Weather not a factor or Browns in Sunday’s matchup at Buffalo

Associatedpress and Associatedpress

BEREA, Ohio — The weather forecast for Sunday in Buffalo calls for rain turning to freezing rain turning to snow with winds gusting to 30 mph.

Ideal, comfortable conditions for penguins and polar bears. And, it seems, the Cleveland Brrr-owns.

When the outside temperature plunges, these Browns only heat up. Cleveland ended last season by winning its final four games, which were all played in frigid, frostbiting conditions.

Unless things warm up dramatically over the next few weeks, the Browns, who visit Buffalo and Cincinnati before hosting Baltimore and Pittsburgh, are gearing up for a frozen finish.

Coach Eric Mangini isn’t complaining.

“I really do love this weather,” he said Thursday. “It’s great football weather and I think if you know how to play in it, and it doesn’t become a factor and it doesn’t affect any part of our game, then it becomes a real advantage, but you have to get used to it.”

The Browns (5-7) had the snow shoveled off their practice fields and have spent the week preparing outdoors, hoping to simulate what they’ll face this week when they visit the Bills (2-10), who, like their Lake Erie counterparts, know a thing or two about playing in inclement weather.

For most of the Browns, the cold is nothing new. Not for all of them, though.

“Man, it was cold in Oregon, but nothing like this,” rookie safety T.J. Ward said as he sifted through his locker looking for some extra clothing to layer on.

Like the Green Bay Packers, who have historically used Lambeau Field’s frozen tundra and subzero conditions to create one of the NFL’s best and most unique home-field advantages, the Browns relish the chance to host teams who play in domes or rarely travel East.

The biting cold suits the Browns.

“Our team is built for it,” said Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas. “We have a power running team, a big running back, big physical offensive line. This is the type of weather you would think we would thrive in.”

In the nasty weather, the game changes. The footing isn’t as steady. The football is slick, tougher to grasp and can take crazy bounces.

It’s also prone to swirling winds that can turn routine extra-point attempts into adventures. If you’re not prepared, Mother Nature will dominate.

Coaches spend countless hours during the week drawing up detailed game plans and planning for every possibility.

There isn’t much they can do when the wind comes whipping through the stadium. Mangini said wind may be the toughest external element to handle.

“It’s a factor in the sense of how it affects all the throws,” said Mangini, who has won five straight games in December. “Is it behind you? Is it blowing across the field? Are you throwing into it? All those things affect the way the ball travels, the way the ball is kicked, how you field kickoff returns and punt returns. It does play a big role.”