Let’s face it, when you hear the loud chants of NFL fans on Super Bowl Sunday, you’re not thinking about the weather. But every strategic football fan will tell you that the weather can affect a number of things on the field. Here are a few facts about how the weather might affect a football game.
1. Running backs are the most “weatherproof” of all football players.
Quarterbacks and receivers can be hindered in passing plays if visibility is low or other adverse weather conditions make passing difficult. They can continue to run the ball when passing plays are compromised by low temperatures or precipitations.
2. Downfield passing and receiving plays are the plays most affected by the weather.
The offense risks fumbling the ball when attempting to receive a pass in rain. Heavy rains can cause visibility issues for both the quarterback and the receiver. Wind can also force a pass off its intended course.
Owen Daniels #81 of the Denver Broncos speaks to the media during the Broncos media availability for Super Bowl 50 at the Santa Clara Marriott on February 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
3. Weather can often affect how a coach will call a play.
What weather condition doesn’t usually warrant a game plan change? Light snow. It doesn’t cause major traction or visibility issues. Light snow doesn’t change the game plan.
4. NFL teams that play in domed stadiums are the most affected by the weather.
Domed stadiums may be the perfect environment for a football game as players don’t have to worry about rain, wind, uncomfortable cold or unbearable heat. However teams that play in domed stadiums often play worse when traveling to open stadiums during adverse weather conditions. While on the road, teams from domed stadiums only win 20% of visiting games played in cold weather (this is 17% less than visiting teams from open stadiums in warm climates). When visiting an open stadium in warm temperatures, teams from domed stadiums only win about 35% of the time.
Bonus: Owen Daniels, tight end for the Denver Broncos has a background in meteorology and is known amongst his teammates as “The Weatherman.”
Daniels holds a degree in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and intered at the local ABC affiliate while still in college. In 2014 he even joined Al Roker on The Weather Channel to break down the forecast for the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl (at the time he was playing for the Baltimore Ravens).