Exploring how weather affects football betting

Dec 10, 2013 3:00 AM

Can snow blow money your way? We explore how weather affects football betting.

Large amounts of money are lost each season by bettors who do not fully understand how to account for weather in their handicapping.

Extreme weather presents the player with two types of profitable opportunities:

• Play ON a condition that will have MORE effect than the public realizes;

• Play OPPOSITE a condition that will have LESS effect than the public realizes.

Whenever judging any effect on a game we must determine to what degree it has already been accounted for in the line. An obvious example would be if a team’s starting quarterback is out due to injury.

Such a fact would most certainly be built into the line, so blindly betting against a team playing a backup QB offers no edge. This same obviousness would apply to playing the under on a football game when bad weather is expected.

The most over-considered weather condition is snow. Being easy to see and understand on TV makes snow hard to ignore.

Such conditions are typically associated with lower scoring. In reality, snow has little effect on game-play a vast majority of the time.

High tech grass/turf fields, footballs made of advanced synthetics, and the constant rotation and sideline maintenance (keeping them dry and warm) of those same balls has significantly diminished in recent years the effect of snow on game-play.

In fact, often the affect that does exist is to the advantage of the offense! Why? Because on a slick field the offensive player knows where he’s running while the defense is forced to react abruptly.

If a receiver slips the offense may lose one play; if a defender slips the offense can easily score a touchdown.

Snow presents the handicapper with game conditions the public believes will lead to low scoring while often times (unless it’s extreme conditions) the opposite is true.

The most under-considered weather condition is wind. You can’t see it on TV, but it can affect game-play in extreme ways.

Today’s 21st century passing games are based upon timing and it can’t help but be thrown off when the wind is blowing hard.

A little known fact is that wind that blows across the field affects play much more than gusts going from one end zone to the other.

On passes and field goals wind is harder to compensate for when blowing side-to-side.

Windy conditions affect all teams, but even more so those that rely on the passing game.

Wind presents the handicapper with conditions that will tend toward low scoring, the underdog and against passing teams.

Extreme temperatures must also be considered. The effect of the cold on warm weather teams is well documented (think Tampa Bay Bucs). But such well-known situations rarely offer value.

Cold weather teams playing in high heat occurs most often early in the season; the effect is typically one of fatigue. A wise (and creative) play for a bettor would be to look hard at playing against the cold weather team in the second half.

The goal for any handicapper is identifying factors others are not considering. Finding out before the sports books that there will be three feet of snow in Buffalo next Sunday would make winning easy.

Realistically, though, in today’s Internet age such scoops are nearly impossible to come by. What’s not impossible, though also profitable, is uncovering less obvious game-altering weather factors.

RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Monday through Friday at 10 am on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. Discussion of this article continues at Pregame.com. Contact RJ at [email protected]

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