ESPN’s Bill Barnwell posted a story a few weeks ago that broke down which teams have the best home-field advantage in the NFL. Where did Arrowhead Stadium end up on the list? Brace yourselves.
Out of 32 teams in the NFL, Barnwell said the Kansas City Chiefs have the 29th-best home-field advantage in the league.
Wait, wait, wait. Before you all start throwing pots and pans around your kitchen, let’s take a moment to give Barnwell’s argument about the Chiefs’ supposed lackluster home-field advantage a chance.
First off, Barnwell admitted that home-field advantage can be a “tricky thing to pin down.” (More on this later.) Barnwell took data from the past 10 seasons and calculated a team’s average point differential in both home and away games. “If you add those together and divide by two, you get the team’s observed differential,” he said.
Barnwell He excluded neutral site games, postseason contests and games that were moved due to weather (like Hurricane Katrina affecting the Saints in 2005).
When you get down to it, the Chiefs home-field advantage came in at No. 29—a 0.9 observed HFA. That’s only better than the ... wait for it ... Raiders, Redskins and Dolphins.
Most of you are probably saying, “Come on, Bill! The Chiefs have the LOUDEST stadium in the world!” Barnwell addressed that point: “It’s not clear noise is an issue, either, with the Chiefs and Raiders both ranking in the bottom five.”
I’ll just say this: I know there plenty of Chiefs and non-Chiefs fans out there who would agree that Arrowhead is a top-five stadium in terms of difficulty to play in. At the same time, ranking home-field advantage (especially scientifically with data and numbers) from top to bottom is so hard to do.
With that being said, there are plenty of current and former players that say Arrowhead is an extremely tough stadium to compete in. Just for fun, I compiled a list of quotes that seem to contradict—at least some—of Barnwell’s assertion that the Chiefs’ home-field advantage is near the bottom.
Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert, Jan. 10, 2017:
“It’s loud. It’s the loudest stadium I’ve ever played in.”
Former Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Sept. 2, 2014:
"It's a pretty tough place – it's up there. The noise will be tough."
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Sept. 7, 2016:
“I’m telling you, it plays a bigger role than what people may know. It’s very loud in that stadium, and you can sense that energy gives them an extra boost and motivation - that’s what makes it a very tough place to play. I’ve played at Arrowhead a bunch of times, and it’s very difficult to hear what’s being called and what’s being checked to. Obviously if we check to a run and you run a route, the guy makes a play in the backfield and you hear that crowd get even louder.”
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, Oct. 23, 2016:
“They have a good environment, a great environment to play football. You just have to stay focused. They did a good job making it loud and we had a lot of presnap penalties. Those are things that you can’t do in order to win games on the road.”
You get the idea.
Barnwell’s way of determining the best home-field advantage isn’t perfect, but I understand the purpose in trying to put some specific data to the debate, instead of biased fans arguing back and forth about how their stadium is better.
The debate about how tough a stadium is to play in or how rabid a fan base is never-ending. It’s rather subjective. You can use Barnwell’s statistics that indicate the Chiefs point differential just isn’t that good at Arrowhead. Or you could counter with the Chiefs are more than 50 games better than .500 at home since 1990.
That sounds like a pretty good home-field advantage, if you ask me.
It’s safe to say that Arrowhead will be rocking Sunday against the Eagles. If you don’t think that it’ll be a good home-field advantage, then I’d urge you to think again.