The Impact of Weather on Football Over/Unders

by Team Del Genio

The role that rain and windy weather was put to the test in the last week with three games on prime time national television. A bomb cyclone in the Pacific Northwest impacted the Sunday night game in the NFL between Indianapolis and San Francisco. It also affected the Monday night game between New Orleans and Seattle. Rain and wind then played a role in the Sun Belt Conference on Thursday in the game between Troy and Coastal Carolina.

Rain and winds in the 15 to 17 miles per hour range with occasional gusts were the conditions that the Colts and 49ers had to deal with in their game. Conditions like that impact the passing games and field goal attempts. Some bettors may have presumed the under was the preferred play yet the final score did not stay under the number despite the inclement weather. However, the weather played a major role in how that game played out. Only thirteen combined points were scored in the second and third quarters. Indianapolis gained only 295 yards on seventeen first downs and San Francisco managed just 280 yards on thirteen first downs. Those are offensive numbers that reliably lead to winning unders. The Colts got help from the 49ers committing two big pass interference plays on jump ball deep passes that led to two of their touchdowns. Both passing games were limited. Indianapolis passed for 147 yards and San Francisco passed for 169 yards. The Colts missed an extra point and later chose to go for a two-point conversion given the difficult wind conditions.

Bad weather does not guarantee lower-scoring games but it can negatively impact some of the things that lead to higher-scoring games. There were seven fumbles between both teams. Turnovers are neutral in the long run in impacting over/unders since giving the ball up stalls drives and creates good scoring opportunities for the opposition.

The rain and wind were less pronounced the next night in Seattle, yet that game was a low-scoring contest that the Saints won, 13-10. Sometimes games are destined to be low-scoring.  Weather is a factor when considering over/under plays, yet it should not replace the underlying factors in the game matchup between both teams. 

For Troy’s visit to Coastal Carolina later in the week, the oddsmakers opened the point spread in the -18.5 range yet the market has pushed the number down to the key number of -17 for the Chanticleers. Perhaps the weather reports persuaded bettors to take a Trojans team with a great defense? Rain and possible thunderstorms with wind gusts up to 10 miles per hour are in the forecast. Yet could Troy slow down an angry Coastal Carolina team coming off their first loss of the season? The Chanticleers averaged 46 points per game and 523 yards per game entering the contest. They averaged 8.5 yards per play. Their rushing attack was eleventh in the nation by averaging 234 yards per game which should continue to be effective in wet conditions. Slippery conditions can help the offense since it is the defensive players that have to react to the movements of the offensive players. 

Those words at the time proved prophetic as Coastal Carolina gained 510 total yards of offense in a 35-28 victory that went way over the 49.5 point total installed by the oddsmakers. The Chanticleers ran the ball 40 times for 216 yards. 

Yet the Coastal Carolina could not stop a Trojans team that appeared limited on offense at the time. Their second-leading wide receiver Reggie Todd was suspended for the game. Troy averaged only 20.3 points per game at the time. The rushing attack averaged 106 yards per game with a 3.6 yards per carry average. Yet the Trojans rush for 164 yards on 36 carries. Troy gained 389 yards overall.

Of note was that both teams committed a number of turnovers. The Trojans threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball another two times, losing the ball once. The Chanticleers threw two interceptions. Of course, fumbles and interceptions take place even in the best of weather conditions. 

Bettors should be careful in putting too much stock in the weather having a disproportionate impact on a point spread or over/under. Bad weather can both help and hurt scoring opportunities. The sharpest bettors will take the weather report to then handicap how those conditions will impact the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams playing the game.

Good luck - TDG.

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