It’s going to be cold in Denver when the Broncos take on the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday. The National Weather Service predicts it will be 16 degrees around game time with temperatures dropping from there. Peyton Manning has only played in one colder game in his career, and if the stats are to be believed, he doesn’t fare well in cold weather.
Stats can be misleading, and there’s good reason to throw them out when you are talking about Manning. Disregarding the stats in one thing, disregarding the impact of the cold is another. Manning will be impacted by the cold, but so will every other player on the field. Positions that rely on their hands more than others would undoubtedly be impacted more than others.
Thankfully, the power of the internet enables us to go back to January 3, 2010, when Manning traveled to Buffalo. It was 11 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of minus-two and the coldest game Manning has played in his career. If there is any game that should give us a good idea about how Manning performs in the cold it’s this game.
The Colts lost 30-7 that day, but Manning didn’t complete the game because the Colts had nothing to gain. It was 7-7 when Manning yielded to Curtis Painter, so it's not like he let the Bills beat him. Manning went 14-of-18 for 95 yards and an interception in one quarter of play. Obviously he had no trouble completing passes, but what about that interception?
As it turns out, the interception had nothing to do with Manning or the cold and everything to do with Jacob Tamme and the snow. Manning had Tamme open in front of the defenders, but when Tamme slipped, the Bills were able to snag the interception. If Tamme hadn't fallen down and had broken a tackle, he probably would have turned the play into a long gain.
There is a 20 percent chance of snow on Saturday in Denver, but no major snow accumulations are expected. The Broncos will likely keep the field covered and remove any snow from the playing surface prior to the game. Not to mention that the Broncos have been practicing on snowy fields and would therefore know best how to run on them.
One of Manning’s incomplete passes bounced off of an official (who has now been relocated to the backfield). Take away the interception and this incomplete pass off the official and Manning was 14-of-16 in freezing temperatures in a meaningless game after playing the whole season with a lingering neck issue.
There didn’t seem to be any problems with his throwing velocity either. Check out this throw off of his back foot that got out to his receiver in a hurry. You should recognize the play because the Broncos have run it numerous times all season. Demaryius Thomas scored a touchdown on this play in Week 1 versus the Steelers. Manning read the blitz and got the ball out to his receiver while his other receiver blocked.
If Manning somehow loses to the Ravens, it will not be because of the cold. If Manning loses, the Ravens will have played great defense or they will have outscored the Broncos. Manning will also wear gloves, so his hands will stay warmer and give him better grip in the cold.
All indications are that Manning likes the cold; otherwise, why would he have signed in Denver and not one of the many warmer climates that wanted him? Expect Manning to be his normal self on Saturday no matter how cold it is.