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Road Team Winning Percentage, based on number of previous visits

Posted by Jason Lisk on November 4, 2009

I've spent alot of time talking about familiarity and home field advantage. Most recently, I wrote about the New York teams sharing a stadium. Today, I'm going to do mostly a data dump of other research I had done on the familiarity issue.

From 1997-2003, a flurry of new stadiums opened in the NFL, with the following franchises playing in a newly built stadium: Washington, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Denver, Pittsburgh, New England, Detroit, Seattle, Houston and Philadelphia. I pulled the results for those thirteen stadiums, in terms of how many times the visitor had previously visited. I didn't use exhibition data, but did use all regular season and playoff visits. These numbers are through the 2008 season and playoffs, and do not include results this year. The win percentage is the wins and losses from the perspective of the visitor.

Visit		W	L		win pct
1		134.5	242.5		0.357
2		60	113		0.347
3		50	54		0.481
4		29	34		0.460
5		20	30		0.400
6		19	25		0.432
7		21	18		0.538
8		6	10		0.375
9		7	7		0.500
10		4	5		0.444
11		3	2		0.600
12		2	1		0.667

These are the overall results. I divided the games out into divisional and non-divisional games. We know that divisional opponents get to play at a venue every year, whereas non-divisional opponents typically do not. There is a bit of a grey area when it comes to teams that were division opponents until the realignment in 2002. I treated games as divisional games if the road team was in the same division that season. So, Tennessee is a divisional road opponent of Baltimore for games before 2002, and a non-divisional opponent after 2002.

Here are the division opponent only results, sorted by number of prior visits to the same stadium:

Visit		W	L		win pct
1		22.5	31.5		0.417
2		17	37		0.315
3		28	24		0.538
4		24	23		0.511
5		18	22		0.450
6		15	24		0.385
7		19	18		0.514
8		9	9		0.500
9		6	9		0.400
10		7	5		0.583
11		3	2		0.600
12		2	1		0.667

There are a small number of games once we get beyond five visits, but the combined win percentage of division opponents when visiting these stadiums for the fifth time (or more) is 79-90 (0.467). Also, with a couple of exceptions, every one of those first visits by a division opponent was in the first year that the stadium opened. We see that the division opponents actually perform worse in the second season.

Non-divisional opponents, on the other hand, will tend to have their first visit to a stadium after the home team has already been playing there for at least a season. Here are the non-divisional results, based on number of visits.

Visit		W	L		win pct
1		120	211		0.363
2		47	78		0.376
3		22	34		0.393
4		9	12		0.429
5		4	10		0.286
6		4	4		0.500
7		2	3		0.400
8		0	1		0.000

If we exclude the first time visits that occur during the first year of a new stadium (when the non-divisional visitors went 24-29), then we get a 96-182 record (0.345 win percentage) for all non-divisional teams in their first visit to a new stadium more than a year after it opened.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 11:32 am and is filed under Home Field Advantage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.