By Ray Dunlap

I’ve done a lot of thinking about Home Field Advantage over the past week, and I think I have an idea that will work.

First of all, let me define what I think of “Home Field Advantage.”  If a team is 5-3 at home and 5-3 on the road, I don’t consider them to have ANY “Home Field Advantage.”  To me, a better win-loss record at home should be the only criteria for home field advantage.  That team, above, with a record of 10-6, will have their effectiveness at home and on the road baked into their point totals by the game company.  They should get no advantage just because they’re playing in their own park . . . because they exhibited no advantage in the actual NFL season.

But, the advantage cannot just be the domain of the “home” team . . . because there are some teams that played better as a visiting team than they did in their own stadium!  Take the 2016 New England Patriots.  They finished the season 14-2, but their road record was 8-0!  So, New England was a true “Road Warrior” team last season.  Conversely, look at the Houston Texans.  They were 7-1 at home and only 2-6 on the road.  A 9-7 record that will give them a certain number of APBA points on both offense and defense, but they were CLEARLY a much better home team than they were on the road.

So, for me, the starting point is to take the number of home victories and subtract the number of road victories.  Here are a few examples from the current card set:

Team                                 Home       Away       Home Rating       Visitor Rating

Pittsburgh                           6-2            5-3                   +1                          -1

New England                     6-2             8-0                   -2                          +2

Jacksonville                       2-6             1-7                  +1                          -1

Houston                               7-1            2-6                   +5                         -5

NY Jets                                  2-6            3-5                   -1                         +1

Baltimore                             6-2            2-6                  +4                         -4

Now, some of these ratings may look a little funny.  How can Jacksonville, with a record of 3-13, have a positive “Home Field Advantage” number?  It’s because, as bad as they were, statistically they played marginally better at home!  You get the idea.

Here is how my calculation works.  You simply take the Home team’s “home rating” and subtract from it the Visiting team’s “visitor rating.”  This would give you the “Home Field Advantage” rating for that game.

Let’s say that Houston is hosting Pittsburgh.  You would take Houston’s home rating of +5 and subtract Pittsburgh’s away rating of -1 and you would get a +6.  This would be Houston’s “Home Field Advantage” rating for this game.  If, however the game was in Pittsburgh, you would take the Steelers’ home rating of +1 and subtract the Texan’s visitor’s rating or -5 and you would get a +6 home field advantage for Pittsburgh.

Let’s see what happens when Houston hosts New England.  You would take the Texans’ rating of +5 and subtract the Patriots road rating of +2 and Houston’s home field advantage would now only be +3.

What about this scenario?  Let’s say the Jets are hosting the Patriots.  New York’s home rating is a -1.  Subtracting the Patriots’ visitor rating of +2 from that leaves the Jets with a negative home field advantage number of -3.  The “Road Warrior” Patriots would have an advantage, even playing in the Jets’ home park!  So, a positive “Home Field Advantage” number would benefit the host team – a negative number would benefit the visitors.

So, what do you do with these numbers?

I am assuming that most people are using the Offensive Index Finder System to determine their indexes.  If so, here’s my thought:  Take whatever the “Home Field Advantage” number and add that many points to both the offensive and defensive squads for that game.

So, based on the above example, when the Patriots come to the Meadowlands to play the Jets, you would add 3 points to both New England’s offense and defense to determine which column to read in the Offensive Index Finder System.

This is a pretty easy innovation to adopt, and one that will give a marginal advantage to teams that either play better at home, or play better on the road!

We would love to hear any comments or field any questions any of you have.

5 thoughts on “Home Field Advantage – Innovation”

1. Ray, first thank you for submitting an article for “Innovation Friday”. It has been my experience with innovations that they should have two core principles . First, all innovations must have the “yin and yang” affect. Whenever you take from one area you must always give back in another area. Secondly, it’s an easy system to implement that does NOT slow down play. I would love to see this system play tested over a period of time to see its effectiveness.

2. I love the innovation!!! Is that something I can calculate for my upcoming replay of the 1984 season??

3. Thanks Ray – I apologize, I started reading this in the waiting room at the doctors office and didn’t see that you have the formula spelled out right there. Looking at the 1984 season, most teams are pretty even keel (one to 2 point difference) except for a few teams. But the biggest thing that jumped out at me was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 6-2 at home and 0–8 away, that definitely tells a story and gives a perfect example of why your innovation should be adapted thank you very much