When the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet on the field for Super Bowl LV, they will be very familiar with each other already. This will be the 14th Super Bowl in history to serve as a rematch between two teams who met earlier that same regular season. In Week 12, the Chiefs held off the Buccaneers for a 27-24 win. Recent history says that things could be very different in the rematch.
A history of Super Bowl rematches of regular-season games
Under the NFL’s current scheduling formula, each team plays against a team from a division of the opposite conference. The divisional matchups rotate annually and reset every four years because each conference has four divisions. For example, this season, AFC North teams played NFC East teams, while teams from the AFC West played teams from the NFC South.
Since the NFL’s merger with the AFL in 1970, it has always been theoretically possible for a Super Bowl to be a rematch of a regular-season matchup. However, this is a rare event. This upcoming Super Bowl will mark only the 14th instance of a regular-season rematch in the big game.
In fact, this event is so rare that it took twelve years for the first one to even happen. The first regular-season rematch was Super Bowl XII between the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos. The Broncos failed to avenge their regular-season defeat to Dallas, losing the Super Bowl 27-10.
The odds of victory favor Tampa Bay
While this is the first Super Bowl since 2012 to feature two teams who have already met in the regular season, the 1980s and 1990s saw a long string of these. There was a span of eight such rematches in 15 Super Bowls from January 1981-1995. This is most likely because each conference was made up of three divisions instead of the four that exist today.
We may have a small sample size to work with, but recent history says the Buccaneers have a shot at exacting revenge against the Chiefs. In three of the past four instances, the team that has lost the regular-season matchup went on to win the Super Bowl.
An extra advantage for the Tampa Bay Bucs
The NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have something no previous Super Bowl team has ever had — home-field advantage. This Super Bowl will take place at their home field, Raymond James Stadium, this Sunday.
While that advantage wasn’t much help back in November, this Buccaneers team is riding the momentum of a seven-game winning streak. This includes three straight playoff games won on the road.
Granted, the Buccaneers will not get to enjoy all of the fruits of their home-field advantage. Only 25,000 actual human beings will be in attendance, 7,500 of whom are health-care workers who the NFL have invited to the game. Plus, the NFL will not allow the Buccaneers to fire the cannons from the stadium’s pirate ship after touchdowns.
Still, it’s a far cry from playing at noisy Arrowhead.