Odds Of Precipitation: Meteorologist Uses Weather Expertise To Guide Sports Bets

Written By Russ Mitchell on September 21, 2021

On Sundays, while most fans watch for injury updates, Kevin Roth is watching the weather patterns around NFL stadiums.

The sports meteorologist uses his Twitter account @KevinRothwx for highs and lows — not Xs and Os in the world of sports betting.

That doesn’t include snowfall totals just yet (we hope) — but the white stuff isn’t as game-altering as fans might think.

Roth told PlayIA:

“Look at (the) statistics, and games in the snow don’t have any less offensive firepower than standard, nice weather games. Games in the rain are usually barely impacted, as far as negative impacts to passing and scoring — unless it’s just pouring rain, then it can be pretty tough to move the ball.”

Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff found that out in the closing moments of the third quarter of Monday Night Football when he couldn’t grip a snap from center during heavy rain. Another pass attempt slipped out of his hands during a stalled drive early in the fourth quarter.

The Wisconsin rain washed away any hope of a Lions comeback in a 35-17 loss.

This week’s football betting forecast: Mostly sunny

The next football kickoffs are a few days away, but here’s a National Weather Service outlook for Iowa sports betting customers who bet on the NFL in Week 3, wager on the Iowa Hawkeyes or look into the Iowa State Cyclones odds.

2:30 p.m. Saturday

  • Colorado State at No. 5 Iowa — sunny, high near 72 in Iowa City.
  • No. 14 Iowa State at Baylor — sunny, high near 90 in Waco, TX.

Noon Sunday

  • Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns — mostly sunny, high near 68 in Cleveland, OH.
  • LA Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs — sunny, high near 73 in Kansas City, MO.

Later Sunday

  • Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings — sunny, high near 73 in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers — partly sunny, high near 66 in San Francisco, CA.

The forgotten factor: Wind can be a game-changer

Roth has tracked weather delays for eight years at RotoGrinder. But, he considers the wind the underestimated game-changer.

“If you get a 15- to 20-mile per hour sustained wind or stronger, it has a massive outcome on the game. And I don’t think that the public understands that. Maybe because the rain is more visual? They can see it, they can understand the impact that it has.”

The long-field goal becomes that much harder. And, the 50-yard pass down the field? Gone.

“If you can’t throw deep, the defense adjusts. They know that. Then, it makes it harder to throw short and it makes it harder to run. And there’s a lot of impacts that you see in high wind games. The scoring is significantly lower.”

Hot or cold: Should you bet on warm weather teams at cold venues?

Yes and no.

Road teams almost always have longer odds when they’re away from home. But Roth doesn’t lose sleep over “warm teams” playing at cold stadiums up North.

“I get that question a lot. Let’s say Tampa Bay is going up to Chicago, and you know it’s gonna be 20 degrees and windy and snowy. People say. ‘Well, they’re from Tampa. Can they handle it?’

The sports meteorologist reminds fans that Tom Brady went to Michigan. Two of his top targets Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) and Chris Godwin (Penn State) ran routes in cold climates as well.

“So, I don’t think there’s a huge difference in a warm weather team going up North and playing in the cold. Weather impacts everyone fairly equally. And it’s tough to make assumptions based on an entire team and how they handle the weather just based on where their home city is. I don’t think that that’s something you see bear out in statistics.”

NFL betting tip: Snow games an ‘advantage for the offense’

Roth joins a lot of fans in their enjoyment of snow games. He calls them a “blast to watch.”

“If you notice those games, everything’s a little bit slower because no one has great traction. No one has great footing. But I think what people don’t realize is that the defense is also a lot slower. And the defense is trying to react.

“The offensive player in the snow knows where he’s going. Right? He knows his route. The defensive player in the snow is trying to keep up with that guy. And then try to make those last-minute cuts and adjustments — not knowing where he’s headed. And I do think when you have those snow games, in particular, when the snow is thick on the ground, it’s an advantage for offensive players and for wide receivers, quarterbacks. The defense can’t keep up. We have seen some monster games in the snow. And I don’t think people realize that it can be an advantage for the offense.”

Fantasy weather: NFL fantasy football lineup factors

Let’s fast-forward to Dec. 6. The Buffalo Bills host a Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots.

Buffalo’s Josh Allen has been a top-eight fantasy quarterback all year. So, even on a December night near the shores of Lake Erie, do you start him?

To answer that, Roth would need to know who your backup quarterback is.

“If you’re playing season-long fantasy sports, it depends who else you have, right? Do you have a good backup that you can pivot to? If it’s between, say, Tom Brady and some random scrub, you’d probably go ahead and stick with your superstar quarterback.”

If you have to weigh choices among midlevel starters at QB or WR, Roth recommends glancing at the jet stream before locking in the starting spot.

“They still maybe catch a short touchdown and bail you out. But the likely outcome is that you’re going to get less production from that player than you would expect. So, put in someone who’s in a better weather game.”

Not just football: Weather affects golf betting, too

Football is the dominant sport this time of year, but weather shifts the odds in other sports as well.

The Ryder Cup tees off on Friday at the Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler, WI, for example. Roth said golf betting is the most likely wager to be impacted by weather.

“You have some guys who tee off at, say six in the morning, and other guys who tee off at one in the afternoon. We see this a lot: Those winds really start to pick up in the afternoon and you’re going from a morning with calm winds to an afternoon with 20 mile per hour winds. You just see a massive swing in the scores in favor of those early morning golfers who got out there and finished their round … Whereas the afternoon guys, they’re golfing the entire 18 holes in 20 mile-per-hour winds. It impacts every single shot.”

Baseball, with its potential for rainouts, is next. But, Roth tells people not to overlook heat, wind and altitude.

“If it’s a 90 degree day, the ball carries so much farther than if it’s a 50 degree day. So, a well-hit ball based on the weather alone could gain or lose 20 or 30 feet of carry. And that’s the difference between a home run and an out. But that’s just simply the heat, the wind and the humidity. The elevation is important. That’s why Coors (Field in Denver) has a million home runs every night because of that elevation. So, I love the way that weather impacts baseball. There’s a ton there. And then football is third.”

Photo by Jeffrey Phelps / AP
Russ Mitchell Avatar
Written by
Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

View all posts by Russ Mitchell