It is hard to believe that cold weather either doesn’t change the game too much or is great for tv ratings, but lets look at how cold, rain, and snow all affect an NFL matchup.
How Cold Changes the Football Game
Cold weather is definitely a factor these days in the NFL, but it’s not nearly as big of a deal now as it was 10+ years ago. Today teams know 7 days ahead of time what the weather is going to be and they plan accordingly. Heaters and heavy jackets are on each bench and both teams know what they’re going to be playing in.
Top that with the incessant media coverage of today and even warm-weather teams are normally prepped for a cold game. That said, when dome teams go on the road to a cold-weather environment they only win 20% of the time (and warm-weather teams only win 37% of the time) so there is definitely still a disparity.*
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How Rain Changes the Football Game
Rain is a different beast altogether. Rain and wind are seen as the two biggest forces that change an NFL game outside of crowd noise and playoff implications. Rain beats out snow as being more intrusive during a game because it’s not easy to get rid of. Snow can be brushed off, but hands can’t simply get dry.
Added to this, rain is normally accompanied by wind, which is shown to be the most disruptive weather condition out there. Gust speeds were shown to be a main cause of Tom Brady’s poor performance in week 15 of the 2007 season.**
How Snow Changes the Football Game
Snow, in many ways, is easier to prepare for and play during than rain or wind. Snow is preventable in that most artificial turfs are equipped with heating technology so that the snow is practically gone by the time the game rolls around.
2018 NFL Football Season