Home teams are doing a lot better in the divisional round

In the six seasons from 2005 through 2010, earning a bye hardly guaranteed a spot in the championship round. In the five seasons since then, that has changed — dramatically.

Before the lockout, teams with the top two seeds were 12-12 in their first playoff appearances. In the five seasons since then, the top two seeds are 16-4.

From 2011 through 2014, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds were 3-1 each January. Last year, it was a 4-0 clean sweep, with the Broncos, Patriots, Cardinals, and Panthers all winning at home.

It’s unclear why the trend has changed so dramatically. But it definitely has, and it will be interesting to see whether three or four of this weekend’s home teams will advance to the final four.

45 responses to “Home teams are doing a lot better in the divisional round

  1. Doesn’t strike me that we have a large enough sample space to make any statistical judgments about ‘trend’.

  2. Home cooking (as Matthew Stafford was caught saying during a playoff game a couple years ago.

    It’s not hard to see the officiating influences the outcome of games.
    Similar to the home team winning more often now, compared to years ago, look at the Super Bowl. Since Roger has been running the show, how many SB games are so competitive they come down to the last drive? Maybe 8 of the last 10. How many were competitive the prior 10? Perhaps the expensive cost of commercials has resulted in the league giving a wink and a hand shake to assure there will be eyeballs watching the SB through the end?

    It is what it is….entertainment. The integrity was lost years ago.
    Oh, and Dez did catch the ball. Don’t let your eyes fool you. That just wasn’t the outcome the league wanted that day.

  3. I’m guessing it’s changed just because of the small sample size. The home teams are usually better (except in cases with weak divisions and a strong wildcard), so the more games that are played the more their winning percentage will rise.

  4. The home team should do better anyways, since they’re the higher seed, which usually means they’re the better team…

    But it also helps that the difference between the top playoff teams and the other playoff teams is growing. Lack of parity

  5. Probably because Peyton wasn’t playing for a good portion of the seasons after 2010. Nobody could go one and one with a first round seed like that guy.

  6. Isn’t it a 50/50 chance that the home team will win? I mean, a quarter flipped a hundred times, can produce long runs of heads followed by long runs of tails. In the end, it still equals out. So, it seems to me that the problem here is that you are selecting an arbitrary date to begin your selection set. Why not look at the likelihood of a home win including the entire history of the NFL, or at least the history since the merger, or even starting at 2002 when the NFL expanded to 32 teams. Starting in 2005, just to get 6 years here and 6 years there, is throwing off the validity of your argument.

  7. Last year all 4 visiting teams won in the wildcard round. All 4 home teams won in the divisional round.
    This year all 4 home teams won in the wildcard round.
    What does that mean? Most likely nothing.

  8. They should be doing pretty well – they played well enough to get the 1 and 2 seeds in their respective conferences…but I see it 2-2 this weekend.

    Pats/Falcons win.

    Chiefs/Cowboys lose close.

  9. Weird, the higher seeds are winning on their home field.

    Someone should come up with phrase of some sort. Something referring to an advantage, from playing on a field, at home… Maybe you could do one if your poles for suggestions. It could be revolutionary!

  10. It is all but guaranteed 1 will, over matching their opponent…

    It will make things interesting to see the Chiefs, Falcons and Cowboys to accomplish a victory as well….

  11. I would assume the number one and two seeds are generally better teams then the three and four seeds, are playing off a weeks rest and at home.. They should never get beat. The week off is the biggest advantage.

  12. Three of the four home teams this weekend are going to lose so that should fix this “trend”.

  13. There is no more parity in the league. The bottom two teams in each conference’s playoff field are no longer able to consistently challenge even the worst two division winners. There aren’t 32 pro-caliber QBs on planet earth nor are there 32 pro-caliber head coaches. The league has problems. This is just one of the many symptoms.

  14. Before the lockout, teams with the top two seeds were 12-12 in their first playoff appearances. In the five seasons since then, the top two seeds are 16-4.
    ——–
    A lot of that was the great Peyton Manning. And as much as the Colts fan base wants to hitch that trailer to the cheating Pats, the Pats were not part of any of his 1 and outs during this span of time.
    Peytons one and dones during the 2005-104 span
    05 L to Pitt
    07 L to SD
    09 L to SD
    10 L to Jets
    11 injured did not play. Moved on to Denver
    12 L to Balt
    14 L to Indy
    These are just his one and dones from the time span provided above. He went one and out 9 times during his career. All at home and “probably” all as the favorite via point spread.

  15. This year it could easily go 2 and 2 for the home teams. Chiefs need to worry and the Seahawks or Packers could really cause problems to their hosts.

  16. Past generalized states have nothing to do with a current game. We see those silly stats all the time that they roll out in broadcasts, i.e. “Whenever Rodgers sees a pigeon on game day, he is 10-0”

  17. In four of the six Manning loses above the Manning lead offense failed to score more than 18 points 4 times out of 6.
    18, 24, 17, 16,(Then on to Denver) 35, 13.

    Blame the defenses if you’d like.

  18. As others have pointed out not enough sample size.

    Plus, the raw wins and losses numbers do not take into account things like David Carr breaking a leg at the end of the regular season and then the primary backup getting injured too.

    As happened to the Cards a couple years ago. I seem to remember them starting a 3rd string QB in the playoffs.

    There are too many factors involved for a tiny sample size of just wins/losses to mean much of anything.

  19. When better teams are at home, they should win. The other big factor this time of year is injuries. Oakland wouldn’t have lost to Houston last week if they had Carr. Kansas City would have beaten Houston and they would be on the road facing Oakland this weekend.

  20. Real tired of lame references to the nonsensical notions that the outcome of any particular game is the way Goodell and/or the way NFL was the way the “league wanted it”.

    These are same loons who voted a certain clown into office because he’s going to build a (huge) wall.

  21. The only real “upset” that would be surprising would be Houston over NE. Seattle, Pitt, GB winning on the road would surprise no one. Good teams with experienced QB’s.

  22. “How about that. The trend changed about the time Tony Dungy got out of coaching…….”

    Of Course Dungy accounts for 2 or the 12 losses noted above (with a win in 06 as a team that played in round 1). But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    Realistically alot of that came from a couple wonky years.
    2006 the AFC bye teams went 0-2
    2008 the bye teams went 1-3 (with only the Steelers winning)

    Then additionally in 05, 07 & 10 you had the eventual superbowl champs coming from the wild card round. which accounts for most of the losses.

  23. This comment is way too nerdy and essentially moot to the conversation, but I wanted to mention this sample size might be big enough for a statistically significant difference.

    One of the factors in a sample size calculation is the difference in the sample sets being observed. Here you have 12-12 vs 16-4, which is a pretty big difference.

    If it was 12-12 vs 12-8 it would need a much bigger sample size. A non-parametric analysis could show a statistical difference when you go from even numbers to 4 fold difference.

    “Emmanuel Goldstein says:
    Jan 13, 2017 11:30 AM
    Isn’t it a 50/50 chance that the home team will win? I mean, a quarter flipped a hundred times, can produce long runs of heads followed by long runs of tails.”

    No-these are not random events and would not be analyzed in that fashion. The coin flip reference was incorrectly used for years with The Red Sox, White Sox and Cubs when pondering why they didn’t win for 86+ years. It wasn’t random chance, it was mismanagement and other factors.

  24. Two of the four road teams this year have better and more experienced QB’s (Ben and Aaron) than the home teams, so they have a good chance.

  25. Rdog says:
    Jan 13, 2017 11:20 AM
    The home team should do better anyways, since they’re the higher seed, which usually means they’re the better team…

    But it also helps that the difference between the top playoff teams and the other playoff teams is growing. Lack of parity
    ——————-

    It does seem that it’s getting increasingly top heavy.

  26. You forgot to mention Seattle, appearing in 5 straight final 8 teams, was just as responsible as NE for those home wins. Fixed it for ya!

  27. As with all generalizations, home field is flawed as a predictor since it fails to account for individual differences. Seattle not only constructed their stadium to enhance crowd noise, but is said to actively restrict the purchase of tickets by visitors (San Francisco in particular, an easy flight away.). Dallas has had a comparatively poor home record, perhaps because the airport’s proximity to the new stadium, it being a major flight hub easy and cheap to fly into, and the fancy stadium being an attraction for visitors. Cowboys fans have almost been out shouted by visitors at times it seemed. There are several other venue’s that offer much less advantage than say, Seattle or Boston, for instance.

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