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As we’ve all been reminded of incessantly this season, Peyton Manning can sling a football with the type of efficiency that NASA employs. But what about when the temperature drops and those fingers can barely feel the grip of the football?
The forecasted weather in Denver by kickoff on Sunday is supposed to be around 16 degrees. I’ve been in this type of weather during a Green Bay matchup while playing with the Jets. The best word to describe it—miserable. Everything hurts when it’s this cold. I even remember my teeth being cold.
This tends to be Manning’s kryptonite.
According to USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones:
Manning's teams, dating to 1998 in Indianapolis, are 8-13 in games in which kickoff temperature was below 40 degrees—a winning percentage of .380, well below Manning's career win percentage of .675. The record is even worse, 1-8, in games below 30 degrees, including the recent Baltimore and New England losses—both in overtime.
However, Manning insists he doesn't play any differently when the temperature drops.
If those concerns are merely perceived as media-contrived, then at least consider the Broncos' Week 14 opponent. I know what you’re thinking—the Tennessee Titans are a marginal team led by Ryan Fitzpatrick. How much of a threat could they really be?
A real threat, actually. Don’t get me wrong here, I won't be throwing down any cash on a Titans upset, but for those thinking blowout—I would encourage you to read on.
The Titans defense has only allowed eight touchdown passes all season. That impressive statistic makes it No. 1 in the league in that category. So if Manning is able to remain unaffected by the frigid temperature, he still needs to find a way to penetrate a very capable secondary that includes one of the hottest cornerbacks in the NFL. Alterraun Verner has made a convincing case to be the latest addition to the list of elite corners in the league. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Verner has the lowest passer rating (30.2) against opposing quarterbacks among all CBs in the NFL.
A bit of good news for the Broncos, however, is that dynamic tight end Julius Thomas is listed as probable for Sunday’s game. This addition into the lineup could be the X-factor that gets Denver’s passing game off the tarmac.