Weather played a massive role on two games during the NFL Wild Card last week, leading to some dramatic betting line movement and the Bills-Steelers game to be postponed.
Mother Nature won't take center stage quite as much in the Divisional Round of the playoffs this weekend, but three of the games will be played outdoors and all three are expected to feature some adverse conditions.
It's critical to know how the weather could impact the game before making your bets. So let's jump into the three games that could be impacted, skipping over Bucs-Lions because it will be played in a dome.
Baltimore Weather Report for Texans at Ravens
This game might be the one most impacted by the weather. The Texans play in a warm state in a dome, but they better bundle up for this showdown in Baltimore.
The temperature is expected to be in the mid-20s with 15 MPH sustained winds that can gust to 30 MPH. That will make the temperature feel more like 10 degrees and cause some havoc when passing the ball. My expectation is it will impact Houston more than Baltimore.
The Ravens and Texans have two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, averaging 28.4 points per game and 23.4 PPG respectively. In net yards per play, Baltimore was second in the league at 1.3 and Houston was ninth at 0.3. But Houston's net yards per play dropped to -0.1 on the road throughout this season and I could see it struggling to score on the Ravens defense, which held opponents to only 16.5 points per game on the season, best in the NFL.
BetSided NFL betting expert Iain MacMillan sides the same way as me, backing the UNDER 43.5 as his best bet of the game. He points out "72.1% of the offensive yards gained by the Texans come through the air," which isn't ideal in a game that will likely be a grind-it-out affair in cold weather.
San Francisco Weather Report for Packers at 49ers
The weather could impact this game, but it might not play as big of a role. So is the unpredictability of San Francisco weather.
Rain is forecasted during the game, but, as anyone who's spent time in San Fran knows, it's impossible to say exactly when or how much. This is one monitoring on the day of the game to see if it will play a big role in the outcome.
Outside of rain, we're looking at temperatures in the mid-to-upper-50s and minimal winds likely blowing around 10 MPH. Neither of those should be a factor.
MacMillan feels the 49ers -9.5 are the pick to make in this game. He points to the 49ers ranking first in Net Yards per Play (+1.6), EPA per play and Success Rate, while the Packers defense ranks 20th in Opponent yards per play and 23rd in EPA.
Buffalo Weather Report for Chiefs at Bills
The most highly-anticipated game this week, and quite frankly the entire season, will have some classic football weather. No, it's not the snowstorm that led to the Bills needing to postpone there game against the Steelers last week. But it will be cold and windy.
Buffalo's weather report for Sunday evening calls for temperatures in the mid teens and sustained winds of around 10-15 MPH with gusts upwards of 20 MPH. That will make the temrpature feel like zero.
Perhaps that's something that would scare off some bettors, but the Chiefs just played in -10 degree weather and the Bills played in similar conditions last week. They scored 26 and 31 points respectively.
Different opponents, yes, but these teams are used to playing in this kind of weather and I don't see it impacting the game plan too much for either squad. The question then comes down to which side are you betting?
MacMillan likes the Chiefs at +2.5 points or above. He's picking the Chiefs primarily because of defense --the Bills defense just gave up 324 yards against the hapless Steelers offense last week while the Chiefs defense is third in opponent dropback EPA and second in opponent dropback success rate -- meaning they're exceptional at stopping the pass, which is the Bills strength.
It's hard to argue. The Chiefs defense is elite. The only note I'll add is I like the OVER in this game too. It could be a slow start and the number might go down, so you could wait. But I think this goes OVER 45.5 behind two teams that are top 6 in the NFL in red zone scoring attempts per game and a Bills defense that was 16th in the NFL in red zone scoring percentage for TDs.
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