The forecast for Saturday’s New Orleans Saints game at the Cleveland Browns is bleak. Add in two mediocre offenses, and you’ve got the recipe for the lowest projected score in an NFL game in nearly 15 years.
The weather Saturday afternoon in Cleveland is expected to include temperatures peaking at just 15 degrees, a 50% chance of snow and sustained winds over 30 mph. Accordingly, the game’s over/under total at Caesars Sportsbook has dropped from an opening line of 35 all the way down to 31½.
If it closes there, it would the lowest total in the NFL — not just this season, but in years.
The last two games with a total that low — that’s the number of combined points from both teams, allowing you to bet over or under — also were both in Cleveland. The most recent was Dec. 21, 2008, when the Browns hosted the Bengals, who won the game 14-0, with a total of 31½ (data from Stathead.com). Before that, it was Oct. 22, 2006, when the Denver Broncos beat the Browns 17-7 with a total of 31.
Snow isn’t considered a major factor affecting points scored; after all, the Bills-Dolphins game Saturday night played in snow finished 32-29, and slippery conditions can affect defenders as much or more as offensive players. But the high winds drastically curtail passing games, and a cold football isn’t easy to catch, either.
The Saints’ last game with a total this low requires a trip back to Dec. 26, 1993 — a day that must have had weather across the country similar to what’s expected Saturday. Four games on that day had totals of 31 or lower. The Saints traveled to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in a game with an over/under of just 29½. It’s the last NFL game played with a total of less than 30.
Of course, a shootout occurred, with the Eagles beating the Saints 37-26.
Since 2002, however, games with an over/under of 31½ or lower have gone under seven of nine times. So as low as the expected point total is Saturday in Cleveland, the Saints and Browns might not get there.
NFL totals of 32 or lower since 2000
|10/27/02||Charlotte, N.C.||31½||Buccaneers 12, Panthers 9||Under|
|9/26/04||Miami Gardens, Fla.||31||Steelers 13, Dolphins 3||Under|
|10/17/04||Orchard Park, N.Y.||30||Bills 20, Dolphins 13||Over|
|10/24/04||Baltimore||31||Ravens 20, Bills 6||Under|
|10/2/05||Baltimore||31½||Ravens 13, Jets 3||Under|
|12/18/05||Chicago||30½||Bears 16, Falcons 3||Under|
|12/25/05||Green Bay, Wis.||31||Bears 24, Packers 17||Over|
|10/22/06||Cleveland||31||Broncos 17, Browns 7||Under|
|12/21/08||Cleveland||31½||Bengals 14, Browns 0||Under|
|12/24/22||Cleveland||31½*||*total as of Tuesday||???|