2019 NFL Week 3 Thursday Night Football
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Tennessee @ Jacksonville u19 1H, u39
TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
September 19, 2019, 5:20 PM PST
Several indications tilt us toward the UNDER when the Titans travel to Jacksonville Thursday evening to meet the Jaguars.
First, empirical studies support the idea that windy conditions hamper scoring totals. Matt Blair, writing for numberFire.com, analyzed each regular season contest of the 2017 NFL season. The following chart is excerpted from Blair's article and illustrates average points posted and closing betting totals for 2017, sorted by attending windiness. This author observed that while winds of up to 6 mph did not notably impact scoring, winds in the 7-12 mph range coincided with reduced average scores to the tune of about 3.5 points per game on average, versus games played in low wind conditions. Moreover, in winds of 13 mph or greater scoring dropped more than 8 points per game compared to average outcomes in low wind environments.
A second interesting takeaway from Blair's chart is that bookmakers did not appear to adjust lines downward to account for strong air current. Note that the average line in low wind conditions is little changed compared to the betting total in windy settings. This observation suggests that the edge to UNDER backers in the windiest conditions is, in fact, exploitable.
(For Thursday's action, NFLWeather.com reports the expectation of 11 mile an hour winds essentially throughout the contest.)
More expansive historical examinations have yielded similar results. Mark Gallant, writing for The Action Network, turned to the BetLabsSports database for insight. Gallant identified 761 NFL games since 2003 that were played in double-digit wind speeds. The UNDER is 418-335-8 (55%) from this position.
Importantly, in Gallant's broader dataset a downward move in the betting total of at least a full point neutralized the UNDER's edge. In windy games in which the total dropped by one point or more, bettors counting on low scores amassed a record of 109-106-3.
The total for tonight's match-up opened at 40 but has been pressured consistently lower, down to the present 38 level. While, per Gallant's system, this movement represents a red-flag for the full-game UNDER, first half O/U results reflected in his sample demonstrated a virtual immunity to shifts in the betting total. The UNDER for first half totals in windy games without a lot of line movement (meaning less than a point) is 233-188-9 (55%), versus 100-82-4 (also 55%) in situations where the total attempted to adjust for high winds. Thus, history hints that First Half UNDER 19 is likely to cash in at the conclusion of Thursday's action.
But in addition to weather and line-related considerations, we also note that regular season, intra-division evening games featuring home dogs have been fertile ground for UNDER backers. Of 223 instances in the Pro Football Reference database that fit these criteria, the full game O/U is 98-120-5 (i.e. the UNDER cashed in about 55% of the time).
Even more impressively, results improve when we constrain this system with an O/U of 40 or less (the sample size narrows significantly though). The UNDER is 39-26 (for a 60% cover rate) in late games with very low totals that include a home team taking points from opposition in the same division.
Bottom line: The penchant for high winds to coincide with low total scores, the strong track record of 1H UNDERs in wind and the tendency for scoring column disappointment in primetime contests featuring home dogs facing divisional foes all compel us to back the UNDER tonight -- both for the full game and the first half.