With no or few spectators, the traditional home field advantage of fans and crowd noise is gone, but a new type of home field advantage has emerged. With COVID protocols, the testing rules favor the home team ,as discussed at the ProFootballDoc podcast at OutKick this week.
With right tackle Trent Brown headed to the COVID list, all five Raiders starting offensive linemen have been sent home due to contact tracing. If teammates are found to be “high risk,” the new enhanced rules require five days away from the team and that includes not traveling for away games. Since the opponent Buccaneers have to fly to Las Vegas, the Raiders benefit from the extra day. They can use Sunday as a fifth day, which will help the home team return their entire starting offensive line except Brown. If this happened today to Tampa Bay, Tom Brady might be running for his life behind backups.
Last week, Melvin Gordon had strep throat and by rule had to have two negative COVID tests in 48 hours before rejoining the team. Since he got sick on Thursday, he did not have time to clear before the Broncos travelled on Saturday to play the Patriots. In 2020, the ability to stay home has become the new “home field advantage.”
Giants vs. Eagles
Let’s preview the injuries in the Thursday night game featuring a NFC East battle between the Giants at the Eagles. There was no pick because there was no game last Thursday but overall, the five weekly Sunday picks (based on injury advantages not accounted for in betting lines) have been an impressive 22-7-1.
Everyone knows how banged up the Eagles have been this season, and one might think the Giants hold the advantage tonight, but it doesn’t necessarily play out that way in my analysis. First, because everyone knows about the Eagles injuries, the line accounts for them. The game opened at Eagles -7, and the reported loss of Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz for Thursday moved the line to -3.5. Early week at www.profootballdoc,com, we indicated DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Lane Johnson (ankle) would return for the Giants game. When they were not on the final game status report today, the line moved back up to -4.5.
The Eagles overall injury grade is about even with that of the Giants. However, a look at the heat map shows that Philadelphia has gotten healthier this week.
The color-coded trend map breaks down the weekly grades, and as bad as the Eagles have been, they are headed in the right direction based on the proprietary grading system. Notably, the defense has gotten healthier with the return of Avonte Maddox. Most of the “injury color” is for second line players. Carson Wentz has been able to play well, and with the rise of young players plus the return of two key offensive players in Jackson and Johnson, the Eagles improve from their season low D+ passing offense grade.
It is unusual for players to miss the Sunday game and play four days later, but it seems the Eagles realize the importance of this divisional matchup. Three key starters return after missing just four days earlier. With the weak NFC East and their overall losing records, the path to the playoffs is to win the division. After head-to-head record, divisional record is the top tiebreaker.
Even with a poor health grade for their passing offense, the Eagles have put up an average of 34 points the last two weeks, giving up an average of seven sacks per game. If their star right tackle can stabilize the line and give up only three sacks, there’s no telling what they might do. By injury analysis, Philadelphia and the over seems the right side of this game.
Reading the headlines is not the way to go. Outkick readers can get access to www.profootballdoc.com for free and see the real injury story and get the advantage.