As they did for one game in 2010, the Minnesota Vikings will make TCF Bank Stadium their home in 2014 and 2015.
Is home-field advantage still a major factor in the National Football League?
That’s certainly debatable, considering the last three Super Bowl champions (Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens) have each won at least two road playoff games on their way to capturing the Lombardi Trophy.
But that’s not the focus here. We’re ranking the NFL’s 32 stadiums, but not necessarily based solely on appearance. After all, this isn’t Better Homes and Gardens. So we’re taking a different approach with an emphasis (fair or not) more on the game(s) itself. In other words, there’s probably a little more onus here on tradition than condition (although we are hardly ignoring the new stadiums and their modern conveniences).
Taken into account ranking-wise, were age, capacity, and history of the facility and the team’s years playing there. We’ll also feature the greatest game played in that respective building. Combine all of those factors and here’s a look where the league’s current 32 stadiums.
For the sake of continuity, we’re using the current name of all of these stadiums.
By the way, here’s a little heads up. When we speak of the facility’s greatest contest, it may not necessarily involve the home team. And in a few instances, it may not even include a winning effort by the host club.
Finally, special thanks to Stadiums of Pro Football for plugging a few holes.
Chargers Record at Stadium: 193-156-3 regular season, 5-6 postseason
History: Someday (possibly?) the San Diego Chargers will have a new home. The franchise has been playing at Qualcomm Stadium for more than 40 years, making it one of the older stadiums in the NFL these days.
Greatest Game: Those “Air Coryell” Chargers teams of the late 1970s and ‘80s were something to behold, although the Bolts never came away with a championship. But in what proved to be a shootout between a pair of future Hall of Famers, San Diego handed the Miami Dolphins their first loss of 1984 after an 11-0 start.
The 34-28 win featured 380 yards passing and four touchdowns (one interception) by quarterback Dan Fouts, who outdueled second-year passer Dan Marino, who threw for 338 yards and two scores (one interception).
Panthers Record at Stadium: 67-69 regular season, 2-1 postseason
History: The Carolina Panthers debuted in 1995 as an expansion team and played their home games at Clemson Memorial Stadium. They took up shop in their current facility in 1996, a year which saw them treat their fans to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the NFC championship game.
Greatest Game: If you go back and look at the Panthers' brief history, you’ll notice that some of their most important and thrilling wins came away from home.
But we’ll go back to Week No. 1 of the 2003 season and a come-from-behind 24-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, thanks partly to a great relief effort by quarterback Jake Delhomme. John Fox’s team would finish the year in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Jaguars Record at Stadium: 84-60 regular season, 2-1 postseason
History: Since beginning play in 1995, the Jacksonville Jaguars have called EverBank Field home. And given the fact that the team made four straight playoff appearances from Years No. 2 to No. 5 (1996-99), it’s worked out well…until as of late. The team has fallen upon hard times and has not reached the postseason since 2007.
Greatest Game: With apologies to all of those great Jaguars teams of the 1990s, it’s hard to ignore a 20-19 win by the team over the New Orleans Saints in 2003. You would be hard-pressed to come up with an ending like this, even if you were a Hollywood writer.
Titans Record at Stadium: 69-43 regular season, 2-2 postseason
History: Prior to making Nashville’s LP Field their home in 1999, the Tennessee Oilers played at the Liberty Bowl in 1997 and Vanderbilt Stadium in 1998.
Before they were the Tennessee Oilers, they were the Houston Oilers, who made the Astrodome their place of residence for the balance of the franchise's history. The team became the Titans the same year they moved to Nashville in 1999.
Greatest Game: The 34-31 overtime win by the Titans over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2002 AFC divisional playoffs is certainly worth considering. But in their first season as the Tennessee Titans, it’s hard to ignore the 1999 AFC Wild Card Game aka the “Music City Miracle.”
Dolphins Record at Stadium: 122-85 regular season, 5-3 postseason
History: The Miami Dolphins played at the Orange Bowl before moving into their current home in 1987. These days, the Dolphins play at Sun Life Stadium, a facility that has had more name changes than Chevy Chase’s character in Fletch. It has also been the site of five Super Bowls.
Greatest Game: It was a back and forth between Dan Marino and Drew Bledsoe on opening weekend of the 1994 season. Marino was bouncing back from missing most of the 1993 season and Bledsoe was in his second year after being the No. 1 overall pick in 1993.
The results were a thrilling 39-35 win for the Dolphins and Marino, who threw for 473 yards and five touchdowns (one interception), offsetting Bledsoe’s 421 yards and four scores (two interceptions).
Bills Record at Stadium: 175-132 regular season, 9-1 postseason
History: The Buffalo Bills will be getting ready to play their fifth decade at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2013. Since 2008, the franchise has also called Toronto home, playing one home game a year in Canada each of the last five seasons…and counting.
Greatest Game: When you reach an unprecedented four straight Super Bowls, there’s liable to be a lot of magnificent moments in your own building. But it’s nearly impossible to top the Bills 41-38 overtime victory over the Houston Oilers in the 1992 AFC wild card playoffs. The win featured the greatest comeback (32 points down) in NFL history.
Raiders Record at Stadium: 155-101-3 regular season, 14-3 postseason
History: In a sign of things to come, the Oakland Raiders played in several venues in the Bay Area during their first six seasons from 1960-65. The franchise moved into the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 1966 and remained there until owner Al Davis moved the team to Los Angeles in 1982. The Raiders returned to Oakland in time for the 1995 season.
Greatest Game: The good times have been missing as of late, but during the franchise’s heydays of the 1970s, they were involved in some classic battles with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins. Who could ever forget their 28-26 win over Miami in the 1974 divisional playoffs, dethroning the two-time Super Bowl champions via one of the most famous plays in league history?
Browns Record at Stadium: 41-71 regular season, 0-0 postseason
History: The franchise known as today’s Cleveland Browns was born from expansion in 1999 after the original team moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in 1996. The current home of the Browns also made its debut in 1999.
Greatest Game: In 2007, which has proven to be the last winning season for the Browns to date (10-6), the team outlasted the rival Cincinnati Bengals, 51-45. However, the choice here is a strange 40-39 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on the opening Sunday of the 2002 season featuring an ending you have to see to believe.
But all’s well that doesn’t end well.
The Browns would go on to reach the playoffs that season, their only appearance in the postseason since returning to the league in 1999.
Saints Record at Stadium: 141-148 regular season, 5-3 postseason
History: The New Orleans Saints used to call Tulane Stadium home before moving indoors to the Superdome in 1975. The stadium has been the site of a record seven Super Bowls, including the Ravens 34-31 victory in Super Bowl XLVII in February.
Greatest Game: Known these days more for being a big part of “Bounty Gate,” New Orleans' 31-28 overtime win in the 2009 NFC title game over the Minnesota Vikings was a classic. The teams were basically in back-and-forth mode for the majority of the game and when it was all said and done, the Saints were headed to their first Super Bowl.
Lions Record at Stadium: 34-54 regular season, 0-0 postseason
History: Ford Field has seen a Super Bowl (XL) but, unfortunately for the city of Detroit, it has yet to host a postseason game for its home team. In fact, the last time the team hosted a playoff game was the wild card round…in 1993.
Greatest Game: There have been some lean years for the franchise since 2000, as the Lions have made just one playoff appearance over the last 13 seasons. But they managed to come up with a fun afternoon in Week 11 of 2009 vs. the visiting Cleveland Browns.
Courtesy of rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford (who showed a lot of guts in the closing seconds), the Lions came away with a 38-37 with the help of a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew on the final play of the game.
Texans Record at Stadium: 45-43 regular season, 2-0 postseason
History: With the birth of the Houston Texans came the opening of Reliant Stadium in 2002. The team got off to a great start, as they hosted the Dallas Cowboys in the franchise opener that season and came away with a surprise 19-10 win.
Greatest Game: The Texans have only been around for 11 seasons and their fans will tell you that they’ve seen their share of heartbreaking losses at Reliant Stadium, in particular when it came to the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s tempting to go with the New England Patriots 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. But we’ll give the Texans some love in the form of last season’s wild 43-37 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11.
Rams Record at Stadium: 67-73 regular season, 4-1 postseason
History: The team known as the Cleveland Rams and the Los Angeles Rams became the St. Louis Rams. The team began the 1995 season at Busch Stadium and finally played its first game at its new (and current) stadium in November later that year.
Greatest Game: The times have been tough for this franchise as of late. The Rams haven’t made the playoffs since 2004.
As for this dome’s greatest game, the last playoff contest in the Gateway City saw the Carolina Panthers edge the Rams, 29-23, in two overtimes in the 2003 divisional playoffs. Quarterback Jake Delhomme connected with wide receiver Steve Smith on a 69-yard touchdown pass just 10 seconds into the extra session.
Buccaneers Record at Stadium: 69-51 regular season, 2-2 postseason
History: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers first took the field in 1976 and played their home games at Tampa Stadium until 1997. The team played only a pair of playoff games at that stadium, both in 1979.
Greatest Game: The video enclosed is the game-winning touchdown connection between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Santonio Holmes in the team’s 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
But the choice is a Week 16 Monday night tilt between the Bucs and St. Louis Rams, a 38-35 Tampa Bay win over the defending Super Bowl champions. It was a rematch of the 1999 NFC title game won by the Rams, 11-6 (that’s not a typo).
Bengals Record at Stadium: 52-51-1 regular season, 0-2 postseason
History: Call it Riverfront Stadium or Cinergy Field, the old home of the Cincinnati Bengals became just that following the 1999 season. The team’s current facility is obviously named after the franchise’s founder and Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Brown, who also coached the team during its first eight years of existence (1968-75).
Greatest Game: The team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990, so obviously they’ve yet to win one at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals did come out on the right end of a 58-48 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 12 of 2004 as quarterback Carson Palmer overcame three interceptions by throwing for four scores. The 106 combined points makes it the second-highest scoring game in NFL history.
Giants Record at Stadium: 15-9 regular season, 1-0 postseason
History: Not a lot to go on here. After making Giants Stadium their home in 1976, the team has been the residents of the Jersey Meadowlands ever since. The Giants, along with the Jets, moved into MetLife Stadium in 2010. Of course, the stadium will be home to Super Bowl XLVIII in February.
Greatest Game: It’s only been three seasons, but you’d be hard-pressed to top the excitement of this tilt between the G-Men and the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15 of 2010. Of course, Giants fans probably wouldn’t share those sentiments after their team blew a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead in unimaginable fashion.
Jets Record at Stadium: 14-10 regular season, 0-0 postseason
History: For those who remember the New York Jets' days at Shea Stadium, those are fond memories indeed. In 1984, the team took up residence at Giants Stadium, sharing the facility with the New York Giants. And when MetLife Stadium opened in 2010, the Jets and Giants became roommates once again.
Greatest Game: Remember when people were saying good things about Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez? The much-maligned signal-caller was on a roll when the Houston Texans came to town in Week 11 of 2010. And Sanchez took his team 72 yards in five plays in the final minute for a 30-27 win.
Eagles Record at Stadium: 45-35 regular season, 4-2 postseason
History: After making Veterans Stadium home from 1971 to 2002, the Philadelphia Eagles moved into “The Linc” in 2003. For the first time, the Birds will have a new head coach on the sidelines in this stadium as Chip Kelly takes over for Andy Reid.
Greatest Game: It’s only 10 years old so there’s not a lot of history here. But we’ll go back to the Eagles' first playoff contest in the building. It proved to be more than just a 20-17 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers in the 2003 divisional playoffs. As wide receiver Freddie Mitchell can attest, it was a lot more.
Broncos Record at Stadium: 59-37 regular season, 2-2 postseason
History: It’s not like the Denver Broncos have been playing very long in their current home. The team owned an amazing home field advantage when their address read Mile High Stadium. The noise level would reach epic proportions in that old building, a big assist for a franchise that reached six Super Bowls from 1977-98.
Greatest Game: We’re not being prisoners of the moments but the Broncos' last two home playoff games (2011 and 2012) are both prime candidates. But we’ll opt for the second as the eventual Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens survived a classic 38-35 double overtime tilt in January in the AFC divisional round.
Colts Record at Stadium: 28-12 regular season, 2-1 postseason
History: The Baltimore Colts took the Mayflower (as in moving vans) out of town in 1984 and set up shop at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis that year. They played in the facility for 24 seasons until 2007 and certainly had plenty of ups and downs there.
Greatest Game: Yes, we saw the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI as Eli Manning and company came away with another championship in the house that his brother Peyton built.
But who could forget the Colts amazing 35-34 Sunday night win over the Patriots in Week 10 of 2009? For New England fans, “fourth and two” would become a four-letter word.
Redskins Record at Stadium: 64-63-1 regular season, 1-1 postseason
History: Prior to absolutely and positively moving into FedExField in 1997, RFK Stadium was one of the loudest and biggest home field advantages in the league. Last season, the Washington Redskins finished 5-3 at home, their best record at FedExField since finishing 5-3 in 2007.
Greatest Game: The 2006 Redskins would win only five games. But in Week 4, they survived a thriller against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell was the main man in D.C. and he and wide receiver Santana Moss combined for three scores that day, including a 68-yarder in overtime which gave Washington a 36-30 victory.
Capacity: 80,000 (expandable to 100,000 for special events)
Cowboys Record at Stadium: 17-15 regular season, 1-0 postseason
History: The Dallas Cowboys made now-demolished Texas Stadium home from 1971 to 2008. There were plenty of memories in a building that would house the five-time Super Bowl champions for more than three decades (along with a comeback or two from quarterbacks such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and…yes, 1974 Thanksgiving Day hero Clint Longley).
Greatest Game: You won’t have to strain your brain for too long to recall a Sunday night, Week 14 slugfest between the Cowboys and New York Giants in 2011. But the final results probably still give some Dallas fans a headache, as New York rallied for a 37-34 triumph.
Cardinals Record at Stadium: 33-23 regular season, 3-0 postseason
History: The Cardinals moved from St. Louis to Arizona for the 1988 season and played their games at Sun Devil Stadium. In 2006, the team moved into the University of Phoenix Stadium. In seven seasons in the facility, the Cardinals have finished with a winning record at home just three times. The team has also not had a losing record at home since ’07.
Greatest Game: Many would automatically site the New York Giants' 17-14 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. But who could forget the thrilling 51-45 overtime win by the Cardinals over the Green Bay Packers in the 2009 NFC wild card playoffs? And who could ever forget how that game ended? Certainly not Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Falcons Record at Stadium: 101-67 regular season, 3-2 postseason
History: Prior to moving to the Georgia Dome in 1992, the Atlanta Falcons were an outdoors team, utilizing Fulton County Stadium. The building has been the site of a pair of Super Bowls (XXVIII and XXXIV).
Greatest Game: Current Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been on the right end of some thrilling wins by the team during the last five years in the building. That would include the club’s 30-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in last season’s playoffs. But we’ll opt for Atlanta’s 41-38 overtime triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 of 2006, a game that had a lot of everything.
Vikings Record at Stadium: 158-85 regular season, 6-4 postseason
History: After having a definitive home field advantage at Metropolitan, the Minnesota Vikings left the elements outside and moved indoors in 1982.
But it’s a shame that the Metrodome won’t be around much longer (although opinions will vary) because the NFL history in the building has been astounding.
From a 99-yard touchdown run (Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett in 1982) to a 99-yard touchdown reception (Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian in 2008) to the longest play (109 yards) in NFL history (San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie in 2007) to the most rushing yards in a game (296) by a player in league annals (Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2007).
Greatest Game: Let’s got back to that first season and the final game of the strike-shortened 1982 season, when Dorsett ripped off that long run, despite one of his teammates (fullback Ron Springs) not being on the field. What is often forgotten is that Bud Grant’s Vikings won that game, 31-27, a Monday night victory that would put the Purple Gang in the playoffs.
As for the stadium’s greatest game, the nod here goes to the Atlanta Falcons 30-27 upset win in the 1998 NFC title game.
Bears Record at Stadium: 193-131-1 regular season, 7-7 postseason
History: The Chicago Bears (who once played at Wrigley Field) made Soldier Field their new home starting with the 1971 season. The stadium was renovated a little over 10 years ago, and those changes forced the franchise to play their home games in Champagne, Illinois (University of Illinois) during the 2002 season.
Greatest Game: So many games and so many memories. But we’re going to take a liberty with the “greatest game” tag and cite a 20-7 win by the Bears over the New Orleans Saints in 1984. It was a day Chicago fans won’t soon forget and it involved a player revered by nearly all fans of the game of football.
Opened: 1972 (fully renovated in 2010)
Chiefs Record at Stadium: 180-136-1 regular season, 2-4 postseason
History: How’s this for an oddity: Before moving into Arrowhead Stadium in 1972, the Kansas City Chiefs called Municipal Stadium home. Their final game in the building was a 27-24 double overtime setback to the Miami Dolphins in the 1971 AFC divisional playoffs.
It remains the longest game in NFL history. In their debut in their new stadium in 1972, the Chiefs would fall 20-10…to the Dolphins.
Greatest Game: The Chiefs haven’t won a league title since capturing Super Bowl IV, but they’ve had their share of thrillers in their current digs. We’re going with a 29-23 overtime win over the San Diego Chargers on a Monday night in 1995.
The difference came via wide receiver Tamarick Vanover, who returned a punt for a score in the extra session. It marked the first time in league history that a game had been decided by a punt return in overtime.
Seahawks Record at Stadium: 59-29 regular season, 5-1 postseason
History: From the Kingdome to Husky Stadium to CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Seahawks have always made the most of their home field advantage thanks to the “12th Man” and an amazing noise factor, especially at their current home.
And for the last 11 seasons, they’ve made it very difficult on the visiting team.
Greatest Game: The Seahawks have given their fans plenty of thrills in their new home. But the team’s 41-36 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, in the 2010 wild card playoffs, featured one of the greatest runs (or some of the worst tackling) you will ever see, courtesy of Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Steelers Record at Stadium: 70-25-1 regular season, 7-3 postseason
History: The early history of the Pittsburgh Steelers was nothing to write home about. That changed with the hiring of Chuck Noll in 1969 and in some part, the team moving into Three Rivers Stadium in 1970. Those dynasty days got an assist from one of the loudest buildings in the NFL. In 2001, the Steelers played ketchup with the rest of the league and moved into Heinz Field.
Greatest Game: You could certainly cite the Steelers' 36-33 come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Browns in the 2002 wild card playoffs as Bill Cowher’s club rallied from a 17-point deficit.
But we’ll point to a game earlier that season between Pittsburgh and the Atlanta Falcons. The clubs combined for 68 points and 1,092 total yards (645 by the Steelers) in Week 10 that season, a 34-34 overtime tie.
49ers Record at Stadium: 200-122-2 regular season, 18-7 postseason
History: While Candlestick Park was constructed in 1960, the San Francisco 49ers didn’t play their first game in this venue until 1971. The facility has seen its share of postseason games (25). In 1989, the earthquake that struck and interrupted the World Series that year also caused the 49ers to move a home game that season to Stanford Stadium.
Greatest Game: You could make a case for many games at Candlestick Park, including a 38-35 overtime win by the 49ers over the New Orleans Saints in 1980, which featured a record 28-point comeback. But it’s hard not to go with the 1981 NFC title game and the game-winning reception simply known as “The Catch.”
Patriots Record at Stadium: 73-15 regular season, 10-3 postseason
History: The New England Patriots have called Gillette Stadium home since 2002, and the team has been sharp, to say the least. But it’s also worth a note that the final game at Foxboro Stadium came in the 2001 divisional playoffs. The game ended in a 16-13 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders. The game will be known, however, for the “Tuck Rule,” which the league won’t have to worry about any longer.
Greatest Game: We’ll go all the way back to the 2004 NFL Thursday night opener between the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, a rematch of the 2003 AFC championship game.
Down 27-24, the Colts moved into field goal position and were sitting at the New England 17 yard line when quarterback Peyton Manning was sacked by Willie McGinest, pushing the ball back 12 yards. And a 36-yard field goal attempt became a 48-yard try for Mike Vanderjagt, who didn’t miss a field goal in 2003. That would not be the case in 2004.
Ravens Record at Stadium: 87-33 regular season, 3-2 postseason
History: Before moving into their current digs, the Baltimore Ravens played at Memorial Stadium the first two years of their existence. Of course, it was the home of the Baltimore Colts, who departed the city following the 1983 season and moved to Indianapolis.
Greatest Game: In a season which would culminate with a championship in Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens rallied from a 23-7 second-quarter deficit to edge the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, 39-36. The game-winning points came via a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Banks to tight end Shannon Sharpe with 41 seconds to play.
Packers Record at Stadium: 194-108-4 regular season, 14-4 postseason
History: It goes without saying, be it with “frozen tundra” or glorious weather, that Lambeau Field is one of the storied venues in sports. The current home of the franchise that owns an NFL record 13 league titles is closing in on 200 regular-season victories in the facility.
It’s also worth noting that the team also called Milwaukee its other home for 42 seasons from 1933-94.
Greatest Game: Plenty of memories and great players have taken that field in the last 50-plus seasons. But there’s only one classic and a game synonymous with the great Packers teams of the 1960s. It happened one very frigid afternoon in Wisconsin as Green Bay came away with a 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1967 NFL title game.