Following a few disappointing losses at State Farm Stadium this season, much has been made of the Cardinal’s lackluster home performances. They currently hold a lousy 3-4 home record compared to a 7-1 record when playing on the road. Since 2011, only two Cardinals teams have posted a .500-win percentage or better in road games throughout a season. The team has matched that number in the three years under Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. In 2020, the Cardinals went 4-4 on the road and have improved on that number mightily in their 2021 campaign. This trend suggests that the Cards find solace when playing in opponent territory.
Since 2019, the percentage of home team victories in the NFL has declined. For the first time in history, visiting teams won more games than home teams last year. Some may presume that empty stadiums due to Covid-19 would be the culprit. However, 2021 is on track to see the most road team victories in NFL history. The data is clear, home-field advantage isn’t as significant as it once was in the NFL.
The Cards seemed destined for a deep playoff run with dominating wins through the first seven away games. However, following a few disappointing home losses, many people have questioned whether the Cardinals would prefer a home game in the postseason.
It has been undeniable that the Cardinals have performed much better on the road than at home in 2021. The team seems to trump expectations when outside voices doubt them. They throttled the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams as 2.5 and 4.5-point underdogs, respectively. They managed to beat a good Cleveland Browns team without their Head Coach and star pass-rusher, Chandler Jones. Additionally, the Cardinals found a way to win two division games against the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks with backup quarterback Colt McCoy at the helm.
When all odds seem stacked against them, the Cards have managed to put together an impressive resumé. Is it possible that the postseason would be no different? As home-field advantage begins to matter less and less across the league, it’s hard to argue that this Cardinal team wouldn’t prefer the challenge.
As it stands today, the Cardinals would travel to Tampa Bay to face Tom Brady and company, which currently boasts a 6-1 record at home. It’d be an arduous task for any team to travel cross country and defeat the defending world champions in their stadium. But the Cardinals have played their way into that sort of situation -- to beat a good football team as a visiting underdog.
I’d bet they prefer it that way.