It’s “Cold Weather Time” in the NFL

When a team that plays their home games either indoors or in a warm climate has to play at a northern, outdoor venue in November or later, such a team is said to be "a visitor in cold weather."

(This term is a back-formation of the terms "a visitor on the carpet," denoting the condition of a team that plays their home games on natural grass having to play a road game on artificial turf, and "a visitor on the grass," referring to a team that plays their home games on artificial turf having to play a road game on natural grass. Both terms were coined by Benjamin Lee Eckstein, the purveyor of America's Line, which was featured in sports sections of syndicated newspapers years before Al Gore got around to inventing the Internet).

The "cold weather season" gets off to a bang in Week 9, with five games satisfying the criteria for designation as "cold weather" games for the visiting team.

Let's start with the Indianapolis at New England game: dating back to 2012, Indianapolis is 8-12 straight up (and 9-11 against the spread) "as a visitor in cold weather" — and to add insult to injury, the Colts have lost six consecutive games in Foxborough, and will start Sam Ehlinger at quarterback once again. Unless the Patriots have one historic letdown after beating the Jets for the 13th time in a row last Sunday, they should have little trouble putting all four teams in the AFC East above .500 with an easy victory.

Moving on, if TTFKATWR — The Team Formerly Known as the Washington Redskins — can win their game, as well, all four teams from the NFC East will also be over .500. They will be welcoming the domed-stadium Minnesota Vikings to FedEx Field (which is now in North Englewood, Maryland instead of Landover, Maryland, even though the stadium itself rather obviously has not moved), and they will be facing a team that since 1987 is 20-48-1 straight up (and 28-38-3 against the spread) "as a visitor in cold weather": worse yet, since abandoning fabled Metropolitan Stadium for the great indoors in 1982, Minnesota is 15-43-1 straight up (and 22-34-3 against the spread) in "Triple Witching Hour" games, which arise when a dome team has to play outdoors, on natural grass, and in cold weather, all in the same game (the Vikings are 39-90-2 straight up and 55-72-4 against the spread in all outdoor road games since 2001).

Next on the list is Carolina at Cincinnati: the Panthers, who have essentially given up on their season by trading away Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson, are 8-17 straight up and 11-14 against the spread since 2006 "as a visitor in cold weather" — and how would you like to be D.J. Moore this week? (Moore's "irrational exuberance," as Alan Greenspan, still alive at the age of 96, famously said, cost Carolina a win that would have, however implausibly, put them in first place in the woeful NFC South on tie-breakers; all four of the division's teams would have been 3-5).

After that is Miami at Chicago: Dating all the way back to 1995, Miami is 23-51 straight up (and 30-43-1 against the spread) "as a visitor in cold weather." Given this long-term history of futility in the elements, the Dolphins are no lock to beat even the talent-poor (to be nice about it) Midgets of the Midway on Sunday.

And saving the best for last, with the appropriate nod to Vanessa Williams, is the Titans at Chiefs game, in that not only is Tennessee a sub-par 8-13 straight up and 7-14 against the spread since 2012 "as a visitor in cold weather," but Kansas City had a bye last week, and Andy Reid is 20-3 (in the regular season) when his team is coming off a bye — and the Chiefs will be looking to avenge a 27-3 thumping in Nashville last season that ended up costing them the top seed in the AFC playoff draw.

As if that's not enough, Ryan Tannehill missed last Sunday's game at Houston with the combination of an undisclosed illness and an ankle injury — and in his absence, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel showed so little confidence in rookie backup Malik Willis that he only let Willis throw 10 passes the entire game (Willis completed 6 of them for 55 yards, no touchdowns, and 1 interception, for a passer rating of 35.4. How bad is 35.4? Had Willis incompleted every pass he threw, but also had not been intercepted, his passer rating for the game would have been 39.6).

Plus, it is a Sunday night game, which will make the kickoff-time temperature that much colder.

The most awesome thing about this trend is that better, and colder, days lay ahead, as November gives way to first December and then January, which now has two weeks of regular-season NFL action thanks to the 17-game schedule — and that could grow to three if the NFL achieves its holy grail of an 18-game schedule.

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