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Weather is becoming the dominant storyline in Bills vs Patriots Wild Card game

Ticket sales, practice patterns, and more under the microscope

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

UPDATE: It’s currently 8 degrees Fahrenheit but feels like -3 degrees at 6:15 PM, two hours before game time. By 11 PM when the game finishes, it’s supposed to be down to 4 degrees. Wind is supposed to stay steady at roughly 5 MPH during the game, so that’s won’t be a big issue.

Saturday’s night’s playoff game against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots is certainly going to be decided on the field, but the major story on this Super Wild Card Weekend is what’s going to be happening around the field. After their Monday Night Football game in December was ravaged by high winds, extreme cold is in the forecast for Saturday night.

A blast of air from the north is going to bring temperatures at game time to among the lowest they’ve ever been. According to The Weather Channel, temperatures aren’t expected to get out of the single digits the entire day, and by game time it should be in the low single digits near zero. With a 10 MPH wind, it’s going to feel even colder (though maybe not as cold as that wind-whipped December game).

The coldest game on record for the Bills was in January 1994, when they beat the Los Angeles Raiders in a Divisional playoff game. The temperature started at 0 degrees Fahrenheit before moving to -1 degrees at halftime, with wind chills reaching all the way down to -32 degrees.

In that game, Jim Kelly reportedly had problems keeping his hands warm, but Josh Allen has pockets sewn into his jersey which should help a bit. (See the black lines leading to the pockets in the picture below.)

Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK

For their part, the Patriots have been practicing outdoors this week with temperatures in the high 30s. It helps, but how much? The Bills have been practicing indoors so they don’t have to move equipment, per head coach Sean McDermott, but they are using frozen footballs to simulate the slick feel.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen played his college ball in Wyoming, but is a California kid originally. He has played in snow games, but his numbers take a big hit when it’s below freezing. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has never played a game below freezing, growing up in Florida and playing college football at Alabama. Allen noted this week that it’s going to be hard for both teams to catch the ball with the conditions.

Stefon Diggs played in one of the coldest games in NFL history while with the Minnesota Vikings. In January 2016, it was -6 degrees with a wind chill of -25. Diggs had four catches for 26 yards to lead his team in a windy affair. Saturday night isn’t expected to be as windy as that contest, though.

“It’s just going to be so cold, bro. My fingers get cold, toes get cold,” Diggs said this week. “As soon as you come off [the field the trainers are] like, ‘Do you need a coat?’ And you’re just like, ‘Nah, get away from me.’ But they’re always there for me, so I feel like I’ll be fine. I’m not too much of a complainer, and I played in one of the coldest games in history, like when we played in the playoffs vs. Seattle at the Minnesota Gophers stadium. It was like negative something. So this ain’t nothing. I’ll be alright.”

For their part, fans are very split on attending and Patriots folks are noticing. Scott Zolak, New England’s radio announcer, reminded fans of the Patriots that the cost to get into the game was cheap, with tickets under $40 available. Highmark Stadium is reminding fans that battery-powered clothing such as electric socks or long underwear are prohibited in the stadium.

Bills’ center Mitch Morse said Bills fans will have a secret plan based on historical data. It wasn’t a chef, it was a baker, but the results were the same: the dude survived the sinking of the Titanic.