Arrowhead doesn’t provide boost for Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Full disclosure: Brian Burke is a Baltimore fan, and he’s — hey, we won’t beat around the bush — well, the guy’s salivating a bit at the thought of his 3-1 Ravens chasing the 1-3 Kansas City Chiefs around Sunday.
“I am an NFL RedZone addict,” Burke, the statistical analyst and New York Times contributor, says from his home in Reston, Va. “So whenever I get the chance to offer my opinion on the Chiefs, it’s largely that they kind of rise and fall on (Matt) Cassel.”
Face, meet palm.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, like the rest of the NFL, we’ve beaten poor Matt to death. No, this conversation is actually about home-field advantage, something Burke has written about extensively at AdvancedNFLStats.com. And, more to the point, whether that advantage still exists over on Red Coat Drive.
Remember The Arrowhead Mystique? The Red Death? Smells like burnt ends. Sounds like a jet engine exploding inside your eardrums. The Acoustical Design Group of Kansas once reported the noise level inside Arrowhead Stadium on game day reaching roughly 116 decibels — or just slightly below the first three rows at a Deep Purple concert.
It’s part of the Chiefs’ franchise identity, stamped onto the masthead, woven into the fabric of the populace. “Undoubtedly one of the finest facilities in the NFL, Arrowhead and the fans who consistently fill it have helped produce a distinct (home-field) advantage for the Chiefs,” the club’s official website notes. “Dating back to ’90, Kansas City owns the seventh-best regular season home winning percentage among all NFL teams with a 106-54 (.663) record over that span.”
Yeah, but… there’s also this: Dating back to ’07, the Chiefs are 14-28 at Arrowhead in the regular season, a home winning percentage of .333 — the worst in the AFC during that stretch of five-plus seasons. And since the start of the 2011 campaign, Kansas City has dropped seven of 10 at home. It gets worse: The first two visitors to 1 Arrowhead Drive in 2012, Atlanta and San Diego, have outscored the locals by a combined score of 77-44.
All of which led us to toss this question to Burke: What happened?
Did the Mystique take a powder? Is The Red Death dead? Why do teams keep coming into the Chiefs’ backyard and roll up and down the field like they own the place? Why do they keep taking the darned crowd not just out of the game, but actually send them, quite literally, back out to the parking lot by halftime?
“The one thing, if I were doing analysis, I would say,” Burke counters. “If they’re 14-28 (at home), maybe that’s just because they’re bad.
“What’s their road record? So compare it that way.”
Fair enough. Let’s see: Since 2007, away from the friendly confines, the Chiefs are — 14-28.
Same record. Same percentage.
Well ain’t that a kick in the head?
“And the answer is ultimately going to be,” Burke continues, “is (that) they’ve been pretty bad.”
Now as a general rule, Burke notes, the home team in the NFL typically wins roughly 57 percent of the time. He’s also found that the closer in talent and ability two teams happen to be, the more the comforts of home play into the equation — although the runs of a few recent Super Bowl champions seem to be throwing a spanner into that particular set of works.
“(The Chiefs) had one playoff year (2010), and they got spanked by Baltimore (in the postseason) pretty bad,” Burke notes. “That season was pretty random. They were lucky. They had a weak schedule. They weren’t really that good. Overall, consistently, they’ve been a pretty subpar team.”
And to paraphrase that ancient philosopher Huey Lewis, cool is a rule, but sometimes, bad is just — bad. And if bad is in over its head, it doesn’t matter where the heck bad laces up the cleats.
“You also had some very good teams up until the Trent Green Era; you had some really strong defenses and Priest Holmes, really just some very strong individual talents,” Burke says. “So you’re going to have some great home records just because of the talent level. I think what you’re really seeing is the decline (to) where the talent level isn’t anything.
“Think of it this way: When Towson played LSU, would it matter where they played?”
So it isn’t you. It’s them. Feel free to face-palm again.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com