• Toughest NFL stadium: It's Baltimore

  • By Jamison Hensley | October 10, 2012 2:01:09 PM PDT

ESPN.com polled more than two dozen NFL players, owners, general managers past and present, scouts, and pundits to determine the NFL's toughest venues. The winner: Baltimore.

This city has always had a reputation for having the loudest football stadium. When the Colts played in Baltimore, Memorial Stadium was described as "the world's largest outdoor insane asylum." That tradition has continued at M&T Bank Stadium, where the decibel readings regularly exceed 105.

It's hard to dispute the Ravens' home-field advantage. Baltimore has won 14 straight at home, the NFL's longest current streak. The only loss at home in the past two-plus seasons came to Pittsburgh, by three points, in December 2010. Overall, the Ravens have won 19 of their past 20 at home.

What makes it so tough to play in Baltimore? As former Ravens coach Brian Billick once told me: "Stadiums are stadiums, surfaces are surfaces and weather is weather. But when you talk about home-field advantage, you're talking about the fans."

The Steelers finished No. 4 in toughest NFL venues. Over the past decade, their .728 home winning percentage is No. 3 overall.

The atmosphere in Pittsburgh is hard to replicate especially when there's snow on the ground and a sea of gold Terrible Towels waving in the stands. This is the one of the few places where reporters experience the fans' excitement. As soon as the song "Renegade" starts playing in the second half, the press box, which is attached to the upper deck at Heinz Field, starts moving up and down because of the fans overhead.

While Baltimore and Pittsburgh have the best home-field advantages, the Cleveland Browns have the worst. As ESPN's Greg Garber put it, "No matter how you slice it -- going back one decade (.378), two decades (.391) or three (.453) -- the Browns have the NFL's worst home record."


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