People often talk about how important home field advantage is in the NFL playoffs. Teams will resist resting players in the final weeks of the season to ensure they can host at least the first game in the post season. The top team in each NFL conference can attempt to make it to the Super Bowl by winning just two more games in the friendly confines of their own stadiums. However, this has only happened 2 times in the last 10 years.
In that same span, the 6th seed has gone on to the Super Bowl just as many times as the 1 seed.
There were 5 teams in the NFL that were undefeated or held only one loss at home last season. The Bengals, Patriots, Seahawks, Panthers and Broncos. All of these teams made the playoffs and hosted a home playoff game. Only 3 of them won that game. In the wild card round, 3 of the 4 teams that hosted a game lost .
In 2012, neither home team in the conference championship games advanced to the Super Bowl. In 2010 6 playoff games were won by the traveling team. Only 4 were won by the home team.
If a team is favored in a game and playing at home, pressure builds if they are losing late in the game. Fans can get agitated and the home team can get tight. As Bengals fan, we have seen this happen a few times in recent history.
Perhaps the shift is the way teams travel. I can imagine as the ability to travel and stay connected to home improves, the stress of traveling has drastically decreased. New technology allows for more comfortable home away from home situations and allows players and coaches to be more relaxed on the road.
So what is your opinion, does home field advantage in the playoffs mean as much now as it did in the past?