The Buccaneers will be playing on their home field in Raymond James Stadium when they take on the Chiefs on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS) in Super Bowl 55. While Tampa Bay is the first ever true host team to get to the Super Bowl, that means Kansas City is the first true road team in the usual neutral site NFL championship game.
Whether this is an advantage for the Buccaneers on gameday is the question. There’s no doubt their coaches and players, like everyone else in the league, are creatures of habit and prefer to have a more settled, consistent routine — which has made the situation more comfortable leading up to the game.
Tom Brady spelled that out when asked about the situation early during his Super Bowl week media availability.
“I’m happy I’m in my own bed. I’m happy I’m eating good stuff at home. I’m happy I had extra time to prepare,” Brady said. “I don’t have to travel, don’t have to pack my clothes, pack up all my other crap. It’s our own locker room, our own practice field. In the end, there’s some real positives to take from it.”
Brady has been through the rigors of Super Bowl week nine times before 2021, and after a while, it became normalized with the Patriots. But the Buccaneers have limited Super Bowl experience beyond Brady and field mostly a young, homegrown team that didn’t even experience the playoffs before 2020.
For those players, not worrying about disruption is big, especially after fighting hard in three road playoff games to get back to Tampa as the NFC’s top wild-card team. The Buccaneers didn’t need to get on a flight or adjust to different kind of hotel life before a game of the highest magnitude.
In most years, that also would help them quiet down the hype, noise and media blitz of Super Bowl week. But with COVID-19 protocols in place, there isn’t the same glaring spotlight on either team with virtual interviews and much less of the pregame hoopla. That leads into a limited presence of 22,000 fans at the game with about a third of the stadium full. Like every Super Bowl, it will be a split crowd.
While the Bucs are helped a little, the Chiefs won’t be affected. They chose to stay in Kansas City to keep their regular-season routine as well and will fly to Tampa only on Saturday night, not much different from a typical road game.
The Chiefs were 8-2 at home this season including playoffs, but they were 8-0 away from Arrowhead Stadium. Including Super Bowl 54 over the 49ers in Miami a year ago, the Chiefs have won 12 consecutive road games. Their last away loss was in Nashville against the Titans on Nov. 10, 2019. That was their lone road loss of that season.
The Buccaneers went 5-3 at home this season, losing to the Saints, Rams and finally the Chiefs, 27-24 in Week 12. They also went 1-3 in night games, with their lone win coming by two points over the Giants in Week 8.
By being the home team, the Buccaneers did get to pick their jerseys first and wisely went with traditional road whites. Brady went 4-1 in Super Bowls wearing white for the Patriots and 2-2 when he didn’t. That adds to the reason why white-jersey teams have won 13 of the past 16 Super Bowls and 34 of 54 overall. The Chiefs were one of those teams as the designated home team in Super Bowl 54.
Color us skeptical that’s a big deal when Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are on the other side. The Buccaneers are facing a Chiefs team that didn’t just experience winning it all last year and expects to keep winning this year, but also one that is both road- and battle-tested.
The Bucs do have home-field advantage in the sense there’s no added disadvantage. But in terms of intimidating or challenging the Chiefs, there is no such edge. They have proved to feel too much at home on the road, including at Tampa just two months ago.