It’s time for the playoffs in Buffalo, and everyone knows that that means: snow.
The Bills always seem to play host to a postseason snow bowl due in large part to the lake effect, and weather impacts around Orchard Park have forced the league at points to take dramatic steps in ensuring safe play — and safe attendance for fans.
The forecast for Saturday’s Bills-Steelers wild-card round matchup looks bleak. Per the National Weather Service, heavy snow is expected Saturday night, and it could continue to snow into Sunday morning before the 1 p.m. ET game.
MORE: NFL wild-card weather report
The looming wintery conditions has the league on notice and has begun a rumor that the game could be moved to Cleveland on Sunday as a neutral-site game if the conditions are bad enough.
Will Bills vs. Steelers be moved to Cleveland?
On Thursday, KDKA’s Marty Griffin in Pittsburgh reported there was a chance that if the lake-effect weather is severe enough and a state of emergency is declared in the western part of New York, the playoff game could be moved southwest to Cleveland, according to Andrew Fillipponi. The NFL is denying that this is the case.
Brian McCarthy, the league’s vide president of communications, said the NFL is monitoring the conditions for the game, but noted “there have been no discussions about making a change to the game’s status.”
Such a move would not be unprecedented, though it would be unusual for the playoffs. Last season, because of lake-effect snow in Orchard Park, the Bills’ Week 11 game against the Browns was moved to Detroit. Buffalo won that game, 31-23, before coming back on Thanksgiving to play the Lions against whom they also won, 28-25.
MORE: Expert model projects Bills-Steelers, other wild-card games
Orchard Park weather
The forecast for Saturday and Sunday does not look great for the Bills and Steelers game. Saturday night, there is expected to be heavy snow and winds up to 60 mph with new snow accumulation of up to 12 inches.
On Sunday, the forecast isn’t looking much clearer. There is snow expected before 7 a.m., a chance of snow showers between 7 and 10 a.m., then more snow expected after 10 a.m. ET. It is described as being potentially heavy at times with winds that could reach 30 mph and gusts up to 45 mph.
The forecast high Sunday is 24 degrees and the low 14 degrees.
There is some logic behind moving the game to Cleveland. It is just under a three-hour drive from Buffalo, though it is roughly an hour closer to Pittsburgh. It would still be a cold game for fans, however.
Per the National Weather Service, there is expected to be a chance of snow accumulation up to an inch and winds up to 41 mph Saturday night in Cleveland. On Sunday, there could be more snow and winds up to 25 mph. The high is expected to be 20 degrees and the low 8 degrees.
The lack of snow accumulation would make it easier for fans in the city to drive, and the winds won’t quite be as strong as they would be in Buffalo. But it would still wind up being a frigid day for football fans.