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Last week I named the six teams with the greatest current home field advantage in the National Football League. In order to make the list, you had to generate a high number on â€œThe Difference Meter.â€ The following teams made the cut: Seattle, Baltimore, New England, Philly, Chicago and Denver.
I quickly learned that fans take their home field rankings personally. My inbox was predictably flooded with objections. â€œHow could you possibly leave historic Lambeau Field off the list? Have you seen the sea of red at Arrowhead? The Metrodome has always been the loudest stadium in the league!!! Do you know what the big apple is? You chose to give Baltimore credit but ignored the Steelers?â€
Very good points, really. I considered all of the above teams but they were all flawed in their own way. Allow me to explain why:
Green Bay Packers â€“ The Pack had THE GREATEST home field advantage I have ever seen. In 1997, they extended their all-time home-field postseason record to 12-0. They set another team record by stretching their Lambeau Field winning streak to 25 games-the second-longest in NFL history. They had it all; the weather factor, noise and most importantly, the greatest nostalgia factor of all-time.
You didnâ€™t win in their stadium when the temperature dipped below 20 degrees. When opponents stepped off the bus, they knew they had no chance against Favre and the cheesehead mystique. It just wasnâ€™t happening. All of that changed when Mike Vick led the Falcons into Wisconsin and crashed the party in 2003. Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren soon rolled out of town, an incompetent Ted Thompson took over and they lost their defensive identity when Reggie White left. After 1998, Green Bay had no chance to register on the difference meter.
Kansas City Chiefs â€“ Everyone sweats this home field advantage. The barbeque is unparalleled. The fans collective sea of red is unmatched. The Derrick Thomas/Neil Smith combination used their fans to wreak havoc on offenses around the league for years. Thereâ€™s only one problem; how many Super Bowl births does this organization have over the past 20 years? Hereâ€™s a hint: itâ€™s the same amount of PETA groups Mike Vick has attended. Thatâ€™s flat out unacceptable when you consider the great regular season records K.C. had under Marty Schottenheimer.
How can any of this be pinned on the home crowd? This is where the fear factor comes into play. No teams truly feared going into Arrowhead during the postseason. They knew deep down that â€œMarty-ballâ€ would choke. This crowd mirrors the baseball fans in St. Louis. Theyâ€™re knowledgeable, loyal and united. The problem isâ€¦theyâ€™re waaay too nice.
Pittsburgh Steelers â€“ Wipe your tears with those terrible towels Steeler fans. If you want to know why you were omitted, see the above explanation. For the most part, Pittsburgh has always brought it during the regular season. With the exception of the 1996 AFC Championship game (which they almost blew on a Jim Harbaugh hail mary), the Steelers have botched postseason games at home over the past decade. They had an opportunity to halt the Broncos back to back title run in 1998 and failed. The same thing happened in 2002 against the Patriots. The fans have to take some blame for that.
Minnesota Vikings â€“ The only reason they are even mentioned in a home field conversation is because they play in a dome. To be fair, I canâ€™t place too much blame on the Metrodome faithful since Gary Anderson cost them a trip to the Super Bowl by missing his only field goal of the â€™98 season in the NFC Championship. Iâ€™m going to go out on a limb and say Tavaris Jackson wonâ€™t be causing me to reassess their exclusion after this season.