NFL Weather Report: Week 7

The forecast for Week 7 indicates that the majority of the games will be unaffected by the elements. However, one particular game is expected to be hit by one of the worst conditions: snow.

Snowfall is one of the most problematic conditions as it combines cold weather, slick surfaces, visibility woes and degraded field conditions overall. Denver's high altitude brings another variable into consideration as the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos get set to face each other on Sunday. Since this was the first game featuring this type of environment, I focused on this game and broke it down from its multiple aspects.


Below are the games with weather concerns headed into Week 7:

Game Temperature (Feels Like) Chance of Precipitation Wind
Chiefs at Broncos 4 70.00% 11 MPH N

Games Impacted by Snow

Kansas City Chiefs (28.00-point implied total) at Denver Broncos (18.00)

Field conditions are our first concern. I’m making an assumption, but the forecast data included an equivalent conversion for the snowfall to precipitation.

Precipitation Amount Snow Amount
0.03 0.4

If we can treat less than a 0.5” of snowfall per hour like 0.03” of rainfall per hour, then our concerns for degraded field conditions lessen. Rainfall in this category could contribute to slips in the turf or dropped passes but nothing predictable or considered a detriment to the passing game as a whole. In addition, Mile High Stadium has 21 miles of heated pipes under the field with a vacuum system to drain the field if it rains or snows. If field conditions will be less of an issue, the offenses themselves become the next concern.

We’re looking to Kansas City’s offense as the primary driver in this game. With a lead, Denver has passed on just 38.2% of their offensive plays this season, though Drew Lock has missed a good chunk of time, which would ultimately slow the pace of play.

Patrick Mahomes played in one snowy game last year, which came -- ironically -- against these Broncos. In that one, he passed for 340 yards and two scores.

The temperature is another thing to keep an eye on as it's expected to be in the teens, and we have a larger sample to work with there.

Kansas City played in five games with a temperature of 36 degrees or colder in 2019. Three occurred during the final weeks of the regular season (Weeks 13, 14, and 15). Mahomes averaged 18.7 fantasy points per game across those three games and finished as a QB1 (top-12) in two of them.

There may be some reservations about the Chiefs’ passing game in cold weather, but their passing game wasn’t significantly impacted by the temperature a campaign ago.

Offensive Plays Run60.861.7
Average Depth of Target7.88.7
Expected Points Added Per Pass0.30.3
Completion Percentage Over Expectation3.0%2.3%
Deep-Ball Rate20.2%24.2%
Red Zone Passing Rate60.0%52.1%
Neutral Passing Rate60.5%66.4%

Keeping that five-game sample in mind, Travis Kelce saw a 27.8% target share in these games, which was an increase on his seasonal 21.7% target share. Tyreek Hill nearly matched his seasonal average with a 20.1% target share, and the running backs saw 18.3% of the targets. One of the keys to watch for is how Le'Veon Bell will be worked into the offense in his debut, but the offense should still be able to operate as they have in the past.

In general, historical data indicates a weak correlation between the temperature and overall passing volume, rejecting the idea that temperature plays a role. At the extremes? Sure. We remember the low-scoring, below-freezing playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings from 2016. Despite the 19 points scored, there were still 50 pass attempts in that game.

Given that the game total for the KC-Denver clash has dropped 2.5 points since it opened, we should likely expect some dip in play but not enough to completely move us off of our primary players in this contest.