The regular season has come to a close, and attention is turning to the NFL playoffs. While the mix of teams in this year’s postseason could make an exciting few weeks of football, the variety of stadiums that will be featured also provides plenty of intrigue.
Between the wild card and divisional rounds, there is an interesting mix of both modern and historic stadiums. Some have become common sites during the playoffs, hosting plenty of memorable moments along the way, while others come with a shorter track record of postseason experience.
Looking purely at the stadiums guaranteed to host playoff games, there are some solid facilities. Given that venues such as the Miami Dolphins’ dramatically renovated Hard Rock Stadium, the Oakland Raiders’ Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the New York Giants’ MetLife Stadium, and the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field are either unlikely or virtually assured to not host playoff games this season, it makes more sense to focus on facilities where games are already slated to take place.
In the first round, NRG Stadium will get a warmup before it hosts Super Bowl LI on February 5. On Saturday, the Houston Texans will host the Raiders at NRG Stadium, marking the fourth time overall that the facility has hosted a playoff game since it opened in 2002. It will also allow NRG Stadium to become the first stadium since Pro Player Stadium in 1999 to host both a playoff game and a Super Bowl in the same postseason.
The Raiders and Texans will square off on January 7, one day before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Dolphins at Heinz Field. Heinz Field has been a common site during the playoffs since opening in 2001, as the Steelers have won eight division titles in that stretch and made three Super Bowl appearances (including two victories).
Over in the NFC, one of the NFL’s most historic venues will host playoff action. The Green Bay Packers are set to take on the Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8. Lambeau Field’s distinguished history alone makes it notable, but the Packers’ level of success of the years as a franchise has allowed it to become the site of many memorable postseason moments.
The matchup in Green Bay will be preceded by a contest at CenturyLink Field, which is certainly one of the signature NFL stadiums to have opened in this century. The Seattle Seahawks will host the Lions on Saturday in what is the latest playoff matchup at the stadium. Since the opening of CenturyLink Field—then known as Seahawks Stadium—the Seawhawks have made 11 playoff appearances, reaching the Super Bowl three times.
In the second round, two of NFL’s most iconic franchises will host postseason games at their stadiums. Playoff football is once again coming through Foxboro, as the New England Patriots—the AFC’s number one seed—will host a to-be-determined opponent at Gillette Stadium on January 14.
On January 15, AT&T Stadium will be the site of a playoff home game for the NFC’s number one seed, the Dallas Cowboys. This will mark the third time overall that the stadium has hosted a playoff game since its opening in 2009, and its first since 2014.
The Atlanta Falcons are seeking a fitting swan song for the Georgia Dome, which could host its last playoff game on January 14. The Falcons are on track to move into the currently under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium next fall, and the Georgia Dome is expected to be demolished at some point in 2017.
The Kansas City Chiefs will have a game in front of their hometown fans at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15. Arrowhead Stadium, which certainly has a claim among the league’s most historic venues—having opened in 1972 and receiving significant renovations leading up to this decade—will be hosting its first playoff game since 2011.
Certainly, the NFL playoffs will feature some exciting action along the way. When the final results of these games are recorded, they will add to the histories of some of the league’s most prominent venues.
Image courtesy Kansas City Chiefs.
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