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For Green Bay and Chicago, Home Field is Just a Location

The Bears and Packers Draw a Crowd

Green Bay and Chicago meet again in the oldest rivalry in the National Football League. This one happens to be taking place at Lambeau Field. While that matters to all the team owners in attendance for entertainment purposes, the location of the game has very little impact on the outcome in this series.

Since 1960, the home team in the Chicago-Green Bay series is 53-52. That’s one more win at home (warning: advanced math), a 50.5% winning percentage for the home team.

Seven years ago, my first ever football related post talked about the travel distance and climate issues as they related to home field advantage. Here’s the quick summary version– outdoor teams that are in close proximity and share similar home climates show very little home field advantage in their games.

The effect of Detroit and Minnesota going to domed stadiums in the now NFC North is also stark. From 1961 to 2005, the home team in games between Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota actually had a losing record when it was two outdoor teams (119-126-11). In contrast, in games involving a dome team, the home team won 64.5% of games (149-82).

I thought I would update the numbers since the start of the 2006 season to see if that hypothesis still held true. The home team in the Packers-Bears series is 8-7 since the start of the 2006 season, with the home team going 6-9 against the spread.

Packers-Bears is one of five divisional series where both teams play outdoors and are within 200 air miles of each other (Washington-Philadelphia, New York-Philadelphia, Cleveland-Pittsburgh, and Baltimore-Pittsburgh). The home team in all of those series since 2006 is 37-38, and 29-42-4 against the spread. The Cleveland-Pittsburgh series is the only one where the home team has covered more than half the games.

The Packers should win tonight, but their chances are not significantly improved by playing in Lambeau. They may, however, be improved because Chicago is starting a backup quarterback in Josh McCown.

 

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