The Titans first road trip of the 2018 regular season featured some adverse weather conditions and it appears that their last might as well. The forecast in East Rutherford, New Jersey — the home of MetLife Stadium — is calling for a kickoff temperature of 39 degrees, a 95% chance of rain, and 14 mile per hour winds.
What might that mean for the Titans-Giants matchup? Cold, wind, and rain are all known deterrents to the passing game so I would expect to see a heavy dose of Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley runs on Sunday. Statistical analysis from PFF indicates that rain increases yards per carry and tackle avoidance rate for ballcarriers so it’s not just a matter of passing being tougher for offenses, but also an improved efficiency on the ground. One thing to note here is that MetLife Stadium features artificial turf which typically holds up better in heavy rain than natural grass fields. That could limit some of advantages for the running game.
Neither team is known for having a particularly explosive vertical passing attack. Both Marcus Mariota and Eli Manning rank in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks when it comes to average depth of target despite the fact that Mariota currently ranks as the league’s most accurate passer on throws targeted 20 or more yards downfield according to PFF’s charting. That means that we probably won’t see either offense have to adjust their approach too much from what they’ve been doing for most of the year.
The other big effect from the weather could be turnovers. Fumbles ramp up in the cold and the rain. Both will be in play tomorrow. There is an increased chance that a random turnover influences this game in a big way. The Titans will be hoping it bounces their way.