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 can 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.
Hurricane Florence is expected to be hovering off the Carolina coast for the next few days, eventually making a final landfall sometime late Saturday. From there, where Florence goes is uncertain, but the storm (or what’s left of it) will be close to a few teams that are hosting games Sunday afternoon: Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Washington and Jacksonville.
The game that could be affected most is the one featuring the New England Patriots and host Jacksonville Jaguars.
New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:25 p.m.
The pick: Under 45
Wind could end up being a big factor. The center of Florence probably will be swinging through Georgia on Sunday afternoon, which is a close enough pass to kick up some gusty wind and scattered thunderstorms at TIAA Bank Field. Southwest winds of 10- to 20-plus-mph at game time could affect the kicking and passing games of both teams.
According to research published by Rory Houghton-Berry, Edwin Park and Kathy Pierce at Stanford University, rain and wind could depress scoring totals by as many as two to four points per game, with inclement weather benefiting the home team more than the visitor. Scott Spratt of Pro Football Focus found that completion rates drop almost 2 percentage points when the wind gusts 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-yard or more.
Plus, since 2016, the Patriots have scored 303 points more than expected based on down, distance and field position on passing plays, but 81 points fewer than expected on rushing plays. The Jaguars have scored 55 more points than expected on passing plays and 155 points fewer than expected on running plays over that span. If both teams are forced to rush the ball more frequently because of the weather, scoring rates should drop for both teams.
Two other games — the Carolina Panthers at the Atlanta Falcons, and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — could be affected by Hurricane Florence.
Atlanta plays in a dome, but the game could get postponed or moved to Monday, depending on how bad conditions are around Atlanta on Sunday. In addition, Florence may cause some chaos with Carolina’s travel schedule, which could have an impact on the Panthers’ focus.
The Eagles and Buccaneers could encounter weather issues if the storm tracks farther south than the current forecast suggests. For example, a stiff breeze from the west may help initiate scattered thunderstorms, which increases the risk of a lightning delay.