Whenever sports columnists talk about home-field advantage, the Seattle Seahawks immediately jump to mind. They’re 15-1 at home over the last two regular seasons, with only the Cardinals winning at CenturyLink Field (by seven) late this season.
I know that Seattle plays exceptionally well at home. But give the Fail Mary game to the Packers, and the Broncos have the same home record as the Seahawks over the last two regular seasons at 14-2. Denver did lose last postseason to the Ravens, but it was freezing cold (9 degrees) and the Broncos looked to have the game in hand with some 30 seconds to go, but the defense gave up the big play. It’ll be in the 50s for the AFC championship against New England this Sunday.
As CBS sports NFL announcer Phil Simms so pertinently described, Sports Authority Field was the “loudest [we’ve] seen it all year”. I’m not sure how anyone could’ve seen how loud it was, but we get the announcer’s point. Denver is a tough place to play in.
The Patriots did beat the Broncos earlier in the year, mounting a 24-point comeback, but that was in Foxborough. The Patriots were just 4-4 on the road this year (losing to the Bengals, Jets, Panthers, and Dolphins) and 9-0 at home, including the playoffs. The Broncos are 8-1 at home.
Peyton Manning is relatively the same at home and on the road: he has 27 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 8.3 yards per completion, and a 114.9 passer rating at home; that’s compared to 28 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 8.3 yards per completion, and a 115.3 passer rating on the road.
The stats might not be on Manning’s side in terms of home or away, but the in terms of score, playing in the Mile High city surely helps. Denver allowed 22.5 points per game at home compared to 27.4 on the road in the 2013 regular season, which is a significant difference. The offense scored a whopping 39.5 points per game at home and 36.3 on the road – after all, this is arguably the best offense ever.
Home-field advantage should be an obvious asset to any team, but recent history has shown otherwise: the 2007 Giants, a team which won the Super Bowl, was 11-1 on the road (including playoffs and a trip to London during the regular season) and just 3-5 at home. The Broncos, however, are fortunate that the game is being played in Colorado rather than in Massachusetts and are also fortunate not to be playing the ’07 Giants.
The Broncos have one of the biggest advantages in sports which should help them in what might be considered a Super Bowl or bust season for Denver.