The Dolphins needed to use heaters when they placed in the indoor SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., in their Week 14 matchup against the Chargers. It was 55 degrees outside during the game.
If Miami thought that was a cold gameday experience, the team is in for an eye-opening experience on Saturday. The Dolphins are set to wrap up their season series with the Bills on Saturday at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, in a game that is expected to feature snow throughout the day at the outdoor stadium.
So far, the Dolphins have been adamant that they believe it won’t affect their play. Coach Mike McDaniel this week said he was not monitoring the weather and that the impact of the elements will be more of a mindset than something the Dolphins have to physically deal with.
“To me, you just decide if you’re going to let it factor in or not and then you adjust as best you can. There’s certain things that become harder when there’s moisture or it hits a certain level of frigidness, but the good news is there’s not different atmospheres on both sidelines,” McDaniel said on Wednesday. “It is the same field, the same elements so you just decide mentally how much you’re going to let it affect you.”
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McDaniel was even spotted at practice wearing a shirt that read, “I wish it were colder.”
When the game’s in Miami, they wish it was hotter.
— Yianni Kourakis (@WPBF_Yianni) December 14, 2022
Quarterback Tua Tagovailao also has little concerns over the weather, agreeing with McDaniel’s sentiment that it is a mindset more than a major factor.
“Could be snowing, could rain, I don’t know,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s a mindset thing, really, and if I’m too focused and worried about, ‘Is it too cold? Can I really grab the ball or can I not?’ Then I’m focused on the wrong things and it’ll be hard to play that way going down there against that really good team.”
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While snow and rain could make it more difficult, the temperature already will make a major difference. The National Weather Service has listed the high at 34 degrees on Saturday, and it could be even colder since the game will be at night.
According to Stathead, since 2000, teams have an average passer rating of 78.8 when playing in games that are 34 degrees or colder. In games 34 degrees or warmer, that average passer rating jumps up to 83.2. The Dolphins have not played in a game where it was 34 degrees or colder since 2018, when they played in two such games. During that time, the Bills have played in seven.
Here’s the latest on the weather in Buffalo for Saturday’s game:
Bills vs. Dolphins weather updates
Thursday, Dec. 15
Forecast: 90 percent chance of snow, high 34 degrees, low 26 degrees
Source: National Weather Service
The National Weather Service has forecasted heavy snow in Orchard Park at night with a 100 percent chance of precipitation. It has also issued a winter storm watch from Friday evening through Sunday morning.
And the conditions on Friday aren’t looking particularly great a day before the game. The NWS expects a complex storm of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow across the western New York area, with snow expected particularly around the Eastern Lake Ontario region.
A complex storm system will produce a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow across western NY today, while mainly accumulating snow will be found across the Eastern Lake Ontario region late today into Friday. Plan on slippery road conditions today. pic.twitter.com/2rp5ckpIP3
— NWS Buffalo (@NWSBUFFALO) December 15, 2022
The forecast doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did when the conditions were so bad the NFL moved the Bills-Browns game from Buffalo to Detroit, but it is certainly shaping up to be difficult weather for the game.
What is lake-effect snow?
Buffalo is often impacted by lake-effect snow. Here is the National Weather Service’s definition of lake-effect snow:
Lake Effect snow occurs when cold air, often originating from Canada, moves across the open waters of the Great Lakes. As the cold air passes over the unfrozen and relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, warmth and moisture are transferred into the lowest portion of the atmosphere. The air rises, clouds form and grow into narrow band that produces 2 to 3 inches of snow per hour or more.
While it won’t be as bad as it was for the Cleveland game, lake-effect snow is again expected to be at the center of the weather issues this weekend for the Bills-Dolphins clash. Per WGRZ, the wintery storm on Friday is expected to “pave the way” for the lake-effect snow on Saturday.