Tulane Stadium set the stage for Superbowl 4 on January 11, 1970, as the Minnesota Vikings (12-2) sought “Kapp” into their season with a win over the Chiefs. But high winds and a tornado watch during the game would play their hand in the outcome. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come, a pregame balloon run ended in disaster, as high winds forced the Vikings’ balloon into a collision with the stadium. During the game, the Vikings hit and burned as well, as Kansas City’s Jan Stenerud battled the winds and nailed three FGs while Len Dawson, the Chiefs’ quarterback who was famous for his pinpoint passing (and game play), he tamed the elements to complete 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and a TD. Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp wasn’t as used to the winds and couldn’t keep up with the weather, throwing three interceptions and never getting his team into the game.
It sounds like a simple statement, but in truth, the best weapon a team can have in windy conditions is a QB that can throw into the wind. Sometimes the answer is so simple that we tend to overthink it. Just like playing in cold weather, playing effectively in the wind takes some practice. It should come as no surprise to learn that teams that play in high winds tend to do better on windy days. That is such a simple and obvious truth, that it is hard for me to believe that I have just included it in this writing, as if to tell you something that you did not know, but in fact, sometimes we do not see the forest for the trees.
The first thing we need to determine is which stadiums, which teams and which quarterbacks are used to playing into the wind, and what kind of success they’ve had. To illustrate this, we have isolated the “windiest” NFL games, when wind gusts were a minimum of 13 miles per hour, totaling 40 games. (Note that we’re 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 of them recorded winds in excess of 13 mph during game time. Of those seven games, Miami was 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, throughout the season, Dan Marino completed 128 of 221 passes in the wind, for 1,482 yards, 13 TDs, and just 7 INTs. To put that in perspective, Dan Marino had a higher completion percentage into the wind than Chris Chandler all season, and Chandler played in a dome that year.
In fact, Dan Marino has better numbers with wind than when playing without wind, with a higher percentage of completions with less INT and more TD. For all the endorsements Dan Marino has been given, he may have overlooked his greatest strength. Dan Marino is the best quarterback in the game throwing to the wind, and nowhere is that a greater asset than in Pro Player Stadium. The chart below shows the windiest stadiums in the NFL, ranked by the number of games played there during the regular season with winds of 13 mph or greater, along with home team, home team outright wins, and ATS record in those winds. games. (Research compiled by Brian Gabrielle using the 1998 NFL season)
Headquarters Local team NO.
Professional 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 Coca-Cola 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 Communications Park SF 49ers 2 2-0 1-1
Philadelphia Eagles Veterans Stadium 2 1-1 2-0
Giants Stadium NY 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
Sun 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 that have the advantage of playing in windy locations. Regardless of the home team’s status as underdog or favorite, they just win and cover most of the time. The more a club plays under those conditions, the better that club performs overall under those conditions. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and perhaps the best wind team in all of football isn’t on the list above, like Vinny Testeverde and the New York Jets, who went perfect 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS in games. windy in 1998, and all three games came on the road to windy teams, as the Jets beat Buffalo, New England and Kansas City on the windy road. Another notable on the road is the Buffalo Bills, who in addition to a stellar 3-1 home record with the wind, also posted a perfect 2-0 ATS on the road with 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 is important to note that they share the same field as the Giants, which is a venue that is on the list above. So while they may not have endured any windy home games in 1998, it’s reasonable to assume they encountered a fair amount of wind during practice throughout the year and the Jets’ training facility at Hofstra University in Hempstead. , NY.
So if it is logical to assume that teams accused of playing into the wind perform better in the wind, then it must also be true that teams that are not accused of playing into the wind struggle in that environment. Our research suggests that’s exactly right. You see, the teams that make their home in a domed stadium were only 1-8 when playing in a wind of 13 mph or more. In fact, in those nine games, dome teams heading to an outdoor stadium and playing in winds of 13 mph or higher went 0-8-1 ATS. Those games were;
Week 4 – Minnesota 31 @ Chicago 28 – Wind 14 mph
Week 10 – Indianapolis 14 @ Miami 27 – Wind 14 mph
Week 12 – Indianapolis 11 @ Buffalo 34 – Wind 17 mph
Week 5 – Detroit 27 @ Chicago 30 – Wind 17 mph
Week 13 – New Orleans 10 @ Miami 30 – Wind 13 mph
Week 4 – Seattle 10 @ Pittsburgh 13 – Wind 14 mph
Week 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 the experience of playing in a windy venue really puts a team at a disadvantage, just as much as it gives teams that are used to playing in a windy stadium an advantage.
Just as important, or probably even more important than the venue, is the commanding quarterback of each wind-blessed team, and a quick tour of the best wind teams and the men who ran them can give us a better understanding of this. Len Dawson. Spike type accuracy it takes to be a successful QB in a windy environment. Below is a table of the 10 quarterbacks who took the most plays in the wind in 1998, and how they fared;
Team QB GP SU ATS att comp yds TD’S INT %
Miami Marino 8 7-1 6-1 221 128 1482 13 7 58%
NY Jets Testgreen 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%
G. Bay Farvre 2 2-0 1-1 55 37 420 3 2 67%
Phil Peete 2 1-1 2-0 64 36 381 2 2 56%
T. Bay 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%
Wash. Green 5 3-2 3-2 147 71 792 6 3 49%
Now, there are more quarterbacks not listed above than are listed above. Guys like Steve Young, who on November 30, 1998, on Monday Night Football, led his team to a 31-7 total demolition of the New York Giants in 55-degree heat, a downpour, and wind gusts of up to 20 mph. Therefore, do not take the absence or presence of any QB as any kind of conclusion about the abilities or disabilities of a given QB. The table above lists the quarterbacks who had the most experience playing in the wind simply for comparison purposes. Some things that come to mind when looking at the list of winds above are:
Erik Kramer is an excellent wind QB who really suited 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’ QB tandem Stenstrom and Moreno were 0-2 in the same situation.
Vinne Testeverde is the best after Superman in the wind. She was always an underdog, but she guided the Jets to a 3-0 mark in the wind, en route to tough competition with wins over Buffalo, New England in Kansas City. The Jets outscored their opponents 61-41 in those three games and Testeverde was nearly perfect, shooting for six TDs with just one interception and a 63% completion rate.
Rich Gannon led the Chiefs to a 4-0 mark with the wind howling, 3-1 ATS, completing 64% of his passes, throwing four TDs and just one INT. Gannon’s tandem partner that year, Elvis Grbac is supposed to have the passing game between the two, but Grbac was 0-2 in the wind, completing less than 48% of his passes and throwing four INTs. In Grbac’s 2 wind starts, the Chiefs were wiped out 60-27.
Brett Farvre was the most proficient passer in the wind, completing 67% of his passes and going 2-0. Is there anything you’re not the best at?
Rodney Peete showed some mastery of the elements, guiding Philadelphia to a respectable 1-1 record in the wind, 2-0 ATS.
Trent Green, was released by the Redskins, but he handled himself pretty well. In five starts with the wind bothering him as well, Green posted a 3-2 record in both SU and ATS. That’s a talent that may have been buried under the St. Louis Dome, where wind isn’t a factor.
Therefore, our research on wind probably raises as many questions as it answers. One of the questions, of course, is: if the wind generally favors home teams, does that hold up in strong winds of 20 mph or more? Well, our research would indicate yes. There were seven games played in winds of 20 mph or greater. The hosts did dominate, winning and covering five of those seven games, but for those who have read this far, it should come as no surprise that on the two occasions the road team did win with the wind, it was the New York Jets. doing damage both times. The Jets beat Buffalo 17-10 in a highly controversial game in which the Bills were marching down the field for the tying TD with minutes left in the game when the Jets received a giveaway call, as replays show the Jets INT clearly skipped the grass. but the Jets got the ball and the game was all but over.
Now, there’s nothing to suggest that Buffalo would have actually tied it, or won the game, but the Jets were down 3 points anyway, so don’t take anything away from New York. In addition to the two Jets wins, the other five games combined saw visiting teams struggle hard, never scoring more than 16 points. In fact, in the five games combined, the visiting teams scored a total of 52 points, 10.5 points per game on average. Unsurprisingly, UNDER THE TOTAL once again prevailed in these extreme cases of Mother Nature, as five of the seven games were played Under Total.