NFL Handicapping: Betting Ramifications of Moved Jets vs. Bills Game
by Trevor Whenham - 11/21/2014
We get a lot of snow where I live, but I will never again complain about it (well, that’s not true, but you get my point). We have never seen anything close to what they have been hit with in Buffalo this week. Just think about this — the amount of snow that has fallen is deeper than the tallest player in the NBA. Almost as crazy are the pictures emerging Friday evening of snowmobiles picking up players at their homes and delivering them to a bus to the airport. Surreal.
The biggest result of Mother Nature’s latest tantrum, at least from a sports betting perspective, is that the Jets vs. Bills game scheduled for Sunday is now being played in Detroit on Monday.
This isn’t a completely unprecedented situation, though it is rare. Twice in 2010 games were shifted by snow. Minnesota had to play in Philadelphia on a Tuesday night because the snow had fallen too heavily on game day. A couple of weeks earlier Minnesota had been disrupted again — this time at home. The Metrodome collapsed under the weight of snow, and their game against the Giants was moved to New York. The Saints obviously had to move because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2003 the Chargers played a Monday nighter at Arizona State because of wildfires at home.
So, what does this weather calamity means for us from a betting perspective? Here are five things to keep in mind when trying to find a winner in this one:
Nothing changes for the Jets: For the Jets this change really doesn’t mean much. It’s not like they were in Buffalo, or were supposed to be, so they were just able to prepare at home as they normally would have regardless of the weather. The only difference is that when they get on their plane it will land in Detroit and not Buffalo. That’s slightly further but not in a meaningful way. If anything, the change in venue is only a positive for New York. They don’t have to deal with so many rowdy Buffalo fans, and they get to play inside where the weather will be ideal instead of outside in Buffalo where, I’ve heard, wintery conditions are possible at this time of year. It would be a real positive for their passing game — if they had one.
Buffalo first practiced on Friday: The craziest part of the preparation for this game is that Buffalo has been unable to practice at all. After their time off early in the week, the snow set in and players couldn’t reach the stadium. That will obviously have them well behind where they would like to be — especially following a rough loss in Miami. It would be easy to overestimate the significance of this missed time, though. Players all have tablets, so they had their playbooks and were able to study video and prepare just like they normally would. Training staff also worked with players to be sure they were working out — and to give them alternative ways to work out if they don’t have gyms at home. They’ll get the chance to use Detroit’s inside training facilities when in Detroit, and they have an extra day to prepare, too.
It’s also far enough into the season that the team knows the basics of what they are supposed to be doing — though that wasn’t evident at times in Miami. Buffalo almost certainly would have liked to have practiced more, but it’s not like they will look lost and hopeless out there.
Jim Schwartz will be comfortable: Buffalo defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was the head coach of the Lions for five years, ending after last season. He knows the Detroit facilities as well as anyone. That knowledge means that the team is going to be prepared and ready to maximize the practice time they have in Detroit.
Crowd impact: Ticket availability in Detroit has been a confused process. It seems likely that the crowd will be below capacity. No matter what, the crowd won’t have the strong Buffalo tilt that it would have had at home. That means that Buffalo won’t enjoy the boost that they normally would at home — though the significance of that depends on how much you value home field. On the other hand, the Jets aren’t a hugely public team — especially now that they are struggling — so it isn’t likely that the Bills will feel like they are playing a true road game. One advantage Buffalo has here is that they have been playing games in Toronto over the last few years, so they are used to playing ‘home games in front of sub-optimal crowds.
Buffalo has a rallying point: Buffalo players respect and appreciate their fans as much as any players in sports in North America. As such, they will be very motivated to put up a strong effort for all of those fans who have been impacted by this situation. That could give the Bills a psychological edge. The Bills are also the only team with anything meaningful to play for here. The Jets’ season was over almost before it started this year, but Bills still have playoff hopes. They are faint, but they will be stronger with every win they can pile up.
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