Patriots

With wind and snow in Monday’s forecast, Bill Belichick predicts more trouble for kicking game than for rookies in Patriots-Bills game

"We haven't seen a lot of snow this year, but what can you do about that?"

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick will likely have to bundle up for Monday's game against the Bills. AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Fans of winter football might be in for a treat when the Patriots and Bills face off in Buffalo on Monday night.

As of Friday, forecasts predict temperatures to be between 26-30 degrees with Weather.com predicting wind to travel between 20-30 mph. Accuweather is predicting it to be partly cloudy with a 44 percent chance of flurries at Highmark Stadium on Monday night.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is aware of what the weather could possibly be like Monday night, but he downplayed the effect it would have on the team’s preparation process.

“Usually, we’ll talk about it when we know for sure what it is. A lot of times that’s when we get to the stadium,” Belichick said. “It’s really hard to hang your head on a lot of predictions here. We’ll go with the known information. We understand obviously what it could be – we’re not expecting overheating and fans on the sideline.”

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While Belichick and several of the Patriots’ veterans have experience on dealing with the Northeast winter climate, they’ve got a pair of players at key spots who don’t. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has spent all of his life in the Southeast prior to getting drafted by the Patriots and rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson grew up in California and Nevada before playing college ball at Oklahoma.

The rookies got some snow experience in the Week 12 win over the Titans, but there were only very few flurries throughout the game. Jones admitted that playing in colder weather will be a new challenge, but Belichick didn’t seem too concerned on how his rookies will deal with the new obstacles.

“I’d say on the weather we don’t really spend a lot of time on that,” Belichick said. “We practice in a variety of conditions from the start of training camp to the end of the season. So, whenever they come up, they come up. We learn from those, those may or may not what we got on that particular week. Somewhere along the line, it could come into play. We talk about that and how it would affect certain plays, situations, ballhandling, etc. It’s kind of a continuous conversation.”

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“I don’t think there’s too much we haven’t seen. We haven’t seen a lot of snow this year, but what can you do about that?” Belichick added. “We’ve practiced in wind. We’ve practiced in sunny days, cloudy days, windy days, calm days, hot days, cold days, wet days, dry days. I don’t know, what’s it going to be? Whatever it is, it is. And if we haven’t done it, we’ll have to adjust to it. We’ve dealt with most everything.”

There is one factor with the weather Belichick is a bit more concerned about: the wind and how it will affect the kicking game. In last season’s AFC Divisional playoff game between the Ravens and Bills in Buffalo, wind speeds ranged from 14 mph to 21 mph. The win in that game was so crazy that Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who has the best field goal percentage in NFL history, missed two field goals: a 41-yarder and a 46-yarder. Bills kicker Tyler Bass also missed two field goals in that game (43 and 44 yards).

With that in mind, Belichick recognizes the issues that Nick Folk – who’s made all of his field goals within 50 yards this season – might face on Monday night.

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“Buffalo’s always a challenging place to play, because the wind will affect the kicking game more than it will affect the passing game,” Belichick said. “So, as it relates to field position, ballhandling, field goal range, direction of the kicks, and so forth, it’s obviously a key factor of the game depending on what it is. It’s part of the challenge of playing there. It’ll be the same for both teams and we’ll see how everybody handles it.

“But, it’ll definitely be a factor more in the kicking game than the passing game. It could be a factor in the passing game, but it’ll affect the kicking game first.”

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