Distinct NFL Homefield Advantages Through the Years
The Frozen Tundra has given the Packers an advantage since the days of Vince Lombardi. From 1957 through 2003, Green Bay was undefeated in the postseason at Lambeau Field. The most famous example of the Packers' cold-weather edge was the 1967 NFL Championship Game, when Green Bay beat Dallas 21-17 in the Ice Bowl.
Mile High Stadium was a former minor league baseball park that they kept expanding, so rabid fans were always very close to the action. Throw in the altitude and the weather problems, and visiting teams were at a distinct disadvantage. Invesco Field, which opened next door to the old Mile High Stadium in 2002, has give the Broncos a similar edge.
The Dolphins were tough to play against in the Orange Bowl because fans were on top of the field and opponents had trouble adjusting to the heat and humidity. But from 1970 to 1975, the Dolphins had artificial turf down and it was just unfair. The field turned into a cauldron in the Florida sun, and no team was in better shape than Don Shula's Dolphins. From 1970 to 1975, Miami lost just four home games.
The incredibly loud crowd, which is known as the 12th man, is no accident in Seattle. Seahawks owner Paul Allen oversaw the design of Qwest and made sure the fans were close and noise was reflected back onto the field. Opponents are at a serious disadvantage when they're trying to call plays. In 2006, the Giants complained to the NFL that the 'Hawks were piping in noise.
The hole at the top of Texas Stadium -- which is there "so that God can watch his team" according to fans -- creates shadows that no one is as used to as the Dallas players. It's a minor advantage, but when a team has been as consistently good as the Cowboys through they years, a slight edge can make a big difference.
The Giants are rumored to open a gate in the end zone to create a wind tunnel effect when it's to their advantage. Even if that's not true or intentional, the swirling winds in the Meadowlands are hard to adjust to and have cost Giants' opponents many games. And don't' forget the unnerving myth that Jimmy Hoffa is buried under one end zone.
Few outdoor stadiums are louder, and the Sea of Red is visually daunting if you're not used to it. The Chiefs have an 102-34 home record at Arrowhead since 1990, the best mark in the NFL.
While there are plenty of charismatic fans around the nation, none are as wild as the followers of the Silver and Black. While professional football players should be immune to such things, it's hard to argue the hostile environment in Oakland has helped the Raiders tremendously across the years. Especially in the 1970s and `80s, when the team on the field was as menacing as the crowd.
The Eagles' home turf from 1971 through 2002 was famous for huge gaps and uneven patches, which caused problems for both the home team and visitors. But at least the Eagles were used to the bad conditions -- opponents had to play with the fear of injuring themselves. And everyone knows Eagles fans are downright nasty -- just ask Santa Claus, who got booed in Philly.
Almost all indoor stadiums get loud, but no team took more advantage of it than the Vikings under Dennis Green in the 1990s. Minnesota, a perennial playoff team at the time, allegedly piped in noise to make calling plays very difficult for opponents.