Last year, the Buccaneers went on the road for every playoff game and ran the table, allowing them to become the first team ever to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
This year, Bucs coach Bruce Arians knows that it will be important to get postseason games at home.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Arians told reporters on Monday regarding the importance of spending January at home. “It’s back like the old days. It has only ever happened a couple of times in the history of the league [where teams advance to the Super Bowl while playing every playoff game on the road]. When I was in Pittsburgh, we went to the Super Bowl and won with all the road games. I think the Giants may have done it, but that’s not very easy. It’s a very hard thing with fans. People forget — everybody talks about our road woes — we’re .500 on the road right now and that’s pretty damn good in the old days. When there are fans in the stands and you go and win in a place like Philly and you go win in a place like Indy, those are hard stadiums to win in. Home-field advantage in the playoffs is a huge, huge advantage.”
The Bucs are indeed a different team on the road this year, even though road teams are generally doing well. For Tampa Bay, the ultimate prize becomes the No. 1 seed, the week off, and the two home games in the postseason, before they’ll go to L.A. for Super Bowl LVI.
By the way, four teams have won the Super Bowl after winning three playoff games on the road: the 2005 Steelers, the 2007 Giants, the 2010 Packers, and the 2020 Buccaneers. With the playoffs starting a week later than usual, outdoor games in cold climates become even more of a potential problem. Although the Bucs won in Green Bay in January 2021, no one should want to have to play there. So, yes, the goal should be to play at home as often as possible.
Especially for the Bucs, who are much better this year in the place where they won the most recent Super Bowl.