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06 Dec 2003

Guest Column: Cold Weather is Hot Issue in NFL Betting

Guest Column by Anthony Brancato

One of the worst bets you can make in the NFL is to wager on a team that plays their home games either in a dome or in a warm climate when such a team has to play on the road at a northern, outdoor site from November 1st onward.  These teams have had a consistently poor record, both against the spread and straight up, going back at least five years.

For the purposes of this study, the following 18 teams are considered to play their home games either in a warm or mild climate or indoors: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee. When any of these 18 teams must play on the road in November or later against one of the league's other 14 teams -- Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Green Bay, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants and Jets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington -- the home-field advantage becomes far more critical than in other games.

Says who? Says the results of the games actually played since 1998.  From November 1 of that year through the games of Week 13 of the 2003 season, the warm-weather and domed-stadium teams have played 203 games (playoff games included) at northern, outdoor sites after Halloween.  Their cumulative record in those 203 games is 64-138-1 straight up (a .318 winning percentage) and 76-118-9 against the spread (for .397; in the above two calculations as well as in all those that follow, ties straight up and pushes against the spread are both figured as half a win and half a loss).

But wait, it only gets more interesting. When games of this nature have been played in the late-afternoon time slot or at night, the performance of the warm-weather and indoor teams has been even worse - of the 203 games referred to above, 25 have been played in the late-afternoon time slot, not counting such games played at Denver due to the earlier local starting time there (the point being that in all other cases a significant portion of the game would be played in darkness, making the temperature colder than if the game had started earlier), and the record of the warm-weather and indoor teams in those 25 games was 7-18 straight up (.280) and 7-17-1 against the spread (.300). Another 25 of the 203 games were night games (ESPN Sunday night or ABC Monday night games, and also three playoff games the last two years), and the results of those games are similar - the warm-weather and indoor teams were 8-17 straight up (.320) and 8-15-2 against the spread (.360).

Translating all this into dollars, a $100 bet placed against every warm-weather and domed-stadium team whenever they played a cold-weather game since 1998 would have yielded a net profit of $3,440 based on a 10 per cent "vig" on losing bets; and if such bets were placed only when the game was also in the late time slot (other than in Denver) or at night, the net profit would have been $1,550 from 50 $100 wagers.

Don't know about you, but I could certainly do a lot worse than that.

Anthony Brancato is a moderator of the NFL discussion boards at Sports-Central.org, where he hosts a weekly NFL pick 'em contest.  Comments?  Make them in our discussion thread, or contact Anthony at ajbrancato @ yahoo.com.  If you are interested in writing a guest column, something that takes a new angle on the NFL, please email us your idea at info @ footballoutsiders.com

Posted by: admin on 06 Dec 2003

2 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2007, 2:43pm by osisbs


by Spn Sm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2005 - 7:07pm

Cold weather teams are mainly in the GREAT LAKES region. Also in the heartland. Back East, they can develop into cold games and at times they do. The coldest NFL team to me is Green Bay Packers, then Buffalo, then Chicago. In the heartland, I'd have to go with Kansas City and Denver running pretty close. I saw a KC game the other evening, it was 24 degrees there December 4th. Kansas City and Denver can get downright cold. I've been following football for many years, I love a good snow game and follow the cold weather games. Nothing like a game during a blizzard. New England football games can be cold depending on the Artic assault. I saw one a couple of years ago against Tennessee Titans, where the game temperature was 3 degrees in Foxboro. Pittsburgh with their altitude, proximity to the lakes can get blustery on football days too. Most cold games I've noticed comes in playoff times when its Janurary. That being the coldest month, something to consider. Someone mentioned that it depends on the weather conditions on that particular game day on Sunday. True. You can have an arctic blast coming down the plains all the way to Texas with temperatures in the freezing mark, working its way eastward, while New England is basking in 50's or 60's because the cold front hasn't hit yet. I saw the coldest game in many years on TV watching the Bengals and Chargers play in Cincinatti when game time temperature was -9 F back in 1982. That's cold. The eastern seaboard particularily in mid-atlantic region is not very predictable. I was watching the Giants and Cowboys game DEC 4, 2005 and temperature was 34 degrees, snow on the sidelines. Just a couple of miles down the road in BALTIMORE, it was in upper 40's, wind blowing and eventually worked its way to the low 40's, and snow predicted the next day. The cold front hadn't hit Maryland as it hit New York yet. The next day, MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL in Philadelphia was snowing, and all of the mid-atlantic had snow from Virginia up to Boston. If there was a Monday night game in those cities, it would have been a snow game as in Philadelphia. You won't see cold football games back east consistently as you do in the GREAT LAKES region or in the heartland of the USA unless they get an arctic blast from Canada on that particular SUNDAY. Depending on how strong the arctic blast comes through, the southern states may get some of that cold air and maybe even snow. I saw a snow game played in SHREVEPORT LOUISIANA on a Janurary. I't can snow anywhere if the system falls on a Sunday. But first, it has to fall on a Sunday to see it played on TV. I can see a big difference of any team going to Chicago in December especially if the team comes from the West Coast or Florida. Growing up in Maryland in the DC area, I thought that was a cold place. Go west a few clicks into the Ohio valley, and it gets RREAL COOOOLD. Gotta factor in the wind situation too. Teams East have alot of wind as in the Great Lakes from the ocean effects. Cold weather tends to work its way downward then eastward. Here is how I see cold weather teams more or less in order.

Green Bay
Kansas City
New England
St. Louis
New York

Some of those Great Lakes teams got domes like Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesotta and they were super cold area teams too but can't count the dome teams anymore.

by osisbs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:43pm

Sean Payton kept New Orleans at home and practiced indoors all week. Four fumbles later they get blown out by the Bears. A super critical error in judgement that someone of Payton's intelligence should never, ever make. He should have had the Saints in Green Bay outside all week getting used to cold weather.