Winter and the Cowboys will be arriving at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. The Giants are excited to welcome both.
With a blustery forecast for game time that includes temperatures in the 20s and a good chance of icy rain and snow, the Giants believe they will have an advantage over a team that plays its home games in a billion-dollar bubble and might not be as prepared to face the elements.
“We’re a cold-weather team and we welcome the conditions,” coach Ben McAdoo said Friday. “I think it will be great for our team, great for the game. It’ll create a great atmosphere.”
The usually stoic McAdoo might have been visibly happier about the possibility of snow Sunday night than he has been about anything else this season.
“Playing in elements is always fun for the players and coaches,” he said. “We practice in them and we see them every day, so it will be great for us.”
His players, for the most part, agreed.
“They’ve always been playing inside a dome,” safety Landon Collins said. “With the conditions, you get them outside, it’s a whole different ballgame. You have to use gloves, the receivers are going to feel hits a little bit more. It’s a toughness thing. It’s a mental thing. It’s a will, the will to do what you need to do.”
Do the Giants have more of all of that than the Cowboys?
“I think so,” he said.
When it comes to slowing down Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant, they’ll take all the help they can get.
It was Victor Cruz who a week ago gleefully broached the possibility of facing Dallas in an outdoor game in mid-December at MetLife Stadium. On Friday, with the meteorology backing him up, he said why he thinks it will help the Giants: because they’ve been acclimating to it.
“We’ve played the last three games in the cold weather, 45 to 40 degrees, and they haven’t, just to put it plainly,” Cruz said, also noting that the Giants have practiced outdoors all week while the temperatures have been dropping and the winds howling. “I don’t care who you are, how ready you are, where you played in college; if you haven’t played in the cold, it takes a toll and it does something to your body until you get used to it. If you ever do. We feel like we have that advantage, having been in a couple of cold-weather games.”
Dallas has not played outdoors since Nov. 13, and it was 56 degrees that day in Pittsburgh.
Since entering college in 2012, Cowboys quarterback Prescott has played in only three games in which the kickoff temperature was below 40 degrees and none in which the temperature was below freezing. The chilliest game he’s played in the NFL was that unseasonably warm day in Pittsburgh.
There is a difference between being a cold-weather team and just a team from a cold-weather city, though McAdoo said they go hand-in-hand. “Living in it is a good place to start,” he said. “Practicing in it helps. Being able to play physically behind your pads helps. Being able to keep your feet on the ground helps. Playing on turf usually levels it out a little bit. But it’s good playing in it and living in it.”
The Giants may not seem like a textbook cold-weather team because they have not been able to run the ball effectively, but McAdoo has some history on his side when it comes to altering that definition. He was an assistant coach on the Packers team that won the Super Bowl in 2011 with a rushing game ranked 24th in the NFL and was 15-1 the year after while ranked 27th.
“I’ve been a part of some teams who played a lot of three wide receivers in the past and won Super Bowls in bad weather conditions,” he said.
Not everyone is thrilled about the idea. Defensive end Olivier Vernon, who grew up in Miami, went to college there and played the first four years of his NFL career there, shuddered at the thought of playing in the snow. “Hopefully it doesn’t come,” he said. “Maybe on Monday, that’ll be fine. I’ll see it through the window in my house.”
Vernon said he played in about five inches of snow in a game in Pittsburgh three years ago.
“That was crazy,” he said. “Nobody could really run, everyone was slipping and sliding.”
It wasn’t as bad, he conceded, as the Bills-Eagles game in a blizzard that same season.
“That whole year was crazy weather up north,” he said. “Thank God I wasn’t up here yet.”
Even though he touted the toughness and will power of the Giants, when asked if he was excited about the prospect of snow, Collins said: “No.”
“But I’ve been playing in it since college, so I’m used to it now,” he said.
Ultimately, McAdoo conceded, the weather will be helpful only if the Giants can execute in it. Rashad Jennings agreed.
“Weather is not an advantage,” the running back said. “When we’re out on the field, it’s about making plays no matter how you feel, whether you’re cold or hot. I ain’t looking for no advantages, I ain’t looking for no head up . . . It’s gonna be a fight.”
If McAdoo has his way, maybe a snowball fight.
Notes & quotes: Odell Beckham Jr. was fined $12,154 for verbal abuse/excessive profanity toward a game official on the field after last Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, according to a source. That fine does not include any discipline that stems from his postgame comments to the media that were critical of the officiating. That discipline is handled separately . . . Guard Justin Pugh (knee), defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (quadriceps), receiver Dwayne Harris (ankle), defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (knee) and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (ribs) are questionable. Safety Nat Berhe and linebacker Mark Herzlich are ruled out with concussions, as was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) . . . Asked about the abnormally large laminated play sheets that he holds during games, McAdoo said it is designed to be “a map of the field” and that “it’s more a thought process than it is a play sheet.” As for the size, which can stretch for several pages connected by binder rings at the top, he said: “It has evolved as situational football has evolved.”
SUNDAY NIGHT FORECAST
Snow showers will change to rain as the night wears on. Snow accumulations less than one inch.
Winds light and variable