What is the home field edge really worth in the NFL? You’ve probably heard many different answers from many different sources.
Looking for just one number to tell you how much the spreads adjust? The public perception is that it’s roughly a field goal and that’s pretty close. A more exact number would be closer to 2.7-point (see table below).
However, all good NFL handicappers know that there’s more to it than that. While the league average is 2.5, the actual number can vary quite a bit depending on the individual team.
Importance of Home Field Advantage When Handicapping Pro Football
When you hear about the toughest places in the league to play you probably think of Kansas City and Seattle. These two have been going back and forth for the title of loudest stadium in the NFL.
Noise is definitely a factor, but it’s not the deciding factor. At least not for me. My focus is on comparing a team’s scoring margin based on whether they are at home or away.
I call this a team’s “True Advantage” and it’s not overly complicated to find. You take the difference of the home scoring margin from the road scoring margin and divide by two.
For example (from the table below), let’s look at the Ravens. They have a home margin of 6.98. Simply meaning their wins at home on average are by 6.98-points. Their road margin is -0.21. To get their true edge number, we take 6.98 – (-0.21) to get 7.2. Divide that by 2 and we reach the 3.6 that is listed in the table.
With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind with these numbers.
First, you will find some very good teams with a low True Advantage score. This doesn’t mean those teams are bad at home, it just means they play just as well on the road.
Their advantage isn’t as significant. What this is telling you is that the talent (coaches/players) has more to do with their home success than their stadium.
Also keep in mind that some teams have moved cities and stadiums throughout their history. The Raiders, for example, might have a much different home field advantage in Las Vegas than they did in Oakland. It would be hard to infer much from a few years of data on those teams, so we are just including their overall data for now.
Table includes data from regular season games from 1989 to 2021.
True Home Field Advantages for All 32 NFL Teams
|Team||Home Record||Home Margin||Road Record||Road Margin||True Advantage|