How does weather affect Steelers Bills betting, more or less
Plus/minus sum The number of sportsbooks in one of this weekend’s wild card games dropped significantly earlier this week. the reason? the weather.
On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills, no stranger to frigid conditions, are scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Steelers in winds gusting up to 40 mph. Sports bettors and bookmakers have taken notice. The consensus opening odds for total points scored dropped quickly from Sunday to Monday, with the Bills’ over/under ratio falling quickly from 43 to 35.5.
“As soon as the news comes out that there’s bad weather, it’s (down) bombed relentlessly,” said Adam Poulin, assistant director of trading at Caesars Sportsbook. “It will be interesting to see where the bottom is. Where do the bettors start at the end?”
At BetMGM, that number was 35.5, 6.5 points lower than the opening number. The forecast for Buffalo led to a flurry of down bets from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET on Monday, said Christian Cipollini, director of trading at BetMGM sports betting. Cipollini said they moved the total quickly but were still struggling to slow the rush of bets on the bottom.
“Every time we thought we were getting to a place where the event was going to end, the price kept going down,” Cipollini told ESPN.
Kansas City is also anticipating severe weather for Saturday’s Chiefs-Dolphins game, but that forecast didn’t have the same impact on the betting line.
“Usually the wind is actually the biggest indicator of changes to that total, more so than it was for the Chiefs game which will also see some weather,” Cipollini said.
The wind in Buffalo will make passing difficult and could impact the game by “forcing (teams) to run the ball more, fewer possessions, inaccuracy in the direction of kicking and loss of distance, and then a slower reaction time by the defense,” Evita Abramyan said. Meteorologist, professor and one of the three founders of Bettor Weather, a website that provides data on the impact of weather on games and betting lines.
Weather has always been an important part of the betting game, so much so that in the pre-Internet days, bookmakers were willing to hire spies on the scene. But as sports betting has spread across the country since 2018, meteorologists have seen an increase in demand for earlier, more accurate forecasts.
“As sports betting goes, this has opened the door to more people interested in sports weather,” said Kevin Roth, a self-described “sports meteorologist” at daily fantasy site RotoGrinders.
Games played in severe weather pose a question for bettors and meteorologists alike: Can the weather be an advantage?
It’s January. 7, When the Jets played the Patriots, Ben Knott saw Roth’s forecast of “heavy in-game snow and 40-plus mph winds,” and decided to take the photo. The 21-year-old New York native bet $2.82 on no player reaching the 40-yard mark.
He won $256.62.
“I tried to put five dollars on it,” he said. “But DraftKings only let me put $2.82 on it.”
Today’s bettors are not looking for qualitative data about conditions abroad, but quantitative analysis.
“They don’t want to say, ‘It might be a little humid,’ or ‘It might be a little breezy,'” Roth said. “They want to know that there’s been a 20% drop in passes. There’s been a 32% drop in home runs because of the wind direction in recent games.” “This is the data people want to know now, and which smart bettors use to their advantage when the weather matters.”
At Bettor Weather, Abramian and her team publish analyzes of the weather’s impact on college football, NFL, MLB, and MiLB games. Each week, they explore areas of the country that may have an impact on the weather before the betting lines end and adjust their analysis as the weather develops. Their formula, or “secret sauce” as Abramian calls it, uses various factors such as rainfall, wind speeds, crosswinds and pitch direction to calculate their impact on the production of passes, kicks and kicks in the game, to name a few. They then publish an analysis that ranks the potential impact of weather by quarters or halves of the game – and what advantage can be gained from it.
Abramyan quickly saw the impact of Bettor Weather’s work after launching in the summer of 2022.
“As soon as we announce something, (people using the site) run and bet,” Abramyan said. “They actually changed the line because they were cutting so much money. By the time we were able to bet it, and cut our money, it had actually dropped from 44.5 to 43 or something like that.”
Sportsbooks are also trying to keep up with the weather, but Chris Bennett, director of sportsbooks at Circa Sports, said he doesn’t have a meteorologist or weather consultant on staff. “In practice, it is almost impossible for sports bettors to position themselves well and get ahead of every customer in terms of cutting-edge weather forecasts,” he said.
Before the internet Advanced forecasting made detailed meteorological reports widely available, and bettors came up with more creative ways to stay informed about the weather. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a man sat in the stands near the outfield at Wrigley Field during batting practice on game day. Sure, he loved the Cubs, but mostly, he was there to see the American flag.
Over the years, other men took his place. But their goal remains the same — to see the flag, feel the direction of the wind, and see how it affects hitters. This information will then be communicated to Las Vegas bettors, including Steven “Fats” Diano, for them to consider for their bets.
When the Internet caught on, Deano was able to access the camera at the stadium through the Wrigley Field website. But there was a problem.
“You can’t get the camera high enough in the stands to see the flag,” Deano said. “That’s the only thing you can’t see.”
And so the men remained in the stands. But the camera allowed Deano to keep an eye on things.
“We’re going to call the guy one day because we want to make sure he really exists,” Deano recalls. “Go to the middle of the field. Go to the right row next to so-and-so. And hold your hand up with three fingers, or something like that. So, we zoom in, and here we go — we’ll see him holding up three fingers.”
One day, when the Cincinnati Reds were in town, the weather forecaster told Deano that the wind was blowing when the totals were forecast to be blowing. Deano couldn’t remember exactly how much they bet on the game, but he said it was about $10,000.
But when the match started, the wind was already blowing. The weatherman guessed, no one checked the camera.
“That was the last time,” Deano said. “We just said: That’s the end of it.” “We’re done with Chicago.”
For this weekend, Bettor Weather’s recommended edge was “Strong Under” for the Bills-Steelers game.
“If they’re really into the underside in that game, use that to push you over the edge,” Abramian said. “If they like that game, it might be a stay-away game.”
Professional gambler Bill Krakomberger takes a different approach: Wait until kickoff, and when sports betting companies “have to get over the line,” bet on the finish unless there are strong winds.
Abramian noted that it is difficult to bet on these severe weather games because the sample size of similar games in the past is very small.
“You can do all your homework and have a good confidence in what the weather is going to do,” she said. “But in terms of how it impacts the game, at the end of the day, you still only have a handful of games played that fit those specific criteria.”
But as a bettor with 30 years of experience, Krakomberger accepts uncertainty.
“I would rather be exposed to situations like this every week, because I know much better than the public what to look for,” he said.
“It’s an overreaction to people just seeing snow. They don’t realize that it doesn’t really mean much.”
ESPN staff writer David Purdum contributed to this report.