The Star Democrat
Homefield advantage loses its edge despite fans
The cheering fans returned to NFL stadiums this season, forcing road teams into silent counts and other coping mechanisms to deal with the noise.
But the home-field advantage that could be expected over road teams that have to deal with travel, time zone changes on occasion, and the din from the loud crowds has once again been missing.
A trend that began the year before the pandemic and continued last season when games were played in mostly empty stadiums has been evident once again in the 2021 season.
Home teams have posted a .510 winning percentage — excluding two games in London — for the third-worst mark since the merger in 1970, with only the .498 winning percentage last season and the .508 in 1972 faring worse.
“I think really winning on the road is not as big of a challenge in my opinion as it was probably 10, 15 years ago,” Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said.
McCarthy pointed to quarterbacks’ comfort from college in using the no-huddle offense and calling the plays at the line of scrimmage to more visiting fans traveling to games among the factors leading to the change.
“I think that the home field is something that is definitely still a benefit but I think the statistics would support that the challenge of winning on the road, I think teams do a better job of it in today’s game,” he said.
The league was on track for a second straight losing season at home before home teams went 21-11 the past two weeks.
Before a key Week 16 home win against Denver, Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia joked that he might take the team out of town before the game because Las Vegas had more success on the road than at home.