By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Philip Rivers isn’t a great cold-weather quarterback. But he’s certainly not a guaranteed disaster like you might think.
It should come as a shock to no one that Tom Brady holds a distinct advantage as a cold-weather quarterback over Rivers, because he’s as experienced and accomplished as any quarterback in NFL history in those spots. But Rivers proved as recently as this season that he can come up with winning plays despite the cold.
Let’s define “cold weather” as game time recorded temperatures of 40 degrees or under. In Brady’s last 10 cold-weather games, he’s posted a 98.9 passer rating. Contrast that with Rivers, who has posted an 87.8 rating in his last 10. Overall, Rivers has gone 213-for-356 for 2,739 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in those games. Not great, but there are certainly some good games in there.
For the sake of clarity, Brady’s overall sample size is much larger so his last 10 games only go back to 2015. Rivers’ last 10 cold games go all the way back to 2009.
The last time Rivers and the Chargers had to play in sub-40-degree temps came in Week 15 at the Kansas City Chiefs, when L.A. earned a clutch 29-28 comeback win. Rivers wasn’t perfect – he threw two interceptions, knocking his passer rating down from a possible 110.9 to 89.0 – but he led the Chargers to out-score the Chiefs 15-7 in the fourth quarter to edge them out for the W. Rivers threw the eventual game-winning touchdown and ballsy two-point conversion to Mike Williams with just eight seconds left in the game to snatch the win.
The point of this exercise is that Rivers, while historically unspectacular in cold weather games, isn’t a player to count out entirely. This is a guy who played on a torn ACL in the 2007 AFC Championship Game, also a cold game in Foxboro (it was 23 degrees at game time). He’s not the most consistent or conventional quarterback, but he’s as tough as they come.
As far as cold weather goes, the real concern is with everyone else on the Chargers. Gillette Stadium was the toughest place to win in the league this season – literally nobody won, as the Patriots went 8-0 in the regular season – and the weather on Sunday may even include snow, which is relatively uncharted territory, even for Rivers.
What should really concern Chargers fans about Rivers in the cold is the turnovers. In addition to 11 interceptions in his last 10 cold games, he’s also fumbled five times and lost two of them. His five fumbles have all come in his last five games.
Still, as unpredictable as he can be in any given week, Rivers has at times proven capable of being efficient and productive in sub-40-degree temperatures. He’s not necessarily one of these guys who’s going to wilt just because he’s in Foxborough and there’s a chill in the air.
The rest of the Chargers? We shall see.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.