Sunday’s game between the 10-2 New England Patriots and the 9-3 Chicago Bears has an added “element” of intrigue: that being the elements. The forecast for Sunday’s late afternoon/early evening game in Chicago is a grim one: snow in the morning, wind gusts between 25 and 40 mph blowing from end zone to end zone, and a wind chill in the single digits. Many of the analysts have hypothesized that the elements, along with the Bears’ crushing defense, will combine to stop the vaunted Patriots’ offensive attack. ESPN Boston writer Mike Reiss thinks that the Bears are better equipped to handle such elements while former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi disagrees.
“I actually think the Patriots are better equipped to handle the elements,” Bruschi said. “Brady is a terrific cold-weather quarterback.”
Who is right? The answer may lay in the not-so-distant past.
Last season, on October 18, the Patriots played the Tennessee Titans on a snowy, blustery day in Foxborough. The area was experiencing a Nor’easter that day, a storm known for its high winds and high precipitation. Did the Pats rely more on the ground game or did they follow their “air it out” identity? Well…
The Patriots not only aired it out, but Tom Brady had one of the best days a quarterback has ever had. Brady went 29 of 34 for 380 yards and 6 (yes, SIX) touchdowns with no interceptions. Brady’s five second-quarter touchdown passes are still the most for any QB in a single quarter in NFL history. Wes Welker was on the receiving end of 10 of those passes for 150 yards and 2 of Brady’s touchdown passes. The Patriots went on to win the game 59-0. Certainly, there is no doubt that the Patriots and Tom Brady can handle a bad weather game, and handle in by maintaining their identity.
The real obstacle Sunday is the Chicago Bears, not the elements. Do not forget that the Bears will be playing in the same weather as the Patriots. Also, the offense generally has the advantage on bad playing surfaces because the players know which direction they are going, while the defense has to make quick adjustments and cuts, which can lead to slipping and bad footing. If the Patriots’ defense can slow down Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, then they will win the game. I have no doubts in Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.
It should be a great game Sunday between two great teams. This could very well be a Super Bowl preview. Let’s hope that should the Patriots win, that is also a preview of the result of Super Bowl XLV!