As if the NFL needed some more excitement surrounding a Monday Night Football showdown between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills in Week 13, weather in Orchard Park might be the biggest storyline of them all tonight. With blustery conditions expected plus the chance for some flurries, what is the latest NFL weather report, and should fantasy football managers make any last-minute changes to their lineups based on the forecast?
NFL weather report for tonight’s Monday Night Football game
It’s that time of year where everyone begins to buy gifts in the hopes of making someone happy or at least making them forgive the last 11 months of transgressions. Yeah, so whoever decided to gift us with this wind and weather for the final game of Week 13, what did we do to hurt you? Can we talk this out, or is it too late?
I usually don’t make a big deal about the wind, but this game is an exception as the narrative of Orchard Park being a brutal place to play in the winter comes to life. While the thermometer might say it’s 36 degrees at kickoff, it certainly will not feel that way unless you’ve been tailgating with Bills Mafia because, at that point, you are feeling no pain or cold. Temperatures at kickoff will feel closer to 24 degrees and fall into the teens by the final whistle.
The winds forecasted for tonight’s game in Buffalo could very well be the highest we have seen all season. Sustained winds will hover around 25-27 mph at kickoff and slowly decrease as the game goes on but stay in the 20s for the duration of the contest. With that said, the gusts are the talking point. Right now, gusts for the 8:15 PM kickoff are forecasted to be in excess of 45 mph and will stay above 30 the entire night. The Buffalo area is under a wind advisory until 10 PM ET Monday night.
Highmark Stadium is one of the shortest stadiums in the NFL and will not provide much of a buffer at ground level from these winds, especially once the ball is in the air for a kickoff/field-goal attempt, punt, or even a deep pass.
The Bills’ offense could be impacted by tonight’s NFL weather forecast
NFL teams, especially at this point in the season, are pretty much who they are. They know what works, what doesn’t, and have their identity. For a team like the Bills, they love to push the ball vertically and have a QB/WR duo capable of stretching the field.
Josh Allen is No. 2 in the NFL in deep passing attempts (20+ yards) with 49, and he is inside the top 10 of average throw depth (8.2). When you are now throwing into gale-force winds (slight exaggeration), that will inevitably take a hit.
Then you look at his top receiver, Stefon Diggs, and see how heavily utilized he is as a vertical threat. Diggs is currently the No. 4 receiver in the NFL in intended air yards at 1,235 and represents 32.7% of the Bills’ air yards alone.
Now, Diggs is one of the most talented WRs in the game and is not solely reliant on deeper targets for his fantasy value. However, it certainly hurts his ceiling if we do see the wind cause havoc.
Fire up Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs in fantasy
Nevertheless, don’t get too cute. You still start both Allen and Diggs. Allen’s rushing upside and Diggs’ volume make them must-starts every week. But beyond them, we could see other players struggle.
As a team defense, the Patriots are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing teams at just 72.2 per outing. They’re second against QBs (12.04), fourth against receivers (29.19), first against tight ends (7.33), and 18th against running backs (23.7).
It is Monday night, so most managers don’t have other options if your lineup is filled with Bills players. You might have no choice but to start guys like Cole Beasley, Dawson Knox, or even Emmanuel Sanders, but I would lower expectations.
Tonight’s weather should have less of an impact on the Patriots’ offense
As I touched on with the Bills, a team’s intent rarely changes based on “typical” conditions, and I don’t see the Patriots deviating from what has worked all season. I mean, you don’t get to the No. 1 seed in the AFC with an 8-4 record by mistake, and then take all the dice, shake them up, and see what comes out.
The Patriots will continue to rely on their 1-2 punch of Damien Harris and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson on the ground. Meanwhile, Mac Jones’ accuracy and timing on short-to-intermediate routes continue to find success against NFL defenses.
This is the type of offense that travels well in the NFL and wins in December. When you need to take the air out of the ball, control the clock, or move in the elements of the Northeast, nothing really needs to be tweaked. And for the Patriots, they catch the Bills without one of their best players as CB Tre’Davious White is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
The Bills offer a tough matchup for the Patriots
Now, this does not mean the Patriots won’t have a difficult time. Remember when I said the Patriots are No. 2 in team defense? The team above them is the Bills, allowing just under 8 fewer points per game at 64.51. They are tops in the NFL against QBs (10.58) and WRs (24.72), are No. 4 vs. RBs (20.55), and No. 6 against tight ends, having surrendered just 3 touchdowns on the season (8.64 fantasy points).
It’s going to be tough sledding for the Patriots. Still, of the two offenses, New England’s might very well end up with more usable fantasy assets as their offensive intent shouldn’t change much at all. The only players I might avoid this week would be TE Hunter Henry, who is touchdown-dependent, and K Nick Folk due to the wind. Players like Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers should still find success on Monday Night Football.