|Say hello to the final destination of the 2013 NFL Season|
2. Kansas City
3. San Francisco
2. New England
5. San Diego
What do the teams in each list have in common with each other?
Just for your reference, only two teams that play their home games in a dome have won the Super Bowl since 2000: Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLI, and New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV, who won it against those dome-Colts. That’s 11 years of open-air developed NFL champs.
I think we’re all pretty aware of the fact that this year’s Super Bowl will be hosted in Polar Bear City, USA.
No, not Minneapolis. A Super Bowl in the Metrodome? Psh, HA…no.
East Rutherford, New Jersey is the host of this year’s Super Bowl XLVIII, and it’s going to be frosty. The conditions in the Northeast in early February are…cold.
And it gets you thinking: in this Golden Age of passing in the NFL, is there any chance that a team with a bottom ranked running game or disabled defense is going to win a game in those conditions?
Dome, sweet dome.
Obviously the ball is a lot harder to control through the air when it feels like throwing a large rock, which makes the running game more essential to winning. But because of the NFL’s requirements of warm stadium conditions, the last few Super Bowls have been won by teams with a mediocre run game, defense, or both, and it has become the norm to see that. Super Bowl XLIV is a perfect example of that, since both the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts had a run games ranked in the bottom 5 in the NFL that year. Plus, they are both teams who, yep, play inside a dome when they are at home.
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MetLife Stadium’s successful bid to host Super Bowl XLVIII was a landmark win for open air stadiums in northern American states. Until this year, only stadiums in the South, with temperatures more like a mild summer in the winter, were allowed to host Super Bowls despite being open air. Stadiums like Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and Everbank Field in Jacksonville have been Super Bowl hosts as of late for their beautiful weather in February. But no open air stadiums North of Missouri have ever hosted the game because of frosty conditions.
Oh, you’re in the north? You want a Super Bowl? Get a roof.
The NFL wants a level playing field for their championship game, and their thinking is the weather shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to determining the best of the best. But how is a team the best if they don’t play well in cold weather situations? Football is a game built to be played in the open air on grass. And we don’t take a bye from football games during December and January. In fact, the toughest games, the playoffs, are played in those frosty months, and places like Green Bay and Seattle are open air with freezing temperatures. If the NFC or AFC Championship games are exempt from worrying about weather, why should the Super Bowl? I think having the Super Bowl at MetLife is fantastic.
I mean, if the Falcons go into Green Bay in the playoffs during a cold front and lose, you don’t blame the weather.
You blame the team for not being good enough to play football outside.
So let’s get down to brass tax: which teams would prosper in the face of playing in colder weather, and which teams will have shat their pants after the coin toss because they can’t win unless the weather is perfect?
The latter types of teams sound like delicate little kites in the summer.
Let’s look back again at those two lists above:
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Super Bowl should the Patriots make it this year.
2. Kansas City
3. San Francisco
2. New England
5. San Diego
The first tier of teams is made of tough, ground and pound teams who, thus far this year, have won many different games in several different ways. The first four have optimal run games that produce consistently and form the offensive identity of those teams, and their defenses play three-and-out football possession after possession. Especially the Seahawks and Chiefs, those two teams are winning hard-fought games in many different ways.
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contender and increases their chances of winning it.
The last two lean heavily on the arms of their quarterbacks, Andrew Luck of Indianapolis and Cam Newton of Carolina, but both have surroundings casts on offense that make their leader’s life easier. Trent Richardson is a solid back that will keep improving all season for the Colts, and Newton, along with Mike Tolbert and the re-emerging DeAngelo Williams create a tough ground identity for the Panthers. Both teams’ defenses are becoming harder to move against as this season has progressed.
These seven teams, whether their Super Bowl chances are likely or not, have the identity suited to win the big game if they make it. The cold weather will make it easier for any of these units to play against pass-oriented teams that won’t have the stamina, or the simple football ability to play a game that could be reminiscent of the 1947 NFL Championship Game.
The second tier is exactly the opposite. While you could argue that Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, being the current rushing leader this season, should put them with the Can’s of the NFL, their defense is putrid. At this point, a turtle could “run” for a 99-yard touchdown against them without getting touched. And don’t get started on New England, Dallas, Atlanta, OR Denver. All four of those teams are either injured at the running back position, don’t utilize their ground game consistently enough, or have defenses that don’t compliment their quarterbacks well enough to compete in cold weather.
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victim to the cold of winter in New Jersey.
Peyton Manning is getting old, there’s no way around that, and it’s going to show on those short passes he’s been thriving on since he arrived in Denver. Knowshon Moreno has been solid, but the offense runs through Manning, and he’s going to put the game on his shoulders, whether it’s right or not. Plus, that Pass D let Jacksonville (JACKSONVILLE!) stick around for way too long before Manning started sprinkling the magic fairy dust. Not good.
New England isn’t built for the postseason right now. Sure, their defense is grand, I will absolutely agree with that. But their running game isn’t consistent enough for Tom Brady to fool defenses on his reads. Opponents know the ball will stay in Brady’s hands when it’s crunch time, and that’s going to kill the offense if the Patriots do in fact make it to New Jersey.
And in Atlanta, Matt Ryan may be great, but until they get Steven Jackson back, we can’t know how balanced they’ll be. Plus, if their defense couldn’t instil fear in New York Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith, they won’t be very scary come the post season.
I’m not saying that these teams will or won’t win, guaranteed. But certainly, one would be worried about their team if they can’t beat Mother Nature. Weather is a natural part of the game; however we might try to combat it. Dome teams don’t prosper in the Super Bowl. And especially dome teams that are oriented around the pass.
But let’s wait those 13 more weeks before we try to rationalize anything else.
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