The AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, originally scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed to Monday afternoon due to a severe winter storm hitting the Buffalo area. New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the postponement on Saturday. Up to two feet of snow is forecast for Buffalo and the surrounding areas between Saturday night and Sunday.
Blizzard Conditions Expected in Buffalo
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for Erie County, where the Bills’ Highmark Stadium is located in Orchard Park. The area could see snowfall rates as high as 2-3 inches per hour starting early Sunday morning. This, combined with winds gusting from 40-50 mph, will create extremely hazardous visibility and travel conditions.
According to forecasts, the worst conditions are expected from 7 AM to 7 PM on Sunday – precisely during the time the game would have been played. Wind chills could drop to below 0°F with the frigid temperatures and high winds. These blizzard conditions raised safety concerns for both teams and fans attending or traveling to the game.
Stadium Operations Impacted
The pending winter storm is also negatively impacting operations at Highmark Stadium. The Bills have put out calls for volunteers to help shovel snow at the stadium ahead of the game. Normally the team is able to clear that much snow, but not with kickoff looming on Sunday afternoon prior to the worst of the storm.
The stadium facilities and infrastructure are also being challenged by frigid temperatures and winds. The Bills have brought in generators and heaters to keep things functioning and prevent damage, but safety is still a concern with the extreme weather.
These compounding factors led to the decision to postpone. “The safety of our fans is first and foremost of importance to us. Postponing the game ensures we can deliver that,” said an NFL spokesperson.
Calls to Move Location Considered
With the dire forecast putting Buffalo in the crosshairs of the storm, the possibility of relocating the game was explored by the league. Reports indicate consideration was given to neutral locations like Cleveland and even as far as a domed stadium in Atlanta. However, the difficulty of last-minute logistics ultimately had the game postponed in Buffalo.
The league decided the best outcome was to delay the matchup by a day to ensure it can be played safely on Monday in Orchard Park. By then the storm will have moved out, leaving behind massive snowfall totals to contend with around Buffalo.
Impact on Travel and Accommodations
With many Steelers fans likely already headed to Buffalo for the original Sunday game, Pennsylvania Governor Joshua Shapiro implored them to stay home and avoid travel during the height of the storm:
“For Pittsburgh Steelers fans traveling, it’s going to be a very dangerous scenario to go there this weekend,” Shapiro said at a news briefing Saturday. “So if you have tickets to the game, stay home, don’t travel. It’s going to be treacherous.”
Many hotels in the Buffalo area quickly sold out when the postponement was announced. Fans planning to attend Monday face challenging travel, but many are determined to support their team. The Bills are even offering pays of $20 per hour to shovel snow at the stadium.
Game Time and Broadcast
With the game moved to Monday January 14th, kickoff is set for 4:00 PM EST at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. The game will still be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Additional tickets for the Monday game went on sale online Saturday night, but the box office at Highmark Stadium will remain closed Sunday. Tickets already purchased for Sunday’s game will be valid for admission on Monday.
The winner of this AFC matchup will move on to face either the Ravens or Bengals next weekend in the divisional round. Baltimore is currently favored as the #2 seed, but must also contend with winter weather when they host Cincinnati Sunday night.
The Steelers enter as underdogs against a tough Bills squad led by MVP candidate Josh Allen. But Pittsburgh brings significant playoff experience from veterans like Mike Tomlin, Cameron Heyward and Ben Roethlisberger. They hope it pays dividends as they clash with Buffalo’s top-ranked defense and potent offense.
This table summarizes the key details on the Bills-Steelers playoff game:
|Sunday, Jan 14
|Monday, Jan 15
|1:05 PM EST
|4:00 PM EST
|Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park NY
|Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park NY
|Reason for Postponement
|Severe Winter Storm
|Up to 2 feet
|40-50 mph gusts
No matter when the game occurs, frigid temps, high winds, and snow will challenge both teams. The battle of attrition between Buffalo’s defense and Pittsburgh’s veterans promises excitement for viewers – albeit while sheltering from blizzard conditions in western New York.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.