Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Vikings-Packers III: Lambeau 'advantage'
By Kevin Seifert
Faced with a short work week, Tuesday was really a Wednesday for the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Both teams had full practices scheduled, and in Minnesota, the Vikings opened the doors to their practice facility to give them at least a partial sense of the elements they'll face Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
I'm sure you'll hear plenty of discussion this week about the Packers' home-field advantage on the proverbial frozen tundra. Indeed, the Packers have won 20 of their past 21 regular season games (and 26 of 28) at Lambeau dating to Week 10 of 2009, the best home record in the NFL over that time period.
But it's worth pointing out that the Packers' once-mighty home playoff advantage has dissipated noticeably over the past decade. After winning the first 11 playoff games in Lambeau history, the Packers are 2-4 over their past six. During that stretch, the only team the Packers have defeated is the Seattle Seahawks -- who have won one road playoff game in the history of their franchise.
The goal of every competitive team is to secure home playoff games, and it seems inconceivable that the Packers would consistently play worse than their opponents at Lambeau. If anything, you would expect the visitors to be limited by the weather, crowd or field conditions.
Each game is independent of the rest, but as the chart shows, one common thread over the past 10 years has been the number of Packers turnovers. In those six games, they have committed 17 and forced four, a minus-13 ratio. To state the obvious, turnovers and turnover ratio are closely aligned with winning and losing. I don't have an answer for why the Packers have made more mistakes than their opponents in those games, but there is no doubt why they have lost those games.