Weather Reports and Sports Handicapping
How Much of An Element is Weather in Handicapping? Even those few football fans who don’t gamble surely are aware of Brett Favre’s remarkable winning streak in sub 34 degree weather or Tampa’s ineptitude when the kickoff temperature is below 40 on the archaic fahrenheit scale. It though is not just fair but imperative for handicappers to note most of those Favre games were at home where he was rarely beaten and Tampa’s incompetence was compiled when they were a doormat playing on the road. As far as weather benefitting one team or the other, more times than not the old adage of both teams having to play in the same conditions bodes true. This is not to say though weather won’t decide the spread or SU outcome. Many teams are built for their home field and extreme weather in a battle of dichotomous styles will without question be a factor. Come playoff time and even late in the regular season we will hear pundits and handicappers question the ability of dome teams to win or even make it to the Super Bowl.
Atlanta making it in 1999 and the Rams winning it all in 2000 did take some steam out of those convinced of a dome field disadvantage but both teams were able to avoid having to play in nasty outdoor conditions. There is one major factor missing from the aforesaid critics. We would actually agree that dome teams clearly built for dome play are at a huge disadvantage in nasty outdoor conditions. We certainly don’t disagree that the Colts horrible defense needs to be improved and nobody can question the genius of Bill Belichick. But the Colts offense is much more high powered than they are great and we question the Colts ability to beat any team in northern winter weather.
The same was true for Minnesota in the Randy Moss era. The exception to the "both teams play in the same conditions” rule would be high powered offenses. Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Ike Reese said. "Sloppy-weather games are tailor-made for running teams. When you have to put the ball up, you're going to have to worry about sloppy passes, balls getting fumbled." The famed Dolphins of the early 70s which went to the Super Bowl three straight years, winning two including the perfect season are a perfect example of a team that could win in any conditions. In fact un-Miami like conditions fit perfectly into their smash mouth ball control style. Teams custom built for their climate or stadium of course will be most effected by conditions that deviate from their comfort zone. But a road team’s style is more quantifying than their city of origin or whether or not there is a roof on their stadium insofar as handicapping weather conditions. The single biggest mistake handicappers make is thinking potential weather advantages benefit mostly warm climate teams playing in northern cities.
No less of an authority on the subject would be Dan Marino. He played his high school and college ball in Pittsburgh and spent a Hall-of-Fame career in Miami, but with many a road game in New York, Foxborough, Buffalo and many other cold-weather cities. Marino states emphatically that is tougher for a cold weather team to play in a hot weather city than visa versa. Ask any chad hanging seasoned citizen New York transplant in south Florida and they will tell you there is an acclimation period adjusting to the much warmer weather. But eventually one gets quite used to it. Fans of international soccer will note how for example the USA soccer team admits the brutal conditions of Guatemala and the Central American countries is a huge disadvantage for the Yankees and adaptation is difficult. As a point of fact, it’s easier for the heavily padded American football players to compensate for cold conditions than it is for the blistering heat of Florida, Texas or Arizona. Yet the handicapper seems to concern himself more so with the December frozen tundra. This is not the case at the Center of the Handicapping Universe.