There is no homefield advantage in football these days greater than in Seattle. They own the decibel record and there's no question why that is. The fans like to take credit for it as if there's something in the water that makes their voices louder, but the real credit goes to the architect of that stadium.
The way the stadium is designed, it becomes a giant echo chamber. The second and third deck sit atop each other so though the crowd is higher, they are not farther away. The roof arches over so the sound amplifies in the direction of the field.
But the real kicker here is the bleacher seats in the endzone. They are aluminum bleacher benches and when the crowd gets rocking, the noise that reverberates from those bleachers is tremendous.
The combination of all that is downright deafening to the point of practically an unfair advantage for the Seahawks. As if having a shutdown defense wasn't already enough. The offense can't hear anything to make adjustments.
"Yeah, it's pretty noisy," said Tony Sparano. "I think of Kansas City, those places like that - they can get pretty noisy and Seattle's is pretty noisy there. We played there a bunch when I was in Dallas. In fact, almost every year it seemed like. Then we played a couple of playoff games up there and it was really noisy there. I've watched games sometimes, I've seen a couple of teams have double-digit false start penalties in that environment. They've got great fans just like we do and they're passionate about their team. It's loud, but we practice that way. It's not something that should be a distraction to us. We shouldn't use it as an excuse, a distraction."
Historically, across the NFL, home teams win about 57% of the time. Seattle, though, has won 68.8% of the time since moving into CenturyLink Field in 2002, a record of 66-30 which, heading into this season, was tied with Green Bay for the most home wins in the league over that time period. And that homefield advantage has only gotten greater in recent years since the team has gotten better.
It's a big test for any quarterback to battle the noise there, let alone a rookie such as Derek Carr. He will have a big test on his hands operating the offense without the luxury of audibles. Carr claims he doesn't see it being a big issue.
"It doesn't limit it, really, to me. It's just sometimes you've got to just do hand signals, sometimes it's just little sudden gestures, all those kind of things. Obviously, silent counts - yeah, you've got to work those and just have them ready. You have a plan for it, but it's not something that you spend all your time worrying about, because it's just football. You go out there - we've done silent all year, we've done hand signals all year. I've heard it gets really loud and I'm sure it well get really loud, but we're just going to go out there and do what we've been taught to do."
Last week the Raiders had two delay of game penalties and two false starts due in part to the noise in Cleveland. The Browns fans are pretty loud and passionate but are not known for their abilities to disrupt opposing offenses.
"Obviously last week, our operation in Cleveland was a tick slower than normal in some situations," said Sparano. "We had two delay-of-game penalties, which cannot happen. That's not all on Derek in that situation at all. The huddle is his, so as soon as he gets the play, we have to get in and out of the huddle and get to the football. I think he's been in that environment before in college in several situations. He's certainly been in that environment right now when it's been loud in some of the stadiums. This is going to be a loud place. We're totally prepared for that and we've been practicing all week."
Carr was asked about the loudest places he has played, and he did have to go back to his college days.
"I've played at Oregon, I thought that was pretty loud," said Carr. "I'm trying to think. Wisconsin, I thought, was pretty loud also. Wisconsin got pretty loud - Nebraska. That's in college, obviously. That's all I have to go off of, but some of these NFL games have been pretty loud as well."
Even still, there's a big difference between what Carr has heard about the noise level in Seattle and actually trying to operate in it. And there's also a big difference between playing in a loud stadium in a college atmosphere and in the pros.
This will be another big test for Carr and the Raiders in an already trying season. And we aren't even to the midway point. Pretty scary.
Have a safe an happy Halloween everyone. Don't eat too much candy.