When you think of home field advantage in the NFL, you automatically think of the Earth-shaking grounds at CenturyLink field in Seattle or the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Though the Detroit Lions have a fanbase more loyal than most, Ford Field doesn’t seem to strike fear in opponents like some of the more iconic destinations in the NFL.
But perception may not be reality. Bill Barnwell of ESPN did a deep dive into home field advantage over at ESPN and found that over the past 10 years only five teams have had a bigger home field advantage than the Detroit Lions.
Barnwell’s methodology was to compare a team’s average margin of victory at home vs. on the road, and the Lions came out with a 3.5 points per game advantage when in the confines of Ford Field.
That’s not all that surprising when you think about it. Since 2007, the Lions are 39-41 at home with just a 24-56 record on the road. At one point during this span, the Lions lost 26 straight road games.
The Lions have been especially good at home as of late. In the past three seasons alone, Detroit is 17-7 at Ford Field, while earning just a 10-14 record on the road over the same time period.
So why is Ford Field such a drastic game-changer? Barnwell tries to formulate an answer, but falls short of finding something definitive. It does appear having a domed stadium may provide some sort of advantage. The Lions, Cardinals (seventh) and Saints (11th) all rank in the top half of the league for home field advantage. However, the Colts (20th) and Cowboys (26th) are among the teams with the least amount of home field advantage.
Barnwell also concludes it has nothing to do with crowd noise. “It’s not clear noise is an issue, either, with the Chiefs and Raiders both ranking in the bottom five,” Barnwell writes.
Whatever the reason, it’s good to see that the Lions actually have some sort of advantage working in their favor. Of course, the glass-half-empty version of this story is that the Lions are more negatively impacted by road travel than almost every other team.
But I prefer to believe that Detroit is just doing something very right at Ford Field. And with the $100 million additions to the stadium this year, hopefully that only improves Detroit’s home field advantage for the 2017 season.