The NFL schedule shifted two weeks behind what it was in the 80’s, so many years ago. The Super Bowl was often the third Sunday in January; now it’s in February, and the 17-week season starts after Labor Day. This leaves playoff fans in cold-weather stadia braving worse conditions than before. To make matters worse—colder—the NFL shifted its Saturday playoff games three hours later, putting the second game in prime time. The league pushed back the times on Championship Sunday as well, but only by two hours.
Fans became accustomed to bundling up to sit for 3½ or 4 hours in the January chill in Foxboro, Mass.; Green Bay; Philadelphia; and even Chicago a few times. Not so this weekend! The NFL controls game times but cannot decide where the games are. Playoff seeds determine home-field advantage. This weekend, the games will kick off in Phoenix, San Diego, Miami, and the Vikings’ rickety domed stadium in Minneapolis (completed 1982). Shirtsleeves in January—-what a concept! Next week, this weekend’s winners will travel to Nashville and Charlotte on Saturday. Will fans bring light jackets for temperatures in the 50’s? Next Sunday’s games may be more typical of cold-weather games: they’re in East Rutherford, N.J. and Pittsburgh. Brr.