Home Sweet Dome: 2010 NFL Playoffs Look More like Arena League

Adam SpragueContributor IJanuary 28, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Fans tailgate outside the dome prior to the New Orleans Saints hosting the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Go ahead and Google “dome teams in the playoffs” and you’ll notice that the stats for dome teams in the playoffs isn’t good.

However, the times…they are changing. Never has the league seemed and felt more like the arena football league.

There is an obvious trend of offense becoming the priority over defense which has a lot to do with the rule changes the league has taken on over the last few years. Now bigger domes are being built (i.e. the Cowboys), which make for loud, hostile environments with no risk of weather.

Let’s be honest: Just because a team plays in the cold doesn’t mean they are a “cold weather team.” Take the Packers, who play in one of the coldest cities in the NFL. Just a few years ago, a certain Brett Favre couldn’t hold up in the Wisconsin weather, allowing a younger Eli Manning to lead his road team to victory and into the Super Bowl.

Is that home field advantage?

Before the 2009-2010 playoffs started, Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he thought the path to the Super Bowl looked good because it was all dome games and that suited their high powered offense.

How does this make fans feel when their outdoor stadium isn’t preferred by their own quarterback in the playoffs?

A slippery football doesn’t help the cold weather team more than the visitor, especially with the youth in the league.  Many players on “cold weather teams” have never played a cold weather playoff game in their lives.

Wintry elements used to be the background for tough guys crushing into each other on the gridiron in January. This year we saw no snowflakes flying. We saw no breath blowing from defensive warriors across the line of scrimmage.

We lost a lot.

If you think I’m overreacting, you may want to consider that this year featured three dome games in the same playoff weekend for the first time in league history.

Looking back there have been dome teams that struggled, but what about in recent history?

Kurt Warner (a modern age dome QB under modern NFL rules) is 8-0 at home throughout his career in St. Louis and Arizona.

As teams begin to look for more advantages, owners may start to look to move to domes (or build new stadiums) to make the home field advantage that much more.

Now as the Super Bowl approaches, we have two dome teams facing off with arguably the two best offenses in the league. They will be outside in Florida, but the odds of superb weather are still very good.

Think about this: If the NFL really thought that cold weather stadiums offered the same enjoyable game for fans and players, why don’t they play the Super Bowl in cities like Chicago or Pittsburgh?

I doubt we will see the shortened field of the arena league any time soon, but as we cross into the next decade or two, if NFL rules stay the same or continue to favor quarterbacks and the passing game, I would be shocked if the amount of teams in domes does not increase.