The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for having one of the best fan bases in the NFL, and really, in all of the nation’s major professional sports. Not only have they consistently sold out games at their home stadium for decades, but they also routinely show a strong presence on the road, as we saw in Los Angeles last season.
That can be a negative for the 2020 season, given that it’s likely there will be no fans in attendance this year. According to Bucky Brooks, the Steelers have had the fourth-best home record over the course of the past five seasons, going 28-12 at Heinz Field during that time. Even last season, they managed to go 5-2 at home in the seven games they played at Heinz Field without Ben Roethlisberger.
The only teams who have had better home records than the Steelers during the same period of time have been the New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Minnesota Vikings, a group that includes the two best teams in the league during that time, and arguably the team with the greatest natural weather advantage.
It is still yet to be determined whether or not any team for any game will be allowed to permit any level of fans to attend their games this year. it’s still the end of July, and there won’t be any games played for another month and a half, so a lot, both positively and negatively, can happen during that time.
Over the course of the past five seasons, in 80 games, the Steelers have won 51 games, and tied in one, meaning that they have lost 28, for a 51-28-1 record. If 28-12 is their record at home, then that means on the road, they have posted a record of 23-16-1. That is still a winning percentage of .588, but a significant dent in comparison to their .700 record at Heinz Field.
I haven’t broken down the home-road record disparities of every team in the NFL during that time, but it stands to reason that the Steelers could potentially be affected more than most teams by the loss of the crowd as it pertains to their homefield advantage.
It is likely that when games get underway, we will see the loss of homefield advantage reflected in the point spreads and betting odds. Typically, conventional wisdom suggests that the home team is spotted three points in the betting line.
We don’t yet know if there will be any fans at Heinz Field at any point this year, but it remains a possibility. Can a 25-percent-capacity crowd really fire up the team? At least it’s pretty unlikely there will be many opposing fans in the stands.