Warm Weather/Dome Teams Suck On The Road In The NFL Playoffs: A Historical Study

Posted: January 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

cjohnson

We hear it all the time, warm weather/dome teams are soft. They don’t have to deal with the fluctuating and unpredictable weather elements of playing outdoors in a cold weather city. They lack a certain grit and balls that can be masked in September and October, but comes into play in December and January when the games really matter. Warm weather/dome teams can’t win on the road in cold weather environments in the playoffs.

Without actual evidence, any reasonable NFL fan with a brain would accept these statements as fact. But I wanted to find out for real if they carried any weight.

I went back to 1978 when the Wildcard was established and a three-round playoff was implemented. What I was looking for were warm weather/dome teams that went on the road to cold weather cities and won games. First, I tried to see if any made it to the Super Bowl by winning a cold road game. Since that didn’t yield many results at all, I tried finding teams that won just one cold road game in their conference AFTER the Wildcard round.

First, let’s establish who the WARM WEATHER teams are (Avg. temp  OVER 60 degrees in January):

Dolphins, Chargers, Cardinals, LA Rams, Jaguars, Bucs, LA Raiders.

And here are the DOME teams:

Vikings, Cowboys, Texans/Oilers, St. Louis Rams, Lions, Saints, Colts.

 

Let’s start by giving a quick shoutout to 2013 which saw two of the above teams win on the road in wildcard weekend (Saints and Chargers).

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I know I was looking for Divisional/Championship game winners only, but this was the only year where TWO of the Warm Weather/Dome teams won cold road games in the same wildcard weekend. The Saints grabbed a close win in Green Bay, and the Chargers smoked Cincy in a battle of last decade’s “Good Teams Who Have Achieved Nothing.”

Now, on to the real contenders…

1989-90 LA Rams

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Credit where credit is due, the 1989-90 LA Rams were not nearly as big a group of pussies as the town they represented. They grabbed two road wins in traditionally freezing Philly and New York before they got embarrassed by the Niners in the NFC Championship game. I guess the silver lining is the 49ers outscored their three opponents by a whopping 100 points in the playoffs, 126-26. THAT is dominance.

 

1996-97 Jacksonville Jaguars

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 1.31.42 PM.png

Most people look at the Jacksonville Jaguars as a joke franchise that hasn’t accomplished anything in their history. But people forget that when the Jags first stepped on the scene as an expansion franchise in 1995, they actually had some immediate success and “took it to the limit.” Mark Brunell was a good quarterback before Tom Brady made him cry, and in just their second year, the Jags went on the road as the 5-seed and beat Buffalo (ha, classic Bills), and top-seed Denver each by a score of 30-27 before losing at New England in the AFC Championship game. That’s actually a pretty impressive little playoff run they put together. Unfortunately for Jags fans, the team has sucked ass for 90% of their existence since then. Jaguars – do what you gotta do to get back into the playoffs. Whatever it takes. Time to stop playing by the rules and start stealing the show again…

jagsfan

 

1994-95 San Diego Chargers

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 1.18.31 PM.png

Ah, perfect time to take a stroll down memory lane with the high point of the San Diego Chargers franchise. While there have been better Chargers teams (mid-2000s with young Phillip Rivers and LT), there were none who took it to the limit (see Jags post above), quite like the 1994-95 Chargers did. Grabbing a win in the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh against the far more experienced Steelers franchise was a huge upset. I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like I know a lot about this team. I don’t. I was 7. But it was the first Super Bowl I can actually remember watching, and they got absolutely annihilated by the 49ers, with Jerry Rice going off for three TDs and Steve Young finally getting out of Montana’s shadow.

 

And finally without further adieu, the one warm weather team to win a cold road game on their way to a Super Bowl title is none other than…

The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers!

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 1.17.18 PM.png

I think we all have fond memories of this Tampa team. Their defense was filthy. Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Simeon Rice. Completely stacked. And the offense was led by the last sub-par QB to ever win a Super Bowl, Brad Johnson. But they also had Warrick Dunn, Keyshawn Johnson, Joe Jurevicius, and the greatest alleged-homosexual fullback of all time, Mike “The A-Train” Alstott. Not to mention they had just stolen John Gruden from their Super Bowl opponent, the Oakland Raiders. All of this added up to what was expected to be a great Super Bowl matchup, but instead the Bucs smoked the Raiders in a defensive clinic. They only let up 196 total points on the season, which is right up there amongst the best of all time. Tampa was the 2-seed in the NFC Playoffs and had to go on the road to Philadelphia to beat the 1-seed Eagles in the Championship game. They say defense travels and this is a perfect example of that.

So as you see, in the nearly 40 years since the Wildcard was introduced, there have only been four instances where a warm weather/dome team has won a cold road playoff game in the divisional round or later. That’s pretty wild if you think about it. Now, that’s not to say warm weather/dome teams haven’t had success in the league. They certainly have made it to and won super bowls. But they did so as home teams. What my research shows is that they really struggle on the road in cold weather.

I have no idea why I did this, but it seemed like an interesting point that could be brought up to settle bar arguments or answer a trivia question. So…here are some Mike Alstott career highlights for your enjoyment.

 

 

 

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