Shepkowski: Bears, Cutler Must Get Home Field Advantage
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By Nick Shepkowski-
(CBS) The New York Giants won playoff games in Green Bay and San Francisco before earning their fourth Lombardi Trophy a season ago. The Green Bay Packers won road playoff games in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago before winning Super Bowl XLV, also their fourth title. With all the success road playoff teams have had the last couple of seasons, even if the Bears don’t win the NFC North or earn a first-round bye they should be fine, right?
To quote the legendary John Elway, “Uhhh, no.”
Jay Cutler’s prime time struggles since becoming a Bear in 2009 are often discussed and frequently exaggerated in Chicago sports radio, but one thing that can’t be debated is his struggles away from his home stadium.
In 87 career starts Cutler has a 48-39 record, good for a 55.1 win percentage. Fantastic it is not, but still plenty respectable. When you look at what Cutler’s been able to do, or not been able to do, away from his home field is where you find his issues.
Cutler’s win percentage drops to just 46.3% (19-22) away from home, a significant fall from his 29-17 (63%) mark at home. What’s more staggering isn’t just the win/loss comparison, but the drop off of Cutler’s production.
Cutler has compiled a career 100.8 quarterback rating at home, a number that takes an enormous fall to 65.6 away from his home stadium. Just as concerning are his touchdown/interception numbers that are 93-to-32 at home but are an embarrassing 36-to-64 on the road. He also throws for 25.9 fewer yards per road contest.
In the playoffs you’ll have to beat the best of the best in order to continue to advance and hopefully end up in the Super Bowl. Even with recent postseason trends having Super Bowl champion teams win several road games in the process, the Bears and Jay Cutler can’t afford to not be playing at Soldier Field come January.
Jay Cutler has never beaten a team that finished the season above .500 on the road while wearing a Chicago Bears uniform. That isn’t a misprint – he has never won a game on the road against an above .500 finishing team while a Bear.
To Cutler’s defense, he did do so twice as a Bronco with both instances coming in 2008 when he beat Matt Ryan’s Falcons and Brett Favre’s New York Jets. However, in Denver’s biggest game that season, a Week 17 matchup in San Diego where the winner would represent the AFC West in the playoffs, Cutler’s Broncos were embarrassed 52-21.
In 17 chances in his entire career, Jay Cutler has been able to go on the road and defeat an above .500 team just twice. As a Bear, he’s failed all 10 times when faced with the challenge. If the Bears aren’t playing at Soldier Field when the playoffs come around, it’s impossible for me to see them representing the NFC in New Orleans.
Nick Shepkowski is the associate producer for The McNeil and Spiegel Show. For more information, follow him on Twitter @Shep670