Week 7: West Coast Wind
There are two wind risk games that we are monitoring for NFL Week 7. In addition, we will monitor marginal rain risks along the east coast. The games that will be highlighted in this blog include:
New York Jets @ Denver Broncos - wind/light rain (Elevated)
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49ers - wind (Monitoring)
Green Bay Packers @ Washington Commanders - rain (Monitoring)
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens - rain (Monitoring)
Both the Denver and San Francisco games are forecasted to experience windy conditions. However, Denver is the higher risk game with sustained winds near 20 mph and gusts 25-30 mph possible. There is also a slight chance for light rain in Denver. In San Francisco, due to recent forecasts, the wind risk for Levi's Stadium has been downgraded to “Monitoring”.
There is also a slight chance for light rain during game time in both Washington and Baltimore, but we do not expect this to be impactful at this time.
Mile High Stadium:
The culprit for this weekend's breezy conditions over the western half of the country is due to a long wave trough that has deepened and resulted in the development of a surface low pressure system lee of the Rockies. Over Denver, this area of low pressure is forecasted to strengthen quickly, bringing with it gusty conditions for the majority of the day into night on Sunday. As a result, the strong westerly flow over the mountains can create what meteorologists call “Chinook” winds that can accelerate the winds off the mountains. Models are having a tough time coming to a consensus on what the potential range is for gusts, but 30+ mph is not out of the question. It is also important to mention that we expect the wind risk to decrease in the second half of the game. There is also a non-zero chance of light precipitation which we will continue to monitor.
Over San Francisco, a surface trough interacts with a large area of high pressure off the California coast, strengthening the pressure gradient and creating persistent gusty winds out of the N-NW for a good part of the weekend. Since Levi’s Stadium is located in the Santas Clara Valley, the wind risk over Levi’s is lower than over other areas. We expect winds around 15-20 mph, but gusts are not forecasted to be a factor. Overall, these conditions are not expected to be very impactful for this matchup.
Fedex Field and M&T Bank Stadium:
A less concerning part of the forecast is directed over the east coast for the Washington and Baltimore games. With a coastal area of low pressure struggling to develop off the Mid-Atlantic coast, there is a chance for abbreviated periods of light rain for both of these matchups. This is especially the case over Baltimore, but this feature is not expected to be impactful at this time.
Game Impacts: New York Jets @ Denver Broncos (4:05 pm ET)
DK Sports Book O/U: 38 pts
Whether or not there is impactful weather, Vegas and almost every NFL analyst is expecting this to be a run-first, low scoring affair. There are just too many variables pointing toward this game having a slow pace of play, and being just….boring.
To start, both the Jets and Broncos rank top-10 in terms of QBR given up to opposing QBs with a 75 and 82 opponent QBR respectively. Surprisingly, over their last 3 matchups, the Jets have given up on average a QBR of 61 with 185 passing yards, 5.3 yards per attempt, and 0.3 touchdowns per game. In other words, they have been DOMINANT.
Both Zach Wilson and Russell Wilson have struggled this year, and both have either dealt with, or are currently dealing with injuries. Russell Wilson is dealing with a hamstring issue and is a game-time decision. Brett Rypien will get the start in case Russell can’t make it. Regardless, Wilson was only throwing for an average of 219 YPG with under 1 TD per game on average. On the other side of the ball, the Jets offense has been surging of late. However, this is due to a potent rushing attack as Zach Wilson is only throwing for 190 yards on average per game and has only thrown for 1 passing TD on the season.
We expect winds and even light rain to further diminish any potential upside for these QBs. Typically, in similar weather conditions we see a 30 yard drop in total passing yards compared to non-weather games (see graph below). The DK passing yards line for Zach Wilson is set to 185.5. We are in the camp to take the under given Denver’s strong pass-D and potential for gusty winds. There is not a QB line currently for the Broncos, but we think lower yards/attempts is probably a sure bet at this point.
This also means that WRs can take a hit, with receivers averaging 8 less yards on average during comparable weather games (see graphic below). With Elijah Moore questionable for the Jets based on "personal issues", you could take a shot on Garrett Wilson or Corey Davis, but we think the upside is capped as both will have tough CB matchups. The same can be said for Denver's wideouts Jerry Jeudy and Cortland Sutton, especially if Russell Wilson is limited or misses.
As far as the rushing attack, all signs point to Breece Hall getting volume. Denver this year has given up 36.5% of their yards on the ground, which ranks top-10 highest in terms of percentage. They have been a bit more susceptible of late giving up 130 rushing yards per game with over 29 rushing attempts per game over their last 3 matchups. The Denver Defense is good, but don’t be surprised to see the Jets rely on Hall with success. Breece has big-play ability, and adds being a strong pass-catch to his resume. The DK line is currently set for 71.5 rushing yards with 15.5 opportunities for Breece Hall. We think he has a good chance of eclipsing both of these lines, especially during the first half of play when winds are forecasted to be strongest.
For the Denver rushing attack, it is not clear how rushing volume will get dispersed between Latavius Murray, Melvin Gordon, or Mike Boone. This is an offense that is struggling, and has been plagued by injuries. If Russell sits, and the weather makes things more difficult to move the ball through the air, expect these running backs to at least get opportunities. The Broncos have rushed on average for 102 yards per game over their last 3 matchups - the Jets have allowed 105 yard per game over their last 3 matchups. We think there will be increased rushing volume and opportunity for a rushing TD for the Broncos, but whether that is distributed across 3 RBs or 1 is anyone’s guess.
Game Impacts: Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49ers (4:25 pm ET)
DK Sports Book O/U: 49 pts
Although our algorithm has this game listed as elevated, we believe this is a very borderline case, and think a “Monitoring” is more appropriate. Winds in and around the San Francisco Bay area will be gusty this weekend. However, we know from experience that Levi’s stadium is in the Santa Clara Valley where the stadium is not as susceptible to winds in comparison to other areas in this region. Winds of 15-20mph are possible, but the risk for gusts has diminished, and we expect winds in the second half to subside considerably.
As a result, we will continue to monitor this game, but do not expect impacts for the 49ers and Chiefs high-powered offenses.
Green Bay Packers @ Washington Commanders (Monitoring)
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (Monitoring)
Periods of rain are possible for both the Washington and Baltimore matchups this week. We will continue to monitor the weather over this region as currently there is approximately a 40% chance of rain occurring during game time over both locations. We believe there is a higher risk for the Baltimore Ravens game as rain has the potential to be more consistent. As of now, there are no impacts expected due to weather, but we will continue to monitor in case forecasted conditions deteriorate.