If the Farmers’ Almanac’s latest forecasting is accurate, Super Bowl XLVIII in the New Jersey Meadowlands is going to be a mess on Feb. 2. The 197-year-old Almanac is predicting a “super storm” will hit the Northeast at the same time as the Super Bowl.
“We're using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It's going to be very cold,” Farmers’ Almanac Managing Editor Sandi Duncan told The Associated Press in last August. “It really looks like the Super Bowl may be the Storm Bowl.”
For the most part, this forecast is causing many to say that holding an outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather-prone city like New York is a stupid idea in the first place. The Super Bowl, detractors say, should be played in a dome or in sunny cities like Miami and San Diego, not in New York, Denver or Buffalo.
Because the upcoming Super Bowl will be played in frigid New Jersey, perhaps in the midst of some super storm, other talking heads are saying this year’s big game will be a problem for the Denver Broncos, should the team make it there. Why? Because Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning can’t play in cold weather.
I’m not exactly sure who acknowledged that Peyton Manning can’t play well in cold weather, but I think it's awesome. I will admit there are times during frigid games that he looks a bit slower, and his passes seem weaker. His crow’s feet also seem more defined, as well, but that's neither here nor there. The point here, following Sunday’s 51-28 Broncos beat down of the Tennessee Titans, is that Peyton Manning can play football in the cold. I don’t know who said he couldn’t, but he proved them dead wrong and he said so himself after the game on Sunday.
“Whoever wrote that narrative can shove it where the sun don't shine,” Manning told AM 850 KOA radio. “I felt pretty good out there today.”
Despite a cold 18 degrees, Manning threw for 397 yards and four touchdown passes against Tennessee, completing a team record of 39 passes and improving his record in games where the temperature was below freezing at kickoff to 4-7. After the game, Peyton went on to say that he wasn’t out to silence his critics but, rather, that it was just a pass, pass and pass again attack set up to beat the Titans.
“I mean, I wasn’t trying to answer [criticism] because I didn’t give it any validation in the first place,” Manning said. “We had a good plan, and…guys caught the ball well.”
While I have always believed he could play well in the cold, I don’t believe that Peyton wasn’t angered by the cold weather criticism. Yes, Peyton is dedicated to winning, and winning big, in each and every game. But if you talk smack by saying he can’t play in a cold weather game and it's a cold weather game, you’d better be ready for an angry Peyton Manning, and that’s just what we want in Denver. An angry Peyton is a winning Peyton.
Peyton should have been all smiles on the sidelines on Sunday in Denver. Yet most of the time he was either arguing with Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase or getting on his receivers’ case for not running clean routes or not catching the ball. Yes, Peyton wants to win each and every game, but if you say there is something he can’t do, he’ll go ahead and do it – in spades.
Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak said he hoped there would be a blizzard in Denver for Sunday’s game, presumably because it would halt Peyton’s progress to being the N.F.L.’s best touchdown passer the game has ever known. So what did Peyton do? He threw it down Munchak’s throat to where the sun don’t shine. According to The Denver Post, when temperatures drop into the teens, Manning has been better than 99.8 percent of all N.F.L. quarterbacks who have played on 70-degree games. Against Tennessee, Manning threw 59 pass attempts. That’s more attempts than he ever tried in a single game during his long tenure with the Colts, who play at home in a dome.
By the way, Peyton has 4,522 passing yards and 45 touchdowns so far this season. With three games left, he is on pace to break both records of 5,476 passing yards and 50 touchdowns.
With Sunday’s victory, the Broncos clinched a playoff berth to remain in the driver’s seat for home field advantage, which, in reality, could be a bunch of cold weather games to set up a cold weather Super Bowl.
That said, I’d like to ask those people who have criticized Manning for not being able to play in cold weather to keep up the good work. No, I don’t agree with them, but I do believe their criticism forces him to play better, if there is such thing. Hell, I wish they would have criticized him more before last year’s cold playoff loss to the Ravens at home.
We are at a point in the season where if the Broncos are in a cold game, it almost invites Peyton to silence his critics, and I like that. It’s like he turns on his cold weather game face. He’s pissed off and won’t stop until he scores 50 points.
With Denver’s banged-up defense right now, the Broncos are going to need to put up points on the board from here on out. Yes, the Broncos face San Diego, the Texans and the Raiders in what should be a cakewalk of the rest of the regular season but then it will be go time in the playoffs. It will be time for cold weather football.
And if the Broncos do make the Super Bowl, and the super storm comes to wreak havoc on the Denver offense, I have no doubt Peyton Manning will shine in that game. I know he will because there will be 15 sports columnists across the nation saying Peyton can’t win in the cold. Peyton will get angry. Peyton will throw for 450 yards. Peyton will score 52 points. Peyton will shove it where the sun don’t shine.