Frigid, windy conditions for Saints-Browns might mean lowest betting over/under in years

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

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

 Date  Location  Total  Final score  Over/under?
 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  ???

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