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Don't Overreact to Weather Conditions
by Hollywood Sports - 12/12/2013
NFL WEEK 14 LESSON: DON'T OVERREACT TO WEATHER CONDITIONS
Thirty minutes before the 1:00 PM kickoff last Sunday, it may have been tempting to see snow falling in five stadiums to make some last-minute handicapping decisions. The biggest meme over the last few weeks has detailed how Peyton Manning is not nearly as effective in the cold weather as he is in warmer conditions or in a dome like he played more than half his games when he was with the Colts. With all that snow wreaking havoc with both passing attacks and kicking games, this bad weather may make the Under look like great bets. Furthermore, three teams -- Atlanta, Minnesota and Detroit -- were dome teams playing in these snowy conditions while a fourth road team in Miami not only comes from a warn environment but also had a starting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who had never quarterbacked a high school college or pro game in the snow. Taking these five Unders along with siding with four home teams seemingly more comfortable with playing in the cold might have resulted in nine bets that were taking advantage of the books not being able to react in time to the recent weather conditions -- but three and half hours later those bets would have produced a brutal 2-6 mark. Kansas City/Washington, Minnesota/Baltimore, Miami/Pittsburgh and Detroit/Philadelphia all finished Over the Total as Atlanta/Green Bay's 22-21 final score was the lowest scoring game of that bunch. Additionally, the Ravens, Steelers and Packers all failed to cover the point spread against the road team with the Eagles the only squad to cover point spread expectations against their opponent that rarely plays in cold conditions (but Philadelphia happened to already been my NFC Game of the Year).
So why did these five snow games not live up to conventional wisdom regarding lower-scoring games that put the road team in more challenging playing conditions. If successful handicapping depends on identifying predictable situations, the bad snowy weather at kick off created three unique intangibles that were difficult to forecast. First, poor conditions tend to lead to more turnovers -- and that can either create more scoring opportunities or ruin scoring drives (as the Lions found out all afternoon). Second, snowy conditions slow down the players on both side of the ball -- and that can either stall an offense or make certain players very difficult to tackle (as the Lions found out as well with LeSean McCoy setting a franchise record in rushing yards for game despite running on snow). Third, weather conditions change -- and what is on your television scene at kickoff may be wildly different than what you may being seeing a couple of hours later. In the end, making hasty decisions when observing the weather conditions right before kickoff may prove disastrous rather than clever. In fact, the unpredictability as to what then will happen in those unusual weather might be enough reason to cautiously limit one's betting choices since there is a new level of uncertainty added to the situation. With the Super Bowl being played outside in the Meadowlands with likely snowy conditions (if the 2014 Farmer's Almanac is to be believed), it will be prudent to keep the results of December 8th in mind. Best of luck for us -- Frank.