Super Bowl Betting: How Weather Plays Into Big Game
by Trevor Whenham - 01/21/2009
The common theory is that the weather isn't usually much of a factor in the Super Bowl. The sites are chosen because they are either mild or domed so that the VIPs don't have to be burdened by wearing a heavy jacket. Tampa Bay fits into that category. Temperatures can occasionally fall into the 50s or even lower in the winter, but it's quite likely that the kickoff temperature will be at or above 70 degrees. The elements aren't likely to be extreme, but that doesn't mean that it won't have its effects. A look at how the two teams perform in different weather conditions shows us that each team's strengths are very different.
To look at the impact of weather on the two teams I broke the games that they each played into five groups based on the kickoff temperature - warm temperatures higher than 80 degrees, mild temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, cool temperatures between 60 and 45 degrees, cold temperatures under 45 degrees, and games played in dome stadiums with controlled environments. The differences between the two teams quickly became obvious:
Warm - The Steelers played one game in these conditions, winning it, but not covering the spread.
Mild - They played five games in these conditions. They were 3-2 straight up, but just 2-3 ATS.
Cool - Pittsburgh was 3-1 both straight up and against the spread.
Cold - This is where the majority of the team's success came. They were 7-1 straight up, and were 6-2 ATS.
Dome - The Steelers did not play a dome game all year.
Warm - The Cardinals played no games in hot conditions.
Mild - The Cardinals were just 1-3, and 2-2 ATS, in these conditions.
Cool - Arizona was 2-0 straight up and ATS here.
Cold - The team struggled, going 0-2 straight up and ATS.
Dome - Arizona was 9-2 straight up, and 8-3 ATS in a dome. University of Phoenix Stadium is a retractable roofed building, so some of the games were really played outside. It is still adequate to consider them all dome games, though. The roof is only retracted when temperatures are mild, and the shape of the roof essentially eliminates wind factors, so all games in Arizona are essentially dome games regardless of the roof.
So, what can be learned? The Steelers are 14-4 straight up, and 11-7 ATS. When the temperature rises above 45 degrees that are 7-3 straight up, and 5-5 ATS. Above 60 degrees they fall to 4-2 straight up and 2-4 ATS. Pittsburgh plays in one of the ugliest climates in the league, and few stadiums are as affected by weather as theirs is. They are clearly used to the environment, and have become very successful at maximizing the advantage of their circumstances. Regardless of the weather on Super Bowl, Pittsburgh is not going to have that advantage because a cold day in January in Florida is downright balmy in Pittsburgh at the same time. It would have been a solid advantage, too - Arizona struggled in cold temperatures.
So, Arizona could have an advantage on the weather front. An advantage is only an advantage if you are able to exploit it, though. At first glance, Arizona isn't in great shape to do so. They have played four games in the likely conditions in Tampa Bay, and the team is just 1-3. We need to look further than that, though. It's too early to know for sure, but the early forecast for the big game has the kickoff temperature in the mid-70s with no precipitation and little wind. If that were to happen then the conditions would be very much similar to a dome game, and domes are where the Cardinals are at their best. You could argue that Arizona's dome results are skewed because all but one of their dome games have been played at home. That is true, but the same can be said for Pittsburgh's cold weather games as well.
So, what does it all mean? This game isn't going to be won or lost because of the weather. If you see the game as being particularly close, though, and if the weather is as mild as it could be, then this could be a check mark in Arizona's column.