NFL Playoffs 2012: How Important Is Home-Field Advantage?
It's what's for dinner. It doesn't make a lot of the NFL games, it makes a lot of the NFL games better. It's like having an Easy button.
OK, maybe it's not all that. But it's what every NFL team aspires to have when they kick off on opening day.
But the numbers suggest that come conference championship time the home-field advantage is not all that it's cracked up to be—at least for one conference.
In the last decade, the home team is only .500 in the NFC Championship Game, thanks in large part to the road-strong New York Giants and the bridesmaid Eagles, who lost two-straight home games before finally getting to the Super Bowl in 2005.
However, in the AFC, home field is much more valuable. The home team has won eight of 10 AFC Championship Games.
Which brings us to the old saying, "there's more than one way to skin a cat." Or is it, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
The first question that stands out to me is—maybe the AFC teams with home-field advantage that won were just superior teams that dominated the Super Bowl as well?
Well, no. The eight home teams that won the AFC Championship Game were only 3-5 in the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, of the five home teams that won the conference championship only the New Orleans Saints went on to win the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of having home-field advantage is getting a bye the first week of the playoffs.
In theory, that bye should benefit weary teams heading into a potential four-week playoff run. However, it appears the value of the bye fades after that first game and by the Super Bowl it's virtually meaningless.
Surprising to some, I am sure, given the attention given to securing that first-round bye and home-field throughout the playoffs.
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