Arizona is on a hot streak when it comes to hosting Super Bowls.
The last two Arizona Super Bowls have been two of the greatest games in NFL history. Super Bowl XLII had the helmet catch and the New York Giants beating the 18-0 New England Patriots. Super Bowl XLIX was a meeting between heavyweights, and the Patriots beating the Seattle Seahawks when Malcolm Butler made his legendary interception.
There's nothing a host city can do about the quality of the game. That's luck. But it won't stop us from figuring out which host city has been the best when it comes to hosting Super Bowls.
This is a wholly unscientific ranking of host cities, judging only how good the games have been for each host. Only three-time hosts are eligible for the top spot:
Had one OK to bad game: Jacksonville, New York, Tempe
It's hard to be the best host ever when you have one game. When that one game is pretty mediocre or worse ... next.
Had one good game: Dallas, Indianapolis
Kudos to Dallas for hosting Aaron Rodgers' only Super Bowl win, over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an entertaining Super Bowl XLV, and to Indianapolis for the second Giants-Patriots classic. They have perfect records, which is nice.
Two-timers that weren't perfect: Bay Area, Detroit, Minneapolis
The cold weather cities had a forgettable game. Detroit had the Steelers-Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, which was best known for bad officiating. Minneapolis had Washington obliterating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. Besides, it was cold. The Bay Area wasn't cold, but XIX (Joe Montana's 49ers vs. Dan Marino's Dolphins) didn't live up to the hype and 50 (Broncos vs. Panthers) was a grind.
8. New Orleans: So many bad games
New Orleans' first seven tries hosting ended in some of the worst Super Bowls ever:
IV: Chiefs 24, Vikings 7
VI: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3
IX: Steelers 16, Vikings 6
XII: Cowboys 27, Broncos 10
XV: Raiders 27, Eagles 10
XX: Bears 46, Patriots 10
XXIV: 49ers 55, Broncos 10
That's seven blowouts with the losing team never scoring more than 10 points. The eighth game, the Packers' 35-21 win over the Patriots in XXXI, wasn't great but in comparison to the others it was phenomenal. Then came XXXVI, a true classic in which the Patriots upset the Rams as time expired. Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens holding off the 49ers 34-31 in a game that was delayed by a power outage, wasn't that bad either.
Overall though, it's a good thing New Orleans is a really fun city because its Super Bowls have been blah.
7. Atlanta: One of three isn't good
Dallas vs. Buffalo in XXVIII was a blowout, New England vs. the Los Angeles Rams in LIII was a bore. Kurt Warner finishing his unbelievable story with the St. Louis Rams' dramatic win over the Tennessee Titans in XXXIV saves Atlanta's grade.
6. San Diego: Well, it had Packers-Broncos
John Elway finally won a Super Bowl, getting XXXII over the Packers. Great game. The other two were Washington 42, Denver 10 and Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21.
5. Los Angeles area: Eight games, not many good ones
We'll count all three venues: Rose Bowl, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, SoFi Stadium. There's plenty of history including Super Bowl I. And the best game is probably the last one, with the Los Angeles Rams beating the Cincinnati Bengals with a late fourth-quarter drive. The rest? Mostly as memorable as being stuck in a traffic jam on the 405.
4. Houston: New stadium, two classics
Back in the stone ages, Super Bowl VIII was at Rice Stadium, probably the worst stadium to host a Super Bowl, and the Dolphins' boring 24-7 blowout of the Vikings was fitting for the bland venue. Since moving to the Texans' new stadium, we had the Patriots' last-second win in a thriller over the Carolina Panthers and the epic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. Maybe we shouldn't count the Rice Stadium game.
3. Tampa: Boom or bust
Two of the all-time great Super Bowls, the Bills over the Giants on Scott Norwood's miss (XXV) and the Steelers over Cardinals on Santonio Holmes' catch (XLIII), happened in Tampa. It also had three duds: Raiders 38-9 over Washington, Ravens 34-7 over the Giants, Buccaneers 31-9 over the Chiefs.
2. Arizona: Two classics in Glendale
Tempe hosted one Super Bowl, and it was the Neil O'Donnell to Larry Brown pick-fest that was Super Bowl XXX, with the Cowboys beating the Steelers. Not great, though it wasn't a total snooze. The other two? Both great. That has to be a good omen for Eagles-Chiefs being a classic on Sunday, right?
1. Miami: The best
Miami has hosted 11 Super Bowls, and surprisingly there haven't been many debacles. In our unscientific ranks, we count three bad Miami Super Bowls (Packers vs. Raiders SB II, 49ers vs. Chargers XXIX and Broncos vs. Falcons XXXIII).
That means eight games that were at least decent. Joe Namath and the New York Jets beating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III wasn't a great game but it was historic. The Steelers' 35-31 win against the Cowboys in XIII was probably the best of the 11, though 49ers over Bengals (XXIII), Saints over Colts (XLIV) and Chiefs over 49ers (LIV) have good arguments too.
There's no host city richer with Super Bowl history than Miami. We'll see Sunday if Arizona can start to close the gap a bit.