Hi, everyone. I'm here in lovely Newark, New Jersey, seven hours before kickoff, and the weather headline is that it's not going to be as bad as it could be.
Although there's snow everywhere you look here, it looks like it's going to be clear, cold and windy tonight for Panthers-Giants, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m.
The weather.com forecast for East Rutherford, N.J., where the Giants actually play, shows as of now that it's going to be around 27 degrees at kickoff, with no precipitation in the forecast during the game. The field should be relatively dry, which should help a speedster like Steve Smith (who points out he went to school in Utah and often has his best games in cold weather anyway).
Although this game is undoubtedly huge, a bit of the pressure is off the Panthers. They are now guaranteed a spot in the playoffs even if they go 0-2 in their final two games -- that became clear when Dallas lost Saturday night to Baltimore. They aren't guaranteed a home game or a first-round bye or anything else yet, however, so they can improve their standing greatly by winning here tonight or, as a consolation prize, Dec.28 in New Orleans.
On a personal note, I flew up to New Jersey Sunday morning from Charlotte and only had a flight delay of 20 minutes.
Other flights to the Northeast were running a couple of hours behind schedule, but I hope I have already served my time in travel purgatory on my return trip from Green Bay after Carolina's pulsating win there. A 10-hour flight delay gave me lots of time to learn all about Chicago's O'Hare airport, which at least had a six-foot high mockup of the Statue of Liberty made entirely of Legos. After studying it closely, I still only had nine hours and 58 minutes to kill.