Examining which extreme weather affects odds the most

Nov 26, 2013 |
NFL players are like postal workers: Neither rain nor snow nor goalpost-bending wind keeps them from plying their trade on a weekly basis.

But while extreme weather conditions may not seem like a big deal to the pros, they can have a significant impact on betting lines - and the subsequent action they generate. The widely-held belief is that torrential rain, high winds or blinding snow results in lower-scoring games - but as Covers Expert Steve Merril points out, that isn't necessarily the case.

"Rain (and light snow) is an overrated factor as most fields are synthetic turf nowadays and the surface remains good," Merril said. "In fact, wet and slippery conditions often favor the offenses and can increase scoring as the running backs and receivers know which way they want to go, so defenders often slip when trying to cut and adjust."

In the event that strong winds are expected, the total will often crawl lower - and with good reason, according to Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with Carbonsports.ag.

"Wind can absolutely kill any chance of a passing game which definitely impacts a total," Stewart says. "With no passing game, teams will rush the ball more which keeps the clock ticking and that leads to fewer offensive plays."

Sunday night's game at Foxboro provided an interesting test case for extreme weather betting; the Patriots and Denver Broncos were greeted by temperatures in the 20s and gusts approaching 30 miles per hour. While the wind and cold made life difficult for players on both sides of the ball, the offenses ultimately had an easier time of it, combining for 62 points to provide bettors with a comfortable "over" on a 53.5-point total.

It's worth noting that the total opened as high as 56, suggesting that bettors flocked to the early "under" as soon as the weather forecast became known.

Merril notes the interesting dichotomy between what bettors think will happen and what actually happens with greater frequency.

"The public underestimates the effect of windy conditions," he said. "It's ironic that the public starts leaning 'under' in extreme weather games (for the wrong reasons) as the public normally plays the 'over' in other games. (Extreme weather) is one of the few times that the public can actually help create value with the 'over' in a game."

Merril also stresses that bettors should consider a team's roster makeup when deciding how to bet games with extreme weather.

"Teams with strong defenses and solid running offenses are going to be best in extreme weather because normally your passing offense is what is negatively affected the most. If conditions become difficult, you want a team that can win a close and low-scoring game, so a solid defense and good rushing offense are important."

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