Weather changes, but there has been zero change from Sunday night through Tuesday night concerning the forecast in Buffalo for the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The current forecast in Buffalo for Sunday at kickoff based on my most trusted wind app shows 26 mph sustained winds with gusts of 52 mph.

Also from my most trusted app for temperature and precipitation, I’m seeing 22-degree temps, a feels-like temp of 5 degrees, and a chance of light snow throughout the game.

Before we get to the biggest factor in NFL games (wind), let’s first talk about the potential snow.

Impact of Snow on NFL Games

Usually, snow is fun to watch but doesn’t impact football games too much, except in two cases:

  1. Extreme amounts of it falling during game time.
  2. Snow (or rain for that matter) coupled with wind.

The reason #2 becomes a factor is that anything blowing in strong enough wind (such as light snow or rain) will be moving so fast and potentially going into the eyes of players at times that it does impact downfield passing.

Additionally, gloves and jerseys become wet and make it even more difficult to catch passes.

A normal day of light winds with a dusting of snow is not impactful on the total. But extreme winds, such as those being forecast, coupled with even light snow would increase the inability to consistently drive the ball the length of the field.

Don’t Miss Out on Our Historic Season

2023 has been Warren Sharp’s most profitable season betting on the NFL in the last decade.

A $100 bettor is up $8,148 following Warren’s recommendation this NFL season.

We have been even stronger late in the season, going 62-29 (68%) on elevated plays over the last two months.

And the fun is not over. Our weekly postseason packages are live, and we are offering a great deal for Wild Card Weekend.

Use code WILDCARD to get 75% off the first week of our postseason package.

Get all Wild Card Weekend bets, props, and game writeups for JUST $25!

» Learn more about this offer!

The Wind Tunnel Game

But the true handicap here is the wind.

Let’s take a step back to the notorious game in Buffalo back in 2021: The Wind Tunnel Game.

Where the goalposts were blown sideways in pregame, the parking lot shots were hilarious, teams could not move the ball through the air, and the game saw only 24 points scored and easily went under the projected total with the 14-10 final score.

Per the National Weather Service, the actual recorded wind speeds and gusts during the game were as follows:

  • 8:15 p.m. kickoff: 26 mph with gusts of 36 mph
  • 10:00 p.m. halftime: 23 mph with gusts of 35 mph
  • 11:00 p.m. late 4th quarter: 17 mph with gusts of 30 mph

The wind was worse during the day and during all the pre-game videos leading up to that prime time game.

All the pre-game videos showed 30 mph sustained winds with gusts of 45 mph between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. But as we approached kickoff, it slowly began to die down, though still obviously extremely impactful, but no longer 30+ mph with gusts of 40+ mph.

Though storms can operate differently, according to the NWS, wind speeds generally increase during the day as the surface warms. But at night, as the surface cools, that air is heavier than the warmer air above it, and friction causes it to be calmer without the surface heating.

The night game is potentially a part of the reason the wind died down in the Bills-Patriots later into the game.

Even so, the wind played a major factor in the game, allowing only a total of 24 points to be scored (14-10).

In that game, Mac Jones completed 2 passes. The longest one was 10 air yards. In the first half, Josh Allen completed 6 passes with an average air yardage of 5.7 yards. His only completion longer than 8 air yards was a 14-yard TD to Gabe Davis.

Trailing the entire second half, Allen completed just 2 passes longer than 6 air yards, which was made possible only because wind speeds began to drop below 20 mph and gusts moved into the lower 30 mph range.

What is different between the 2021 Bills-Patriots game and the Wild Card Game this Sunday?

  • TIME OF DAY: This game will be played during the day (1 p.m. kickoff) so the wind speed will not be dying down due to the setting of the sun as it did in that game, which dropped the wind speed nearly 10 mph from start to finish.
  • SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS: This game will be played in, by current forecasts, 26 mph winds at kickoff and 25 mph winds at the end of the game, making the sustained wind speeds worse than the Pats game, which was 26 mph at kickoff dropping to 17 mph by the end.
  • GUSTS: This game will feature gusts of 53-54 mph throughout the game. That game featured gusts of “only” 36 mph during the game. Again, the pre-game shows with the fun shots of the tailgaters getting blown away and the goal posts going sideways featured gusts of 45 mph. But these reduced to 35-36 mph throughout the first half. This game is currently forecast to have gusts DURING THE GAME OF TWENTY MPH HIGHER than the gusts in that game.

The other factor with this game is the venue.

This stadium was not built to keep the wind out. It has an extremely low profile which welcomes in the wind, and it’s extremely easy for the sweeping gusts to reach field level with minimal impediment.

Using TruMedia’s database, we have yet to see a home Bills playoff game with wind speeds of even 14 mph since at least 2000.

So instead, let’s look from Week 12 onward (generally speaking, Thanksgiving onward) to see the historical trend of wind in Buffalo home games.

All-Access Package

Impact of Wind on Game Totals in Buffalo

14+ mph winds in Buffalo

There have been 22 Bills home games since 2000 with wind speeds of 14+ mph:

  • Since 2000: 17-5 (77%) to the under: an average total set of 39.2 points and an average final score of only 33.9 points (-5.3 ppg)
  • Since 2008: 13-2 (87%) to the under: an average total set of 40.7 points and an average final score of only 31.3 points (-9.4 ppg)

16+ mph winds in Buffalo

Bear in mind, at over 15 mph, we’re still not even talking anywhere close to the current forecast right now (25 mph winds all game with gusts of 50+). But in Buffalo, winds impact games more than most venues.

There have been 14 Bills home games since 2000 with wind speeds of 16+ mph:

  • Since 2000: 11-3 (79%) to the under: an average total set of 38.8 points and an average final score of only 34.6 points (-4.2 ppg)
  • Since 2008: 9-1 (90%) to the under: an average total set of 40.4 points and an average final score of only 32.1 points (-8.3 ppg)

18+ mph winds in Buffalo

There have been 10 Bills home games since 2000 with wind speeds of 18+ mph:

  • Since 2000: 8-2 (78%) to the under: an average total set of 38.1 points and an average final score of only 34.3 points (-3.8 ppg)
  • Since 2008: 6-0 (100%) to the under: an average total set of 40.3 points and an average final score of only 29.8 points (-10.5 ppg)

20+ mph winds in Buffalo

There have been 9 Bills home games since 2000 with wind speeds of 20+ mph:

  • Since 2000: 7-2 (78%) to the under: an average total set of 37.4 points and an average final score of only 33.6 points (-3.9 ppg)
  • Since 2008: 5-0 (100%) to the under: an average total set of 39.6 points and an average final score of only 27.6 points (-12.0 ppg)

23+ mph winds in Buffalo

There have been only 5 Bills home games since 2000 with wind speeds of 23+ mph:

  • Since 2000: 4-1 (80%) to the under: an average total set of 37.4 points and an average final score of only 32.0 points (-5.4 ppg)
  • Since 2008: 3-0 (100%) to the under: an average total set of 39.3 points and an average final score of only 26.0 points (-13.3 ppg)

Effect of Wind on NFL Playoff Games

There is very little precedent with winds anywhere near this strong in the playoffs.

In the over two decades of playoff football since 2000, there are only 6 games played with winds of 18+ mph.

SIX!

Those games are 5-1 to the under, going under the posted total by nearly 10 points per game (9.9).

What if the forecast changes?

That is the big question. Many people, myself included, are reluctant to put much stock into forecasts days away from the game.

Naturally, if it became a sunny, summer day in Buffalo, we should expect to see many more points scored.

So what if it’s not armageddon in Buffalo on Sunday?

What if, instead of a current forecast of 25 mph sustained winds throughout the game with gusts of 54 mph, it’s not that bad?

There are two things to consider in that case:

  1. This game is still in Buffalo.
  2. What is the actual wind speed?

Games in Buffalo with winds of 18+ mph from Week 12 onward are 6-0 to the under since 2008.

The average total was set at 40.3 points, but the games averaged only 29.8 points, going under by 10.5 points per game.

Winds impact this particular stadium more than any other, so you don’t need 25+ mph winds to see games not come close to going over the total.

It all comes down to the actual wind speed.

This is why, IN BUFFALO (a key distinction), I gave the above historical results of games with wind speeds of 14+, 16+, 18+, 20+, etc.

It’s important to differentiate Buffalo from the rest of the NFL.

But look at league-wide results in games played outdoors from December onward with winds of 18+ mph: 43-27 (61%) of games have gone under the total.

Of all the teams that have hosted at least 4 such games in this sample, the city that has seen games go under the total at the highest rate is Buffalo.

So as you are looking at these wind speeds and the fact they may drop closer to kickoff, I would still urge caution about racing to bet the over.

If the forecast changes from sustained winds of 25 mph with gusts of 50 mph to “only” sustained winds of something like 20 mph with gusts of 35 mph, keep in mind:

1. The winds during the “wind tunnel” game at halftime were 23 mph with gusts of 35 mph and resulted in a 14-10 final score.

2. 61% of games league-wide go under the total with even 18 mph winds in the winter since 2000, but Buffalo is the worst venue in the NFL to block the wind and it becomes a major factor.

3. From Thanksgiving onward in Buffalo:

  • winds 16+ mph? 9 of 10 games have gone under the total since 2008, with an average total points scored of only 32 points (over 8 points below the posted total).
  • winds 14+ mph? 13 of 15 games have gone under the total since 2008, with an average total points scored of only 31 points (over 9 points below the posted total).

This research is certainly not to suggest one should bet the under at any number. On Sunday evening when these lines were posted, the total was listed between 41 and 43 points before taking under money, dropping it to as low as 35 at some sportsbooks.

But this research should urge caution at looking to fade the move to the under and bet the over. Even at a total in the mid-30s, if we first use league-wide data as our guide before focusing on the city of Buffalo specifically, the forecast would have to improve substantially to warrant looking towards a bet to the over on a depressed total.

All-Access Package