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FootballNFLSuper BowlThe quest to be the Super Bowl home team

The quest to be the Super Bowl home team

Throughout modern NFL history, teams scheduled to host the Super Bowl have fantasized about playing for the title in their home stadium. To this day, that has remained a fantasy.

In the seasons where a Super Bowl was played in an NFL stadium, the host team made the playoffs nine times. Conversely, a team with an opportunity for the ultimate home-field advantage finished last in the conference five times, with three of those teams being the worst in the league.

The Buccaneers reversed that drought, advancing to Super Bowl LV after the 2020 season.

Through the 2019 season, there were two instances where a Super Bowl participant played within their home territory, but not in their home stadium: the 49ers won Super Bowl XIX and the Rams lost Super Bowl XIV. Since the 1992 season, the NFL has only allowed NFL stadiums in the host bidding process, which took the Los Angeles area out of the mix from 1995 to 2015 (the game will return to L.A. next season).

The 2017 season was the first to present a real logistical issue for preparing the Super Bowl site, as the Vikings hosted a Divisional Playoff game just three weeks prior. This was the latest in the postseason that there was a host team with a home playoff game, although there were some instances where a Conference Championship home game was possible had earlier results happened differently.

The 2017 Vikings and the 2020 Buccaneers have been the only teams to advance to the Conference Championship round in the years their stadium was the Super Bowl host.

Performance of Super Bowl host teams

For each home team, their regular season record is shown as well as their conference seed after tiebreakers that were in effect that season. Before the 1970 merger, division standings are the only applicable seeding. From 1970-74, home games in the playoffs were determined by rotation, so the conference seeding at that time was irrelevant except for the 4 seed which determined the wild card team.

@ Away playoff game, home playoff game. For ease of comparison, the number of weeks remaining in the season are shown when a team was eliminated from playoff contention. When a zero is shown, the host team was mathematically alive in the final week of the season, but missed the playoffs.

When the NFL had to prepare for a possible Conference Championship game at the Super Bowl stadium, those circumstances are noted. For a stadium that changed names, superscript letters link the stadium names.

Season SB Stadium Home team Record Conf seed Eliminated Notes
2020 LV Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 11-5 5 WON SB TB played all playoff games on the road (CC host was possible after WC). Playoffs expanded to 7 seed, all but 1 seed play Wild Card round
2019 LIV Hard Rock Stadium[a] Dolphins 5-11 15 -3
2018 LIII Mercedes-Benz Stadium[b] Falcons 7-9 8 -2
2017 LIII U.S. Bank Stadium Vikings 13-3 2 NFCCG @ DIV (latest home game at any SB site)
2016 LI NRG Stadium[c] Texans 9-7 4 DIV@ WC (not possible to host CC with 6 seed loss)
2015 50 Levi’s Stadium 49ers 5-11 15 -3
2014 XLIX University of Phoenix Stadium Cardinals 11-5 5 WC @ (5 seed could host CC if division winners all lose)
2013
XLVIII MetLife Stadium Giants 8-8 9 -2
Jets 7-9 10 -3
2012 XLVII Mercedes-Benz Superdome[b] Saints 7-9 12 -1
2011 XLVI Lucas Oil Stadium Colts 2-14 16 -5 #32 overall
2010 XLV Cowboys Stadium Cowboys 6-10 13 -3
2009 XLIV Sun Life Stadium Dolphins 7-9 11 0
2008 XLIII Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 9-7 7 0
2007 XLII University of Phoenix Stadium Cardinals 8-8 9 -2
2006 XLI Dolphin Stadium[a] Dolphins 6-10 14 -2
2005 XL Ford Field Lions 5-11 12 -3
2004 XXXIX Alltel Stadium Jaguars 9-7 7 0
2003 XXXVIII Reliant Stadium[c] Texans 5-11 14 -3
2002 XXXVII Qualcomm Stadium[d] Chargers 8-8 11 0 Realignment: seeds 1-4 are division champions, 5-6 wild card qualifiers, all except 1-2 play Wild Card round
2001 XXXVI Louisiana Superdome[b] Saints 7-9 9 -1
2000 XXXV Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 10-6 5 WC @ (5 seed could host CC if division winners all lose)
1999 XXXIV Georgia Dome Falcons 5-11 10 -3 Defending NFC champion
1998 XXXIII Pro Player Stadium[a] Dolphins 10-6 4 DIV @ WC (not possible to host CC with 6 seed loss)
1997 XXXII Qualcomm Stadium[d] Chargers 4-12 14 -3
1996 XXXI Louisiana Superdome[b] Saints 3-13 15 (last) -4
1995 XXX Sun Devil Stadium Cardinals 4-12 15 (last) -3
1994 XXIX Joe Robbie Stadium[a] Dolphins 10-6 3 DIV @ (CC possible host)
1993 XXVIII Georgia Dome Falcons 6-10 11 -1
1991 XXVI Metrodome Vikings 8-8 9 -1
1990 XXV Tampa Stadium Buccaneers 6-10 8 -1 Four-way tiebreaker for 2nd-5th in NFC Central; playoffs expanded to 6 seed
1989 XXIV Louisiana Superdome[b] Saints 9-7 8 -3
1988 XXIII Joe Robbie Stadium[a] Dolphins 6-10 11 -2
1987 XXII Jack Murphy Stadium[d] Chargers 8-7 8 0 8-1 after 9 games
1985 XX Louisiana Superdome[b] Saints 5-11 12 -2 Bum Phillips retired 5 games before end of season, with son Wade taking over as interim coach
1983 XVIII Tampa Stadium Buccaneers 2-14 14 (last) -5 #28 overall
1981 XVI Pontiac Silverdome Lions 8-8 6 0
1980 XV Louisiana Superdome[b] Saints 1-15 14 (last) -6 #28 overall
1978 XIII Orange Bowl Dolphins 11-5 4 WC Lost AFC East on tiebreaker; playoffs expanded to 5 seed, first year of Wild Card round (CC host not possible)
1977 XII Louisiana Superdome[b] Saints 3-11 13 -3
1975 X Orange Bowl Dolphins 10-4 5 0 Lost AFC East on tiebreaker
1974 IX Tulane Stadium Saints 5-9 10 -3
1972 VII Memorial Coliseum Rams 6-7-1 9 0
1971 VI Tulane Stadium Saints 4-8-2 10 -2
1970 V Orange Bowl Dolphins 10-4 4 DIV @ Because of rotation system, could not host playoff game
1969 IV Tulane Stadium Saints 5-9 3
(NFL Capitol)
-6
1968 III Orange Bowl Dolphins 5-8-1 3
(AFL East)
-3
1967 II Orange Bowl Dolphins 4-10 4
(AFL East)
-5
1966 I Memorial Coliseum Rams 8-6 3
(NFL West)
-2

Super Bowls with no home team

These Super Bowls were played in stadiums that were not used by an NFL team during the regular season. The list below includes stadiums that were within the home territory of a team or teams. In the case when the San Francisco 49ers played in Palo Alto, Calif., there was about a 30-mile separation by road, which is a shorter distance from San Francisco proper than the 49ers’ current stadium in Santa Clara.

Season SB Stadium Nearby team Record Conf seed Eliminated Notes
1992
XXVII Rose Bowl Rams 6-10 9 -2
Raiders 7-9 10 -2
1986
XXI Rose Bowl Rams 10-6 5 WC
Raiders 8-8 8 0
1984 XIX Stanford Stadium 49ers 15-1 1 WON SB
1982 XVII Rose Bowl Raiders 8-1 1 DIV 9-week strike-shortened season; Rams were still mathematically alive at 1-7
Rams 2-7 14 -1
1979 XIV Rose Bowl Rams 9-7 3 LOST SB
1976 XI Rose Bowl Rams 10-3-1 3 NFCCG
1973 VIII Rice Stadium Oilers 1-13 13 (last) -4 #26 overall

Image: Ben Liebenberg/NFL

Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor-in-chief and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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