In this year’s NFL Playoffs so far, home field advantage did not feel like home after all.
This past weekend, all four wild card teams in the NFC and AFC made history by winning their games on the road, a feat never accomplished in NFL history since the current format was put into place since the AFL-NFL merger.
During the NFL Playoffs Wild Card weekend, AFC South division winner Houston Texans were shutout by Kansas City Chiefs, 30-0. On the other hand, AFC North division champion Cincinnati Bengals narrowly lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 18-16.
The following day in the NFC, North division winner Minnesota Vikings missed their chance to advance in a close 9-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Green Bay Packers, on their part, got the best of East division winner Washington Redskins, 35-18, to round out the matches.
To a normal football fan, it was a case of bad luck for the two lower division winners in both AFC and NFC, but NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen begged to differ and offered a more plausible explanation:
Much will be made of all 4 road teams winning. But all 4 home teams started first-time playoff QBs who now fall to 42-53 since 1990.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 11, 2016
Eisen’s observation was founded, as three of the four NFL Playoffs Wild Card weekend winners featured quarterbacks who won Super Bowl championships in the last three years and faced first-timers in the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger, the Seattle Seahawks had Russell Wilson, and the Green Bay Packers had Aaron Rodgers. Kansas City’s Alex Smith, however, beat a jittery Houston Texans QB Brian Hoyer.
Simply put, the games all came down to which teams had the better field general, especially in a high-stakes game in the NFL Playoffs.
But aside from the quarterbacks that called out the plays, it was the little breaks of the game that decided the outcome against those home teams: Minnesota Vikings kicking specialist Blair Walsh just missed the target wide left, while Cincinnati Bengals Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones lost their cool in the final moments of the match.
Now, it may be plausible to see the other NFL division winners – Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals of the NFC, and the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots of the AFC – shaking in their boots against the four underdogs.
Who knows? Maybe two of these four teams will battle it out for the Vince Lombardi trophy at the end of the NFL season.