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Can Peyton Manning win at least three cold-weather playoff games?

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

It was hard not to watch Sunday night's Denver Broncos-New England Patriots game and think that the chatter is really gospel: Peyton Manning really doesn't like the cold.

The Broncos' overtime loss featured a slew of late missteps that matched the flurry of Patriots turnovers in the first half, but it also was notable for Manning's lack of execution. Although he engineered a clutch, 10-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game with 3:10 remaining, one that included some great throws, he came up short most of the rest of the night.

Not counting games in which he was removed early, Manning's 4.17 yards per attempt Sunday night were the second-lowest figure of his NFL career. Some dropped passes, namely from Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, factored into that, but overall it was not a great effort for No. 18.

But as the Denver Post's Mike Klis pointed out in this pregame feature, Manning's performance hasn't always been bad in the cold, even if his teams have lost. Consider what he wrote prior to Sunday's loss to the Patriots:

In Manning's last four games in which the temperature at the opening kickoff was 40 degrees or colder, he's averaged 29-of-40 passing (72.5 percent) for 327 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Manning's passer rating in those four cold-weather games: a superb 108.2. That stretch of cold-weather games goes back three years to Nov. 21, 2010, at New England, where Manning completed 38-of-52 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in a 31-28 loss for the Colts.

So can we place any blame on Manning's late-game interceptions — the one in overtime against the Ravens comes to mind, as does Sunday's poor throw that was picked by the Patriots' Logan Ryan — on being old and cold?

It's a tricky debate.

The Broncos are almost certain to be outdoors for their entire postseason run, whether it's one game or whether they make it all the way to the Super Bowl. If they win the AFC West and earn the AFC's No. 1 seed, they will be at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium — and likely cold temps — for one or two postseason games. Otherwise, they'd have to go back to New England for a game, as it's likely (even with the Indianapolis Colts' head-to-head win) that the Colts can turn things around and surpass the Broncos in the pecking order.

Plus — newsflash here — this year's Super Bowl is the first outdoor, cold-weather game in NFL history. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting cold weather and snow for New York at the time of the game, and the league says it would "embrace" the idea of a snowy Bowl. It's not clear if Manning would.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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