How Weather Impacts Football Betting
If you’re betting on a football game inside of a dome, this content might not be for you. Betting on games in those cozy confines allows you to forget about the factors that come with weather. Everything is steady and comfortable, the playing surface is pristine and wind is not a factor.
On the other hand, if you’re going to bet on football games and weather is a consideration, you have to account for it in your handicapping. Forecasts can be fickle but here’s a look at some of the main types of weather that you’ll have to deal with and how it might impact your football betting.
The Different Factors With Snow
The first thought that everyone has when it comes to snow is that the scoring will be down. Snow seems to be the one forecast that bettors and oddsmakers get the most nervous about. The consensus is that this will have the biggest impact on the game. However, this isn’t always the case.
The challenge with snow is that there are different levels when it comes to this form of precipitation. There might be basic snow flurries, there could be a complete blizzard or there might be a consistent snowfall. Each of those will have a different impact on the game. If there’s a bunch of snow that dumped early in the day but the field is now cleared, and the forecast is now clear, it might not really have much of an impact.
MOSSED in a blizzard! @cedwilson95
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
Let’s walk through the different types of snow and see the different ways it can affect the game:
Flurries: If you see flurries floating around, it’s mostly a non-factor. If it’s not to the point where visibility is a problem, then flurries shouldn’t impact your betting too much. Keep an eye on how they’re moving as that can be a tell on how windy it is. As long as it doesn’t get more severe, flurries shouldn’t be something you’re all too concerned about.
Blowing Snow/Snow Showers: When we start to get into the medium range of snowfall, then you have to account for it. The first thing you need to sort out is whether this it’s a short snow shower or if there is snow forecasted for the whole game. If it’s a quick hitter, they can clean up the field quickly and it probably doesn’t have too much of an impact. If it’s going to keep falling throughout the game, that’s going to have more influence. With steady snowfall, you have to be worried about visibility, wind and footing. It will be hard to see, likely cold to hang onto the football and making cuts will be tricky as everything is slippery. This can lead to lower scoring games as moving the football and kicking field goals will be impaired.
Blizzard: The most severe snow situation is a blizzard. While it’s fun to watch, it’s hard to play in and it’s challenging for betting. Obviously, the first thing you think about with a blizzard is visibility. And if you can have clear sightlines, it’s going to be difficult to pass the football. That means a stronger emphasis on running the ball, protecting the ball and avoiding the big mistakes. Blizzards will often lead to lower-scoring games but oddsmakers tend to adjust for it. If you’re trying to get an edge, you might have to check the forecasts early in the week, beat the oddsmakers to it and hope the weather works in your favor.
Pro Tip: One thing to look at when there’s snow is betting under on the field goals. We do have some data that has shown that field goals convert at just 76% when there’s snow. That’s a 7% drop from the norm. Shorter field goals are even more of a struggle in snow.
The Different Factors With Rain
Rain tends to be the mildest of the weathers as it simply just makes things wet. Of course, that can make things slippery but it doesn’t often pour hard enough to deter teams from passing. And if it does start to thunderstorm, the game will be suspended until things clear up. Here are a few things to think about when it’s raining:
Field Is Slippery: When the field is wet, it can really cut both ways, so it’s hard to know where there’s an edge. Many bettors first think about wide receivers and running backs having a hard time making cuts. While that’s true, the same goes for defensive backs. A running back is just as likely to slip as a defensive back who is trying to make a play down the field. Knowing that the field is slippery doesn’t provide an immediate, clear-cut edge in any way.
The Ball Is Wet: This is something that teams have gotten a lot better with over the last couple of decades. There was a time when a wet ball would be a significant factor. However, players now using gloves quite a bit. Some quarterbacks even use a glove when things are dry, so it’s not a huge change in grip when the ball is well. Overall, a really wet field and consistently wet ball likely leads to less points as it creates some challenges.
Pro Tip: Depending on what you know about the weather, you can take advantage of player props. While the oddsmakers are much sharper with the main lines and spread betting, there are going to be opportunities for exploiting the player props if you understand the scenarios. For example, if you’re expecting heavy rain and bad visibility, you might want to bet over on running back attempts and under on quarterback pass attempts. The weather will impact the game flow and then you can adjust accordingly on the props that make sense.
The Different Factors With Wind
Wind tends to be the biggest issue that both teams on the field and bettors handicapping the games have to think about. The NFL has become a pass-oriented league and anything that impacts the aerial attacks will have a significant influence on moving the ball through the air.
The basic rule of thumb is that the harder the wind is blowing, the more it will have an impact on scoring. Winds in the range of 0-10 miles per hour is mostly a non-factor. Even winds in the 10-15 miles per hour range is still just a minor factor to consider. However, when the wind blows above 20 miles per hour, that’s when we really see it make an imprint on the scoring.
— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2019
When the wind is above 20 miles per hour, the average field goal attempt distance is shortened by seven yards. That means teams won’t try to kick from as far out. Also, the hit rate on field goals is 6% lower too, so that’s significant.
In terms of passing, it’s a bit of a toss-up. Generally speaking, it has a big effect on passing. However, you also have to check-in on the direction of the wind. If the wind is behind a team’s back in two of the quarters and a headwind in two others, their strategy will shift significantly. They might find lots of success passing with the wind at their back and even kicking longer field goals. When the wind is in their face, they’ll have to change strategy. This is where it’s helpful to keep an eye on the different segments of the game. You might want to bet on some of the shorter props like first quarter, next score, next drive if you know that your team is working with or without the wind.
The Different Factors With Cold
Many bettors think about weather as rain, snow or wind but cold is an under-the-radar factor. Generally speaking, if it’s a normal winter day, the home team (and often the road team) isn’t really going to be all too bothered. This is football, after all, and many teams and players expect to be outdoors at some point in the season.
The bigger concern comes in when there’s extreme cold. Even if we don’t see precipitation, extreme cold is likely to hamper offenses. Some of the reasons for that is that the ground becomes really hard, the football becomes heavy and even just moving (and staying warm) in these temperatures is a challenge. Here are three things to think about when cold weather is in play:
- Think about how comfortable both teams will be with the weather. If it’s the Miami Dolphins – who play in warm weather at home – traveling to Buffalo to face the Bills in the dead of winter, that’s an advantage to Buffalo. If it’s an indoor team playing outdoors, that’s an advantage to the home team.
- Is there ice? The colder it gets, the faster any moisture turns to ice. Even if the ground is just hard, that makes planting, cutting, running much harder. If there is ice in play, that becomes an even greater impediment to any explosive movements such as getting off the line of scrimmage, cutting and jumping for the ball.
- The data shows that passing production drops by about 5% when the temperature drops below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to make a correlation to betting the under, going under on player passing props and anything else related to passing games.
The Different Factors With Heat
One last form of weather to touch upon is the heat. Generally speaking, most bettors turn their blinders on if they see warm temperatures but there is a range where it goes from ideal to an inhibition.
The range for ideal is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees. Below is obviously cold but above can be burdensome. This is useful to track in college football as some teams like Miami and Florida State not only play in these temperatures at times, they also have extreme humidity. If their opponent is not used to that climate, they can start to fatigue, fade and cramp up in the second halves.
When the temperature does get above 85 degrees, the data shows that passing drops in the NFL by about 8%. That means you can again correlate hot weather to unders on a number of passing props.
Always Watch For Weather
If you’re betting on football, you always want to account for weather. If it’s an indoor game, you’re in the clear and you don’t have to think about it. If it is outdoors, though, then you need to evaluate all aspects of weather. Is it too hot, is it too cold or is it just right? And if there’s precipitation or wind, how much? When you take those factors into account, you can find an edge in the betting lines – especially in the player props after you have a good read on how the weather will impact the game flow.