The New England Patriots are a devastating team at home, with a 75-23 record in Gillette since 2001. So naturally, when the Seattle Seahawks came into town for week 10, they faced some daunting statistics. However, they overcame the odds and beat the Patriots 31-24 in Foxborough, even though the Patriots were favored by a touchdown. 2016 is the season where home field advantage no longer matters.
This isn’t to say that home field advantage is worthless. It can potentially be an x-factor to some teams in the league that might need it, causing a desperate race for the #1 seed. However, when two heavy hitting teams face off, home field is just a happenstance and the better team will find a way to victory. After all, the Super Bowl is a road game, the biggest road game of the year. If a team can’t win their road games, they are fundamentally flawed.
The Houston Texans are undefeated at home, but have only one win on the road. This is an example of a team that would benefit highly from home field advantage. But if they can’t win more than one game on the road, what chance do they have of ever hosting a team in the playoffs? That’s to say they make the playoffs at all.
Only college football benefits from home field advantage in ways the NFL could never. In college, the young men are playing their hearts out in front of their peers and loved ones. Stadiums rock with the cheers of the crowd, mostly despite what the score line indicates. In the NFL, teams play at home and get paid regardless of the outcome. One of the most devastating feelings while playing at home is seeing all the fans start looking for the exit once the deficit gets too large. Big name college teams have too much school pride to leave early.
If home field advantage will ever become important again in the NFL, stadiums need to better resemble their college football counterparts. This means fans staying till the end of the game no matter what the score is to support their team. After all, the word “fan” comes from “fanatic” and football fanatics make sure the home team is always the loudest.