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Setting the scene: Brutally cold winds in store for Patriots-Broncos at Gillette

11.24.13 at 5:45 pm ET
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Devin McCourty on the cover of Sunday's GAMEDAY program in military salute. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Devin McCourty on the cover of Sunday’s GAMEDAY program in military salute. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The 14th edition of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady may very well come down to which quarterback can handle the brutal and hostile conditions throughout the night at Gillette Stadium.

The temperature at kickoff is expected to be 20 degrees but with winds howling out of the north at 25 MPH, wind chills will hover around 2 degrees for most of the night. The wind will be blowing in from the open (north) end of the stadium and could factor heavily into not only the passing game but the kicking game as well.

The game figures to be one of the coldest in the history of Gillette Stadium and could make many think back to the AFC divisional game with Tennessee on Jan. 10, 2004 when the Patriots had to hold on for dear life for a 17-14 win over Steve McNair and the Titans. That night, the game – also played in primetime for TV – was held in Arctic conditions.

The temperature at kickoff was 4 degrees with a wind of 15 MPH creating a wind chill of minus-14. That game still remains the coldest home game in Patriots history.

Tonight’s game is on NBC television and NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth will surely bring up the coldest game of his career. On Jan. 10, 1982, Collinsworth’s Bengals beat Air Coryell and the San Diego Chargers, 27-7, in a legendary AFC championship game know as the “Freezer Bowl.” That game was actually played in the sunlight of Riverfront Stadium but the sun did little to provide comfort. The temperature that day in Cincinnati was minus-9 at kickoff with winds swirling outside, making it feel like 59 degrees below. It remains the coldest game ever played.

The “Ice Bowl” between the Packers and Cowboys was actually colder in terms of real temperature (-13) but the wind chill was officially only 48 below. Peyton Manning has not had much success playing in the cold. He is 2-5 in his last seven games played under 30 degrees, including the playoffs. But his numbers show he’s not as terrible as the record suggests.

In Manning’s last eight games under 40 degrees, he is on a streak of seven straight games where he completed at least 70 percent of his passes. He has completed 177 of 243 passes (72.8%) for 2129 yards, with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and a 105.5 QB rating. He is 4-4 in those eight games and his offenses have averaged 26.5 points per game.

The winds were so strong that they forced the Patriots to cancel a pre-game ceremony in which they unveiled an American flag that covers the entire field.

Read More: Cincinnati Bengals, Cris Collinsworth, Denver Broncos, Freezer Bowl
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