NFL, Don’t Take Away Snow Games Like Browns-Bills in Buffalo

The league is considering moving Sunday's game to Ford Field in Detroit as forecasts show blizzard conditions

Heavy snow falls in Buffalo as the Bills host the Colts in 2017.
Snow games in Buffalo are signature NFL moments.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty

On a blustery Monday night last December with temperatures in the 30s and wind gusts as high as 55 mph, the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills played a game at Highmark Stadium that was a throwback to what football used to be.

With popgun-armed quarterback Mac Jones unable to throw the ball with any accuracy, the Patriots rushed the ball a comical 46 times for 222 yards and were somehow able to escape with a 14-10 win over the Bills that was probably the highlight of New England’s season. For those who enjoy old-school football, the game was an instant classic.

There’s massive potential for another all-time weather game in Buffalo this Sunday with the Cleveland Browns slated to take on the Bills at Highmark during what is projected to be one of the biggest lake-effect snowstorms in years. Scared off by the prospect of three to six feet of snow and possibly even thundersnow (a weather phenomenon involving a thunderstorm with mostly snow falling instead of rain), the NFL is considering moving the game — and that would be a shame.

The prospect of the Browns taking on the Bills in six feet of snow in Buffalo sounds like a must-see TV event and one that the NFL should not pass up on broadcasting on the nation’s airwaves. Once the temperature drops, there’s nothing better than sitting inside on a cozy Sunday and watching NFL players and their fans freezing their asses off as snow, wind and occasionally a football whip across the screen of an HD television. Football in the snow, especially when you aren’t the one playing or sitting in the stands, is just fun.

Taking it away would be a drag. It would also be a big advantage for the Bills.

As evidenced last season against New England, the Bills (6-3) have issues stopping the run despite having one of the better overall defenses in the NFL. The Browns (3-6) do not have a great offense, but they do have a strong rushing attack and rank fifth in the NFL with an average of 158.8 ground yards per game. Lead running back Nick Chubb is averaging 100 rushing yards per game and ranks third in the NFL with 904 rushing yards this season. He also leads the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns for the Browns.

Cleveland’s plan of attack will be to run the ball whether the game is played in the snow or not, but if it gets moved to a location like Ford Field in Detroit, a dome, it will be easier for the Bills — who have allowed an average of 176.3 rushing yards per game (28th in the league) over the last three weeks — to stop. It will also be easier for Buffalo to throw the ball, their strength on offense, if the game is played indoors instead of in a massive snowstorm.

“You can’t control the weather. So, I mean, that’s just one thing I’m not worried about. I got to go out and do what I do every week,” Chubb said. “I never had a snow game, even though I’ve been in Cleveland for five years. There’s a little bit of excitement in there.”

He’s right. The NFL better not ruin it.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the NFL did not feel tackling potential thundersnow was a good idea and officially announced on Thursday afternoon that Sunday’s game has been moved to Ford Field in Detroit. “Due to public safety concerns and out of an abundance of caution in light of the ongoing weather emergency in western New York, Sunday’s Cleveland Browns-Buffalo Bills game will be moved to Ford Field in Detroit at 1 p.m. ET,” per a release from the league. “The decision to move the game from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY was done in consultation with the Buffalo Bills and local and state authorities as the region prepares for the storm.”

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