What Does Bad Weather Mean For Football Bets?

As the NFL season moves along, it is natural for bettors to feel as though they are learning, beginning to see trends, and finding good wagering opportunities. What were hunches early in the season are now time-tested theories. We know which rookies have stepped up, which coaches to trust, and which teams are decimated by injuries. But, just when you think you have a feel for the league, and strong conviction in your bets, a new factor appears.

Just as the summer sun requires more water for your plants and suntan lotion for your kids, harsh winter weather requires a modified approach to football wagering. While watching weather forecasts is advisable before making bets, it won’t do much good unless you understand what you’re looking for.

While frigid temperatures are likely uncomfortable for players, the two main variables to look for are snow and wind. Snow creates a dramatic appearance when watching football on TV. However, it doesn’t tend to effect the game nearly as much as wind. Playing in the snow is not unlike playing in the rain – something most players are fairly accustomed to. The snow will make the ball wet, encouraging running plays. Wind plays even more havoc on passing offenses, though. In the rain, QBs will have an idea of how well they can grip the ball and, in turn, which throws are within their range. The wind, however, cannot be predicted and a strong gust can send a once-accurate throw well off-line.

By and large, there is less scoring when bad weather takes place (kicking is also much harder in most winds), and teams that have a strong ground game will benefit. But average bettors will overrate the importance of snow, and underrate the importance of wind.

In week 10, three games were impacted by weather. Two of the three games stayed under, and all of them were won by the team with more rushing yards. On Thursday night, the Browns won in Cincinnati 24-3. A light rain took place throughout the contest and winds were at 17 miles per hour. Cleveland out-rushed Cincinnati 170-86 in the game. The Bengals attempted 39 passes and were intercepted three times. Cleveland threw the ball just 23 times and did not throw a pick.

A 10mph wind was present in Buffalo for the Chiefs 17-13 win over the Bills last week. Buffalo tried 48 passes in the game while KC attempted only 29. The Chiefs marginally out-rushed Buffalo but scored twice on the ground in the fourth quarter (rushing had a cumulative effect).

Rain interrupted the Seahawks’ 38-17 home victory over the Giants on Sunday. It wasn’t too windy, and the total went over, but in inclement conditions, it is no surprise the team that rushed for 350 yards and five TDs on 45 carries blew out the squad that only tried 17 running plays for 54 yards.

There is a chance for snow in many venues in week 11. The most likely games to see snow and wind are both in the mid-west. Minnesota’s trip to Chicago, and Philadelphia’s visit to Green Bay not only have a good chance for snow, but are projecting winds over 10 miles per hour.

Even without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings are tenth in the NFL in rushing yards per game while the Bears are 24th.The teams are almost exactly equal in run defense. As the weather forecast becomes more clear, think about whether taking the under (46.5) or the Vikings-plus-a- field-goal is worthy of a wager.

The Eagles are 13th in the league on the ground while Green Bay ranks 18th. Philadelphia is right in the middle of the league in run defense while the Packers have struggled, and are only better than the Bengals and Giants at stopping the run. In the Eagles’ win at Lambeau Field last year – a game that Aaron Rodgers missed due to injury – wind was at 12 miles per hour, and the Eagles out-rushed Green Bay 204-99 in a 27-13 victory. As the week moves along, ponder whether Philly-plus-five or the under (55) is worthwhile.

(Photo credit: relux. (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode], via Creative Commons.)