2020 NFL: Is There a Home Field Advantage This Season?

by ASA, Inc.

With limited or no fans allowed at NFL games this season, does it make playing on the road easier? Teams are allowed to pump in sound for games to make it more realistic, but the noise levels do not come close to what 60,000 plus fans can produce. There are other factors that come with playing on the road such as the long travel days or the unfamiliar weather, but the fan noise seems to make it most difficult. Over the past 10 seasons home teams have had a distinct advantage. For this reason oddsmakers have usually given points to home teams, but with no fans this season, home teams don’t have their customary advantage. 

Home Records 2010-2019
 
2019 - 132-123
2018 - 153-101
2017 - 145-111
2016 - 147-107
2015 - 138-118
2014 - 145-110
2013 - 153-103
2012 - 146-109
2011 - 145-111
2010 - 143-113
Overall 1447-1106 (56.7%)

After 145 games this season, home teams are 76-69 (51.7%) straight up. This even includes last week where home teams went 11-3. A 5% change between this year and the past 10 seasons would suggest road games are easier in 2020. That’s not a monumental change but it might quantify the impact that the fans noise and energy can bring to a home team. It’s hard to definitively say that home field advantage is not real this season, but it appears that it is not as beneficial as it usually is.  On a pure numbers basis, the home teams this season have a positive point differential of +64 this season.  Divide that by the 147 games played this year and the straight numbers home field advantage is +0.43 so less than a half point per game.

The real question is, are oddsmakers accounting for this? In 2020 home teams are 68-77-1 against the spread. At only 46.5% it seems like they are not, but when compared to previous seasons it actually is on par. In 2018 home teams ATS covered 49% of the time, while only 44% in 2019. Overall, it appears in recent years that oddmakers are giving too many points to home teams, including 2020. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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