Most people believe the 49ers are better than the Falcons.
I was curious about how much of an advantage the home field gives the Falcons. I found a site which is kind out of date, but which has some interesting numbers. It correlates regular season win differential with home field advantage. Basically, when the home team's regular season record is better than the visiting team's regular season record, the odds of the home team winning go up enormously.
Since the Falcons (13-3) won 2.5 more regular season games than the 49ers (11-4-1), the odds seem to favor them strongly.The pattern is the same: home teams are only about a 50/50 bet if the teams have the same record or if the home team has a worse record, home teams win about 65% of the time if they are one game better than the visitor, and home teams two or more games better almost never lose (46-9 since 1993).
But wait a minute. This 49er team isn't the one which started the season. They have a new QB whose style has transformed their offense.
Good point. So let's compare QB records:
Smith 6-2 77%
Copernicus 5-2-1 60% (not sure show to calculate a draw, so I chose to omit it. Fair?)
The record shows that Copernicus has a lower winning percentage than Alex Smith, so the QB change doesn't seem to mean the 49ers are an improved team.
You, I and everyone else thinks those numbers are belied by what our eyes tell us. But based on my atrocious math skills, the odds seem to greatly favor the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game.
I'd enjoy hearing from you numbers guys on where the fallacies are in this argument. I assume it's somehow flawed but it's beyond my ken to figure out where.