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Rodgers Right About Home Field Advantage?

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Rodgers Right About Home Field Advantage?

Minutes after the Green Bay Packers were beaten for the second straight time in an NFC Title Game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers stood at the podium for what would be the final postgame press conference of the 2016-17 season. While the Atlanta Falcons danced around the field and hoisted the Halas Trophy, Rodgers could only lament on what the Packers needed to do differently to get over the hump and reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 2011. The biggest thing, at least in Rodgers’s mind, was playing an NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

“If this has taught us anything,” Rodgers said, “it’s how important home field advantage is. We’ve played three of these games, and they’ve all been on the road. And that’s just making it tough on yourself.”

The idea that playing at home puts you at an advantage isn’t exactly revolutionary, but how distinct is that advantage?

Conference championship games as we know them became official after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. That means there have been 47 conference title matchups each in the NFC and AFC. A quick examination of win/loss statistics paints a decent picture of the benefit of being the home team.

In the NFC, home teams have won 31 times with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, giving them a .659 winning percentage. In the AFC, home teams have been only slightly more successful, winning 33 games for a .702 clip. Lump those numbers together and you’ll find that in 47 seasons of conference championships, the home team has advanced to the super bowl a whopping 68 percent of the time.

To bring a little more recency to the equation, consider that in the NFC, the home team in the conference title game has won four of the last five, six of the last ten, and 12 of the last 20 matchups. In the AFC, the home teams have fared even better, winning four of the last five, nine of the last ten and 13 of the last 20.

Where the numbers get interesting, though, is in the margins of victory over the course of conference championship history. Get this – over the past 47 seasons, when a home team has won a conference championship, in either conference, the average margin of victory is 14.5 points. Two touchdowns! In what should be the most competitive game of the year! That’s not all, though. In games won by the visitors, the average differential is 11.8 points.

Think about those numbers for a second. In the post-merger era, the average conference title game has been decided by two scores. In fact, over those 47 seasons (94 games total) only 31 times, or basically one-third, has a conference championship been decided by a single score.

So, as it turns out, the theory of home field advantage may be even more cut and dry than we thought. While visiting teams haven’t necessarily just squeaked by in their conference championship victories, the triumphs themselves are far more few and far between. No one could ever know what will happen if and when the Packers host an NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field, but we do know the historical data will be on their side when that time comes.

Now, where’s the aspirin?

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Point Packer's picture

Sure, as long as all those long-term season ticket holders don't sell their seats to the opposing teams fans - a la Giant home playoff loss during the 2011 season.

Plenty of Sconnies would like to watch their team at Lambeau. Selling those tickets to away teams fans is the ultimate betrayal. Especially during the playoffs.

Bert's picture

True enough that home field would be a big advantage. Given home field goes to the team with the best regular season record, it makes sense that the team with home field is possibly the best team, hence, the better record in the playoffs. First you gotta have the best regular season record which means not having to "win out" or to "R-E-L-A-X" at some point in the season.

Mojo's picture

I was going to say what Bert just did. The teams playing the best through out the season get the home-field. It makes sense that even on a neutral field they'd win more often than not.

croatpackfan's picture

Well Packers showed us in the past on several occasions that team with the best record in NFC are not that sure that they will win NFCCG, sometimes they even do not advances to that level - Packers 2010/11, Packers 2011/12, Packers 2014/15 (OK that was almost and it was 2 bad ST plays that makes things otherwise), Packers 2016/17... Well it is 4 of 7 where the best record team did not win NFCCG or were not reach that level (season 2012/13 when SF beated Falcons which were the best team by record in NFC - same year Ravens beated Patriots)...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Rodgers needs to come into next season prepared to play. Period.

No whining about the preseason.
No lineup of new commericals.
No missing wide open receivers with worm burners.
No staring downfield and ignoring the checkdown.

Chad Lundberg's picture

Greeeeeat... another one of those who believes commercials distract players from playing well. Tell that to the greatest statistical quarterback of all time, who is the most renowned commercial athlete in the world.

If Aaron is so distracted by them, then why are no other players in the NFL effected by this?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

If he's making commercials he's not spending that energy getting ready.

Anyway, tell me Chad. How many TV productions have you been involved in? Any, ever at all that you know what it takes?

Tarynfor12's picture

Whah...Whah....Whah....you can't cry about not having something you didn't play well enough to earn. : )

croatpackfan's picture

Nobody said that anyone should receive that home field advantage just like gift. All is said, you have to be the best team whole year to be able to conquer home field advantage...

Bearmeat's picture

In order to get homefield, our favorite team would have to stay healthy (for once), get a defense that can keep explosive plays and 3rd down conversions to a minimum (for once), and get an offense that could run the ball (hasn't been a consistent thing since 14).

With the state our defense is in, I'd settle for being in any conference title game right now. We're damn lucky we got to one last year.

Ohmess's picture

Y’all are missing the point of Rogers’ comments. He is telling McCarthy that the Pack needs to play every game to win. Because of the union-imposed limitations on practices, McCarthy uses the early season games to train players. This results in sharp improvements in the team later in the season, but the Pack loses a lot of the early season games because of this. Rogers is publicly telling McCarthy he needs to find a different way to do this, otherwise the Pack will never get back to the Super Bowl.

Razer's picture

Better teams win. Whether that translates to healthier, less holes, more skill, experience, better coaching or any combination of these factors. As the Super Bowl demonstrated, once you get through the initial emotion the better team will impose its will. Atlanta was better than us and the Patriots were better than Atlanta and all the crowd could do was watch.

Having said that - making a team play in sub zero temperatures is a distinct advantage in January.

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