A look at how weather will impact the NFL and ALCS this weekend

Snow in Denver? Awesome! Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

This weekend we will finally be getting our first taste of fall down in Texas but elsewhere full on winter will be blasting on to the NFL scene.  I don’t know about you but I absolutely love watching football in the snow. Maybe it’s the Texas kid in me relishing any chance I get to see snow, or maybe its because it's fun to watch abnormally large men try to move nimbly on ice.  Whatever the reason is though it is fun. In addition to snow some other games may see some relatively minor weather impacts, so lets get to it:

Bears @ Dolphins (12:00 PM Sunday) – A matchup between teams that seem to be going in opposite directions.  However, the fact that this game is in Miami may give the Dolphins a bit of help. While it should be dry in terms of precipitation the humidity will be oppressive as usual.  During the game the heat index will be floating in the upper 90s which may take more of a toll on the Bears than it does on the Dolphins. I would guess we will see the Bears splitting more carries between their two running backs to keep them fresh and their defense may not be quite as sharp.

QB, RB, TE, WR & K: ↔

DEF: ↓

Ravens @ Titans: (3:25 PM Sunday) – As a cold front progresses across the country it could spark some showers in Nashville during this game.  Right now it does not look to be a deluge but there is a healthy chance of at least some passing rain throughout the afternoon here.  With two relatively vertically challenged offenses look for more of an emphasis on the ground game here.

QB: ↓

RB: ↑↑

TE: ↑

WR: ↓

K: ↓

DEF: ↑

Rams @ Broncos (3:05 PM Sunday) – Here we are at the most interesting weather game of the week.  While one or two shots of snow isn’t all that uncommon in Denver in October, it’s a bit more rare for it to fall on an NFL Sunday there.  Currently it looks like the bulk of the snow will be a little earlier in the day, but there will likely still be some lingering snow showers particularly in the first half of the game.  This won’t be a white-out with significant accumulation on the field, but snow is snow. On top of the snow it is going to be downright cold. The temperature at kickoff will be around 20 degrees with a windchill of about 10 degrees.  While neither team has practiced in these types of conditions this year (as opposed to southern teams becoming more acclimated to heat and humidity), the Broncos have at least played in this before. In fact, the Rams have not played an outdoor game where the temperature was below freezing in over 10 years. This is foreign territory for a team that used to play in a dome and now plays in southern California.  The Broncos on the other hand have played 10 games below freezing since 2012 and have a record of 6-4 in those contests. Between the snow and the cold look for this to very much be a ground and pound kind of game.

QB: ↓↓

RB: ↑↑↑

TE: ↑

WR: ↓↓

K: ↓↓

DEF: ↑

Baseball Special

With the ALCS starting this weekend in Boston I thought I’d take a look at what kind of conditions the Astros would be encountering there.

Saturday (7:09 PM) – There will be rain earlier in the day but it should be dry by game time, but temperatures will only be in the mid 40’s.  This isn’t ideal as the cold air makes hitting more difficult and the Astros don’t have the best history playing in the cold.  However with Verlander on the mound I still like their chances.

Sunday (6:09 PM) – Temperatures will be a bit warmer for this game rising to the mid 50s.  Still not ideal for hitting but better than the night before. Neither of these games look to have much impact from wind.

For more information on any other games, to check in on conditions before kickoff, or if you have any other questions you can find me on Twitter @stephenuzick.


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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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