Everybody wants home field advantage in the playoffs, but these teams have such great advantages at home, everybody would do well to steer clear.
A lot is made in the NFL of Home Field Advantage™ in the playoffs. For many teams, this advantage is over-hyped, and for some, it is underestimated. But there are a select few teams in the NFL that you do not want to play at their home stadiums.
Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium (6-2 Home, 5-2 Road)
Now, Kansas City needs some help from Denver to get themselves a home game in the playoffs, but with Derek Carr’s leg broken in Oakland, it is not crazy to think that KC could win the AFC West (they need a win @San Diego and an Oakland loss @Denver to clinch it). If they can get that help, and a home game in the first round of the playoffs, look out.
The Chiefs have a 6-2 record at home, and their two home losses are by a combined four points, with identical 19-17 losses against Tampa Bay and Tennessee. But the advantage for KC goes beyond just their win/loss record. The Chiefs are statistically a much better team at home, especially quarterback Alex Smith. Smith’s completion percentage is 5.7% better at home, and his quarterback rating is almost nine points higher at home. He is also a better runner at home, averaging three more yards per rush attempt at home than on the road. The offensive line performs much better at Arrowhead Stadium as well, allowing Smith to be sacked only seven times in eight games at home, and 20 times in only seven games on the road.
The Chiefs’ defense is more efficient at home, too, with a slightly better interception rate and a staggering 15 forced fumbles at home. (For comparison, they have only forced four fumbles on the road). And perhaps the most important number is points allowed per game, with the Chiefs’ defense allowing 22.57 points per game on the road, and only 15.75 points per game at home. That’s a difference of a touchdown per game, which is very substantial.
Long story short, if you’re a football team, stay out of
Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field (6-2 Home, 3-4 Road)
With a huge Week 17 match-up with the Detroit Lions for all the marbles in the NFC North, there is a very real possibility Green Bay will have a home playoff game this postseason. That’s a frightening prospect for whoever is “rewarded” for their playoff berth with a trip to the Frozen Tundra™ of Lambeau Field.
The Packers’ defense, often considered to be a weakness, is decidedly better at home. Much like the Chiefs’ defense, the Packers’ defense allows at least roughly touchdown less when they are at home. They let up 28.86 points per game on the road, and only 20.25 at home. This is mostly due to their ability to force interceptions, with more than double the interception total at home than on the road, despite only one more game.
Even more impressive at Lambeau is the Packers’ offense. Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback and leader, has a much better touchdown rate at home, throwing 2.75 touchdowns per game at home, and only two per game on the road. With a QB Rating eight points higher in Green Bay than everywhere else, Rodgers’ prowess at home has been propelling the Packers for years, and this season has been no different. The Packers score around three more points per game at home than they do on the road, but they Pack still scores the sixth-most points per game in the league, regardless.
With a team owned entirely by the surrounding town (creating a rabid fan base) and an average high temperature of 24.9 degrees in January, the entire NFC would be better suited if Green Bay did not get a home game in the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks, CenturyLink Field (7-1 Home, 2-4-1 Road)
With the NFC West already clinched, the Seahawks are guaranteed at least one playoff game at home. That’s bad news for whatever poor team has to make the journey to Seattle in the Wild Card round (or Divisional Round, if Seattle wins this week and gets some help from New Orleans).
The Seahawks’ defense has been known the world over for their smash-mouth, shut-down defense for a few years now, which has led to two Super Bowl appearances, and a win a few years ago. With a difference of four points per game and 15 more passes defended at home, the Legion of Boom is alive and well at CenturyLink Field, including an extra five sacks.
The really impressive difference is in the Seahawks’ offense, and especially with quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson’s touchdown to interception ratio at home is an excellent 13:3, compared to a mediocre 7:8 ratio on the road. He completes an additional 4.2% of his passes at home, and averages an additional yard per attempt at home. All of this translates into a QB Rating that is more than 20 points better at home than on the road. Wilson’s dominance at home is visible in wide receiver Doug Baldwin’s production, which includes 400 more yards in Seattle than on the road, and four more yards per catch.
The end result is a staggering difference in points scored per game, with only 14.57 points per game scored on the road, and an outstanding 28.4 points per game scored at home. With a defense as stout as Seattle’s at home and on the road, such a stark difference in the potency of the Seahawks’ offense translates into remarkable success at home and surprising vulnerability on the road.
Long story short, you always want the home field advantage in the playoffs. A lot of teams want it to avoid other teams’ home field advantage, and if you have to go to any of these three cities this postseason, you’ll see why.
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