Week 13 of the NFL season has arrived, which means that a December full of cold-weather games are just about to get underway.
It's about this time in the season when winter weather really starts to become a factor in terms of wins and losses. Not only does the weather affect teams' regular-season losses, but over the years it seems to have adversely affected playoff outcomes as well.
Since teams like New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Baltimore are used to playing in cold weather, their records typically do not falter.
Meanwhile, teams such as Dallas, San Francisco, Oakland and Minnesota are notorious for struggling once the temperatures drop.
Seeing teams like Minnesota, Detroit and St. Louis struggling in cold weather may come as a surprise, as they are all cities with winters that find temperatures often dropping below zero, but the thing to remember is that their football teams all play in domes.
For this same reason, dome teams notoriously struggle in the playoffs.
For example, prior to moving to the indoor Metrodome, the Vikings had played in four Super Bowls; they have not appeared in a Super Bowl since, nor have they been very successful in the playoffs.
In fact, outdoor teams have won 43 of the last 45 Super Bowls.
It is worth noting that there is a mixture of warm- and cold-weather teams that sit in the middle of the pack as far as wintertime success goes.
Over the past 10 years, the Browns, Bills, Redskins and Jets have finished about .400 in games below 40 degrees, while warm-weather teams like the Jaguars, Dolphins and Chargers all rank ahead of them.
The following slides list the NFL's five worst cold-weather teams, based on winning percentages in games below 40 degrees since the year 2000.
Teams who have not played in 10 or more cold-weather games since 2000 are exempt from the list.
Those teams are the Lions (0-9), the Cardinals (0-6), the Rams (1-7), the Buccaneers (1-5), the Saints (2-5) and the Falcons (2-1).
Despite being from a city with subzero temperatures, the Minnesota Vikings are not accustomed to cold weather since they play all of their home games at the indoor Metrodome. Therefore, come winter, the Vikings struggle when playing in low-temperature games.
Since 2000, the Vikings have gone 2-10 in games below 40 degrees.
Amongst teams in the NFC North division, the Lions and Vikings both play indoors, while the Packers and Bears play in the frigid outdoor temperatures of Green Bay and Chicago.
Since 2000, the Vikings are 0-7 when playing the Packers or Bears on their home fields in December; three of the losses belonging to Green Bay and four to Chicago.
Additionally, in three of the four years since 2000 that the Vikings have lost to the Bears at Chicago, they had previously beaten them in their earlier matchup at home.
The San Francisco 49ers rank No. 2 on the list of the NFL's worst cold-weather teams. Since 2000, the 49ers are 3-9 in games played below 40 degrees.
With the average temperature in San Francisco in December ranging between 47 and 57 degrees, the 49ers will typically go an entire season at home without playing a cold-weather game. Because of this, it is no surprise that the team does not fare well.
The only game on the schedule for the 49ers this year that is likely to be a cold one would be their Christmas Eve matchup with Seattle.
Since the 49ers are having such a successful season (9-2) and the Seahawks are having a dismal one (4-7), it will be interesting to see the outcome.
With a 3-8 record in cold-weather games over the last 10 years, the Dallas Cowboys are another team that struggles when December arrives.
The Dallas Cowboys' cushy new stadium in Arlington, Texas has a retractable roof that allows the Cowboys the luxury of controlling the climate.
Playing in a division with the Giants, Eagles and Redskins, the Cowboys have played some critical divisional games on the road in temperatures below 40 and have not fared well, often affecting their playoff chances.
This is a big reason why the Cowboys have such a bad reputation for their December shortcomings.
The Oakland Raiders are another team that plays in a city where the temperatures don't drop very often, which explains their 4-9 record in cold-weather games.
The Raiders are currently 7-4 and in first place in the AFC West, which means that their two games in December at Green Bay and Kansas City are going to be very crucial to their playoff chances.
The Raiders may have to defy their poor odds in cold-weather games and get at least one of these two wins in order to keep their playoff hopes intact.
Unlike Oakland, Minnesota and San Francisco, the Cleveland Browns do not play indoors nor do they play in a warm-weather city.
Cleveland's winters are cold and the team plays in cold-weather games at home throughout the season. Therefore, one of the main factors to consider when discussing the Browns' 14-26 record in cold-weather games—which equals a 35-percent winning percentage—is that the Browns have not been very good for a number of years. Therefore, their overall winning percentage is not all that great.
The Browns have had just two winning seasons since 2000, therefore, cold or not, the team has just not been winning.