The Los Angeles Rams make Super Bowl 56 history as the first team to play the Super Bowl and NFC Conference Championship in their home stadium. However, the Rams are not actually the home team by rule in this game, with the Cincinnati Bengals being named as such. How was the Bengals determined to be the home team, and what difference does that really make?
How is the local Super Bowl team determined?
The Super Bowl home team is determined by rotation. The Green Bay Packers of the NFC—then NFL—were the home team in Super Bowl I. The following year, the Raiders (AFC or AFL) were the home team.
This established the pattern that has continued to this day. The NFC team is the home team in odd-numbered Super Bowls, which means the AFC is the home team in even-numbered Super Bowls.
Does the home team matter?
There are a few advantages for the home team. This team would usually get the home dressing room, which is often nicer than the road dressing room. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Rams would use their own locker room. It was actually predetermined as the year approached. With SoFi Stadium being home to both the Rams and Chargers, there are essentially two ‘house’ locker rooms to use.
The home team also gets the first selection of the uniforms they will wear. Subsequently, this dictates the uniforms that the road crew will wear. For Super Bowl 56, the Bengals will play in their black tops and white pants. Meanwhile, the Rams will wear their white jerseys with yellow pants. the The Rams tweet announcing their uniform had Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller wearing blue undershirts, suggesting the Rams will use their traditional home blues.
Does the road team benefit from advantages?
As a road team, the Rams will be able to call the toss at their home stadium for a change. However, recent Super Bowl history suggests the Rams had better be wrong. No team since the Seahawks in 2013 has won the toss and won the game.
Normally the road team would get the secondary locker room, but the beauty of using a stadium like SoFi is that both teams get the same space. Super Bowl 56 will actually be the Rams’ fourth time in five Super Bowl appearances as a road team. Their only time as a home team was Super Bowl LIII when they lost to the Patriots.