As of this writing, we are a little more than 24 hours away from the start of the early games on the first Sunday of the 2018 NFL season. The early-afternoon slate kicks off with eight games, including a high-profile AFC North matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns (on America’s most-watched network!).
The major storyline going into the Steelers-Browns game has been the absence of Le’Veon Bell, who still has yet to report to the team after being franchise-tagged this offseason. But there’s another story looming: the weather.
Check out this weather alert, found by Dustin Fox of The Athletic:
Are we sure they are gonna play this game Sunday? This weather looks miserable. #Browns #Steelers pic.twitter.com/M0AwGkOLtv
— Dustin Fox (@DustinFox37) September 7, 2018
NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala echoed those weather concerns on Saturday morning, while giving an update on Bell:
This morning @ColleenWolfeNFL asked for a quick summary of the Le’Veon Bell saga. pic.twitter.com/rYzKIUqlAy
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 8, 2018
The betting public has taken notice of the disaster potential in the weather department.
The over/under for the Steelers-Browns game started at 48 points back in April, but it has dropped all the way down to 41 as of Saturday morning. As Under bets poured in, the total dropped a point on Sept. 3, another point on Sept. 5, a half-point on Sept. 6 and from 44 to 41.5 in around six hours on Sept. 7. Clearly, much of the smart money is rolling in on the Under as bettors attempt to take advantage of the potentially extreme weather conditions for the game.
The Steelers remain strong favorites despite both the absence of Bell, who will be replaced by backup James Conner, and the weather forecast. Their expected margin of victory has decreased from the opening line of -7 to just -4.5, however.