Home has been anything but sweet this postseason

It would be hard to find a single fan or analyst that had all four divisional games figured out, let alone predicted the winners.

While the home teams looked good on paper and during film study, only the Steelers were capable of defending their turf. Since 2005, home teams went 7-9 in the divisional round. The last time all four home teams won in the divisional round was 2004. You have to wonder if we are witnessing a phenomenon about home-field advantage.

Over the past 11 years, teams were 30-14 coming off a bye at home. But teams were 26-6 coming off a bye at home from 1990 until 1997.

I asked Bill Cowher his thoughts on the decline of home-field advantage in recent years. He felt teams did a better job of preparing for the issues -- such as crowd noise -- on the road. Teams prepare by using noise at practice and silent counts during the game, helping to eliminate some of the mistakes commonly attached to road playoff games.

A few players mentioned that getting on a plane and playing away games actually took most of the distractions out of the equation. Friends and family looking for tickets were out of the mix. One Baltimore Ravens player said, "We thrive off the hostile crowd in a road playoff game, and it gives us a feeling of us-against-them and we feel more like a team."

One coach from a winning road team said, "I think visiting players get as much satisfaction when they quiet a road crowd as (when they) excite a home crowd."

One former player said that all the player movement in the last 10 years has made players feel like mercenaries, so where a game is played no longer means as much.

It's tough to say what the real reason is. For that matter, home-field advantage could just be on a temporary down cycle. The fact remains: In eight playoff games this year, the home team is 3-5. That's a 37.5 percent success rate with two games to go. Even if the Steelers and Cardinals win Sunday, that would bring the home teams to .500.

Here are some other notes from this weekend's games that relate to this issue:

» This year marks the first time since 1971 that three road teams won in the divisional round.

» Three teams heading to the conference championship games -- Arizona, Philadelphia and Baltimore -- weren't even in the playoffs last year. They were a combined 11-12-1 on the road during the regular season this year, yet are now a combined 5-0 away from home in the postseason.

» The three home losers this weekend (New York Giants, Carolina and Tennessee) were a combined 22-2 at home in the regular season.

» This is the first time two No. 6 seeds made it to the championship round in the same year.

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