advantage just isn't what it used to be. Now it's hard to compare teams from this era to the 70's and 80's because the game has changed dramatically. In fact, it's best to start at the 1994 season, the first year of a true salary cap. That's when the playing field started to become closer to even. Yet that season, the home teams won nearly 63 percent of the games. That number dropped to 60 percent in 1998. Four years later it was down to 57.4 percent in 2002.
So here we are, four years later, and you would think the number would keep dropping, right?
Yep, down to 55.5 percent, counting Thursday's night game in which the 49ers just ripped through Seattle in the fourth quarter to take a 24-14 road win.
Now sifting through each week of this season, it's difficult to gauge any kind of real pattern. In Week One, road teams won 11 of the 16 games, but only four of 16 the next week.
In Week 5, only two road teams managed a victory among the 14 games played that week. In Week 12, the road teams had a combined 3-13 record. But since then, road teams have a 19-14 record in the last two weeks and Thursday's game in Seattle.
So what gives? It's hard to say exactly, but one thing is for sure, the road teams aren't giving much.
That takes us back to the Cowboys and their Saturday night affair in Atlanta. Since the Georgia Dome went up in 1992, the Cowboys are 2-2 against the Falcons. And of course, they did win another big game in the Dome to finish the 1993 season. Yeah, you remember James Washington getting robbed of the Super Bowl MVP? Nonetheless, the Cowboys have had success in the Georgia Dome.
But like head coach Bill Parcells always says, history doesn't mean much in pro football. Now there are times when I disagree with that. But this one isn't the case. It doesn't matter if Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith were able to dominate the Falcons back in 1995. What matters is if Tony Romo can make it happen against the Dirty Birds. (Not sure the Falcons still go by that name, but it was one of the best nicknames/touchdown dances that I can remember.)
One thing this Cowboys team can count on is its success on the road this year.
The Cowboys have already won four road games, and a win Saturday night in Atlanta would give them their first winning record on the road since the 1995 season, when they went 6-2 away from Texas Stadium for the fourth consecutive season. Of course, those were the Super Bowl years, and championship teams win - at home, on the road, and definitely in the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
Is this a championship team? It's easy to say no, considering Reggie Bush just stopped running and cutting on his touchdown run from Sunday night. We're all still thinking about that stinging loss in which the Cowboys didn't resemble an average team, much less one battling for a playoff spot and possibly more.
But we've seen how things can change quickly around here. One minute the City of Dallas should be planning for a possible Super Bowl parade, the next minute these Cowboys might not win a game.
That's the "Doom and Gloom" Parcells refers to on a weekly basis.
But it can get rather perky around here once again if the Cowboys can go to Atlanta and take care of business.
And that's exactly what they should do. Not because they need to bounce back from the Saints loss. And not because they are more focused this week. But simply because the Cowboys are the better team.
And in the NFL, especially this year, the better teams usually come out the winner, regardless if they're at home or not.