It’s no secret that Bills games at Rogers Centre in Toronto don’t offer the same home-field advantage that the Bills benefit from at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.
Bills safety George Wilson was the latest player to say so publicly:
“The fan support in Toronto is a night-and-day difference from what we have in Buffalo. For the most part, it’s a show. You see just as many jerseys for the opposing teams as you do the Bills. They cheer for any big play regardless of whichever team makes it.
“It’s definitely not the same hostile environment that teams have to deal with coming into the Ralph out here,” he said. “This is no knock on the citizens of Toronto. We know a large percentage of our fan base comes from Canada, and we’re appreciative of their support. But at the same time, the environment is just not the same. That’s just facts.”
As MJD of Yahoo! Sports points out, home teams have won 60 percent of NFL games this season. And if the Bills don’t feel at home in Toronto — they certainly haven’t been greeted that way during the first three regular-season installments of this series — then they won’t reap the benefits from playing at home.
Against a Redskins team they’re only slightly better than, that could factor in hugely on Sunday.
Was this a factor when the Bills lost to the Dolphins, Jets and Bears north of the border in previous seasons? Sure, but nobody cared much because Buffalo wasn’t a playoff contender anyway. This year, they are.
Come to think of it, neutral-site games could affect the playoff races in both conferences. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a “home” game to the Chicago Bears last week in London, England. Might the Bucs have won that game back in Florida? We’ll never know, but there’s a chance that result will play a role in December.
It’s good to see the game expand by way of international endeavors and efforts to “regionalize” teams like the Bills. Unfortunately, though, this is a trade-off.