What Time Is The Chicago Bears Football Game Tomorrow Handicapping 101: High Winds

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Handicapping 101: High Winds

Tulane Stadium set the stage for Super Bowl 4 on January 11, 1970, as the 12-2 Minnesota Vikings looked to cap their season with a loss to the Chiefs. But high winds and tornado viewing during the game would play a role in the outcome. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come, the pregame balloon race ended in disaster as high winds sent the Vikings balloon on a collision course with the stadium. During the game, the Vikings also crashed and burned, as Kansas City’s Jan Stenerud battled the winds and nailed three FGs, while Len Dawson, the Chiefs’ QB known for his pin-point passes (and gambling) , tamed the elements by completing 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and a TD. Vikings KB Joe Kapp wasn’t as used to the winds, and couldn’t adjust to the weather, throwing three INTs and never getting his team into the game.

It seems like a simple statement, but in fact, the best weapon a team can have in windy conditions is a KB that can be thrown into the wind. Sometimes the answer is so simple that we tend to overthink it. Like playing in cold weather, playing effectively in the wind takes some practice. It shouldn’t surprise us that teams that play more often in strong winds tend to do better on windy days. It’s such a simple and obvious truth, I can’t believe I just put it into this writing, as if I wanted to tell you something you didn’t already know, and in fact, sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

First we need to determine which stadiums, which teams and which quarterbacks are used to playing in the wind and what success they have had. To illustrate this, we’ve isolated the NFL’s “windiest” games—when winds hit a minimum of 13 miles per hour—which have 40 plays. (Note that we are using the 1998 season as our guinea pig).

The windiest stadium in the NFL is Pro Player Stadium where the Miami Dolphins play. In fact, out of just eight regular season games at Pro Player Stadium in 1998, seven registered wind speeds of over 13 mph during the game. In those seven games, Miami went 7-0, with a 6-1 ATS mark. In fact, their only ATS loss during a windy game was a six-point win over Buffalo as a -7 favorite. In fact, on the season, Dan Marino completed 128 of 221 passes in the wind, for 1,482 yards, 13 TDs and only 7 INTs. To put that into perspective, Dan Marino had a higher completion percentage in the wind than Chris Chandler all season, and Chandler played in the dome that year.

In fact, Dan Marino has better numbers in the wind than he does playing without the wind, having a higher completion percentage with fewer INTs and more TDs. For all the accolades heaped upon Dan Marin, perhaps his greatest strength has been overlooked. Dan Marino is the best QB in the game throwing into the wind, and nowhere is that more of an advantage than at Pro Player Stadium. The chart below shows the windiest stadiums in the NFL, ranked by how many games were played there during the regular season with winds of 13 mph or higher, along with the home team, the home team’s outright wins, and the ATS record in that game wind. (Research compiled by Brian Gabrielle using the 1998 NFL season)

Venue Home team NO.

Games ARE

Record ATS

Record

Pro Player Stadium Miami Dolphins 7 7-0 6-1

Soldier Field Chicago Bears 5 2-3 4-1

Arrowhead Kansas City Chiefs 4 3-1 3-1

Ralph Wilson Stadium Buffalo Bills 4 3-1 3-1

Jack Kent Coke Washington Redskins 3 2-1 2-1

Foxborough NE Patriots 3 2-1 2-1

3 Rivers Stadium Pittsburgh Steelers 2 2-0 2-0

3 Comm Park SF 49ers 2 2-0 1-1

Veterans Stadium Philadelphia Eagles 2 1-1 2-0

Giants Stadium NI Giants 2 1-1 1-1

Synergy Field Cincinnati Bengals 2 0-2 0-2

Mile High Stadium Denver Bronco’s 1 1-0 1-0

Texas Stadium Dallas Cowboys 1 1-0 1-0

San Devil Stadium Arizona Cardinals 1 1-0 1-0

Alameda Coliseum Oakland Raiders 1 0-1 0-1

Total 40 29-11 28-12

As you can see, there is a fantastic numerical advantage for home teams who have the advantage of playing on windy pitches. Regardless of the home team’s status as an underdog or favorite, they simply win and cover far more often than not. The more a club plays in those conditions, the better that club generally performs in those conditions. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and perhaps the best wind team in all of football isn’t on the above list at all, like Vinny Testeverde and the New York Jets, who were a perfect 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS in wind games in 1998, and all three games came on the road for good teams, as the Jets beat Buffalo, New England and Kansas City on the road in the wind. Another road of note is the Buffalo Bills who, in addition to going 3-1 at home in the wind, also went a perfect 2-0 ATS on the road in the wind. Tampa Bay was another team that excelled in windy games, going 2-1 on the road, both SU and ATS in 1998.

In the case of the Jets, it’s important to note that they share the same home field as the Giants, which is the venue listed above. So while they may not have endured a single windy home game in 1998, it’s reasonable to assume they encountered plenty of wind during practices throughout the year, as well as at the Jets’ practice facilities at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

So if it is logical to assume that teams that are used to playing in the wind do better in the wind, then it must be true that teams that are not used to playing in the wind do poorly in that environment. Our research suggests that this is true. You see, teams that live in a domed stadium were just 1-8 when playing in winds of 13 mph or higher. In fact, in those nine games, dome teams headed to an outdoor stadium and playing in winds of 13 mph or higher had an ATS mark of 0-8-1. Those games were;

Week 4 – Minnesota 31 @ Chicago 28 – Wind 14 mph

Sunday 10 – Indianapolis 14 @ Miami 27 – Wind 14 mph

Sunday 12 – Indianapolis 11 @ Buffalo 34 – Wind 17 mph

Week 5 – Detroit 27 @ Chicago 30 – Wind 17 mph

Sunday 13 – New Orleans 10 @ Miami 30 – Wind 13 mph

Week 4 – Seattle 10 @ Pittsburgh 13 – Wind 14 mph

Sunday 5 – Seattle 6 @ Kansas City 17 – Wind 14 mph

Week 12 – Seattle 22 @ Dallas 30 – Wind 15 mph

Week 7 – St. Louis 0 @ Miami 14 – Wind 15 mph

So you see, not having the luxury of experience playing on a windy pitch really puts a team at a disadvantage, as much as it gives an advantage to teams that are used to playing in a windy stadium.

Equally important, or possibly even more important than the venue, is the KB at the helm of any wind-blessed team, and a brief overview of the best wind teams and the men who led them can give us a better understanding of this Len Dawson pin-point accuracy that is required for a successful KB in a windy environment. Below is a chart of the 10 quarterbacks who took the most snaps in the wind in 1998 and how they fared;

Team KB GP SU ATS att comp ids TD’S INT %

Miami Marino 8 7-1 6-1 221 128 1482 13 7 58%

NI Jets Testeverde 3 3-0 3-0 89 56 738 6 1 63%

Chicago Kramer 3 2-1 3-0 106 69 880 4 3 65%

Buffalo Flutie 5 4-1 4-1 161 84 1175 8 7 52%

KC Gannon 4 4-0 3-1 84 54 674 4 1 64%

Mr. Bay Fair 2 2-0 1-1 55 37 420 3 2 67%

Phil Peet 2 1-1 2-0 64 36 381 2 2 56%

T. Bai Dilfer 3 2-1 2-1 72 37 364 6 4 51%

N.Eng Bledsoe 5 2-3 1-3 174 88 1275 7 4 51%

Yours. Green 5 3-2 3-2 147 71 792 6 3 49%

Now, there are more quarterbacks not listed above than listed above. Guys like Steve Young, who on November 30, 1998, on Monday Night Football, led his team to a 31-7 demolition of the New York Giants in 55 degree temperatures, a full-on downpour and 20 mph winds. Therefore, do not take the absence or presence of any KB as any kind of inference about the capabilities or inabilities of a particular KB. The table above lists the KBs that have had the most experience playing in the wind for comparison purposes only. Some things that come to mind when I review the list of winds above are:

Eric Kramer is a great wind up KB who really fit the bill for the Chicago Bears. As bad as the Bears were, Kramer was 3-0 ATS and 2-1 SU, completing 65% of his passes when the wind was blowing, as it often is at Soldier Field. When Kramer was out, the Bears tandem of KB Stenstrom & Moreno was 0-2 in the same situation.

Vinne Testeverde is the next best thing to Superman in the wind. He was the underdog each time, but he led the Jets to a 3-0 record in the wind en route to some tough competition with a win over Buffalo, New England in Kansas City. The Jets have outscored their opponents 61-41 in those three games and Testeverde has been near perfect, throwing for six TDs with just one INT and a 63% completion rate.

Rich Gannon led the Chiefs to a howling 4-0 record, 3-1 ATS, completing 64% of his passes, throwing four TDs and just one INT. Gannon’s tandem partner that year, Elvis Grbac, should have the pass game between the two, but Grbac was 0-2 in the wind, completing less than 48% of his passes, and threw four INTs. In Hrbc’s 2-wind start, the Chiefs were destroyed 60-27.

Brett Farver was the most experienced passer in the wind, completing 67% of his passes and making it 2-0. Is there anything he’s not the best at?

Rodney Peet has shown some control over the elements, leading Philly to a respectable 1-1 record in the wind, 2-0 ATS.

Trent Green, was brought in for the Redskins, but he handled himself pretty well. In five starts with the wind also bothering him, Green posted a 3-2 record in both SU and ATS. That’s a talent that might be buried under the Dome in St. Louis where wind isn’t a factor.

So our wind research probably raises as many questions as it answers. One question, of course, is — if the wind generally favors the home teams, does that hold up in gusts of 20 mph or more? Well, our research would show that it is. There were seven games played in winds of 20 mph or higher. The home teams did dominate, winning and trailing five of those seven games, but for those who have read this far, it should come as no surprise that on the two occasions that the visiting team won in the wind, it was the New York Jets who did the damage both times. The Jets beat Buffalo 17-10 in a highly controversial game in which the Bills marched down the field for the game-tying TD with minutes left in the game when the Jets received a gift call as replays showed the Jets INT apparently skipped the turf, but the Jets got football and the game is practically over.

Now, there’s no indication that Buffalo would actually tie the game, or go on to win the game, but the Jets were 3-point underdogs anyway, so they’re not taking anything away from New York. In addition to the Jets’ two wins, in the other five games together, the away teams struggled, never scoring more than 16 points. In fact, in a combined five games, visiting teams have scored a total of 52 points, an average of 10.5 points. Unsurprisingly, UNDER TOTAL once again prevailed in these extreme cases of Mother Nature, as five of the seven games were played Under Total.

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