'We're not having a snowball fight.' Reid, Chiefs ready for frigid playoff game against Dolphins

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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, jokes with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, center, and other teammates before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Coach Andy Reid was asked what impact a frigid forecast might have for Saturday night's wild-card playoff game between the Chiefs and Dolphins, and whether Kansas City would try to acclimatize by practicing outside this week.

Reid looked out a nearby window Tuesday and saw the 6 inches of snow that had blanketed the ground.

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“We probably won't go out today,” he replied, “but there's a good chance tomorrow.”

The weather doesn't figure to be much better Wednesday, or the rest of the week for that matter. There is more snow coming late in the week, and then comes the bitter cold: The high temperature Saturday could struggle to reach double digits, and by the time the game is kicked off long after darkness sets in, the wind chill is expected to be well below zero.

Could that be an advantage for the Chiefs, who have played in similarly cold conditions plenty of times over the years, given that the Dolphins will spend the week practicing in 70-degree temps in South Florida?

“You can't bank on that. That's where you get into trouble,” Reid said. “We're not having a snowball fight.”

Perhaps the Dolphins would fare better in one of those.

They have lost 10 straight when the temperature is 40 degrees or colder, and by an average of 17 points. And the forecast for their playoff game against Kansas City calls for temps to be 40 degrees below that point, with wind whipping from every angle through Arrowhead Stadium and accumulated snowfall certain to make it feel that much colder.

“A lot of people don't want to get hit, or hit in cold weather. It hurts a little more,” admitted Dolphins linebacker David Long, who grew up in the cold weather in Cincinnati. “And that's when you see what types of players you have on your team. How much do you love it? How much do you want to get to that certain point as a team?”

Long may be accustomed to the snow and cold. Same with Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who played his first six seasons in Kansas City, and will be returning to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since he was traded away two years ago.

That may not be the case for Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who grew up in Hawaii and played college ball at Alabama.

“I don't think it means that we are soft or scared of the elements, just because the weather is better down here,” said Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe, a Pennsylvania native who played at Notre Dame.

“The guys in that locker room, obviously we come from all over, too. It's not like we all lived here in Miami our entire lives. We've dealt with elements before.”

Not particularly well, though. The Dolphins' cold weather losing streak began with a loss to Pittsburgh in 2017, when it was a balmy 17 degrees at kickoff. It continued through games in Buffalo, Cleveland, Green Bay and, yes, Kansas City, where the Chiefs beat the Dolphins 29-13 on Christmas Eve in 2017 when it was a mere 23 degrees at the start of the game.

As for Tagovailoa, the Miami quarterback is winless in four games when the temp is 45 degrees or lower.

“If we're playing in any playoff game that isn't at home,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel observed, “it probably will be cold. It will be the same for both teams. For us and for the individuals in the locker room, I know they will not use that as an excuse.”

The Chiefs can savor a bit of confidence from it, though.

They've lost just once in their past 10 home games in which the temperature was 40 degrees or colder, and that includes a 4-0 mark in playoff games. And while quarterback Patrick Mahomes mostly grew up in Texas, and never played in a truly cold game until he got to Kansas City, the reigning league MVP has grown rather fond of them.

“I'd rather be playing a football game," he said with a smile, "than chasing my kid around the backyard.”

The coldest Chiefs game on record was on Jan. 7, 1996, when it was 11 degrees for the start against the Colts. But the second-coldest game was just four years ago, when Mahomes threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns without an interception as the Chiefs rolled to a 35-24 victory over Tennessee in the AFC championship game.

Two weeks later, Mahomes won the first of his two Super Bowl rings by beating the 49ers ... in warm, sunny Miami.


AP Sports Writer Alanis Thames in Miami contributed.


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