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NFL Home Field Notes
by Bryan Leonard - 11/20/2006
It's probably not discussed as much as home court in basketball and even college football, but teams in the NFL often have significant edges at home and liabilities on the road. A key part of sports is emotion. Even though NFL players are professional athletes getting paid to do a job to the best of their abilities, playing well before the home fans really is more important than playing as well on the road.
There's been no starker example this season than the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags started 4-1 SU/ATS at home allowing just 7 points per game! However, on the road they allow 22 points per contest, which explains the 1-3 SU/ATS road mark. In fact, the offense scores 8 points more per game at home.
The hometown fans are the ones who, in essence, are paying their salaries. No player wants to give 50% and lose a game badly in front of the home crowd. In addition, other factors can influence a team's performance at home or on the road. The Chiefs have great home fans and for years oddsmakers have factored in a bit greater edge to the Chiefs at home with respect to the line. Even with a new coach this year, Herm Edwards, the Chiefs are 2-3 SU/ATS on the road, but 3-1 SU/ATS at home.
The Broncos also enjoy a unique edge at home, not only from great fans but the thin air in the Colorado mountains. Denver players are used to practicing and playing in the thin, cooler air, while some opponents aren't.
Another factor to keep in mind is playing surface. Dick Vermeil built the Rams in the late 1990s with an eye for speed at WR and RB. His spread attack, along with then-offensive coordinator Mike Martz, was predicated on speed that performed better on the artificial playing surface in the St. Louis dome. In 2004 the Rams were 6-2 SU at home, but 3-7 SU/ATS on the road. This year they score 26 points per game at home (2-1-1 over the total) but a touchdown less on the road (2-3 under). The old Greatest Show on Turf is far less so on grass.
Notice the Buffalo Bills have been a very different team at home than on the road the last two seasons. They were a .500 home team last year, but just 1-6 on the road. This year the same thing is happening, starting 2-2 at home, but 1-4 away. Last season Buffalo started 3-1 SU/ATS at home, but 0-3 SU/ATS on the road. It's not just the struggles of QB J.P. Losman, the whole team appears to pack it in away from home.
Notice the geographical location of a team like the Seahawks, playing way up in the Northwest corner of the U.S. in Seattle. A team in a city like that has a longer way to travel to away games, and they've already made a long trip to Detroit. Seattle started 4-1 SU at home with a winning spread mark, but 0-4 against the number on the road. That was the case a year ago when they had long road trips to Jacksonville, Washington, as well as St. Louis. The Seahawks started 1-2 Su/ATS on the road, and 4-0 at home! Seattle's offense continues to play best at home, too. For totals bettors, keep in mind the Seahawks are 14-9 â€œoverâ€쳌 the total their last 23 home games.
The worst road team continues to be the Lions, allowing 33 points per game away from home (0-4 SU/ATS), and Oakland (0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS). The Raiders average just 7 points per game away from home! They average over twice that many points at home with their Bed and Breakfast offense, giving the fans at least something to cheer about.