BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s the toes for Josh Allen.
When the Buffalo Bills quarterback plays in the elements, keeping his feet comfortable is a priority.
“I don’t know why I get bad circulation within my feet,” Allen said. “My toes get really cold and they go numb a little bit, so keeping those suckers as warm and as dry as possible as well as the hands.”
Frigid weather will be a factor when the Bills host the New England Patriots in the wild-card round Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS), with a forecasted low of 2 degrees and wind gusts of 13 mph, per AccuWeather. It could feel like minus-6 degrees. It will be the third meeting between the Bills and Patriots (after splitting the regular-season series) in 41 days — the shortest span to play a single opponent in Bills history, per Elias Sports Bureau research.
There will be plenty of fans there to experience the weather. For the first time since the 1996 season, the Bills will have a home playoff game with full attendance allowed. Buffalo hosted two playoff games last season — their first in 25 years — but had limited capacity due to COVID-19.
While the home crowd is good news for the Bills — they have a 12-3 record in home playoff games, tied with the Seattle Seahawks for second-best among teams to play at least 10 playoff games at home — the weather isn’t ideal for Allen.
The quarterback’s accuracy has been down lately, with him completing 49.3% of passes in his past two games — both at home. On a wider scale, in five career starts with freezing game-time temperatures, Allen has thrown six touchdowns to seven interceptions and has a 50.3% completion percentage. That’s second-lowest among 41 quarterbacks who have made at least five such starts (Tim Tebow, 42%) over the past 15 years. Allen was sacked three or more times in three of those games.
“It’s not fun getting hit in the cold; it’s not fun catching hard passes in the cold,” Allen said. “Getting off the ground, it’s a little more exhausting throughout the course of the game. … Just trying to get used to that, and it’s more of a mental barrier than it is a physical barrier, if anything.”
Allen has not been sacked once in the Bills’ past three games, a first in his career. They have been able to run the ball with running back Devin Singletary and Allen as of late, which will be needed against a Patriots defense that has allowed the second-lowest completion percentage behind the Bills.
Buffalo has used colder footballs during the course of the week, has turned off the heat and opened the doors when practicing inside, and was out in the stadium Thursday. But there’s no way to replicate single-digit temperatures with everything at stake.
“Just enjoy it. It’s going to be cold on Saturday,” defensive end Jerry Hughes said. “But, you know, with [Bills Mafia] in that stadium, getting loud, it’s going to feel warm.”