Friday, December 21, 2007

Eli Can Blow With the Wind

To say Eli Manning and his receivers had a difficult time executing its passing attack last Sunday would be a strong understatement, perhaps as strong as the gusting winds that swirled around Giants Stadium during the G-Men’s 22-10 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Manning connected on less than 35 percent of his passes. The quarterback was victimized by winds of 15-20 mph – sometimes the gusts were stronger – and receivers with hands as soft as Baptist church pew.

The wind and weather for this weekend’s game in Buffalo, a crucial matchup that the Giants must win to stay healthy in the NFC playoff race, promises to be much worse. The forecast for Sunday in Buffalo calls for temperatures to be in the low 40s with a good chance of rain, sleet and possibly snow. Oh, and the wind is expected to blow just as strong off Lake Erie, if not stronger, than it did last Sunday in the Meadowlands.

That could be trouble for the Giants. The New York Daily News ran an excellent article Thursday detailing Manning’s inefficiency during cold weather games. Here’s an excerpt:

The winter has never been kind to Manning. His passer rating when the game-time temperature is below 50 degrees (67.8) is nearly 10 points lower than when the temperature is 50 or above (77.1), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His completion percentage remains consistent, but his interception percentage goes up when the temperature goes down, too.

That doesn't mean Manning should be labeled "a warm-weather quarterback." For one thing, his numbers are good when the temperature is below 30 (a 62.8% completion rate). For another, temperatures at kickoff are only one factor, and wind, snow or rain are not taken into account.

Wind is probably his bigger problem. Three weeks ago in Chicago, the winds were gusting near 20 mph in the first half and Manning was just 5-for-9 for 54 yards and an interception. The winds died down in the second half, in time for him to lead a fourth-quarter comeback. The winds weren't a factor the next week in Philadelphia and Manning's completion percentage was 54.8.

Manning and the Giants appeared to have a playoff berth all but clinched a few weeks ago. Now, after what has become an all-too-familiar December swoon the fellas in blue, the Giants are looking at a virtual must-win situation in Buffalo. A loss to the Bills Sunday means New York will have to somehow snatch a victory in the season finale against a New England Patriots club that more than likely will be itching to put a exclamation mark on a perfect 16-0 season.


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