Are you ready for some freakin’ horrible weather in Cleveland this Saturday?
According to Kevin Roth, chief meteorologist for RotoGrinders, the forecast for this weekend’s Browns-Saints game calls for highs in the low teens that’ll feel even colder, potential snow flurries, sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph, and gusts of over 40 mph.
Or, as Roth puts it, “literally the worst football weather imaginable.”
“If you have gusts of 40, you can’t throw or kick it,” he explained. “It’s one of those games where three handoffs and a punt might not be that bad, except the punt might boomerang back to the punter.”
As even the most casual sports bettor might surmise, this dynamic, coupled with the fact that the Browns and New Orleans aren’t especially good, makes for a really low point total — historically low, in fact. According to BetMGM, which like many mobile sportsbooks has set the over/under for the 1 p.m. game at 32 and 31.5 readily available, it’s the lowest NFL total since 2008.
A BetMGM spokesperson added that in the past 20 years, the lowest NFL total has been 30 points, which happened a handful of times in 2004 and 2005.
Robert Kowalski, the sportsbook director for ZenSports and the Book at Baldini’s in Sparks, Nevada, opened with a 33.5-point total for the game at around 8 a.m. Monday.
“The first bet took me down a full point to 32.5, and before I could even think about lunch I was at 31.5,” Kowalski said. “With these kind of conditions, how do you punt? How do you kick field goals?”
Late Tuesday morning, Kowalski said he “went rogue” and lowered the over/under to 30.5. Since then, he said, “No one’s betting it over the total — and nobody’s betting the under either.”
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Different forecast for Bills-Bears
Looking at this weekend’s national weather map, Roth observed, “There are a ton of games with low temperatures that will feel below zero or be in the single digits, but it’s the wind that impacts the offense. Cleveland is the windiest and Chicago (with forecasts calling for 20 mph winds) is not far behind.”
The Bears host the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I feel that almost every week, Buffalo and Chicago have had horrible weather to deal with all season. And now they get it together,” Roth said.
Those two teams’ experience playing in the snow and slop helps explain why the over/under for the Bills-Bears game, at a consensus 40.5 points, is set far higher than Browns-Saints.
“Buffalo seems to be impervious to any kind of conditions right now,” Kowalski said. “I don’t think that Chicago’s defense is any better [in this type of weather]. It’s probably worse. So the total definitely makes more sense.
“With the Saints and Browns, now Chubb is questionable with a foot injury. A full 10-point difference definitely makes sense when you look at the caliber of talent versus the game that the Saints and Browns are going to play.”