It is our great pleasure to introduce National Football Post readers to NFLWeather.com. NFLWeather takes a unique look at the potential impact of weather on NFL games, player performances and fantasy football projections. Our regular column will analyze games using precise stadium located weather forecasts from NFLWeather.com. During the regular season, we will provide a detailed analysis of the top three games each week that are most likely to be impacted by weather conditions.
Understanding the potential weather impact on NFL games can help to decidewhich quarterback to start on your fantasy team or provide an edge if you are going to place a bet. As Tropical Storm Isaac is heading toward the Gulf Coast reaching possible hurricane status this week, this is the perfect time to kick off our pre-season coverage by reviewing conditions at some of the NFL stadiums likely to be impacted by hurricanes in the early part of the season.
Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, home to the Dolphins, is the stadium most likely to be hit by a hurricane or major rainfall resulting from a hurricane. Seating 75,540, this open-air stadium has a natural grass surface. Stadium officials claim that their modern drainage system allows the field to firm up a half an hour after a three-inch rainfall. With the end zones facing East to West, the North sideline should dry much faster than the South sideline of the field (solar panels are most effective when facing South). Fantasy footballers should look to start wide receivers who can run crossing patterns from North to South, gaining speed on dry grass, cutting across the middle and behind the defensive backs unable to both change direction and accelerate on the wetter side of the field.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium is another open-air Florida stadium seating 67,000. According to NFL Players Association, the combination of Bermuda grass and rye is the second best natural surface in the league, second only to Arizona’s grass. Tampa will see precipitation from storms heading up the Eastern seaboard as well as the tropical storms which head into the gulf. As these storms move from the South to the North, the North end zone is preferable to passing teams during wet weather conditions. If not, Josh Freeman is capable of running the ball into the end zone.
Currently seating just over 67,000 football fans, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, now known as EverBank Field, remains home to the Jaguars. Its East Coast location makes the stadium especially vulnerable to tropical storms in the first and the fourth quarters of the NFL’s regular season. The end zones are located North by Northeast and South by Southwest giving a slight advantage to teams driving to the Northerly end zone, not that it will help the Jaguars passing game this year.
Bank of America Stadium is the 73,778 open-air home of the Carolina Panthers. Storms that hit shore between Charleston and the Outer Banks of North Carolina tend to dissipate before they reach Charlotte, but Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are not immune. Winds frequent the Northwest end zone as storms often approach from the Southeast. That said, between Cam Newton, Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers have a wide variety of options to get into either end zone. Just don’t start their special teams as the kicking game is in flux and wet conditions early in the season could keep it in flux.
Houston’s Reliant Stadium is home to the Texans and boasts the NFL’s first retractable roof. Unfortunately, you have to check as game time approaches to see if the roof will be opened or closed as there is no feed to give fans the current status which is not always what you might think. For example, if rain is forecast early in the week, the stadium authority may announce that the roof will be closed for the game and keep it closed even if the rain misses Houston at game time. But if rain approaches on short notice over the weekend, the roof could remain open. Should a Hurricane approach, the retractable roof will be closed which subjects it to possible damage as was the case when Hurricane Ike hit the stadium in 2008. Not only was the Texans' season opener postponed, but in order to resume home games, the stadium authority was required to open and keep the damaged roof open for the entire season.
The Super Dome, now the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome, lived up to its name when it withstood Hurricane Katrina. New synthetic turf was installed in 2010 and Super Bowl XLVII returns to New Orleans again this season. Even without Sean Peyton and the suspended bounty hunters, the Saints will field a formidable contender for the NFC title. Let’s just hope the levies hold.According to NFLWeather.com Historical Weather Analytics Database, the Saints have been sheltered from the rain by the dome for the past three seasons without seeing a hard rain on the road. When the Saints travel to Tennessee this week for their final preseason game, they will need to be prepared for thunderstorms.
At 440 miles long, Tennessee is a wide state, giving Titans fans a lot of turf to cover. Fortunately for fans, the Titans play at Nashville’s LP Field which is located in the North central part of Tennessee. LP Field is an open-air stadium with a natural grass, Bermuda Sod surface. Unlike the Bermuda-rye mix in Tampa, the Bermuda Sod is not a player favorite. In fact, while the Gulf states take the hits from hurricanes, a lot of the rain falls on and floods the Nashville area. Located on the East Bank of the Cumberland River, LP Field’s proximity to the river contributes to the high ground water levels. The river has been known to flood the stadium during heavy rains. The grass at LP field is frequently damp and gets torn up easily, often needing to be replaced mid-season. With the humid air and frequently moist grass, I wouldn’t want to try a long field goal at LP Field. Tropical Storm Isaac may not make headlines after the Republican National Convention but Titans fans will still be tracking it.
Rick Saletta& the NFLWeather.com team