Seventeen weeks of regular season play have concluded in the NFL, leaving only 12 remaining contenders for the right to grasp the Lombardi Trophy at the conclusion of the Super Bowl at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Feb. 7.
For the opening round of the NFL playoffs, disruptive weather will avoid three of the four games that are scheduled outdoors. However, extreme cold is forecast for the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis.
Weather will have no adverse effect on the first matchup of Wild Card Weekend between the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) and Houston Texans (9-7) at 4:35 p.m. EST Saturday, as the game will be played in the sheltered confines of Houston's NRG Stadium, a facility that has a retractable roof. Still, fans planning to tailgate or travel to the game could face some rain in the morning hours. Skies will remain cloudy throughout the day with highs in the mid-60s F.
Here are the remaining forecasts for the three outdoor games this weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Saturday, Jan. 9, at 8:15 p.m. EST
Two division foes will meet for the second time in the span of a month at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Steelers (10-6) and Bengals (12-4) went 1-1 against each other this year, with each team winning a game on the opponent's home field.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers are making their 56th appearance in a playoff game and have compiled an all-time postseason record of 33-22. The Bengals are searching for their first-ever Super Bowl title and are playing in their 19th postseason game. They come into Saturday's game with an all-time playoff record of 5-13.
Cincinnati is also where one of the coldest games in NFL history was played. On Jan. 10, 1982, the Bengals defeated the San Diego Chargers 27-7 in a game dubbed the "Freezer Bowl." Temperatures that day dropped to 9 F below zero with a wind chill factor 59 F below zero.
For fans and the two teams, conditions will be nowhere near that extreme Saturday night.
"Tailgate festivities may end up mostly dry, but rain is likely to move in by evening and it'll be a chilly rain with temperatures in the 40s," AccuWeather Meteorologist John Feerick said. "Fans might be well served packing the ponchos along with having some layers. Wind should not have too much an impact on the game."
For the first time since 1976, an NFL playoff game will be played outdoors in Minneapolis as the Seahawks (10-6) travel to Minnesota for the second time in a month to play the Vikings (11-5).
This is the second consecutive year the Vikings are playing at TCF Bank Stadium, the home to the University of Minnesota's football team, while their new stadium is under construction. On Sunday, fans and players may long for the comforts of the Vikings old indoor stadium, the Metrodome, where they played from 1982-2013.
"It is going to be brutally cold," Feerick said. "Temperatures at kickoff are likely to be in the low single digits at best."
AccuWeather ReelFeel® Temperatures could reach as low as 12 below zero. The frigid weather may make it rank as one of the coldest NFL games in history and the coldest ever for the Seattle Seahawks, according to the Seattle Times. Fans will need to wear many layers and pack hand and foot warmers.
"Frostbite will occur quickly to any exposed skin and both fans and players will have to prepare accordingly," Feerick said. "A wind gusting to 20 mph out of the northwest also could impact the kicking game."
On Dec. 6, the Seahawks traveled to Minneapolis and trounced the Vikings by a score of 38-7. The high temperature that day was 40 while the low was 32.
According to ESPN, the Vikings chose to have their sideline on the north side of the stadium, after analysis showed temperatures would be higher in the sun on that side of the facility, as opposed to the south side which would be in the late-afternoon shadows.
CBS Minnesota reports that the forecast cold weather is keeping ticket prices for the game lower than normal.
Per Pro Football Reference, Seattle is looking to become the second team in league history to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls. The Seahawks have an all-time playoff record of 14-13. Minnesota is still looking to lay claim to its first Super Bowl and has a playoff record of 19-27.
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins Sunday, Jan. 10, at 4:40 p.m. EST
The final game of the weekend will take place at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Unlike the three other Wild Card round matchups, the Redskins (9-7) and Packers (10-6) did not face each other during the regular season.
The Packers are making their 31st postseason appearance, tied for most all-time postseason games along with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. The Packers, winners of five Super Bowls, are 31-20 all-time in the playoffs.
The Redskins have an all-time playoff record of 23-18 and have claimed three Super Bowl titles, according to Pro Football Reference. This is their first playoff game since the 2012 season while Green Bay has made the playoffs seven straight seasons.
"The weather in the morning may be a little soggy for tailgaters," Feerick said.
However, by the late-afternoon kickoff, rain will move out of the area and drier air will press in from the northwest. Temperatures will be near 50 at kickoff and there will be a light breeze, but nothing that should greatly impact the passing or kicking games, according to Feerick.