The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Home not so sweet so far

- By Josh Dubow

The fans are back and the crowds are loud, but home-field advantage still isn’t a factor early in this NFL season.

Road teams have won 33 of the 64 games over the first four weeks, extending a trend that began in 2019 and continued through the pandemic-impacted 2020 season when games were played in front of few, if any, fans.

The .484 winning percentage for home teams is the sixth-worst since the merger through four weeks of game action. This is the third straight season that home teams failed to have a winning record through four weeks, something that hadn’t happened before that since 1983.

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, road teams are 284-290-2 for a .495 winning percentage.

There was some expectatio­n that would change this season when road teams again would have to deal with loud crowds that forced silent counts and made running offense more difficult. But that hasn’t contribute­d to more home wins.

Perhaps no team has exemplifie­d the homefield woes more than the 49ers the past two years. The Niners are 1-6 at Levi’s Stadium in that span, lost all three games as the designated “home team” in Arizona when they relocated last year because of COVID-19 protocols and are 7-3 in true road games.

The Niners look to improve to 3-0 on the road this season when they travel to Arizona this week. Denver also puts its 2-0 road mark on the line this week at Pittsburgh.

Rookie review

After a rough start to the 2021 season for the heralded rookie QB class, there were some signs of progress in Week 4.

Chicago’s Justin Fields and Zach Wilson of the Jets came out on the winning side last week, marking the first time this season a rookie QB won a game started against a non-rookie. It also marked the first time since Week 3 in the 2019 season that two rookie QBs earned their first win in the same week. Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew did it that week.

San Francisco’s Trey Lance also got his most extensive action when Jimmy Garoppolo left at halftime with a calf injury and threw for two TD passes in the second half in a loss to Seattle.

New England’s Mac Jones went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and Tampa Bay before falling just short at the end because of a missed field goal, and Jacksonvil­le’s Trevor Lawrence had his most efficient game of the season before falling to Cincinnati.

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