Schedule changed for Super Bowl teams, could give Bucs advantage

COVID-19 changed a lot of the NFL’s normal practices during the regular season, and that will continue through the Super Bowl.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that the normal timeline for Super Bowl arrival and prep is being adjusted for pandemic safety reasons. While teams usually arrive in the host city a week ahead of time, they won’t be allowed into Tampa until two days before the big game.

The three traveling teams have set tentative schedules, according to Schefter. If the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills win their games on Sunday, they reportedly plan to arrive in Tampa the Friday before the Super Bowl, which is as early as they’re allowed. If the Kansas City Chiefs win, they’ll reportedly head to Tampa on Saturday, just one day before.

TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: A general view during the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The teams headed to the Super Bowl won’t be able to arrive in Tampa until two days before the big game — but only if they need to travel. If the Buccaneers win on Sunday, they won’t have to go anywhere. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Buccaneers could have an advantage

Depending on the results of Sunday’s conference championship games, that could give one team a major advantage going into the Super Bowl. With the game set to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn’t have to do any traveling or any adjusting leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. Aside from having to play in February, not much would change for them as they prepare for the big game.

That is definitely an advantage, but other COVID-19 adjustments mean it’s not the game-changer it could be. Teams arrive a week ahead of the game not just for practice purposes, but to participate in numerous pre-Super Bowl media events. But Schefter said that most of those are being done virtually, like Super Bowl media day, or cancelled entirely, to protect players in the lead-up to the game. Teams will be able to practice and participate in media day and other news conferences from their home facilities.

The Chiefs, Bills, and Packers will end up treating the Super Bowl like any other road game, and the Buccaneers will treat it like a home game. But that’s just in the week leading up to it. Once they get on the field, it’s still the biggest game of the year.

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