All games for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs will be played in outdoor stadiums. Three of the four playoff games have a chance at impactful weather, especially the Jaguars at Chiefs and Bengals at Bills matchups that could feature periods of snow and rain. Additionally, we will keep an eye on the Sunday night Cowboys at 49ers game that we are monitoring for wind.
Although the Jags/Chiefs and Bengals/Bills play on different days, the weather projected to impact both games is from the same storm system. This system is undergoing cyclogenesis over the Plains early this weekend before pushing north and east into the Ohio River Valley and interior/coastal New England. The good news is that the amount of precipitation forecasted for each game is minimal. However, up to a tenth of an inch is still possible for both games. The KC game looks to have a higher probability of rain/ice mix, while Buffalo is projected to get more snow than rain/ice. Regardless, this could make for slick conditions over both locations.
It is also important to note that the precipitation is projected to be inconsistent. There may be extended periods when the precipitation turns to a drizzle or stops altogether. However, the impacts are not forecasted to be overly significant due to the lower precipitation amounts and the fact that this is not projected to be a full-game event.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs (Low Impacts)
We are expecting periods of off-and-on rain and ice throughout the game. We know both Mahomes and Lawerence are powerhouse QBs, so we expect there to be ample scoring, but we do see an average decrease of about 17 passing yards per game in similar weather, with translates to a marginal risk (1.61) rating for QB positional impacts (see charts below). As a result, the high ceilings for these QBs may drop for periods of the game.
With this being said, expect both QBs to rely on their TEs in Kelce and Engram. The last time the Jaguars played in a rain game vs. the Jets, Evan Engram had 7 receptions and 113 yards. In KC, it is clear that in weather games, Mahomes trusts (even more than usual) his safety net in Kelce. So expect target numbers for both of these TEs to go up in this game.
Other receiving options like Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling can still be played, just don’t be surprised if their reception totals drop a bit.
Historically, rushing doesn’t seem to be impacted when analyzing games with similar weather conditions. However, KC and Jacksonville have played better defensively of late (top 10), especially vs. the run. This may lead to fewer opportunities and reduced rushing efficiency for Etienne and Pacheco.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills (Low Impacts)
Both Josh Allen and Joe Burrow have had a propensity to have a reduction in their passing numbers with precipitation. We expect the precipitation to be light, so we are not overly concerned, but rain and snow could start accumulating in the second half of this game.
The last time Josh Allen played in adverse weather conditions that included a wintery mix was against the Jets in December. In this game, he threw for 147 yards with 1 TD. He also had 10 carries for 47 yards to provide a solid enough baseline. The Bengal's secondary also isn’t nearly as scary as the Jets, but Allen has been shown to struggle more with accuracy during these kinds of weather events. So expect his passing ceiling to reduce and his rushing floor to increase.
Joe Burrow averages 280 yards passing on average throughout his career. During precipitation games, that average drops to 240 yards per game. We still think you play Burrow confidently, especially with his weapons, but expectations might come down a bit if snow/rain picks up.
For wideouts: Diggs, Know, Chase, Higgins, and Boyd are all playable. Be cautious with Gabriel Davis of Buffalo, though, he lives and dies by big plays, and chances of hitting a big bomb downfield could reduce if precipitation rates go up.
Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers (Monitoring)
No impacts are worth discussing at this time. We will continue to monitor the wind risk in the Bay Area for Sunday night as 20+ mph are possible, with gusts of 25+ not out of the question. However, with this stadium being in the valley, wind risks are harder to come by, so we are not overly concerned at this point.