Tuck: NFL Home-Field Advantage Does Not Matter

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

106-147.  On the surface, it blows the title of the article out of the water.  That was the record of road teams this season.  That’s a .419 winning percentage.  Probably about what you would expect.  So how do I even begin to make the statement I made?

Easy.  Without even looking at anything this year, it’s easy to review history.

The Green Bay Packers advanced to the Super Bowl as the #6 seed last year with three road wins.  The 6th seeded Jets advanced to the AFC Title Game with two road wins.  Road record: 6-4

In 2009 the #5 Jets again won 2 games to get to the AFC Title Game.  The #6 seed Ravens also won a road game.  Road record: 3-7

In 2008 both 6-seeds, Baltimore and Philadelphia, advanced to the title games with 2 road wins apiece.  #4 seed Arizona also won a road game on their way to the Super Bowl.  Road record: 5-5

In 2007 the Jags and Chargers each won a road game, but the #5 seed Giants won 3 straight the road on their way to winning the Super Bowl.  Road record: 5-5

New England and Indianapolis each pulled off a road win to advance in the playoffs in 2006.  Road record: 2-8

In 2005, #6 seed Washington won in the first round.  #5 seed Carolina won back-2-back road games on their way to the NFC Title Game.  Of course on the other side of the bracket, 6th seeded Pittsburgh would win 3 in a row on the road on their way to winning the Super Bowl.  Road record:6-4

Combined road record: 27-33.  The home teams are barely above .500 over the last 6 years in the playoffs at home.

I could stop there, but I dug some more.

Why aren’t the home teams (or higher seeds) performing the way they should?  First, I think that is the wrong way to look at it.  I think you have to look at the way I stated the success of road teams as opposed to the failure of the home teams.

Teams that win and make the playoffs in the NFL have good records.  You accumulate a good record by winning at home and away.  This goes without saying, but it was worth looking at.  After all, I did tell you what the overall road record was at the top of the article, and it wasn’t great.

So I looked at the playoff teams this year.  Combined road record of the 12 playoff teams this season: 62-34.  

That’s an impressive .646 winning percentage.  The home records of those playoff teams was outstanding, as you’d expect, at 72-24.  But only 10 games better for what is perceived as a big advantage is notable.

Basically what I conclude the recent road success of teams isn’t by accident.  These playoff teams have demonstrated they can win anywhere during the season.  Home-field doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t a deal-breaker in favor of the home team either.  The better team will win no matter where they play it.

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