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No home-field advantage for Buccaneers vs. Falcons on 'Thursday Night Football'

[Associated Press]

[Associated Press]

When the Buccaneers last played the Falcons on Thursday Night Football, Atlanta scored four touchdowns in the first 16 minutes. By the end of the third quarter, the Falcons tacked on four more scores and led 56-0.

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That was at the Georgia Dome in 2014. The teams will meet this Thursday at Raymond James Stadium. Advantage Bucs?

On the surface, it appears as though home teams have had an edge in Thursday night games. They're 5-2 this season (excluding the season opener in which the Broncos and Panthers had an offseason of rest). Since the debut of Thursday Night Football in 2006, home teams have won 60 percent of the time (61-41 in non-season openers).

In recent seasons, the NFL has scheduled more division games on Thursday nights. No more cross-country games like the New York Jets at the Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers at the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 (the home teams won each of those games).

If we look at only the division games on Thursday Night Football, home-field advantage disappears. These games have been coin flips, with the home team winning 54 percent of the time (36-31 in non-season openers).

As for the Bucs, they've lost three straight on Thursday night and are 2-4 all-time. They last won in 2012, when Doug Martin gained 214 total yards and scored two touchdowns in a 36-17 victory over the Vikings in Minnesota.

The Bucs have hosted one Thursday night game against an NFC South opponent. In 2013, Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another score in a 31-13 Panthers win.

There are many downsides to playing on a Thursday — less time to rest, plan and practice — but one benefit, in theory, is a longer-than-usual break before the next game.

That break, however, hasn't translated to more wins. Teams that have played on Thursday are no more likely to win their next game. Since 2006, teams that have played on Thursday and played their next game 10 or more days later are 128-130. (This includes the 2012 season opener, which the Cowboys and Giants played on a Wednesday.)

Over that span, the Bucs are 2-3 the week after playing on Thursday.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

No home-field advantage for Buccaneers vs. Falcons on 'Thursday Night Football' 11/01/16 [Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2016 1:15pm]
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