Home Field Advantage Is Worthless In The NFL's Wild Card Round

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

Photo: AP

First Over the weekend, three of the four games in the NFL’s Wild Card round were won by the road team. That may seem like a lot in a sport where home field is considered a huge advantage, but in the Wild Card round, winning on the road is the norm.Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams and eight divisions in 2002, home teams are only 19-17 in the Wild Card round. Here is how that compares to the other rounds and the regular season…

NFL home playoff team record

That .528 winning percentage is well-below the winning percentage of home teams during the regular season over the same period and over 150 points less than the record of home teams in the divisional and conference championship rounds. Of course, the home teams in the divisional rounds had a bye during the Wild Card round.

And the record of home teams in the Wild Card round is even worse since 2004. During that period, home teams actually have a losing record (13-15). Including this season, three of the last seven playoffs have seen the road teams win more games during the opening round of the playoffs. In fact, 2006 was the only year in which home teams had a winning record (4-0) in the Wild Card round.

This tells us that, at least since the move to eight divisions, the Wild Card teams are, on average, better than the lesser division winners. And that means the Wild Card is serving its purpose by making sure good teams aren’t snubbed by the divisional format.

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