BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBS) — Mac Jones, welcome to the Northeast.
The former Alabama quarterback, born and raised in Florida is about to get his first real taste of December football in adverse weather conditions.
The forecast: Heavy rainfall Monday morning in Buffalo ending this afternoon. Temperatures drop sharply in the evening. By game time, temperatures will be in the mid to low 30s with winds gusting 20-40 mph. It will feel like 15-20 degrees for most of the game.
What about snowfall?
Buffalo sits on the eastern shore of Lake Erie. This time of year, before the lakes are frozen over, is primetime for lake-effect snow. Conditions Monday night will be quite favorable for lake-effect snow band production. Cold, Canadian air will be flowing readily over the relatively milder lake waters. This causes immediate and dramatic cloud formation over the lakes (almost like a summertime thunderstorm). . . lake moisture is essentially scooped up and dumped downwind as snowfall.
Gonna be very windy in Buffalo tonight, most of the lake-effect snowfall goes south of Stadium but could be a stray snow shower pic.twitter.com/7KPqAnnmot
— Terry Eliasen (@TerryWBZ) December 6, 2021
Because these snow bands tend to be small in diameter, wind direction is key with lake-effect snowfall. . . a change of just a few degrees of direction can mean a whole lot of snow in one town and nearly nothing a few miles away. Buffalo will be right on the edge of the snow bands. Current thinking is that the heaviest snow will be just to the south of Buffalo with winds forecast to be mainly out of the west (Buffalo typically needs more of a southwesterly wind to get in on the snow). I still wouldn’t be shocked if a few stray snow showers drifted over Bills Stadium. Likely not enough to truly disrupt the game, but something to watch for nonetheless.
Either way, Monday will be a very windy and cold night, that is a guarantee. How will Mac and the rest of the Pats hold up? That remains to be seen. Clearly the Bills have some experience playing in these conditions as well. It may come down to who has the better running game. Passing the ball deep down the field will likely be very difficult.
Something else to watch for. . . this could be one of those games where the coin toss is vital. Not so the team can choose which half to receive the ball, but instead they may want to choose the end zone to defend and kick into in the 4th quarter. Bills Stadium is oriented from northwest to southeast on a diagonal. With winds out of the west that is largely a cross wind, not necessarily good for either team or kicker. However, kicking and throwing into the end zone on the southeast side will likely have more of a tailwind, albeit with a bit of a leftward push. Kickers will undoubtedly be out on the field early before each half testing their limits and see just how much they have to adjust for the wind. They will likely try to keep the kicks low in an attempt to lessen the impact.
My prediction: A low scoring game. Both coaches try to minimize the mistakes which could be exacerbated or enhanced by rough weather conditions. More running plays than passing plays. This plays to the Patriots strengths more than the Bills in my opinion. The Bills high flying offense with stud receivers and Josh Allen’s big arm should be neutralized to a degree. The Pats certainly have the better running game and the smarter coaching staff. Pats 20 Bills 17. . . tying field goal goes wide for the Bills and the Pats walk off with a huge win, and the number one seed in the AFC.
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ