The New Orleans Saints are the darlings of the NFL after beating the Rams a week ago. The Atlanta Falcons have rebounded and are coming off a big road win at Washington. Both of those teams now go on the road in intraconference matchups against Ohio, and the public is loving them this week.
The Saints are favored by 5.5 at Cincinnati and the Falcons are a 6-point favorite at Cleveland, and as of publication, 77% of the bets are going on the Saints and 81% on the Falcons (via Action Network).
And here’s where I point out that winter conditions have hit the Midwest for the first time in 2018, with snowfall last night across the region and freezing conditions today. You’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature in Midwest cities heading into Sunday. Right now, Cincinnati is expected to bounce back to around 46 degrees for the high on Sunday (which is still going to feel different than walking through the French Quarter), while it is forecasted to be about 40 degrees at game time in Cleveland.
These two dome teams–and all warm weather and dome teams–tend to play worse when it gets cold, and they rarely have to play in these conditions.
Since 2002, when the league restructured the divisions, New Orleans and Atlanta have played a combined 21 games on a day where the high was 40 degrees or lower in the host city, an average of just over once a year. [data from pro-football-reference.com] They are a combined 6-15 straight up and 7-13-1 ATS in that rare situation. Even rarer is either being a road favorite in colder weather. They are a combined 0-5 ATS as favorites over that time if the temperature is at 40 or below. The last time the Saints covered a game as a road favorite where the temperature was at 40 or below was against the Jets on Christmas Eve in 1995. The Falcons have rarely been road favorites in the cold–though they were last year against the Eagles in the playoffs. They haven’t covered a game as a road favorite in 40 degrees or less since at least 1978.
If we expand it out to other dome teams and warm weather teams (the Florida Teams, Houston, Arizona, and Southern California teams) to get more sample size, here are the records since 2002:
67-102-2 (39.6%) Straight Up on the Road in 40 degrees or colder
77-90-3 (46.2%) ATS on the Road in 40 degrees or colder
15-27-3 (36.7%) ATS as a Road Favorite in 40 degrees or colder
Not only do you have the Saints and Falcons as road favorites, but the Cardinals (at Kansas City), Miami (at Green Bay), and Detroit (at Chicago) will also be playing in cold conditions, though the effect isn’t as strong when a team is getting points.