NFL teams heading into the playoffs hope that they get “hot” at the right time and that it carries all the way to the Super Bowl. While this theory seems legit, look at last year’s Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens became the first team in Super Bowl history to lose four games in December and still win the championship. This year’s Super Bowl teams, the Seahawks and Broncos, each lost games in December with Seattle losing a pair of their last month contests and Denver losing once in December.
In the 47-year history of the Super Bowl, 17 champions did not lose in the last month of the season. Of the other 30 champs, 18 lost only once in last month; losing twice or more in the last month of the season, however, has become more commonplace… six of the last seven Super Bowl champs lost two or more regular season games in the last month of the season. The last team to go undefeated in the last month of the regular season were the 2003 New England Patriots.
Here’s another interesting stat: Of the 47 Super Bowl champs, only 10 lost their last regular season game: 1967 Green Bay, 1969 Kansas City, 1975 Pittsburgh, 1988 San Francisco, 1991 Washington, 1994 San Francisco, 1999 St. Louis, 2007 New York Giants, 2009 New Orleans, 2012 Baltimore. Of the 10 teams above, two, the 1067 Green Bay Packers and the 2009 New Orleans Saints, actually had losing streaks of two games or more to end the regular season. The Packers lost two straight to end the 1967 season, while the Saints lost their last three regular season games in 2009 before winning the Super Bowl.
All Super Bowl champs lost one or more games during the regular season, but you wouldn’t think that these title winners would get blown out in a regular season game. There have, however, been 14 games where the eventual Super Bowl champ was blown out by 20 points or more. Two Super Bowl champs, the 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants, each lost two regular season games by 20 or more points in their Super Bowl season.
Last year’s champs, the Ravens, played in one of those blowout games in their Super Bowl season. Baltimore lost 43-13 to the Houston Texans in Week #7 playing in Houston. They are one of four Super Bowl champs to lose a regular season game that year by 30-plus points.
(Note: This year’s Super Bowl teams each lost three games, but none were by more than seven points.)
Here’s a look at the Super Bowl champs who lost a regular season game that year by 20 points or more.
Super Bowl champ, 20-point regular-season defeat in their Super Bowl year
1994 San Francisco: 32-point loss, 40-8 to Philadelphia)
1976 Oakland: (31-point loss, 48-17 to New England)
2003 New England (31-point loss, 31-0 to Buffalo)
2012 Baltimore (30-point loss, 43-13 to Houston)
1979 Pittsburgh (28-point loss, 35-7 to San Diego)
2006 Indianapolis (27-point loss, 44-17 to Jacksonville)
2011 New York Giants (25-point loss, 49-24 to New Orleans)
1979 Pittsburgh (24-point loss, 34-10 to Cincinnati)
1992 Dallas (24-point loss, 31-7 to Philadelphia)
2007 New York Giants (24-point loss, 41-17 to Minnesota)
1988 San Francisco (22-point loss, 38-16 to Los Angeles Rams)
2007 New York Giants (22-point loss, 35-13 to Green Bay)
1970 Baltimore: (20-point loss, 44-24 to Kansas City)
2001 New England (20-point loss, 30-10 to Miami)
* Of the past 47 Super Bowl champs, 14 did not lose a regular season game by more than 10 points in their Super Bowl season. No matter who wins this year’s Super Bowl, that number will increase to 15 as neither the Broncos or Seahawks lost a game by 10 points or more.
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