We've heard that a home team gets 3 points in the spread. We've all said things like, "I want to pick the Packers, but I don't know, the Giants are home..."
But, the truth is, none of us know if home field really means all that much......until now.
I analyzed some results from 2003 through 2010 and tried to quantify the actual value of home field advantage. First I looked at hard numbers – which teams won most frequently at home? Then I tried to differentiate a team's quality at home versus on the road.
The Raw Data
The table below shows each team's home winning percentage between 2003 and 2010.
|Team||Home Win %|
|New England Patriots||86%|
|San Diego Chargers||69%|
|Green Bay Packers||61%|
|Kansas City Chiefs||56%|
|New York Jets||55%|
|New York Giants||52%|
|New Orleans Saints||52%|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||52%|
|San Francisco 49ers||50%|
|St Louis Rams||44%|
As you can see, the Patriots, Colts and Ravens had the three highest home win percentages since 2003. The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and the Oakland Raiders have the three lowest percentages at home.
Well, that proves it....Gillette Stadium provides the biggest home field advantage of any field in the NFL - followed by Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Right? Well, not really. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the reason the Patriots and Colts have the highest when percentages at home is because (drumroll please) they're really good and win most of their games no matter where they're playing.
A better way to measure is to compare home winning percentages to their away when percentages.
Comparison of home win percentage verse away when percentage
The table below shows both the home and away when percentage for every team in the NFL between 2003 and 2010. The third column provides a ratio of home winning percentage versus away winning percentage.
|Team||Home %||Away %||Ratio|
|San Francisco 49ers||50%||22%||2.29|
|Kansas City Chiefs||56%||36%||1.57|
|St Louis Rams||44%||30%||1.47|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||52%||39%||1.32|
|New York Jets||55%||44%||1.25|
|San Diego Chargers||69%||56%||1.25|
|New England Patriots||86%||72%||1.20|
|Green Bay Packers||61%||52%||1.18|
|New Orleans Saints||52%||55%||0.95|
|New York Giants||52%||56%||0.94|
According the results in the table above, the Detroit Lions have the largest home field advantage. The Lions win 2.4 times and as many games at home (38%) as they do on the road (16%).
That's interesting, but it's really a function of the fact that Detroit has the worst winning percentage overall during this time. San Francisco and Arizona are second and third in the ratio between home and away winning percentage, but they are 29th and 25th respectively in overall winning percentage during this time period. All won less than 30% of their road games - making the home field advantage look stronger than it probably was.
The list starts to get interesting at numbers four, five and six - Seattle, Baltimore, and Minnesota. The three teams ranked 15th, sixth and 12th respectively in winning percentage during the time period analyzed. Yet each of them had a clear advantage at home. Each team won over 65% of their home games - while winning 41% or fewer of their road games.
The Patriots and Colts are both in the bottom ten. This is because the Colts (73% home win percentage) and Patriots (72%) are the league's two best road teams - again, this a function of their being good overall.
The Dolphins, Saints and Giants have the worst home field advantages of all teams.......with better winning percentages on the road than at home.