It’s no secret that FedEx Field hasn’t provided the Redskins one of the better home-field advantages in the NFL since the venue opened as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in 1997. Redskins fans have long complained about the poor game-day experience at the stadium in Landover, which remains a nondescript monstrosity despite the removal of thousands of seats in recent years and is regularly filled with fans rooting for the other team.
The Redskins are 79-80-1 all-time in regular season games at FedEx Field. Only the Browns, Lions and Saints have worse records in their home stadiums among teams that have played at least five seasons in their current venue. On Tuesday, in his thorough examination of home-field advantage in the NFL dating from 1990, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell provides evidence that the Redskins’ home-field advantage since vacating RFK may be even worse than the team’s record indicates.
To estimate a team’s home-field advantage, Barnwell subtracted a team’s average point differential in road games from its average point differential in home games every season and divided by two. Barnwell, who excluded games played at neutral sites, including games that were relocated because of weather, explains he used point differential instead of wins and losses as part of his methodology because point differential predicts future records better than winning percentage.
Using this methodology and looking at how teams have performed in their current stadiums going back as far as 1990, Barnwell found that the Seahawks have enjoyed an NFL-best observed home-field advantage of 4.6 points at the stadium currently known as CenturyLink Field since 2002. The Ravens (4.4 at M&T Bank Stadium since 1998) and New York Jets (3.7 at MetLife Stadium since 2010) round out the top three, while the Redskins’ observed home-field advantage of 1.2 at FedEx Field since 1997 ranks dead last. (Barnwell substituted the most recent stadiums for the Falcons, Chargers, Rams, 49ers and Vikings, who have yet to play five seasons in their current stadiums.) Interestingly, the Cowboys and Eagles rank just ahead of the Redskins at 1.3 and 1.7, respectively.
Barnwell also calculated every team’s observed home-field advantage since the start of the 2007 season, irrespective of whether the team moved stadiums during that span. By this measure, the Redskins’ observed home-field advantage is even worse (0.7) and only percentage points ahead of the Dolphins for the worst home-field advantage in the league.
It was only two years ago that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross remarked, “You felt it was almost a home game,” after a healthy contingent of Miami fans watched the Dolphins defeat the Redskins in the season opener at FedEx Field.
The top home-field advantages over the past decade, according to this metric, belong to the Seahawks (5.1), Packers (4.7) and Ravens (4.6).
The Redskins played their home games at RFK during their glory years, so it stands to reason that their observed home-field advantage was better before they moved to FedEx Field. Among the 15 teams that have played at least five seasons in multiple stadiums since 1990, Barnwell found their average home-field advantage declined by an average of only 0.3 of a point per game. The Redskins, however, went from an observed home-field advantage of 3.8 at RFK from 1990 through 1996 to 1.2 at FedEx Field. That 2.6-point drop is the worst in the league, followed by the Broncos (-2.2) and Cowboys (-1.8).
“There just seems to be something missing there,” former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien told the Sports Junkies last year after the Redskins dropped to 2-16 all-time in Monday night games at FedEx Field. “I don’t know what it is. It’s a larger stadium. It doesn’t have the intimacy that RFK had. I just feel that . . . it’s not passionate like it once was. It’s not that intimate setting and it’s not a ticket like you can’t get a ticket for it. Everyone can get a ticket now to FedEx and it’s just become a situation now when in a big game, on a high stage, that we’re not performing at the level that we need to, and it’s frustrating.”
Check out Barnwell’s full study here.
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