Peyton Manning plays lousy in cold weather! Myth or Fact?

Dustin Bradford

After hearing this repeated over and over by fans and pundits alike, I wanted to find out for myself whether or not this proclamation holds any water.

Where did the data come from?

Pro Football Reference game logs which list the temperature at kickoff. I used my best judgement. While not looking through every one of his games, if the Colts played at home, in Jacksonville, Houston (warm places or domed places)- I didn't bother checking. I went back as far as mid October and even checked on some early October games if they were played in obvious cold weather spots. I sent a tweet out to statistician Scott Kacsmar (Football Outsiders) and this was his reply:

I found 21 games including two last season. One was against the Chiefs to end the season (38-3 W) and the other was the infamous blown coverage heard round the world. The reason why my numbers differ from Scott is his data was not updated with the Ravens playoff game and my criteria was a bit different. I included games that started at 40 F, not just those below 40 F. Later on during our tweet-conversation, Scott graciously uploaded a screen grab of his data so I could cross check. After adding one game that I had missed, our data was identical except for the things that I have mentioned.

EDIT 10:10 MDT

* Scott contacted me once again and says that he also included games that were at 40 degrees F.  Again I used Pro Football Reference and he clarified that he used the official gamebooks for his data.  The gamebook for the 1998 Buffalo game states the temperature at 44 F.  Pro football reference has it listed at 38 degrees.

Mr. Kacsmar is an expert in his field of work so I trust his sources, judgement, and research over mine.  That being said I will not alter my data for the sake of this article as it has already been published and presented.  I will however amend for future reference.

_________________________________________________________________

Peyton Manning has an overall record of 10-11. Really 10-10 if you want to throw out the game against Buffalo where he played a quarter and was pulled. That season the Colts were already 14-1 and had clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Games Played 30 F - 40 F

  • 13 games, Manning is 8-6 (.571)
  • 296-465 (63.7%), 3714 yards ( 8.0), 24/20, 87.7 QB Rating

Games Played < 30 F

  • 8 games (7 full games), Manning is 2-5 (.400)
  • 175-285 (61.4%), 1761 yards (6.2), 8/8, 76.7 QB Rating

So he's terrible in cold weather right?

Not exactly. In Peyton Manning's last 8 games under these weather conditions, he had a streak of 7 straight games where he completed at least 70% of his passes. In fact, here are his numbers through those 8 games:

177-243 (72.8%), 2129 yards (8.8), 17/10, 105.5 QB Rating

This is not the production of a weak-armed choker who folds in cold weather. His record during that stretch? 4-4. It's a team game folks. During that stretch, his offenses averaged 26.5 points per game. That would be good enough to win under most circumstances. That average when compared to scoring this year would rank that team 6th in the league.

Other factors?

Did you notice most of those games (in fact all but 2) were road games? Most teams fare much worse on the road than at home. If you look at the standings from 2012, 24/32 teams or 75% of all teams finished with a road record at .500 or worse. Going back 5 years, 70.6% of all teams finished .500 or worse on the road.

Conclusions

This is just an isolated study on one QB. It is hard to know for sure where these numbers stand when you do not have other data to compare it to. If you wanted to draw any solid conclusions from these numbers you would have to do a giant case study that included all NFL Quarterbacks going back decades. However, with the facts I have presented here, you could state the following accurately:

  • Over the course of his career, Peyton Manning has performed under his career averages when playing in cold weather at 40 degrees F or colder. His career QB Rating stands at 96.8. With this sample size of 20 games (which represent about 8% of all games he's played) Peyton's QB Rating when the temperature is at or below 40 degrees F is 83.5 or 13.3 points lower.
  • Peyton Manning has fared a bit better when the temperature is 30 F - 40 F. His QB Rating is 87.7 which is 9.1 points lower than his career average.
  • He has done far worse when the temperature is below 30 F. His QB Rating of 76.7 puts him 20.1 points lower than his career average.
  • 90% of these games have been played on the road and his record in these away games is similar to the NFL average of 70.6% teams that finished at .500 or worse on the road over the course of the last five years.
  • In his last 8 games under these frigid conditions, Peyton Manning has performed ABOVE his career averages, registering a 105.5 QB Rating (11.3 points above his career average).

The Verdict?

Inconclusive

My Thoughts?

I'll let Scott Kacsmar sum it up:

The Data

Date

H/A

OPP

Temp

Result

Comp

Att

%

Yards

YPC

TD

INT

QBR

1/12/12

H

BAL

13 F

L 38-35

28

43

65.1

290

6.7

3

2

88.3

12/30/12

H

KC

35 F

W 38-3

23

29

79.3

304

10.5

3

0

144.8

12/9/10

A

TEN

35 F

W 30-28

25

35

71.4

319

9.1

2

0

118.6

11/21/10

A

NE

37 F

L 31-28

38

52

73.1

396

7.6

4

3

96.3

1/3/10

A

BUF

11 F

L 30-7*

14

18

87.5

95

5.3

0

1

65.5

11/30/08

A

CLE

34 F

W 10-6

15

21

71.4

125

6.0

0

2

46.8

12/9/07

A

BAL

39 F

W 44-20

13

17

76.5

249

14.6

4

0

157.5

12/3/06

A

TEN

38 F

L 20-17

21

28

75.0

351

12.5

1

2

98.8

11/5/06

A

NE

40 F

W 27-20

20

36

55.6

326

9.1

2

1

93.1

1/16/05

A

NE

27 F

L 20-3

27

42

64.3

238

5.7

0

1

69.3

1/18/04

A

NE

31 F

L 24-14

23

47

48.9

237

4.9

1

4

35.5

1/11/04

A

KC

40 F

W 38-31

22

30

73.3

304

10.1

3

0

138.7

12/7/03

A

TEN

35 F

W 29-27

22

34

64.7

228

6.7

0

0

83.9

1/4/03

A

NYJ

34 F

L 41-10

14

31

45.2

137

4.4

0

2

31.2

12/15/02

A

CLE

36 F

W 28-23

20

34

58.8

277

8.1

2

1

92.4

12/8/02

A

TEN

35 F

L 27-17

26

42

61.9

297

7.1

1

3

61.3

11/24/02

A

DEN

27 F

W 23-20

27

44

61.3

229

5.2

0

1

65.4

12/3/00

A

NYJ

29 F

L 27-17

27

51

52.9

339

6.6

2

2

70.6

11/19/00

A

GB

26 F

L 26-24

25

44

56.8

294

6.7

3

1

90.5

12/26/99

A

CLE

27 F

W 29-28

27

43

62.7

276

6.4

0

0

81.2

11/22/98

A

BUF

38 F

L 34-11

14

29

48.2

164

5.7

1

2

48.6

Totals

2/19

---

---

10-11

471

750

62.0

5475

7.3

32

28

83.5

*Pulled early, Colts 14-1

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