Some very interesting stats:
Last 25 years (1983-2008) Homefield team outscores Visitor by +3.1 ppg
Last 10 years: +2.8 ppg
Last 5 years: +2.5 ppg
Last 3 years: +2.1 ppg
So homefield advantage is eroding. Simmons at ESPN has an interesting theory on why, and I STRONGLY urge you to read what he had to say.
I bring these things up naturally because of what the Steelers did in the 2005-6 playoffs and what the Giants did in in the 2007-8 playoffs. Homefield is not what it is cracked up to be. There are many games at Giants Stadium that are worthy of a funeral march as opposed to the energy of the 12th man. Still, to be fair, the Giants are a pretty good homefield in the playoffs, having been there for Washington Jan1987, Eagles Jan2001, Vikings Jan2001. Yes, I am 3-0 in Giants playoffs games and have been there for both NFC Championship victories in the Super Bowl era. I will not be at the stadium this playoff run because I am one of those hdtv guys who does not miss the stadium anymore. I ask myself whether the new Stadium being built will make the ‘advantage’ grow even narrower. Between all the PSL stories and the Simmons article above (what, you didn’t read it? READ it!) I think it is obvious that the new stadium will lose some of its energy.
The sage of the locker room, elder statesman Amani Toomer was succinct and perfect in stating the advantages and disadvantages of homefield in the playoffs: “(Home-field advantage) just gives you an opportunity. It didn’t help the Cowboys much last year. That’s how I look at it. They’re not going to give us an extra seven points when we start the game.” To reach the Super Bowl again, the Giants — spared the road and the wild-card round — need to win only two games at home. So how does it feel for them to be the bull’s-eye in the target instead of the arrow in the bow? Is it different? “Not very much,” the veteran wide receiver, said. “I don’t think we get much respect from a lot of teams that we play. A lot of experts really don’t pick us to win it all. There’s definitely that feeling in this locker room.”
Barring Eli Manning learning how to throw a tight spiral in the wind, the Giants do not have a distinct homefield edge. The only edge they have is a week off, turning the tournament of 12 to a tournament of 8. And the time to heal some inuries. Once was a time when being the #1 meant a lot more. The Giants have the maturity and discipline to leverage that and not waste the opportunity. If Toomer plays half as well as his words, the Giants are in pretty good shape.