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CFL Homefield *Dis*advantage in 2016

The 2016 CFL season has been absolutely crazy when it comes to home field advantage, or should I say, the lack thereof. With the BC Lions win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Saturday night, home teams are now an awful 3-12-1, for a 23.33% win percentage (assuming ties are worth half a win, which is what they count for in the CFL standings). I decided to go back 15 years to the dawn of the 21st century and work forward to see how home field advantage has traditionally played out in the CFL, and how much of an anomaly this was.

Turns out, 2016 is quite an anomaly so far. There hasn’t been a season since 2001 where the home teams have lost more than they have won. The closest we get is 2013, where home teams won 38 of 72 possible games, just under 53%. Let’s first take a look at how the league has fared at home over the past 15 years.

2001: 40 wins in 72 games, 55.56%

2002: 54 wins in 81 games, 66.67%

2003: 53 wins in 81 games, 65.43%

2004: 50.5 wins in 81 games, 62.35%

2005: 50 wins in 81 games, 61.73%

2006: 43 wins in 72 games, 59.72%

2007: 43 wins in 72 games, 59.72%

2008: 43 wins in 72 games, 59.72%

2009: 41.5 wins in 72 games, 57.64%

2010: 42 wins in 72 games, 58.33%

2011: 41 wins in 72 games, 56.94%

2012: 45 wins in 72 games, 62.50%

2013: 38 wins in 72 games, 52.78%

2014: 48 wins in 81 games, 59.26%

2015: 45 wins in 81 games, 55.56%

Total: 677 wins in 1134 games, 59.70%

As you can see, home field advantage was a bit more pronounced when the Ottawa Renegades were around between 2002-05, otherwise, it tends to hover right around 60%. The last 3 years have been slightly down from the average, but this year may very well end up being a huge outlier if things don’t turn around pretty quickly.

Of course, this being me, I had more questions come to mind as I worked through the process of gathering this data.

I did some work when it came to individual teams and how they fared at home. I not only got their home winning percentage, but I also found out what percentage of their overall wins came at home.

First, the home winning percentage for each of the nine franchises:

BC: 90 wins in 135 games, 66.67%

Calgary: 89 wins in 135 games, 65.93%

Edmonton: 87.5 wins in 135 games, 64.81%

Saskatchewan: 81 wins in 135 games, 60%

Winnipeg: 71 wins in 135 games, 52.59%

Hamilton: 70.5 wins in 135 games, 52.22%

Montreal: 93 wins in 135 games, 68.89%

Ottawa (Renegades and RedBlacks): 25 wins in 54 games, 46.30%

Ottawa Renegades (2002-05): 16 wins in 36 games, 44.44%

Ottawa RedBlacks (2014-15): 9 wins in 18 games, 50.00%

Toronto: 70 wins in 135 games, 51.85%

As we can see, BC, Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal are all tough to deal with at home, but how much is that because they’re just an overall good franchise over the past 15 years?

Next, let’s throw in the overall winning percentage for each of the nine franchises:

BC: 160 wins in 270 games, 59.26%

Calgary: 154 wins in 270 games, 57.04%

Edmonton: 142 wins in 270 games, 52.59%

Saskatchewan: 134 wins in 270 games, 49.63%

Winnipeg: 118.5 wins in 270 games, 43.89%

Hamilton 105 wins in 270 games, 38.89%

Montreal: 159 wins in 270 games, 58.89%

Ottawa (Renegades and RedBlacks) 37 wins in 108 games, 34.26%

Ottawa Renegades (2002-05):  23 wins in 72 games, 31.94%

Ottawa RedBlacks (2014-15):  14 wins in 36 games, 38.89%

Toronto 127 wins in 270 games, 47.04%

So now we’ve seen the home winning percentages and overall winning percentages; let’s take a look at what percentage of their wins come at home as opposed to on the road.

BC: 90 home wins out of 160 total wins, 56.43%

Calgary: 89 home wins out of 154 total wins, 57.79%

Edmonton: 87.5 home wins out of 142 total wins, 61.84%

Saskatchewan: 81 home wins out of 134 total wins, 60.67%

Winnipeg: 71 home wins out of 118.5 total wins, 59.92%

Hamilton: 70.5 home wins out of 105 total wins, 67.46%

Montreal 93 home wins out of 159 total wins, 58.49%

Ottawa (Renegades and RedBlacks): 25 home wins out of 37 total wins, 67.57%

Ottawa Renegades (2002-05):  16 home wins out of 23 total wins, 69.57%

Ottawa RedBlacks (2014-15):  9 home wins out of 14 total wins, 64.29%

Toronto: 70 home wins out of 127 total wins, 55.34%

From this, the biggest thing that jumps out to me is that every single team won more games at home than they did on the road, which matches conventional wisdom. Hamilton and Ottawa jump out at me as teams that struggle greatly on the road, as they have the lowest overall winning percentages over the past 15 years, yet have the highest amount of their total wins come at home. The better teams in overall win percentage over the past 15 years have a good amount of wins at home, but also maintain a healthy road record to enhance their overall standing.

So there we have it. We may say that the 2016 season is a complete anomaly in CFL history so far, and that the past tells us to expect the home teams to start picking things up soon. We’ve also seen which teams are hard to deal with in their home stadiums, and which teams are most dependent on home wins in the overall scheme of things.