Patriots-Chiefs AFC championship game will have an arctic feel

Kyle Haraugh of NFL Films clears snow from a camera location at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, January 13, 2019, in Kansas City, Missouri.

For the first time in franchise history, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium, facing the New England Patriots, with a spot in Super Bowl LIII on the line.

It’s the biggest game in Arrowhead’s 47 seasons, and it’s also going to be quite frigid. Sunday’s game, which is scheduled to kick off at 6:40 p.m. ET, is forecast to be in the 20s, with a wind chill in the teens.

Still, the home team anticipates a raucous atmosphere, as the Chiefs haven’t been this far in the playoffs since 1994. Just last week, in Kansas City’s win against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC divisional round, Chiefs faithful came out to cheer on their team in the snow as the temperature hovered around freezing.

“It’s never too cold for Chiefs fans,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. “They’ll be there. That’s the great thing about the sea of red. They’re loud, and they show up all the time. They’ll be ready for it.”

The Chiefs announced Thursday that fans can bring in blankets through stadium gates by carrying them over their shoulders and that warming stations will be located throughout the stadium for fans. Still, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Wednesday he doesn’t think the weather will chill fans’ enthusiasm.

“I know the stadium is going to be rocking, and I know these fans are going to enjoy this as much as we are, trying to go out and win the AFC and bring that Lamar Hunt Trophy back,” Mahomes said.

While it may feel frosty Sunday in the stands, the playing surface won’t be a frozen tundra, thanks to a multimillion-dollar heating system under the field.

“It will be a little chilly, and that’s OK,” Reid said. “We are at that time of the year. You go play. I don’t think it will be an issue.”

The visiting team also did its best this week to downplay the frigid weather talk.

“I’ve played in a lot of games over the years where weather’s a factor,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “You just dress for it, and hopefully our blood has thickened up enough here, being in the Northeast, to deal with some of the cold, which I think it has.”

Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett did note one thing that’s different in these conditions: catching a football.

“Your hands are frozen, and the ball is frozen,” he said.

According to the NFL’s record and fact book, the coldest game in NFL history was the iconic “Ice Bowl” on December 31, 1967, at Lambeau Field. It was minus 13 degrees with a wind chill of 48 below zero when the Green Bay Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL championship. The Packers won, 21-17.

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