The NFL playoffs are here. And although we didn’t get to flip burgers and chug beers the way we wish we could have during the 2020 season, it’s a great time to reminisce about the good old days of tailgating before the 2021 NFL playoffs kick off.
Again, COVID-19 has put a damper on the tailgating scenes for all sports across the United States, but there’s plenty of footage and wild stories from tailgating lots across this great nation. These rankings are based on reputation, prestige and general level of good times and tomfoolery.
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Tailgating Scene Rankings: 2021 NFL Playoffs Edition
1. Buffalo Bills
There may be some dispute of whether or not the Bills are the best team in the 2021 NFL playoffs, but there’s no arguing their place atop this ranking.
Parking lots in Orchard Park are the envy of the entire league as they’re blessed with Pinto Ron (click here for his remarkable story), table jumps and the unwavering, unrelenting, unbreakable support of Bills Mafia.
This short excerpt from The Ringer chronicling a day with the Bills Mafia tells you all you need to know about the utter outrageousness the comes with a Bills tailgate:
If you require further convincing, watch this:
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Loud crowds and BBQ … what more do I need to say? The Chiefs have the best quarterback in football and arguably the most passionate tailgaters in the nation.
The parking lots fill hours (sometimes days) before kickoff and the air is quickly overtaken by the sweet smell of smoked meats.
And now considering the team is the defending Super Bowl champ and a perennial contender, expect the parties to be even more iconic in the coming years.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Packers, like the Bills, have the charm of rabid fan base in a chilly city. There’s just something about heavy, hairy, shirtless men braving below-freezing temperatures in the name of football.
Green Bay also has the allure of rich history. Hell, the championship trophy is named after legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
Nearly as legendary is the tailgating experience in the shadow of Lambeau Field, which ESPN rated as the best stadium in the NFL back in September 2020.
But don’t let the rich smell of history distract you from the smoked meats and free-flowing booze before kickoff. The cheeseheads know how to have a good time.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is a blue-collar city that works hard during the week and even harder on game days.
The Steelers have a rich winning history (six Super Bowls, to be specific) and the fan base is notorious for traveling all over the country to wave the Terrible Towel. So, no matter where the schedule takes the Steelers, expect to see a healthy collection of black and gold tailgates.
5. Cleveland Browns
Buffalo has Bills Mafia, and Cleveland has the Dawg Pound — a collection of superfans who endured unmatched stretches of losing only to come out more faithful on the other side.
Browns fans finally have a team in the 2021 NFL playoffs after nearly two decades, and the tailgaters have the winner they deserve.
6. Chicago Bears
Chicago is a massive city with loads of sophistication, unless your tailgating ahead of a Bears game, or should I say “Da Bears.”
You might guess the Chicago Dog or deep dish pizza may be the most popular grub on the Chicago tailgate scene, but it’s actually Krispy Kreme donuts. Simple, delicious, easy to clean up and a creative option to chase a shot of cheap liquor.
7. Seattle Seahawks
Let’s just get this out of the way, the Seattle is an incredible city and CenturyLink Field may be the most impressive stadium in the NFL — it’s the perfect blend of modern luxury amenities and unbridled fandom.
The “12s” that fill the stadium every game bleed green and blue and leave voiceless after the clocks expire. However, the location of the stadium makes it tough to get a classic tailgating scene.
8. New Orleans Saints
The French Quarter is walking distance to the Mercedes-Benz Dome … which is pretty damn cool. Plus, such an eclectic city makes for a wide array of tailgating grub, music and people.
9. Indianapolis Colts
Colts tailgates may not have a wild reputation, but their fans sure know how to homegate.
10. Baltimore Ravens
I honestly don’t know much about Baltimore tailgating, but then I saw this photo below and decided it was enough to put the Ravens in the top 10.
11. Washington Football Team
This franchise, to be frank, is a hot mess. However, they have a great coach, incredible story at quarterback, and loyal fans who love the team regardless of its mascot.
12. Tennessee Titans
Nashville hosted a great NFL Draft in 2019, but the Titans tailgating scene isn’t much to write home about.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs fans hardly care about this team until Tom Brady came to town. I wouldn’t mind 12 of these local chicken wings, though.
14. Los Angeles Rams
It’s hard to knock the tailgating scene in L.A. too much. The city just got it’s team back a few years ago, and the Rams moved into it’s permanant home just this year after hosting home games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is a fantastic, iconic building, but it simply didn’t belong to the Rams … and the atmosphere showed that.
Maybe SoFi Stadium will become that home for the Rams when life returns to pre-2020 norms (prayer hands).
2021 NFL Playoffs Full Schedule
Wild Card Weekend
Saturday, January 9
(7) Colts at (2) Bills, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
(6) Rams at (3) Seahawks, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
(5) Buccaneers at (4) Washington, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
Sunday, January 10
(5) Ravens at (4) Titans, 1:05 p.m. ET (ABC)
(7) Bears at (2) Saints, 4:40 p.m. ET (CBS/Nickelodeon/Amazon Prime)
(6) Browns at (3) Steelers, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
Saturday, January 16
AFC Divisional Round
NFC Divisional Round
Sunday, January 17
AFC Divisional Round
NFC Divisional Round
Sunday, January 24
NFC Championship, 3:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
AFC Championship, 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
Super Bowl LV
Sunday, February 7
AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion in Tampa, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Note: The Chiefs and Packers play their first game of the postseason in the divisional round, but the schedule for this round hasn’t been released yet.
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