Tracking the playoff trends

BY foxsports • January 17, 2012

Over the course of many years, I keep a data-base for various trends in the NFL game. This morning, let's update two of the most interesting, Home Field Advantage and Seeding, and the Turnover Battles:

Home Field Advantage and Seeding:

The table you will see below is a simple tracking of seeding and home field advantage in the NFL playoffs since the field was expanded to 6 teams per conference in the 1990 season.

As you might notice, the 2011 column only represents 8 of the 10 games that are played before the Super Bowl (since the final 2 games have yet to be played). In that 22 seasons, the best year for home teams was 8-2. This season, if New England and San Francisco both win on Sunday, that would put the home teams at an all-time high 9-1, which I suppose would suggest that home field means something again. But, given that in 2010, the home teams were 4-6 in the playoffs, that would likely be a rush to judgement and a knee jerk reaction we should resist.

What makes that 9-1 home record all the more remarkable would be that the lone loss would be 15-1 Green Bay losing at home as the #1 seed in the NFC. A quick scan of the NFC side of the table below will reveal that the #1 seed of the NFC Playoffs played in the NFC Championship Game every year from 1990-2006. But, in 2007, when the Cowboys lost in their 1st playoff game, the #1 seed started trending in the wrong direction. Since then, the 2008 Giants, 2010 Falcons, and 2011 Packers have all gone one-and-done.

Year Home Record AFC Seeds NFC Seeds
1990 8-2 1* vs 2 1 vs 2*
1991 8-2 1* vs 2 1* vs 2
1992 5-5 2 vs 4* 1 vs 2*
1993 8-2 1* vs 3 1* vs 2
1994 8-2 1 vs 2* 1* vs 2
1995 7-3 2* vs 5 1* vs 3
1996 8-2 2* vs 5 1* vs 2
1997 6-4 2 vs 4* 1 vs 2*
1998 8-2 1* vs 2 1 vs 2*
1999 7-3 1 vs 4* 1* vs 2
2000 8-2 2 vs 4* 1* vs 2
2001 7-3 1 vs 2* 1* vs 3
2002 8-2 1* vs 2 1 vs 2*
2003 6-4 1* vs 3 1 vs 3*
2004 6-4 1 vs 2* 1* vs 2
2005 4-6 2 vs 6* 1* vs 5
2006 8-2 3* vs 4 1* vs 2
2007 5-5 1* vs 3 2 vs 5*
2008 5-5 2* vs 6 4* vs 6
2009 7-3 1* vs 5 1* vs 2
2010 4-6 2* vs 6 2 vs 6*
2011 7-1 1 vs 2 2 vs 4

Table Tutorial


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