London Calling: Jacksonville Jaguars’ Overseas Triumph
The Jacksonville Jaguars have seemingly stumbled upon a secondary stronghold in London, where their fortunes have experienced a renaissance. Impressively, they notched victories against the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills, revitalizing their season and boosting their record to 3-2. Yet, a challenge looms as they must return to Jacksonville to face six more scheduled matches.
The Fading Echo of Home-Field Advantage
The Jaguars’ journey embodies a pivotal facet of the 2023 NFL season: the diminishing significance of home-field advantage. Their performance in Jacksonville has been subpar, with a winless 0-2 record. In stark contrast, their three away games have culminated in triumphant outcomes, underscoring a shift in the NFL landscape.
This season, the concept of home-field advantage appears to be rapidly dissipating, evident as NFL teams experience more losses than wins after five weeks of competition.
Road Teams’ Domination
Road teams in the NFL have proven to be particularly dominant this season, amassing a 41-37 record. Even when we exclude the two London games, in which the Jaguars played both home and away roles, road teams maintain a commendable 40-36 record.
The last instance of NFL home teams concluding a season with more losses than wins occurred in 2020, a peculiar year marked by empty or partially filled stadiums due to COVID-19. However, this was an exceptional circumstance. In 2019, home teams secured victories in just 52% of the games, marking the lowest percentage since 1972, according to SportsOddsHistory.com. Although 2020 was an outlier, the winning percentage for home teams barely improved in 2021, standing at 51.1%. In 2022, it exhibited a momentary resurgence to 56.7%, but 2023 seems to herald a return to the previous norm.
Several factors, including more comfortable travel arrangements, subdued crowds in modern, state-of-the-art stadiums, and officials being attuned to the enduring trend favoring home teams, contribute to the waning influence of home-field advantage this season.
Road Teams in the Betting Arena
In the realm of sports betting, road teams have enjoyed a distinct advantage due to point spreads for an extended period. Since 2004, road teams have maintained a winning record against the spread in 14 out of 19 seasons, according to SportsOddsHistory.com.
Unsurprisingly, road teams continue to thrive this season, with a notable 56.2% winning record. Road favorites have secured a dominant 58.6% success rate, while road underdogs stand at a respectable 54.6%. This exceptional performance prompts a reevaluation of the traditional value associated with home-field advantage. Historically, NFL teams were awarded roughly three points on the spread as a home-field advantage, but this number has gradually dwindled.
An epitome of the diminishing role of home-field advantage can be witnessed in the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers. Since relocating from San Diego, the Chargers have cultivated one of the NFL’s smallest fan bases, while the Cowboys boast one of the most extensive fan followings. The focus at SoFi Stadium isn’t on the fan count but rather on whether the Cowboys’ crowd will swell to 80% or more. Oddsmakers acknowledge the absence of a home-field edge for the Chargers, with the Cowboys emerging as a 2-point favorite at BetMGM.
While it’s still early in the season, and as weather conditions deteriorate, the performance of home teams may improve. A sample size of 76 games isn’t adequate to establish a lasting trend, but the evidence thus far is compelling.
For decades, playing on the road has been deemed a formidable challenge. However, this season, even as a season-ticket holder, the likelihood of witnessing your favorite team secure victory has dwindled to just below 50%.
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