Home Field Disadvantage? Why History Is Against a Colts-Saints Super Bowl
The logic behind trying to get homefield advantage in the playoffs is obvious: teams would rather play all of their playoff games at home than risk travelling to hostile territory.
The interesting thing is that the last time a team with home field advantage in either conference won the Super Bowl was in 2003. Here are the results of the teams that have had home field advantage since then:
AFC: Steelers 15-1, lost in AFC Conference Championship 41-27
NFC: Eagles 13-3, lost in Super Bowl 24-21
AFC: Colts 14-2, lost in AFC Divisional Playoff 21-18
NFC: Seahawks 13-3, lost in Super Bowl 21-10
AFC: Chargers 14-2, lost in AFC Divisional Playoff 24-21
NFC: Bears 13-3, lost in Super Bowl 29-17
AFC: Patriots 16-0, lost in Super Bowl 17-14
NFC: Cowboys 13-3, lost in NFC Divisional Playoff 21-17
AFC: Titans 13-3, lost in AFC Divisional Playoff 13-10
NFC: Giants 12-4, lost in NFC Divisional Playoff 23-11
Out of the 10 teams in this time span, five of them lost their first playoff game. Four of them made it to the Super Bowl, but none of them have won it.
There are a few important reasons for this.
First of all, because it's the playoffs, every opponent is going to be tough. These visiting teams don't get into January without confidence in their team to come through in difficult situations, including on the road against the team with the best record in football.
Secondly, the Super Bowl is on a neutral field. Four of the 10 teams were undefeated at home in the postseason, but still lost on a neutral field in the Super Bowl. No matter how unbeatable a team may be at home, they still have to be able to win away from home.
Finally, and the most debatable reason, is teams wrapping up home field early and resting their starters too much. Although players still get practice reps in, not having actual games where you play for anything hurts their focus. About half of the teams above wrapped up home-field prior to Week 17, and clearly didn't benefit any more than the teams that were pushed to the end.
So, what do we learn from all of this?
Well, the talk is stirring up about the possibility of an 18-0 Saints team playing an 18-0 Colts team. However, when thinking about the possibility of that actually happening, we have to remember recent history. Two of the past three Super Bowl champions have been Wild Card teams, and a number one seed hasn't won the Super Bowl since 2003.
While it's still a very good possibility that the Colts and Saints could play in the Super Bowl, there is still plenty of football left to play, and recent history says that it probably won't happen.
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