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Dolphins to lean on mindset while facing Chiefs in frigid weather

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (C) said he doesn't plan to wear long sleeves when he faces the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Larry Marano/UPI
1 of 5 | Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (C) said he doesn't plan to wear long sleeves when he faces the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Larry Marano/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill and their teammates plan to lean on competitive mindsets when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in frigid weathers Sunday in Kansas City, Mo., Miami Dolphins players and coaches said.

The Dolphins and Chiefs will kick off their wild-card round matchup at 8 p.m. EST Saturday at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

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The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning through Tuesday afternoon and said "dangerously cold wind chills" could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

While the temperature at game time is expected to be somewhere between 2 degrees F and -8 degrees, the wind chill is expected to make it feel between -21 degrees and -28 degrees. Wind speeds will be between 14 and 20 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph.

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"Well, it's a mindset," Hill, who played for the Chiefs for six seasons, told reporters Thursday. "I feel like if you believe it's going to be cold, then you're going to freeze your [expletive] off. But if you go into this game not even thinking any of that, you'll be fine.

"With me being me, I played there and I understand the conditions," the wide receiver added. "I'm not even worried about it at all. I'm going to go out there with no sleeves and tell the rest of the guys it's a mindset."

Tagovailoa said he still is deciding what to wear to prepare for the frigid weather. He plans to "see what it feels like without gloves." The Dolphins quarterback hasn't played in temperatures below 15 to 20 degrees.

"You can't prepare for a game like that, with that kind of weather, so it'll be new," Tagovailoa said.

Saturday's daytime temperature is expected to reach a high of 5 degrees, while that could drop to a low of -8 Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The NFL says that the 1967 NFL championship, played between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in Green Bay, Wis., was its coldest game on record.

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Temperatures for that game, dubbed the "Ice Bowl," reached -13 degrees, with a wind- chill of -48 degrees.

The league lists just one other game colder than the expected low Saturday in Kansas City. That matchup, dubbed the "Freezer Bowl," featured the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers playing in -9 degrees in 1982 in Cincinnati.

Veteran pass rusher Justin Houston, who signed with the Dolphins on Tuesday, said players will need to be most mindful of the cold when they are stationary.

"Just stay by the heaters during TV timeouts," Houston, who spent eight seasons with the Chiefs, told reporters. "I think that's the worst situation. Because other then that, you're playing ball.

"You don't even think about the cold weather until a TV timeout when you're just standing there. I think that's the worst."

The Chiefs are 4.5-point favorites against the Dolphins. Sports books gave the game a 44-point total.

The Dolphins, who dealt with myriad injuries to key players over the last two months, could be slowed by the cold weather -- as well as the Chiefs' defense, which ranks No. 2 in fewest yards allowed.

Miami not only lost to the Chiefs earlier this off-season, but also are on a 10-game losing streak in games with temperatures 40 degrees or colder.

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Players cited the hard ground and crushing hits as deterrents for playing in the cold. The freezing temperatures also could take the air out of the ball -- literally -- limiting the distance on passes, field goals and punts.

Traditionally, NFL teams lean on the running game when weather impacts downfield throws. That trend could favor the Dolphins, who own the No. 6 rushing attack in the NFL and lead the league with 5.1 yards per attempt. The Chiefs have the No. 19 rushing attack in the league.

"To be able to go and do athletic performance in that weather, it takes will," Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. "That will comes from a passion that is deep down that has been derived while a lot of these guys started playing the game that you're unlocking.

"The last time I played in zero-ish degree weather was 2021 at Green Bay in the divisional round. And much like this team, we were up in Santa Clara, Calif., and had like one coat in our closets. We weren't used to that at all. But it galvanizes people."

Fans also will feel the chill. The Chiefs advised game attendees Thursday to "bundle up with loose fitting layers" and to cover exposed skin. Guests are permitted to bring blankets and heated apparel. Warming trailers will be available in the parking lots, and an additional nine warming stations will be inside the stadium.

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The Dolphins practice this week in Miami Gardens, Fla., with a planned a walk-through Friday night in Missouri. Many players will likely use thermal wear, large jackets, gloves and other equipment Saturday, and heated benches and heaters will be provided on the sidelines.

The game will air on Peacock. The winner between the AFC's respective No. 6 and 3 seeds will advance to the divisional round.

"Hopefully, it warms up a little bit before the game, but if not, we'll be prepared to play in whatever they give us," Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones told reporters this week.

The 2024 NFL postseason will start at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, when the Cleveland Browns face the Houston Texans in another AFC wild-card matchup.

Three games will be held Sunday as part of wild-card weekend. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Philadelphia Eagles in the final wild-card game at 8 p.m. Monday in Tampa, Fla.

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