SB LVI: Home Field Advantage
Home-field advantage (noun): The advantage a team enjoys from being on its usual playing field.
Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had it. This year, the Los Angeles Rams have it.
Last year, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. This year, the Rams have a chance to do the same.
There’s nothing like playing on your own turf in the biggest game of the NFL season, and the Rams will look to become the second team in league history to win the Lombardi Trophy in their home city. So why is this a big deal?
The idea of home-field advantage encompasses physical, as well as psychological advantages that teams can use against their opponents. One point that speaks to this is traveling.
In the last 10 Super Bowl’s, the team that has had to travel the furthest from their home stadium to the ‘big game’s’ stadium is 3-7.
Typically, teams on the West Coast, such as the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, have had to travel the most miles during the regular season. According to ESPN Sports Analytics, all four teams in the NFC West division are in the top-7 teams who traveled the most miles in the 2021-2022 season, racking up more than 20,000 miles.
The Rams, who are fourth on that list, will surely appreciate and benefit from the opportunity to stay at home for a pivotal game that will define their Super Bowl-or-bust season.
Before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium, head coach Bruce Arians spoke about the advantage of having the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
"I think the big advantage is we stay in our own beds, sleep here and just do our normal routine," Arians said. "Nothing is out of the ordinary until we hit the media sessions next week. Just to be able to stay in your routine, sleep in your bed and all that stuff – I think it's a huge advantage."
For NFL players, coaches and staff, the 17 weeks of plane-rides and hotel rooms are physically and mentally exhausting, especially for a West Coast team like Los Angeles. In this postseason so far, the Rams have hosted two of their three games, giving them an additional level of comfort at SoFi Stadium.
For quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals, traveling from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati to SoFi Stadium will also pose an issue of the number of Bengals fans in attendance.
Although this is the Super Bowl and Bengals fans will still show up, the Rams have a major advantage when it comes to packing the house and showing unmatched support for their team.
NFL fans have had a first-hand view of how the geographic locations of teams in a certain matchup can affect the outcome.
In Week 18 of the regular season, the Rams had a chance to improve their postseason ranking with a win over the 49ers while simultaneously knocking them out of the playoffs. The game, which took place at SoFi Stadium, is only a five hour drive away from Santa Clara, California, where the Niners play. This made it easy for opposing fans to evenly distribute the crowd engagement, and ultimately gave San Francisco their much-needed win for a playoff spot.
For the Rams, home-field advantage gives them the upper-hand in this matchup, and the Bengals should look to bring their all, and more, to Super Bowl LVI.
Carlos Garcia is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.