So much for the “advantage” part of home-field advantage.
The Kansas City Chiefs pasted the Houston Texans to the tune of 30-0 on Saturday, and the Pittsburgh Steelers outlasted the Cincinnati Bengals 18-16 that night. On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks survived a missed field goal in a 10-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings, and the Green Bay Packers controlled the second half of their 35-18 victory over Washington.
Rich Eisen of NFL Network didn’t make too much of the road teams winning, though, largely because of the quarterbacks who notched victories:
Much will be made of all 4 road teams winning. But all 4 home teams started first-time playoff QBs who now fall to 42-53 since 1990.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 11, 2016
At first glance, the fact Alex Smith beat Brian Hoyer, Ben Roethlisberger beat backup AJ McCarron, Russell Wilson beat Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers beat Kirk Cousins isn’t all that surprising. Roethlisberger, Wilson and Rodgers all have Super Bowl rings on their resume, and Hoyer was an absolute disaster against Smith with four interceptions and a lost fumble.
It is a testament to the importance of signal-callers in the NFL, especially when every play is magnified in the playoffs.
Perhaps because of those signal-callers, only the Packers were road underdogs heading into the weekend’s slate of games, per Odds Shark.
Still, more than just quarterback play went into these outcomes. Had Blair Walsh made his game-winning field goal against Seattle, the Vikings would have taken care of business at home. Had Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones kept their composure for Cincinnati during Pittsburgh’s final drive, the Bengals would have completed an incredible fourth-quarter comeback and sent their fans home happy.
Alas, none of the home fans were pleased with the outcomes of the Wild Card Round. Let that be a warning to those assuming the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals will advance to the conference championship round because of home-field advantage.