Weather will be a big factor in who gets to play for the Super Bowl.
In the AFC playoffs, early games on Saturday and Sunday will likely be impacted by the conditions. The Indianapolis Colts, who play at home inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and the LA Chargers, who have not played a game in really bad weather all season, are the visiting teams outside in Kansas City and New England in the divisional rounds.
The Colts have played six games outside and lost five of them. They have won 10 of their last 11 on their playoff run and were very comfortable beating the Texans inside Houston’s Reliant Stadium on wildcard weekend, behind Andrew Luck’s precision passes.
The Chargers are 8-1 on the road but haven’t played in frigid weather like they will face in New England. They caught a big break when it was sunny and in the 50s for their wildcard win in Baltimore over the Ravens.
Besides facing near-freezing conditions, both visitors will also play in two of the toughest road stadiums in the NFL, Arrowhead in Kansas City and Gillette in Foxboro, Mass. The weekend forecast at both call for threat of snow and COLD, with temps around 30 degrees.
Along with the rabid crowd, which hasn’t seen a home playoff win since 1993, the atmosphere in KC will be especially hostile toward Luck and the Colts, who rallied from a 38-10 halftime deficit in the 2013 playoffs to beat the Chiefs, 45-44. But that was inside at Indy.
Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers has never reached the Super Bowl in his 15-year pro career. He has played through injuries and almost every circumstance, and he is quarterbacking his strongest team, one many pundits are calling the all-around best in the NFL. Rivers isn’t a pretty passer, but he is one of the top game managers in the league and will need to be just that to move on to the AFC title game.
Four years younger than Tom Brady, who is 41, Rivers and the Chargers will have to score at least 28 points to knock out New England, which has won eight straight playoff games at home — all in January, when Brady has grown comfortable in the coldest conditions.