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Location does make a difference for NFL teams

Oct 28, 2008 4:06 PM

Feist Facts by Jim Feist |

The home/road disparity in sports is often remarkable.

Look at the Seattle Seahawks, who are 9-3 SU and 8-4 ATS at home since the start of last season, but just 3-10 SU and 4-9 ATS on the road. The offense on the road has been particularly pitiful this season, scoring 10, 6, 17 and 10 points. Part of the reason is being located in the Northwest, which often causes long road trips.

It’s also an excellent homefield edge with their outstanding fan base known as the "12th man." Seattle is 25-6 SU and 20-10-1 ATS its last 31 home games. No team wants to send the locals home unhappy, like the Saints a few weeks ago on Monday night in that loss to Minnesota.

Visiting teams have to spend time in airports, sleep in unfamiliar hotel rooms, have their sleeping patterns disrupted. Being home in familiar surroundings means comfort 24 hours a day.

Road play is one way to get a sense of how good a head coach is. The Patriots under Bill Belichick are 2-1 SU/ATS on the road this season and 18-3 SU/15-6 ATS in their last 21 road games.

Many times young teams or ones with new coaches play their best football at home, but look totally different on the road. The Ravens with a new coach and rookie QB started off 2-0 SU/ATS, but each game was at home. Baltimore then lost three in a row, including two on the road. That actually continues a trend of recent years, with Baltimore at 1-10 SU, 3-8 ATS its last 11 road games.

The Rams and Falcons play their home games indoors, in facilities better suited for speed and offense. The Falcons, like the Ravens, have a new coach plus a rookie QB. Notice that Atlanta has played its best ball at home, but has scored just 9 in each of its first two road contests.

A year ago the Rams were giving up almost the same number of points both home and away through the first half of the season, but the offense was averaging two TDs more per game at home. In fact, the Rams started 4-0 under the total on the road in 2007.

Even the playing surface can have an effect. Missouri plays its home games on artificial turf, which is why the team likes to recruit speed. The Tigers were a sizzling 6-1 SU, 4-1-1 ATS at home in 2006 and 6-0 SU, 3-2 ATS last season, but 5-4 SU/ATS on the road during that time.

Like Missouri, Hawaii’s passing offense is in a unique situation, playing at home on artificial turf. They also have long road trips to the mainland. Since 2003, Hawaii is 25-7 SU, 18-12 ATS at home, 12-16 SU/11-13 ATS on the road.

You can see why NFL teams play especially hard to secure homefield edge for the postseason play.