KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Arrowhead Stadium has the reputation of being a difficult venue for opposing teams. The crowd noise reverberates there as it does in few other stadiums, and when giving the place extensive renovations a few years back, the Kansas City Chiefs made certain they didn’t mess with that feature.
This season, the Chiefs haven’t benefited from the advantage their home stadium provides. A strong argument could be made, in fact, that the Chiefs have been as good -- if not better -- on the road than at home.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t ecstatic about having Sunday night’s divisional-round playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead.
"Anytime you can get in front of the Arrowhead faithful, it’s a big deal," nose tackle Dontari Poe said.
Still, Arrowhead is in danger of losing its mystique if the Chiefs don’t beat the Steelers. The Chiefs have lost their past four postseason games at home, a streak that dates back to 1995.
"I don’t know if you have to win games to solidify or restore the iconic nature of Arrowhead," Chiefs president Mark Donovan said. "I’ve [had] the good fortune of working at the National Football League ... I’ve also had the good fortune to travel to every single NFL market and being in all of the stadiums that exist. There’s something special about Arrowhead. Playoffs will elevate that and amplify that. We’re excited to take advantage of that.
"Talk to the players. You hear it from them that they’re excited to play this game in front of our fans. They’re excited about the advantage that Arrowhead brings to our football team. Noise is a factor and our fans are good at being loud."
That part isn’t up for debate. Arrowhead can be loud and some opponents get rattled. The New Orleans Saints were penalized six times during an October game at Arrowhead for either a false start or a delay of game. Those penalties were a factor in their 27-21 loss.
But the Chiefs haven’t always been able to make that work for them. Their last two losses this season, to Tampa Bay and Tennessee, were at Arrowhead.
The Chiefs finished 6-2 at home and on the road during the regular season. They have a six-game winning streak on the road. Their road losses were against the Houston Texans and Steelers, teams still alive in the playoffs. The Buccaneers and Titans failed to make the playoffs.
The start time of Sunday’s game was pushed from 12:05 p.m. CT to 7:20 p.m. to accommodate an ice storm expected to come through Kansas City. That could help the Chiefs reestablish their Arrowhead advantage.
According to data from TickPick, an online ticket seller, the average price of tickets for Sunday’s game more than doubled on the secondary market after the time of the game was changed on Friday afternoon.
More fans are evidently planning on coming to Arrowhead for the game at night, when the temperature is supposed to have warmed above freezing.
"The biggest difference is that right off the bat you don’t have to travel," quarterback Alex Smith said of the benefits of playing at home. "There’s a lot of routine here. Then [there's] Arrowhead. You get the benefit of that, and for us often being able to use cadence and use that to our advantage. Then defensively, [it's] the other way. For them to be able to take advantage of the noise and lean on the crowd at times for energy and things like that, it's big."