Arrowhead Advantage? … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

When the Chiefs have their practice on Friday, it will happen inside Arrowhead Stadium.

It would be much easier to stay at the team’s facility and walk out the backdoor and use the practices fields there. It would certainly be easier to just stay inside the building and use the indoor facility.

But all season, Todd Haley has been taking his team to Arrowhead on the Friday before home games. He calls it studying where the team is going to take the test.

It’s hard to argue with the results – the Chiefs are one of only two teams in the league that have not lost at home during the 2010 regular season (New England is the other team). They have the chance to make it 9-0 in the next nine days or so with the regular season finale and then a home game in the wildcard round of the AFC playoffs.

This comes after the team was 1-7 at Arrowhead during the 2009 season.

“I think it has helped our guys get really comfortable with the surroundings so on top of talking about it all the time which is one thing, we’ve gone up there and just tried to get more and more familiar with our home turf,” Haley said. “You do have an influx of new players that haven’t played there necessarily and I think that getting up there and practicing and spending time in and out of the locker room, on the field and off the field has been good for the guys and just helped with the comfort level.”

It is the comfort level that is why the home-field advantage is sought after. It’s especially one of those prizes that every team seeks when it comes to the playoffs. No matter the sport or the championship round, the goal is to stay home, and especially when it’s one game to play, not a series.

Find any Chiefs fan who was around for the 1990s and they know that having home-field advantage can be a mirage.

Three of the last four times the Chiefs have made the playoffs – 1995, 1997, 2003 – they had home-field advantage thanks to 13-3 records in all three of those seasons. In each of those years, they were 8-0 at home.

The record for playoff games in those seasons at Arrowhead: 0-3. It’s part of the agonizing history of the franchise that when given the advantage of playing in front of their fans, they threw away the opportunities.

But those Chiefs are almost all gone; on this year’s team only Brian Waters and Casey Wiegmann were around for the ’03 game where neither team punted, the Colts broke the K.C. serve and won 38-31. Of the guys from ’95 and ’97 only Tony Gonzalez remains in the league, and he’s getting ready to go into the NFC playoffs with the Falcons.

This is a chance for the ’10 Chiefs to produce their own history. They’ve laid the foundation for that with a six-game improvement on their home record that could go to seven if they top the Raiders.

It’s part of the goal Haley established when he got the job as Chiefs head coach – re-build the Arrowhead Advantage.

“I think it’s really critical if you want to be a good team year in and year out and if you want to be a team that has the chance to play in big games,” Haley said. “The more of those you can have here at your place obviously time has shown that there is home field advantage in the NFL, especially here.”

In the 10 seasons from 1979-88, the Chiefs were 41-34 at home, a .547 winning percentage. When Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer showed up, it began a dramatic turnaround and the creation of the Arrowhead Advantage. In 10 seasons from 1989 through 1998, the Chiefs were 62-18 at home, a winning percentage of .775.

“I didn’t need to be told about it; I’ve been in here at the height of that home field advantage in the ’90s when it was a scary place to come to and try to feel like you could win a game because of the great fans,” Haley said.

In the 1999 through the 2008 season, the record at Arrowhead was 48-32, a .600 winning percentage. But the three-season fall from grace, where they had the most losing stretching in club history going 10-38, they were 4-20, a .167 winning percentage at Arrowhead.

“That was something that we’ve talked about from day one – getting our fans back,” Haley said. “We knew it was going to take some work and that they had a reason to go away because the team put out there wasn’t a lot of fun to watch a lot of times. We’ve really worked hard to improve the team, get the team to a position where we could have some success and be competitive.

“I knew just from being in this business for my whole life that if you have a good team and you’re competitive then people will come out. I just knew from the past that this would be a good place to get them to come out. It’s a great football town and the advantage has been building here this year, especially each week that we’ve had success has been a little better.”

So has the Arrowhead Advantage returned with this 2010 season? Haley says it was there last year even when the team was 1-7.

“I was really impressed with our fans from day one because even though at times the stadium maybe wasn’t full, there were games last year that they were crazy,” Haley said. “It was loud and you said to yourself then ‘Boy, if we could get everybody in here it would be really loud’ and that’s kind of what’s happened. I understood that task clearly that we had to do our part and I feel like we’re doing some of that. The team has improved, we’re making progress. We aren’t there yet but I feel like we’re doing our part for our fans to make it an event that they want to come and go crazy at, the more the better.”

Here’s one way to guarantee the Chiefs fans will be impressed with the team and create a new Arrowhead Advantage – win a game in the playoffs at home. It’s been 17 years since there has been a successful post-season moment at Arrowhead. That was the overtime victory against the Steelers in the wildcard round of the 1993 AFC playoffs.

WHAT DOES BEING UNBEATEN AT HOME MEAN?

OK, so the Chiefs have the chance to finish the 2010 season unbeaten in the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium. What does that portend for their future in the playoffs?

Let’s look at history. In the previous 20 years, there were 32 teams that finished with an 8-0 record at home during the regular season. From 1990 through 2009, that was five percent of the seasons played during that span.

Of those 32, all but one had at least one home game in the playoffs. The only team left out was the 1992 Eagles, who were second in their division and made the playoffs as a wildcard and went on the road.

Among the 31 other teams, 10 did not win a game in the playoffs (32 percent). Of those 21 teams that did win at least one game, 13 went to the Super Bowl (42 percent) and seven won the championship (23 percent).

8-0 Home Record/1990-2009

 Year   Team

Division
Finish

Home Playoffs

Ultimate
Result
2009 New England

1

0-1

Lost wildcard round
  Minnesota

1

1-0

Lost  Champ. Game
2008 Carolina

1

0-1

Lost div. round
2007 New England

1

2-0

Lost Super Bowl
2006 Indianapolis

1

2-0

Won Super Bowl
  San Diego

1

0-1

Lost div. round
2005 Denver

1

1-1

Lost Champ. Game
  Seattle

1

2-0

Lost in Super Bowl
2004 New England

1

1-0

Won Super Bowl
  Pittsburgh

1

1-1

Lost  Champ. Game
2003 Chiefs

1

0-1

Lost in div. round
  New England

1

2-0

Won Super Bowl
  St. Louis

1

0-1

Lost in div. round
  Seattle

2

0-1

Lost in wildcard round
2002 Green Bay

1

0-1

Lost in wildcard round
1999 Tennessee

2

1-0

Lost in Super Bowl
  St. Louis

1

2-0

Won Super Bowl
1998 Denver

1

2-0

Won Super Bowl
  Minnesota

1

1-1

Lost Champ. Game
  Atlanta

1

1-0

Lost Super Bowl
  San Francisco

2

1-0

Lost div. round
1997 Chiefs

1

0-1

Lost div. round
  Denver

2

1-0

Won Super Bowl
  Green Bay

1

1-0

Lost Super Bowl
  San Francisco

1

1-1

Lost Champ. Game
1996 Denver

1

0-1

Lost div. round
  Green Bay

1

2-0

Won Super Bowl
  Carolina

1

1-0

Lost Champ. Game
1995 Chiefs

1

0-1

Lost div. round
1992 Philadelphia

2

0-0

Lost div. round
1991 Detroit

1

1-0

Lost Champ. Game
1990 Buffalo

1

2-0

Lost Super Bowl

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR THURSDAY, DECEMBER 30

  • CHARGERS – signed FB Bill Latsko off their practice squad.
  • DOLPHINS – released injured CB Al Harris.
  • EAGLES – released DE Derrick Burgess; signed DE Bobby McCray, last with Saints; signed DT Jeremy Clark; named Kevin Kolb starting QB for this Sunday’s game.
  • FALCONS – placed S Shann Schillinger on the injured-reserve list (ankle).    
  • GIANTS – placed DB Will Blackmon on the injured-reserve list (knee); signed CB Brian Witherspoon.
  • JAGUARS – signed TE Darius Hill off their practice squad.
  • LIONS – placed OLB Landon Johnson on the injured-reserve list (concussion); signed DB Paul Pratt off their practice squad.
  • SAINTS – placed KR Courtney Roby on the injured-reserve list (concussion); signed WR Adrian Arrington off their practice squad.

6 Responses to “Arrowhead Advantage? … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 31, 2010  - Morten says:

    Happy New Year Bob; thanks for everything this past year… Just one thing going into 2011…. You still owe us your take on the Matt Cassel/Brodie Croyle change against Titans… Just curious…-)


  • December 31, 2010  - Rick says:

    .
    Personally, I think it’s pretty important for the young Chiefs to look at Sunday’s game vs the Raiders, as a playoff audition game. I think by throwing everything you’ve got at a hated division rival, you go into the playoffs on the right note. The Chiefs are not strong enough to be able to just flip a switch from week to week. Beating the Raiders, is a must!

    And yeah, I’d really like to know what deal was last week with Brokie playing the one series. :)


  • December 31, 2010  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    Triscadecaphobia, or fear of the number 13. I am so glad we are not 13-3 this year.

    Happy New Year my fellow Chiefs fans!

    Go CHIEFS!


  • December 31, 2010  - cychief24 says:

    Bob-
    What the heck is going on with Weis?
    It’s all over that he may be going to Florida as OC!!!!!!
    What a disaster that would be.
    It can’t be for money. He walked away from ND with $10 mil….


  • December 31, 2010  - Patrick says:

    If this is the case maybe there was a little problem with working for Haley. Lets just hope it is rumor but with reports from Adam Schefter -

    http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/36218/nfl-insider-adam-schefter – and a tweet from Michael Smith –

    http://twitter.com/MrMichael_Smith/status/20933245264723969. Nothing is official yet but man there’s s lot people spreading the rumor right now.

    Chris Mortensen who also first reported Weis coming here last year said on countdown last week don’t be surprised if Weis left and a potential replacement would be Josh McDaniels.

    Wouldn’t that be wild.


  • December 31, 2010  - el cid says:

    Nope, McDaniels is not right for OC. He may be a contemporary of Haley but see potential for conflict. How about Harbaugh, HC Stanford? If he want to be a HC in the NFL, a couple of years as OC would be an easy transition. Several have said coaches do not “get” what it takes to move from college to pros. Might be what he needs to move up to the big boys.




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