FedEx Field’s grass surface. The playing surface is notorious for draining very poorly so even if the rains hit Saturday or early Sunday, the field could be an absolute mess. Thankfully both sides have prepped for rain on a handful of occasions already this season.

In an interview with the Redskins ESPN Blog back when Hurricane Joaquin was rolling through the east coast, head coach Jay Gruden was quoted telling reporters: "I want to see the quarterbacks throw a wet ball, just see how we handled it in general," Gruden told reporters. "It could be a lot worse out there on Sunday. It may not rain at all, we don't know yet. I thought it was beneficial to all our guys. It was good to see our quarterbacks throw it and our receivers catch it in the rain."

Washington (4-6) last hosted a regular season rain game in 2013 and was promptly spanked by the Kansas City Chiefs, 45-10. The ‘Skins couldn’t establish any sort of ground game with a committee of running backs totaling 65 yards on only 17 touches.

According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Washington is 0-3 since 2011 in weather related games with a rushing attack that failed to eclipse 100 yards in each loss. Offensively, the ‘Skins have stuck to a one-two RB punch with Matt Jones and Alfred Morris but a banged-up Morris could mean a heavy dose of carries for Jones who averages one fumble every two games. While the ‘Skins offense can’t run the ball for the life of them in the rain, it doesn’t help that the defense regularly surrenders on average over 150 yards per game and a touchdown.

New York (5-5) has regularly played in at least two weather-impacted games a since 2012, posting a 5-4 record overall with four wins in their last six matchups. One Giants victory in poor weather was a soggy 20-6 win over Washington to close out the 2013 regular season. The NY front lines paved the way for Jerrel Jernigan, Peyton Hillis, Andre Brown and Curtis Painter to rack up 122 yards on 35 touches and a score. Eli Manning finished the afternoon completing 10 of 24 attempts for 152 yards, one TD and one pick.

Against New York, the Washington offense was nonexistent. Kirk Cousins played in his lone professional rain game and finished the afternoon dropping back 49 times but only completing 19 of his attempts for 169 yards and a pair of picks. If Washington is forced to rely on Cousins, they’re in major trouble. On the other hand, New York is a different story with Manning dropping back on average over 35 times per game in the rain.

Even though both teams have a dangerous aerial attack heading into week 12, whoever can control the clock and run the ball with the most ease will be sitting atop the NFC East on Monday. New York is 5-0 in the rain when the running backs get 20 touches or more so if the Washington defense fails to step up and subdue the Giants ground game, it looks like we will finally have a team with a winning record in the NFC East.


NFL RUNNINGBACKS: THE TOP 5 MUDDERS IN FOUL WEATHER GAMES

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 11-24-2015 11:00

 
Matt Forte Matt Forte. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

The days of bruising running backs in the NFL like Larry Csonka, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and Jerome Bettis are fading. Not long ago, the ground game was king. The winning formula was to control the line of scrimmage, pound the pigskin between the tackles and avoid turnovers. To some extent, little has changed. However, the league of today is extremely pass-heavy with QB’s on teams like the Lions, Steelers and Saints dropping back over 40 times per game.

But when Mother Nature leaves it all on the field, coaches look to their sure-handed backs. Snow or rain, passing touchdowns decrease substantially while the battle in the trenches determines the outcome.

With help from NFLWeather.com’s Historical Analytics, let’s look at the Top Five toughest mudders in the NFL. In order to qualify, a running back must have played in a minimum of three foul weather rain or snow games over the last two seasons. You won’t see Adrian Peterson on this list, having only played in two rain games even though he rushed for over 100 yards in both outings.

#1 Matt Forte

The eight-year veteran has been a staple in the Chicago Bears offense since the day he was drafted out of Tulane. While doubters believe the 29-year-old Forte is on the decline, the last two seasons he’s arguably been the most reliable RB in the NFC, fumbling the ball only four times. In the four rain games since 2013, he never once turned over the rock, carrying the ball 92 times for 423 yards (4.6 ypc) and two touchdowns. By holding onto the ball, the Bears are 4-0 in muddy matchups.

#2 Eddie Lacy

When Lacy is healthy, he’s an absolute force who barrels over any sorry fool to stand in his way. The three-year back is a mirror image of former-90’s great, Natrone Means. Both were exceptional in the red zone, on the goal line or in any third or fourth-and-short situation.

Over the last two seasons in poor weather matchups, the Packers are 2-0 when Lacy gets 20+ touches. The former University of Alabama standout racked up 364 yards on 73 touches (5.0 ypc) in four rain games including six rushing touchdowns, all of which were scored in the red zone. In a late-November matchup against rival Minnesota, Lacy caught the game-winning 10-yard touchdown reception to down the Vikings 24-21.

#3 The Entire New York Giant Backfield

Eli Manning takes a lot of grief from the media but the guy throws a ton of picks. Surprisingly, when the Giants backfield takes pressure off Manning’s shoulders, the team thrives. In rain and snow since 2013, the Giants are 3-0, pounding the football 35 times or more. It doesn’t matter who the Giants have in the backfield because whether it was Rashad Jennings, Andre Brown, Jerrel Jernigan or even (believe it or not) Peyton Hillis; each back was relatively successful.

Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

In a week three matchup last season against Houston, the Giants amassed 193 rushing yards on 42 carries (4.6 ypc) with Jennings accounting for 176 yards on 34 touches with a TD. In a pair of 2013 weather-impacted matchups, Brown rushed for 115 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown in a 24-20 narrow win over Oakland (Jennings as a Raider had 20 touches for 88 yards in the loss). A few weeks later, Jernigan found the end zone in a week 17 victory over Washington while Hillis, Brown and Jerrel ripped through the Redskins defense for 124 yards.  The one time Tom Coughlin abandoned the run in the rain, the team was trounced 38-17 at Seattle.  So why doesn’t Coughlin run the ball when the sun is out?

#4 Marshawn Lynch

Prior to Deflategate, “Beast Mode” was the most talked about, celebrated and/or hated player in the NFL. Instead of remembering Lynch as the Skittles-popping, media-dodging maniac, remember him as the guy with the greatest stiff-arm of all-time in the 2013 playoff victory over New Orleans where Lynch broke seven tackles, threw Saints defensive back Tracy Porter to the ground like a ragdoll then calmly finished off a 67-yard touchdown run. Everything about it was glorious.

It is no surprise a bruising back like Lynch is an ideal option when the weather takes a turn for the worse, especially in Seattle where rain is as much a part of the city as Pike Place Market. However, since 2013 the Seahawks have surprisingly only competed in three rain games but when Lynch got his 20+ touches, Seattle went 3-0. Averaging 4.4 ypc in the ‘Hawks three rain wins, the 29-year-old scoring eight touchdowns and rushing for 305 yards on 70 carries.

#5 Honorable Mention: Jamaal Charles

This was a no-brainer. Charles is the perfect back for rain, snow, sleet; you name it, he’ll roll right through it and find the end zone. He’s fast, powerful, has tremendous acceleration and phenomenal field vision. When the former University of Texas RB gets 90+ yards and scores in a game with poor conditions, Kansas City is 3-0.

In four rain games, Charles averages an astonishing 6.6 yards per carry. The 28-year-old has racked up 444 yards on only 67 carries and four touchdowns. It’s clear that Charles was the heart and soul of the Kansas City offense, having recorded over 200 rushing attempts in each of the last three seasons despite missing the rest of this season with nagging injuries to his back, ankle, shoulder, hamstring and foot. Even with all the setbacks, Charles is expected to return next season and will still be the clear-cut top back in the league when the rains come pouring down.


Cowboys vs Dolphins: 81% Chance of rain on Tony Romo

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 11-21-2015 14:00

 
Tony Romo Tony Romo. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

The excitement behind Tony Romo’s triumphant return to the Dallas offense could potentially be drowned out by south Florida rains when the Miami Dolphins host the slumping Cowboys.

According to NFLWeather.com, light rains are expected to hit Sun Life Stadium just in time for the Sunday afternoon bout. Temperatures will linger in the mid to low-80s with minimal wind but unpredictable Florida weather patterns could turn Miami’s grass surface into a mid-November mud bowl.

Over the last few seasons, the ‘Phins have had limited luck in the rain, especially at home. Miami pulled out a shocking 34-28 win in the snow during the 2013 season at Pittsburgh but since 2012, according to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, they post a 0-3 record including a pair of home losses. The most recent defeat was back in 2013 when Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers squeaked out a 20-16 win in the rain.

Despite not playing in a weather-impacted game just yet this season, the ‘Phins (4-5) have prepped for a pair of rain games until the sun broke through on both occasions. Miami was expecting a rain storm for their home opener against Buffalo and again prior to their trip to Philadelphia.

On the other hand, Dallas (2-7) has not played in a legitimate rain game since the 2011 season. During the 33-27 home loss to Philadelphia a few weeks back, minimal rain found the turf inside AT&T Stadium since the retractable roof was left open. When the Cowboys traveled to London to take on Jacksonville last year, a brief drizzle lingered above Wembley.

Aside from those two minor incidents, the last meaningful rain game the Cowboys were involved in was a 31-14 playoff loss to the New York Giants at the tail-end of the 2012 season. During the defeat, Dallas dug themselves into a hole early that they couldn’t get out of and were forced to abandon the run for the aerial assault. Romo finished the day completing 29 of 37 attempts for 289 yards, two scores and an interception. But the ground game was nonexistent with Dallas’s running backs only accounting for 14 touches for 46 yards.

Regardless of how the Cowboys’ coaches approach attacking Miami, with Darren McFadden listed as questionable and Romo returning from a seven game absence, the Dallas offense could be in serious trouble. Look for Rod Smith and Robert Turbin to see a number of carries if Run DMC is unable to go.

A stagnant Dallas offense, mixed with showers, could give Miami a major boost in their quest to get back to .500. Lamar Miller has been a dark horse all season and if the game plan calls to alleviate the pressure off Ran Tannehill’s shoulders, Miller could have a field day against a sorry Dallas D. During the Cowboys’ last four weather related games, the defense has surrendered 23.5 points per game.

Even though it might not be the most glamourous matchup of the weekend, it certainly is a pivotal one. Dallas has every intention of continuing to linger around in the pathetic NFC East title hunt while the Dolphins could claw their way into a wildcard spot. Ugly weather might be what it takes to finally bring out the better side of these two struggling teams.


Will The Atlanta Falcons Remember The Titans?

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 10-24-2015 08:00

 
Matt Ryan Matt Ryan. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Well, that depends on the rookie and the weather, Rebounding in the rain following last weekend’s loss will be the focus for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans will be without their prized Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

According to NFLWeather.com, temperatures will linger in the mid-70s but a light rain could be a factor throughout the game, likely to make things very interesting given that neither side has played in a weather-impacted outing since 2013. A damp Bermuda grass surface inside Nissan Stadium might slow down the high-octane aerial attack of Atlanta.

Over the last three years, Atlanta is 1-1 in the rain on the road and back in 2012, the Falcons picked up a rain game road victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, 30-17. Atlanta pounded the run and refused to let up. Collectively, the team rushed for 146 yards on 37 carries. Ryan ended up only dropping back 29 times and avoided turning the ball over.

Against a stout Tennessee defense, one that allows the least amount of passing yards in the NFL (184 ypg), Atlanta can’t afford to rely on Ryan’s arm and will need Devonta Freeman to continue his remarkable start to the season. Tevin Coleman will likely be sprinkled in occasionally.

According to NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, since 2012 the Titans are 1-1 in the rain at home with both games coming in back-to-back weeks in 2013.

A week four showdown with the New York Jets featured Jack Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick completing 21-of-32 attempts for four scores and zero INTs en route to a 38-13 win. Despite both QB’s torching the Jets defense, it was the Titans defense that really stepped up with four turnovers and five sacks.

The following week, Fitzpatrick struggled against Kansas City, turning the ball over twice. The Titans defense failed to contain Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles as the Chiefs cruised to a 26-17 road victory in the rain.

Tennessee (1-4) will have Zach Mettenberger under center with Mariota sidelined with a sprained knee. Mettenberger has never played in a regular season NFL game in the rain but he shined during a preseason downpour against Green Bay last year, orchestrating a fourth quarter comeback.

Even though Atlanta surrenders the fourth-most passing yards in the league, it’s hard to image Mettenberger picking apart Dan Quinn’s defense.


Can Cam Newton and Carolina hold off Russell Wilson and the Rain in Seattle?

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 10-17-2015 13:00

 

With the rain ominously lurking over the Pacific Northwest, Cam Newton and the undefeated Carolina Panthers have a tough task ahead of them on Sunday when they put their unbeaten record to the test against a tenacious Seattle Seahawks side.

Cam Newton. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

According to NFLWeather.com, temperatures will be in the lower-60s with little to no wind. However, come kickoff on Sunday a light rain is expected, off and on, inside CenturyLink Field.

The Panthers already survived one rain game this season with a 37-23 victory over NFC South division rivals Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton only passed for 124 yards and Jonathan Stewart only rushed for 50 but the Panthers stingy defense rose to the occasion, forcing five turnovers.

Defensively, Carolina is incredibly stout when the weather gets ugly. Since 2012, according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the team is 3-1 in the rain and surrenders on average only 15.5 points per game.

If the Panthers (4-0) have any intention of continuing their unbeaten run, they’ll need major production from Newton who historically underperforms in the rain. Prior to the win over TB, Cam has thrown at least one pick in each of his three previous weather-impacted games and posted a pathetic 34.75 QBR.

But that all changed in week four at the Buccaneers where Newton successfully avoided turning the ball over and the Panthers put a heavy emphasis on the run. Only once since 2012 has Carolina handed the ball off 20 or more times in the rain but the rushing attack was very much the focal point against Tampa. Cam lead the charge with 12 carries for 51 yards while Stewart added 10 touches for 50 and Cameron Artis-Payne even added on eight for 25. Collectively, the team finished the afternoon with 33 touches for 133 yards.

Unlike the visitors, the Super Bowl runners-up have yet to play in poor conditions this season but they’re virtually impossible to beat when the CenturyLink Field artificial turf gets slick. At home in the rain since 2012, Seattle (2-3) is a flawless 7-0. While defensively, the Legion of Boom regularly holds the opposition to less than a measly 14 ppg, it’s the offense that really shines in poor weather with an impressive 35 ppg average.

Offensively in the rain, the ‘Hawks passing game is completely unpredictable. Twice in seven damp outings has Russell Wilson dropped back 30 or more times. Conversely, in three of seven rain games he dropped back less than 19 times. Wilson does have a solid TD-to-INT ratio of 12:5.

On the other hand, the ground game is a given. If Marshawn Lynch is fully healthy, he will get 20+ touches. During Seattle’s active 7-game winning streak in the rain, the offense averages over 39 carries and only once has the offensive game plan called for handing off the pigskin less than 30 times. If Lynch can’t go, Thomas Rawls will carry the load with Fred Jackson occasionally sprinkled in.

Storming into CenturyLink and leaving with a “W” is a tall order for any visiting team to tackle. But if Carolina can score early and often, then maybe, just maybe, Cam and company can drown out the rowdy crowd in the rain and march on to a 5-0 record.



Hail The Sunshine! Let The Sun Shine In Cincinnati

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 10-09-2015 09:00

 
Sherman - Green R Sherman and AJ Green. Photo courtesy of USA Today

One week after Hurricane Joaquin ripped the East Coast, all 12 outdoor NFL week five matchups have sunshine and clear skies on the horizon. Both the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks were two of the lucky teams to avoid the torrential downpour that a handful of sides were forced to endure last Sunday.

According to NFLWeather.com, a perfect Fall afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium with temperatures in the low-70s is expected come kickoff. Winds from the South, around 8mph, shouldn’t be much of a factor.

The Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are no strangers to playing in the rain. Seattle is damp for almost the entire NFL season so the ‘Hawks will take the nice weather when they can get it. But according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, Seattle (2-2) has played in 11 straight outdoor non-weather impacted games and posts a record of 9-2. Of those 11 games, only six times has the opposition scored double-digit points.

It’s been quite a while since the Andy Dalton’s Bengals (4-0) have played in the air or snow, as well. Cincinnati is 10-3 over their last 13 nice weather outings and 5-2 at home. Offensively, Cincy averages over 25 points per game over their last seven home games under the sun.

With an over under of 43/44, the big question becomes, will clear skies favor an aggressive passing game from the Bengal’s elite receiver corps that includes A.J. Green or will Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom close the skies. The last time these two sides met under clear skies was September 2011 in Seattle where the Bengals routed the Seahawks, 34-12 (that’s 46 total points).



Hurricane Joaquin To Start in Eagles – Redskins Game

by Will Strome, Staff Writer, NFLWeather.com | 10-02-2015 12:00

 

Hurricane Joaquin could potentially disrupt an NFC East divisional bout bringing roaring winds and rain on Sunday when the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles. According to NFLWeather.com, rain and 15-20 mph winds will be swirling around a soaked FedEx Field on Sunday with temperatures lingering in the high-60s. Joaquin is expected to hit the East Coast late Saturday or early Sunday and could ultimately turn a drizzle into a downpour, casting uncertainty onto NFL game plans, fantasy football line-ups and point spreads.

It doesn’t help that FedEx Field is notorious for having one of the league’s worst playing surfaces in recent years. This is the very same grass surface that was responsible for Robert Griffin III’s catastrophic knee injury. Each of the last two seasons the Redskins have considered having to re-sod the field, finally doing it in 2013.

Eagles at Redskins Eagles at Redskins. Photo courtesy of USA Today

When Mother Nature gets as ugly as the sod, so does the Washington (1-2) offense. In three rain games since 2012 according to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, the ‘Skins offense averages only nine points per game for an 0-3 record.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins started one of the three losses, a 20-6 defeat to the New York Giants where Cousins finished 19-for-49 for 169 yards and two interceptions. Only once has Cousins dropped back 49 times or more and that was last week, ironically, against the Giants in yet another loss, 32-21.

With only one rain game under his belt, Cousins shouldn’t be expected to carry the weight of the offense on his shoulders. Since 2012, Washington averages about 20 carries in weather-impacted matchups but if the ‘Skins have any chance of picking up their first rain game win since November of 2011, Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones will need to find some seems in the Philadelphia front seven.

The Redskins RB duo shouldn’t have much trouble establishing the run against a Philly defense that has surrendered 454 rushing yards over their last three weather related games, all of which ended in defeats. During that dismal 0-3 run in the rain, the D allowed on average over 28 points and failed to force a single turnover.

In order to have any chance of picking up a muddy road win, the Eagles (1-2) need to get the ground game going early and often. Since 2012, Philly is 3-3 in rain games but 3-0 when the running backs tally 30 or more touches. After a solid outing last week, Ryan Matthews should get a decent number of touches behind Demarco Murray with Darren Sproles sprinkled in occasionally.

Like Washington, the Eagles need to take pressure off Sam Bradford who only has one rain game to his name. In a 2012 loss to New England, Bradford fought through the rain with a 22-for-33 for 205 yards performance. He also tossed one TD and one pick.

According to USA Today Sports, the NFL is considering postponing or even moving the game to Ford Field in Detroit. If the matchup indeed plays out in Landover, the toughest opposition might be battling the nature elements to avoid a 1-3 start.



Can Baltimore Weather The Steelers and Michael Vick?

by Will Strome, Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 09-30-2015 00:00

 

It’s doubtful that a little rain in Pittsburgh on Thursday night will alleviate any animosity in this bitter rivalry when the Steelers host the winless Baltimore Ravens.

According to NFLWeather.com, Western PA is expecting an off and on drizzle with a high of around 53° and seven mph winds to the north come game time. Scattered showers will be rolling down from Buffalo, through the area prior to kickoff, and on to Washington D.C. so Heinz Field’s typically worn down grass surface should be even worse on Thursday night.

Ravens at Steelers Ravens at Steelers. Photo courtesy of USA Today

Pittsburgh’s already played one rain game this season and it went miserably. The opening regular season game of the NFL season saw last year’s AFC North champions get downed in New England, 28-21, with kicker Josh Scobee missing two 40+ yard field goals and the Pats’ passing attack dissecting the Pittsburgh secondary.

But, the Steelers (2-1) rebounded the following week and are typically a tough team to beat in weather-impacted games, posting an impressive 8-2 record since 2012 and 6-1 at home. When hosting in the rain, the Steelers offense averages almost 25 points per game.

However, it’s hard to forecast the Steelers offensive game plan this week with Michael Vick lining up under center. According to USA Today Sports, Ben Roethlisberger will miss a few weeks after suffering a left knee injury during last week’s 12-6 win at St. Louis. With Big Ben down, Vick is in but the veteran southpaw has been forced to fight through the natural elements a number of times since 2012.

In the rain, Vick is 2-3 over the last three seasons and his touchdown-to-interception ratio is a solid 5:1. In four of those five games, Vick dropped back 30 or more times and racked up over 190 yards in each. After watching Big Ben toss 38 attempts against the Pats in the rain, expect pass-heavy Pittsburgh to continue airing out the pigskin unless a heavy downpour looms. In which case, we know that Vick can run the ball.

The Baltimore Ravens (0-3) haven’t played in a rain game since 2013 and are 1-2 over the last three seasons.

Baltimore, like Pittsburgh, clearly does not let Mother Nature dictate the offensive play calling. In a trio of rain games, Flacco dropped back 38 times or more and threw for over 245 yards. Despite those mouthwatering fantasy numbers, Flacco averages two turnovers a game.

One side of Flacco’s game we can count on is his dependency on tight ends in poor weather matchups. In rain games, Flacco’s tight ends average 11 targets a game so expect Crockett Gillmore to have a big night. If he’s unable to play, rookie Maxx Williams will get the start against a defense that let Rob Gronkowski have a field day.

While both Pittsburgh and Baltimore favor the passing game, Le’Veon Bell and Justin Forsett will see the bulk of carries for their respective teams with Bell expected to catch a few balls out of the backfield. If Baltimore is going to land that elusive first win of the season, they’ll need Forsett to establish himself by grinding out hard-earned yards in the mud and take some of the pressure off a shaky Flacco who’s QBR of 46.5 is ranked 24th in the NFL.

While the weather forecast is changing daily, we know that Le’Veon Bell is in. Michael Vick is in, Ben Roethlisberger is out, and should they lose this week, the Baltimore Ravens are out.



Welcome Chabdog SportsBlog

by The NFLW Team | 09-26-2015 10:00

 

NFLWeather.com would like to welcome its newest partner, The Chabdog SportsBlog.

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Carolina Rain: A Field Day for Cam Newton and the Panthers

by Will Strome, NFLWeather.com | 09-25-2015 21:00

 

Charlotte is expecting plenty of southern storms over the weekend, both before and leading up to Sunday’s NFC South Divisional matchup when Cam Newton and the Panthers host what will be a Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints.

According to NFLWeather.com, light rains will be in the area come kickoff but scattered showers on Saturday could really make for a muddy afternoon. Roughly 5mph of wind shouldn’t be much of a factor, but. if the drizzle turns into a downpour, Sunday’s game will get incredibly sloppy on Bank of America Stadium’s grass surface.

In 2013, these two went head-to-head in the Carolina rain when Cam Newton led a fourth quarter comeback. Newton hit Domenik Hixon in the endzone with 23 seconds left to win the game, 17-13, and clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 2008.

Given, the stakes aren’t quite as high this time around, but Cam and company are aiming for a 3-0 start to the season against a Saints side that just suffered an embarrassing loss at home to last season’s bottom-feeding Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Without Drew Brees, who according to NESN will be replaced by Luke McCown, Sunday afternoon does not look bright for New Orleans, rain or shine.

Cam Newton Cam Newton. Photo courtesy of USA Today

Even with a healthy Brees, the Saints have plenty of reasons to worry. According to the NFLWeather.com Historical Analytics, over the last three seasons the Panthers are 2-1 in rain games and 1-0 at home. In those three matchups, the Carolina defense held opponents to only 13 points per game.

Offensively, Cam Newton has not quite been the stud we’d expect him to be in poor weather matchups with an interception in all three outings. In the win over New Orleans, he was 13-of-22 for 181 yards with one touchdown and one pick. However, in the previous two rain games prior to the Saints matchup, Cam had well over 30 passing attempts (33, 38) but recorded a dismal average QBR of 34.75.

Surprisingly, the pervious game plans haven’t really called for him to utilize his running ability. He tallied seven carries for 51 yards against Miami in 2013 but ran the ball five times or less in all other rain games. Only once since 2012 has Carolina rushed the ball more than 20 times. As expected, Jonathon Stewart will get the bulk of the Panthers carries.

New Orleans, on the other hand, is 0-3 in weather-impacted games since 2012 with a stagnant offense that’s averaged 18 points per game, well below what’s expected of that high-octane aerial attack. Defensively, the Saints surrender over 30 points per game and roughly 150 yards rushing. This is already a unit that ranks 25th overall in total defense and will likely continue their early season struggles on a damp Carolina grass field.

Luke McCown

Luke McCown. Photo courtesy of the phone company.
Offensively, New Orleans will look to take the pressure off McCown with a heavy dose of Marc Ingram and C.J. Spiller with Spiller expected to be on the receiving end of short swing passes and screens. When these two teams clashed in the rain previously, Marques Colston was the Saints’ top target with five receptions while tight end Greg Olson was Cam’s primary option with four receptions off of eight targets.

Fans should never write off New Orleans but it’s hard to see them slowing down a Carolina team with plenty of momentum heading into Sunday’s storm. So what was the name of that back-up Quarterback in those telephone commercials?.....Perhaps McCown is just the shot in the arm that the Saints need. They should give him a chance.


NFLW on KCAA NBC 1050AM

by The NFLW Team | 09-25-2015 10:00

 

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Environmental Impact

by The NFLW Team | 09-20-2015 08:00

 

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by The NFLW Team | 09-12-2015 10:00

 

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