Kickers: measuring the so-called "dome-field" advantage
Posted Feb. 16 at 07:42 PM
When it comes to the position of kicker, is there a “dome field” advantage? Are kickers on teams playing in domes more likely to kick field goals – particularly long ones?
I’ve played around with some numbers for the last few hours. Looks like the answer is yes.
For this brief study, I compiled a list of all 50-yard field goals from the last 15 seasons, making note of the fields where they were kicked. And when you look at a sample size that large (almost 4,000 games), it turns out that there are more field goals, on average, kicked in domed stadiums.
Looking at the chart below, I see that if you’re looking for field goals of 50-plus yards, four of the top five fields are underneath roofs. The lone exception is Denver, which has the Mile High altitude thing going.
And if you look at the top 14 teams (or fields, rather, because I’m counting field goals by both home and away teams – if Jason Hanson kicks a 52-yard field goal at Lambeau Field, that doesn’t count for Detroit but for Green Bay), all of them are either located in domes or playing in a warm-weather climate.
At the other end of the spectrum, on the other hand, you tend to see the Northeast teams that face more adverse weather – Steelers, Giants, Patriots, Packers, Jets, Bengals, etc.
There is, in other words, a correlation between long field goals and climate. All things being equal, it looks like kickers in domed stadiums are about twice as likely to hit the long-range kicks. (Although this can be a fluid situation, of course; it may be essentially impossible to hit a 45-yard field goal in a snowstorm in Cleveland in December, but there are good weather days in September where that field is pretty much interchangeable with southern-based city).
I don’t consider any of this to be a huge deal. But for those in fantasy leagues where you get a big bonus for a long-range kick, it’s something to keep in mind.
FIELDS WITH THE MOST 50-PLUS YARD FIELD GOALS, 1995-2009
48 St. Louis(dome)
35 * Houston(covered field)
30 New Orleans(dome)
29 Seattle(dome: '95-'99)
28 Tampa Bay
25 Arizona(indoor: '06-)
25 San Diego
22 Indianapolis(dome / covered)
22 Tennessee(dome: '95-'96)
17 Kansas City
15 * Cleveland
14 NY Jets
12 Green Bay
12 New England
11 NY Giants
9 San Francisco
* -- numbers projected to account for team playing fewer than 15 seasons (Cleveland joined the league in 1999, while the Texans began in 2001).
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