Editor’s note: Initial projections of single-digit temperatures in Kansas City on Sunday may be a little harsh. But with wind chill temps falling and rain and snow mix developing Friday evening, the fluctuating weather could make the AFC Championship Sunday evening more eventful.
It’s going to be cold in Kansas City for the AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and Patriots. Not cold like the subzero temperatures in Minneapolis during the 2016 wild-card game that saw the Seahawks escape over the Vikings 10-9 on a missed chip-shot field goal.
But the cold and severe weather impacts games in many ways, including the sportsbooks adjusting the over/under odds for the AFC Championship game early this week with more betting activity initially supporting under the total.
Then, as we get closer to the Sunday evening kickoff, the “Arctic blast” threats that had drawn bettors to the under started to dissipate.
So, now what?
The line and total adjustments
However, FanDuel Sportsbook dropped the AFC Championship total to 54.5 on Wednesday as the fluctuating forecast shows even more severe weather over the weekend in Kansas City. That looks like the low point as other sportsbooks in New Jersey and Nevada have the total at 55.5 after opening as high as 58 at some sportsbooks.
Severe cold weather can greatly impact the play on the field and the betting total as witnessed in the 2016 Vikings Seahawks wild-card playoff game. The total opened 42.5 and closed 39.5. The temperature was minus 6 degrees, and the wind chill was minus 25 at kickoff.
In the midst of the December 2017 game at Buffalo, who could forget the cold, snow-covered field and heavy fog during the Bills 13-7 overtime win over the Colts?
Blizzard conditions and a foot of snow left the media and fans unable to see the scoreboard or lines on the field. Temperatures in Buffalo were in the low 20s — like the forecast in Kansas City on Sunday — and the total dropped from 40 to 36.5. Under the total bettors had fun watching that game.
Lions, Eagles in snow
The snow was insane in Philadelphia for the December 2013 game between the Lions and Eagles. It was not as cold with temperatures in the high 20s, but Detroit had four fumbles in the first quarter alone.
Last year’s Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles was in the midst of his sick season passing for 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. One of his interceptions was in that weather-impacted game. Detroit led 14-6 after three quarters, but the Eagles erupted for 28 points to win 34-20 and send the game over the closing total of 51; down from the opener of 54.5.
Weather impact can be difficult to determine, but wagering usually supports less scoring, and you want to have a good idea of the weather conditions at game time and anticipate what will happen in the betting market to get favorable betting numbers.
Explosive offenses present problems for under bettors
Kansas City’s offense led the league in scoring this season at 35.1 points per game with a league-high 426 yards per game. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes will win MVP honors, and his 50 touchdown passes and mobility combined with multiple motions and offensive sets make the Chiefs the most difficult team to defend.
The Patriots average 27.2 points per game and 393 yards per game and have the NFL’s greatest postseason quarterback leading the charge in Tom Brady.
Neither team has an above average defense. Thus, betting the under is more difficult, especially with the Patriots’ 43-40 last-second win over the Chiefs on Oct. 14 looming in bettors’ minds. The Patriots had 500 yards offense that game and the Chiefs had 446 yards on limited possessions and plays.
So the weather will be a determining factor in the play-calling, execution and scoring in the AFC Championship. The biggest bets will come during the weekend, and a majority of the bets will be made Sunday as kickoff approaches at 6:40 EST.
The Chiefs scored 31 points and the Patriots 41 points in last week’s playoff win to set up the showdown for AFC Super Bowl representative. The dilemma for sports bettors continues until kickoff, and in-game wagering will be worth watching and betting on as the possessions and weather changes.