Yes, Peyton Manning plays worse in cold weather.
His stats across the board are worse. He throws fewer touchdowns, completes fewer passes, turns it over more, and wins fewer games.
Sunday night against New England was the 22nd full game Manning has played in sub-40 degree temperatures. He is 10-12 in those games, including four losses to the Patriots.
So yeah, in a statistical sense, Peyton plays worse in cold weather.
There are some huge caveats here though. And when taken together, they complicate the conventional wisdom that Peyton is a disaster when the temperate dips below 40 degrees.
But first, the data:
Now on to the problems:
1. We don’t have data on how all quarterbacks perform in cold weather. Maybe the dip in Manning’s performance is normal, or even less pronounced than other similar players. He’s still completing 60%+ of his passes, gaining seven yards per attempt, and throwing more touchdowns than picks.
Those are still decent stats that should give the average team a decent chance of winning. But they look awful next to Peyton’s normally bonkers stats.
Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats found that extreme weather generally hurts the passing game, but no one has looked at it on an individual basis.
We simply don’t know if this phenomenon is unique to Peyton, or if it affects all quarterbacks. And until someone combs through that data, we don’t know how meaningful the statement, “Peyton Manning is worse in the cold” is.
2. Manning’s cold weather games were on the road. For much of his career Manning played in Indianapolis’ domed stadium. So a disproportionate percentage of cold weather games he played were 1) on the road, and 2) playoff games.
20 of his 22 “cold weather” games came on the road. The only two home games were against 2-14 Kansas City at the end of 2012 and against Baltimore in that crazy divisional game last year.
Of the 22 cold weather games, five were against the Tom Brady Patriots and four were playoff games. They were all on the road (road playoff teams lose 69% of the time).
22% of Peyton’s cold weather games have been playoff games, compared to 7.8% of his total career games.
These are the types of games you’d expect Manning’s stats to take a dip.
In short, Manning’s “cold weather games” were already tougher than his average games, regardless of weather. And since we have no idea how weather generally affects quarterbacks, we can’t say whether his dip in performance is remarkable or not.
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