The impact of weather on scoring in the NFL is often overlooked by inexperienced sports bettors when wagering on the point totals, also known as the over/under, but it could be a crucial factor. Each week Gregory Porter, contributor and forecaster for the Post’s Capital Weather Gang, will highlight a betting opportunity based on the weather forecast.
This week he advises to pick the under (44.5 point total) in Sunday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns.
According to Porter, the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon will be lurking just south of Ohio on Sunday afternoon, creating a generally unstable atmosphere around Cleveland at kickoff time. Intermittent rain showers are likely at some point during this game, but the real weather story might be the wind. Strong winds out of the southeast (gusting to 20+ mph) could hamper the passing and kicking games for both teams, which would suggest a lower scoring affair overall.
Outdoor games have a lower scoring rate overall — an average of 2.0 points per drive over the past five years in domed stadiums compared to 1.78 points per drive outside — and strong wind gusts play havoc with a team’s passing game. Research released by Scott Spratt of Pro Football Focus in 2017 found that completion rates drop almost two percentage points when winds gust over 10 mph and Brian Burke did a similar study five years earlier, concluding that similar wind gusts reduced adjusted yards per attempt by a half a yard or more.
Since Pittsburgh will be without star running back Le’Veon Bell for Game 1, relying more on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might not be an option, resulting in fewer scoring opportunities. As for Cleveland, it has yet to prove it can pass at even an average level, let alone in windy conditions.
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