Chiefs Freeze Out Dolphins: Trading Strategies in Unforgettable Playoff Battle

January 19, 2024

Chiefs Freeze Out Dolphins: Trading Strategies in Unforgettable Playoff Battle

Jake Take's is back with Jake Moszkowski's Post-Game Analysis of the SNF Affair between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.

The 2023-2024 NFL Playoffs kicked off with a bang in Wild Card Weekend. Two of the games were particularly notable – the Dolphins @ Chiefs matchup on Saturday, and the Steelers @ Bills game on Monday. What made both of these games particularly unique were the weather circumstances surrounding them. Today, we’re going to look specifically at the Chiefs 26-7 victory over the Dolphins.

That game was so cold that Andy Reid’s mustache was visibly frozen on TV. So frigid that Patrick Mahomes’ helmet cracked on a helmet-to-helmet hit. From a record standpoint, it was actually the fourth-coldest game in NFL history. The Chiefs, playing at home, handled it quite well. The Dolphins, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 and don’t fare well in games under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, did not. 

Miami’s prolific offense, the number one offense in the NFL during the regular season, found itself limited to 7 points in the frozen tundra. The Chiefs rallied behind the always-impressive Mahomes, who threw for over 250 yards and had several backbreaking runs himself, and Isaiah Pacheco, their hard-nosed second-year running back out of Rutgers, who certainly had no issues with the temperature. 

The temperature at kickoff was a bone-chilling minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind chills dropped that number to minus-27. Fans who attended the game adorned ski gear – complete with goggles and helmets – to stave off the cold. 

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Let's dive into the trading perspective of the game, as Huddle trader, James Cranford gives his insights.

From a trading perspective, this game was difficult. When I chatted with Huddle trader James Cranford, he noted that bad weather games are notoriously challenging, as it adds a greater deal of uncertainty. Windy games with frigid temperatures present unique difficulties, as there’s a very limited sample size to base models. Those games, however, do tend to be lower scoring.

The first thing he did was to stay a half-point lower than the market, and see where the bets took them. In terms of live betting, the main adjustment they had to make involved the kickers. They actually have to make the kickers “worse” – especially for longer field goals – because the ball typically doesn’t travel as far in cold weather. This was effectively confirmed by Kansas City coach Andy Reid, who credited Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker with an exceptional outing, noting that “[it] was like kicking a block of ice.”

Huddle’s trading team also has the capability of moving up the yard line in which teams will attempt a field goal from. In this case, they moved it up to the 32-yard line, as Cranford noted that a 50-yarder was likely the max distance either team would try from, unless forced to by the end of the half or game state. He believes being able to adjust kickers for bad weather (or injuries) is something that helps separate their football in-game model from other competitors in the industry. 

Ultimately, the ability to make their field goals may have helped the Chiefs. Butker nailed four field goals (accounting 12 of 26 points for KC). Ironically, the injury-depleted Miami defense managed to keep this game close. The score was only 19-7 Kansas City in the fourth quarter (a two possession game) when a now-controversial penalty helped the Chiefs. Miami was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty on a third down where it also appeared that a Miami offensive tackle got away with a holding penalty. With a brand-new set of downs, KC scored behind Isaiah Pacheco, and that effectively put the game away. 

The Chiefs now prepare for their first non-Super Bowl road playoff game of Patrick Mahomes’ career, as they’ll head to Buffalo next weekend to face the Bills in a 2-seed/3-seed matchup that is likely to also feature frigid temperatures.

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