The NFC Championship game is right around the corner and I have already broke down the game without considering weather impacts. That can be found be reading 2015-16 NFC Championship Predictions, Picks Cardinals vs Panthers but now with the development of Winder Storm Jonus the game just might have changed. Lets look at some things to consider as Winter Storm Jonus comes to the Mid-Atlantic.
Winter Storm Jonus is forecast to be the first major storm to hit the east coast this season. Up to two feet of snow is expected in many areas from the Mid-Atlantic through New England. While this game is not slated to be in the two foot area, the far reaching possible impact of Winter Storm Jonus will have an effect on the Charlotte, North Carolina area and the NFC Championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.
If the current models hold true, and that is a big if given the amount of days and factors between now and the weekend, the Charlotte area is set for some nasty weather in the lead up to the NFC Championship game. While it is true that these teams are full of professionals and entourages of human beings with the sole goal of keeping these players as comfortable as possible, they are creatures of habit and this storm could mess with that.
The Cardinals will have a fly in schedule and practice schedule that will be met with ice and rain on Friday afternoon before the night sees the weather transition back to freezing rain and then a wintry mix throughout the night with an expectation of an inch or so. Clearly this will impact practice and transit for both teams around the Charlotte area but one gets to go home each night.
Saturday it is a snow day with current models showing accumulation in the neighborhood of one to three inches and a high of 40 degrees. A team like the Cardinals from the good ole Phoenix area is not accustomed to weather like this leading to the game and that impact on routine could be detrimental to the preparation of the club. If you factor in the possibility for ice accumulation then just getting the necessities done, even for NFL players, will be trying to say the least.
Then you have nice weather on Sunday but the damage could already be done with the amount of precipitation already in play. Why? Well when you take out the factors in relation to routine, rhythm, or method of execution in pregame lead up, you are left with the field at Bank of America Stadium, the home of the Panthers. Just last week, the Seattle Seahawks complained about their footing in the divisional round playoff match-up. Now you add in the precipitation from Winter Storm Jonus and a bad field just gets worse.
Does anyone remember when the Cardinals complained about field conditions last January when they fell to the Panthers 27-16 in the playoff loss that saw them pass for 82 yards and rush for a total of 27 yards? Of course this is not the same team with Carson Palmer and David Johnson in tow this year but still the field in Carolina is always in question. The field, because of Winter Storm Jonus, will be worse than what they saw in January of last year.
Back to this year, if you factor in snow melt, rain, ice, and a lack of super warm weather you end up with a field that just goes from bad to worse. Yes it is true that the players can go with deep spikes and that will help, it does not change the fact that Cam Newton and crew will have an advantage when it comes to this field. They play on this field all the time. In the rain, sleet, or any condition they play. The Panthers are used to it and all the tweaks in cleats, other uniform functions etc. that may be required.
When you look at one of the main threats for the Cardinals it is running back David Johnson who cuts and jukes on a whim. With field conditions at a minimum based on storm impacts then that directly effects how he runs and how successful he will be with poor footing or conditions. Meanwhile. Johnathan Stewart is more of a down field runner who lives in the world of the downfield runner. These conditions will not hurt him as much and the training crew can have both him and Cam Newton ready in case of detrimental conditions.
In a season where things seem to always work out for the Panthers as they played to a one loss regular season, this could be the next piece of a pre-determined puzzle that takes them to a Super Bowl title. Make no mistake about it, the Cardinals will not be hapless in this game but weather will play more of an affect in this game than others might lead you to believe.
The Dallas Cowboys might be dubbed “America’s Team” but the Carolina Panthers just might have Mother Nature on their side. Do you think Winter Storm Jonus Weather Could Impact Cardinals Panthers NFC Championship ? Weigh in below.