Home teams winless on Thanksgiving for third consecutive year

Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys
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Home-field advantage has largely disappeared in the NFL in recent years, and Thanksgiving has been no exception.

All three home teams lost on Thursday: The Lions lost to the Bears, the Cowboys lost to the Raiders and the Saints lost to the Bills. This was the third consecutive Thanksgiving in which the road teams won every game.

And Thanksgiving is just a small part of a large trend in the NFL toward home-field advantage not meaning anything. This season home teams are 80-87-1, which if it continues will be the worst record for home teams in NFL history — a record that was set last season, when home teams went 127-128-1. In 2019, home teams went just 132-123-1, which was the worst cumulative record for home teams since the advent of the 16-game schedule — until home teams did even worse in 2020 and are now on pace to do worse still in 2021.

Gamblers and sports books were among the first to notice the decline in home-field advantage. For decades, the rule of thumb was that home-field advantage was worth about three points on the Vegas line. In the last couple years, that shifted to two points. It’s now around one point.

During the 2020 season, some blamed the disappearance of home-field advantage on empty stadiums in the pandemic. But that’s not the reason, as the trend toward road teams doing better began before the pandemic and has continued this season, with stadiums full again.

NFL teams seem to be getting better at silent counts to negate crowd noise, and better at finding ways to travel comfortably and achieve peak performance whether they’re at home or on the road. In today’s NFL, there’s no real advantage to playing at home. We’ve seen it on Thanksgiving for three straight years.

27 responses to “Home teams winless on Thanksgiving for third consecutive year

  1. Sucks for home teams on Thanksgiving, especially since visiting teams never stick around to help with the dishes.

  2. 2 straight yrs Bill’s on the road Thanksgiving Thursday?? Not even Bill’s fan but they deserve to host next year in orchard park

  3. Interested to see the data, but COVID required suspensions/game scratches and increase in skill player injuries this year. Saints had 14 starters out and Cowboys 2 top WRs. Its definitely contributing.

  4. The home team is 2-9 when Hochuli’s crew is doing the game. This is the same crew that leads the NFL in called penalties.

  5. It’s because of all the flags. Fans are conditioned to hold their breath and look for a flag after every play now. There’s no more feeling comfortable, confident and letting loose as a fan anymore which leads to a raucous crowd which leads to a hole field advantage. Now every game is the same no matter where it’s played. Everybody just sitting around waiting for flags. The league killed home field advantage by taking crowds out of the game with all of their penalties.

  6. This is a discussion usually best had at the end of a season, but if we really need to do this now, there’s three aspects of home field advantage that need to be addressed.

    One is crowd noise. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the greatest advantage for dome teams, and three of those teams–Detroit, Houston, and Atlanta–are among the worst teams in the entire league. That drags things down.

    A second is routine. COVID protocols are still screwing this up for everybody, so this is an artificially leveled plane. Home teams still don’t have the kind of advantage they normally would.

    A third is weather. Northern outdoor teams typically have an extra edge on visitors late in the year, and we’re just now getting to the point where that is starting to kick in.

    In short, and to repeat: Way too early to be having this conversation. Come back after the Super Bowl.

  7. “Gamblers and sports books were among the first to notice the decline in home-field advantage.”

    Its right there in black and white people. Dont be so naive

  8. If you want the Thanksgiving home teams to stop losing, eliminate the home teams that continue to lose.

    For decades now I can look at the newly released schedules and determine on Thanksgiving the Lions will definitely lose and the Cowboys are more than likly to.

    It ain’t rocket science!

  9. I believe a large part of why this is happening is a shift in attitudes towards playing away games. Not unlike how teams went from wanting the ball first to deferring over the years. While teams will always love putting on a show for their home fans, perhaps the rush of schadenfreude—of tearing the proverbial hearts out of the opposing fans, so to speak—is becoming even more intense simply due to these very normal feelings being embraced.

  10. Thank you Detroit Lions for starting a National Tradition !! Love watching NFL football on Thanksgiving . Good , bad or ugly I enjoy them all. Thanks again and always . Go Lions !

  11. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Saints pretty much has. Far cry from where we were A month ago. Shut it down. Go for a pick!

  12. Lack of HFA is one effect of the stadiums in Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas that were designed specifically to be “destinations” for fans of the road teams. Chargers HC Staley referred to Sofi as an adverse environment last week for the Chargers – who played the Steelers – at home!

    So many fans are willing to boo their own teams with gusto at home. When so many multi-millionaire athletes perform below salary-based expectations, what are the fans to do?

  13. xpatsfan says:
    November 26, 2021 at 7:49 am

    The home team is 2-9 when Hochuli’s crew is doing the game. This is the same crew that leads the NFL in called penalties.

    Glad I’m not the only one who noticed that. EVERY game this crew does is filled with “should-not-have-been-called” penalties.

    In the Raiders-Cowboys game, a head-bob by the center which he does EVERY SINGLE play (to look at the QB in shotgun) got called, which could have affected the outcome of the game. And then multiple “holding” calls on both teams that were not holding, and are not called in 99% of other games with other crews.

  14. I’ll be playing for the Lions next year. Give us a home game and I’ll guarantee us a win. There’s a reason I am the MVP.

  15. All 3 games were bad in their own unique ways. It’s always good to have something to do on Thanksgiving besides eat but the league certainly didn’t put its best foot forward this year.

  16. Did the Saints or the Lions REALLY have a chance of winning?…. NO!

    The cowboys losing just made Thanksgiving that much more enjoyable, Especially by choking in the end….

  17. Won’t be long before teams are identified by corporate sponsor instead of city and all play in a handful of stadiums

  18. It’s time to make a few changes. Dallas and Detroit should alternate every year and allow other teams to host.

  19. Lions lose almost every year.

    Cowboys have mike Mccarthy.

    Saints are missing their best players.

    Last year should have an * not just cause of the lack of fans but the fact that the steelers won what would have been the third game 6 days after Thanksgiving due to covid delays.

  20. Tired of hearing ” take the Lions off Thanksgiving”. Tradition since 1934. They played when YOUR teams didn’t want to or bowed out. Kill traditions? OK. Take Santa out of Christmas, candles on birthday cakes, candy at Halloween. Don’t like tradition? Tough tacos! Go watch reality TV instead during the first game.
    Complain about the ownership instead of the team!

  21. Take Santa out of Christmas – Probably would be better for society…. Why lie to kids about some fat old white guy that can come in their house through locked doors and all the other myths that go with it and at the same time team them lying is wrong!

    candles on birthday cakes – YES! Stop people from blowing saliva and germs all over the cake and then share it with everyone who eats it…

    candy at Halloween – doing away with Halloween all together may be a better choice… What are you really teaching kids to celebrate then anyway…

  22. After bringing in 38 million eyeballs on Thanksgiving, Cowboy haters will be lucky if the NFL doesn’t schedule Dallas to play a National TV game every week.

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