By Steve Shoup, special to Breaking Burgundy
It isn’t really surprising to see an NFL team perform better at home as most NFL teams typically have better numbers when playing in front of their fans. Usually though the difference between being home and away isn’t that drastic though. If you are a good/great team you still play well on the road, just not as well as you play at home. If you are a bad team you are still playing poorly at home, but your numbers aren’t as bad as they are on the road. With the Redskins though that isn’t the case, as their home/road splits are pretty drastic.
Points for Per Game: Home- 27.0 | Away- 17.5
Points Against Per Game: Home- 18.2 | Away- 29.5
Point Differential: Home- +8.8 | Away- -12.0
Yards For: Home- 400.8 | Away- 284.5
Yards Against: Home- 323.6 | Away- 428.75
Yards differential: Home- +77.2 | Away- -144.25
Record: Home- 4-1 | Away- 0-4
Those are staggering differences between the Redskins team that shows up at Fedex Field and the one that shows up on the road. While there is a case to be made that the Redskins have had a much tougher road schedule so far (something that doesn’t get any easier this week), and a favorable home schedule, this goes beyond that.
At home the Redskins look like a playoff off team and a top contender in the NFC East, on the road the Redskins look like they are a contender for the top overall pick in the draft next April. This isn’t just about a difference in the schedule as the gap between the two is too big.
Look at the Redskins home offense vs what they are allowing on the road. The offense is scoring 27 points per game and producing 400 yards of offense, both very good numbers for a season. yet on the road they are allowing a ridiculous 29.5 points and 428 yards.
On the flip side isn’t much better as the away offense is producing less than what the home defense is allowing.
Comp. %: 75.7 | YPA: 7.9 | YPG: 255 | TD%: 5.9 | INT%: 1.2% | QB Rating: 112.8
Comp. %: 59.4 | YPA: 5.7 | YPG: 232 | TD%: 2.4 | INT%: 4.2% | QB Rating: 65.9
These numbers pretty much speak for themselves, but these are crazy differences between the two. Essentially at home Kirk Cousins is playing like a top notch QB, and on the road he would be one of the worst in the league.
Again some of this is explained by playing better defenses on the road and some weaker units at home, but the differences are too drastic to be completely explained that way. Having double the QB rating is about more than a discrepancy in defences.
One thing that is startling in contrast between home and away is the pass attempts and the yards produced from them. The total pass attempts between home and away are pretty similar (despite the extra game), 169 vs 165 respectively. Despite having only four more home passing attempts the offense has produced an extra 347 passing yards. Now there is a variety of reasons for that, the most notable being the wide gap in completion %.
Att per game: 31.2 | YPA: 4.7 | YPG: 145.8 | 1st downs per game: 6.2 | TD: 4 | 20+: 7
Att per game: 19 | YPA: 2.8 | YPG: 52.5 | 1st downs per game: 2.75 | TD: 1 | 20+: 1
Now one thing to keep in mind is the running game is drastically impacted by game script, which impact attempts considerably. The Redskins of course have more rushing attempts at home because they are losing less and the haven’t had to abandon the run as much. For instance even in the Eagles game when they were down at the end, since it was by less than one score the Redskins could still run the football. Game script can impact the passing game as well, and that is why despite playing one more game the Redskins have only four extra passing attempts at home, but overall it’s going to have less of an impact.
Now the poor performance of the running game has helped contribute to a poor game script in many of these road games. If the running game was more effective early on, the passing game wouldn’t face as many 3rd and longs and would probably score more, which would help the defense and keep the game close.
Even if the running game had as many rushing attempts on the road as they did at home, there would still be a considerable difference in production given the almost 2 yards per attempt difference. Even with 31.2 rushing attempts on the road, at 2.8 per carry the Redskins would only get 87.3 yards per game, which is 58.5 yards less than what they do at home.
One interesting thing of note is that the Redskins are averaging a 1st down for every 5 carries at home (or 20% of their carries end up in 1st downs). On the road that number is every 7 carries (or 14.4% of their carries). That might seem like a small difference, but it’s the difference between being above average and one of the bottom 5 teams in the league. It also shows why you might see the Redskins “abandon” the run more on the road since it’s not helping to move the chains.
As the Redskins head into Carolina this weekend these numbers are pretty daunting. Even more so because the Panthers have one of the better defenses in the league and have a very strong offense. These splits though are troubling even beyond this game though.
Due to the weak nature of the NFC East the Redskins playoff hopes are still very much alive, but if they are to make a run they are going to need to win some games on the road. Of their remaining 7 games, four of them are on the road. Even if the Redskins were able to sweep their three home games, they will probably need to win at least 2 games on the road as it’s likely this division is won with a 9-7 record.
The Redskins will need to play good football in at least two of their remaining road games, and they can’t rely on the schedule being any easier. This week versus the Panthers is an extremely tough match-up, and it’s followed up versus a resurgent Bears game four weeks from now. After that the Redskins final two games of the year against the Eagles and Cowboys are on the road. The Eagles nearly beat the Redskins at home and they have been playing better football over the past month. The Cowboys should have Tony Romo back for that game and even if they are out of it they are likely to be a tough test on the road.
Steve is the founder of Fanspeak.com. Click here for the Fanspeak Mock Draft Simulator