On December 23, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed


In the annual NFL Playoff Tournament few things are more coveted than ‘home field advantage’ when the divisional contests roll around and each and every team still has the Super Bowl in its sights….and little kids everywhere start dreaming of Santa Claus. One sure thing on every coaches and players wish list is ‘home field advantage’.

Think about it.  You get to sleep in your own bed and go to work in your own car and park in your own spot.  All of these guys are travel worn and adapt to almost any environment when they are the visiting team, however, ‘there ain’t no place like home’.

Of course, creature comforts aside, the real reason that the teams all strive for that ‘home field advantage’ are the home field crowds, which can often be like having another player or two on the field with you when they get riled up and boisterous.  Players have often spoken in after game interviews how they were able to feed off the energy of the crowd during a last minute winning drive.

Remember that the NFL Playoffs are a single-elimination tournament, so playing on your own home field takes on an even greater degree of importance.  In order to achieve ‘home field advantage’ throughout the playoffs a team must not only win their respective division, they must also end up with the best winning percentage in the conference to do so.

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, only 6 will qualify from each of the leagues two conferences based on regular season records. These will be the winners of each of the four divisional races plus two wild card teams from each conference.

Seeding for the playoffs is determined by the best overall record by percentage.  For example, the team with the best win/loss percentage in the NFC will be the number one seeded team.  The wild card teams will become the numbers 5 & 6 seeded teams in the conference.

Out front in the AFC are the Baltimore Ravens at 13-2 followed closely by the New England Patriots at 13-3.  The Kansas City Chiefs have the AFC West well in hand with an 11-4 record and the Houston Texas seem to be in control in the South although they have only posted a 10-5 record this season.

Over in the NFC the positions are more hotly contested this year. Although the NFC East has produced no viable competition, the Western division boasts the San Francisco 49ers at 12-3 with the 11-4 Seattle Seahawks nipping at their heels.

The New Orleans Saints are firmly in control of the NFC South at 12-3 and stand in good position to end up with ‘home field advantage’ should they manage to beat the Panthers next week and have the Seahawks beat San Francisco.  Speculators on sports talk shows will drive you crazy with the endless possibilities of ‘home field advantage’ scenario outcomes.

‘Wild Card Weekend’ takes place the first week after the last regular season NFL games take place, giving the fans some additional football to watch, and the top rated teams a chance to rest up for the real playoff action coming up.  However, wild card teams have been known to win Super Bowls!

Next we have the NFL Divisional Playoffs which will boil it down to the two top teams in the conference, followed by the Conference Championship which will determine the winners of this year’s NFC or AFC trophy winners.

Those two teams will go onto glory in Super Bowl LVI on February 2nd and become a part of NFL history.  Win or lose, fans and students of the game will be watching those two teams in action for years to come.

With only the final Week 17 action still pending, only the Baltimore Ravens have actually clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs this year. The AFC leading Ravens have posted a 12-2 record with only one road loss and one home loss so far.

Super Bowl LIV will be played on February 2nd  down in Miami Gardens at the Hard Rock Stadium, which by the way is located on Don Shula Drive, where the weather is expected to be balmy and nearly tropical while NFL fans in the great northlands bundle up at their favorite sports bars to enjoy the spectacle.

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