Only one other team in NFL history knows what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going through. When the Bucs take the field on Sunday in Green Bay and face the Packers in the NFC Championship, they'll join the 2017 Minnesota Vikings as they only two teams who have made it to the conference title game in the same year that their stadium will host the Super Bowl. A win and the Bucs will head back to Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl LV, making them the first team ever to reach the big game that is held at their home stadium.
Of course, it may be tempting to dream about that rare home-field advantage as you make a bid for a Lombardi, especially as the stadium is currently preparing to host the Super Bowl. That said, Bruce Arians is making it known throughout the facility that kind of thinking is exactly the formula to end the Bucs season as early this weekend at Lambeau Field.
"We don't play that game this week," the head coach told reporters Wednesday when asked about practicing near the stadium as it prepares for the Super Bowl. "That's the message to everybody. We play the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. You start thinking about the Super Bowl, you'll get your ass beat and you'll be packing your bags on Monday."
Of course, this is the correct way to approach this game and the right message to send if you're Arians. Facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will be no easy task for the Bucs, who are currently looked at as a three-point underdog to Green Bay. The good thing for Arians is that he likely isn't the only one hammering home this message as his quarterback Tom Brady, while be playing in his 14th conference title game, knows that this is just a mere stepping stone to the ultimate goal.
"We haven't had too much conversation about those things yet," Brady said Wednesday, noting that the team was remote the past two days. "I think everyone understands the significance of these [games]. It's very difficult to get to this point – to be [the remaining] four of 32 [teams]. I think we're all excited for it, but certainly understand we have a lot of prep to go. We're going to take every minute up to kickoff to get ready to go."
The Bucs do have some confidence heading into this game as they were able to beat the Packers in a rather convincing fashion back in Week 6, when they baited Rodgers into two interceptions. However, in a similar sentiment to not looking ahead to the next round, Arians was quick to throw cold water on the idea that players may be relying too much on that regular-season win over Green Bay.
"It was the same thing as the Saints last week, having beaten us twice [and] pretty badly, once," Arians said. "We won that ballgame. You can't fall into that trap of what happened last time. They're a much, much better football team [and] we're a much better football team. Both [teams are] very different right now, so you better take care of today's work each and every day."
The Bucs and Packers will kick off the NFC title game on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET.