Monday, January 18, 2010

Dome Sweet Dome

Home teams were 3-1 this weekend. The teams who played in domes (Saints, Colts, Vikings) were 3-0, while the team that didn't (Chargers) was ousted by the Jets. It could just be coincidence, but these teams are provided a significant advantage by playing in a dome.

If you're a bad team that plays in a dome it doesn't matter. Bad is bad anywhere, just ask the 1-15 Rams or the 2-14 Lions. But when you have a good football team and a great home crowd, the dome can wreak havoc on your opponents.

Look no further than this week's games. Road teams playing in domes were held to 20 points and Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco and Tony Romo combined for just 592 yards, 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions (Romo also lost 2 fumbles). Meanwhile, the most inexperienced quarterback of the four playing on the road, Jets rookie Mark Sanchez, threw more touchdowns (1) than the other three combined and turned it over just once.

It's hard to quantify the effect domes have on sound but those stadiums were rocking, especially with the home teams coming to play early. Quarterbacks are supposed to excel in the ideal environment of a dome, and the home quarterbacks did just that with the crowd on their side. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre combined for 727 yards, 9 touchdowns and just 1 interception.

Out in San Diego, Philip Rivers struggled without a dome of his own. I know the Jets top-ranked pass defense had a lot to do with his lackluster performance, but there is something to be said about dome-field advantage. While the Saints and Colts were much better teams than the Cardinals and Ravens, I think the Cowboys-Vikings game is much different played in Dallas' dome (particularly how Romo and Favre played).

Favre is perfect proof of the dome-field advantage. Yes, the Vikings have a lot of firepower on offense but Favre has had explosive players to throw to in the past. But he's never played 8 games in a dome, and his stats reflect that:

Dome: 2,307 yards, 21 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Road: 1,895 yards, 12 touchdowns, 5 interceptions

His road numbers are still great, but the dome leads to almost twice the touchdowns and less than half the interceptions. And possibly the biggest advantage of playing at home in a dome? It seems to have the complete opposite effect on the opponent's quarterback. Mark Sanchez has played well lately but beating Peyton Manning and the Colts, along with the Lucas Oil Stadium dome crowd, will be a difficult task.

And my apologies to Brett Favre, but playing in Drew's Dome isn't quite like your own dome. As much as I'd like to see a Jets-Vikings matchup for numerous reasons, the Saints and Colts have definite advantages this weekend. Dome Sweet Dome.

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