The path to Super Bowl 50 was very different for the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, especially if you focus on the games that punched their tickets to this year’s Super Bowl.
The Panthers put a beat-down on the Arizona Cardinals, defeating them 49-15 in the NFC title game. The Broncos stopped a two-point conversion late in the game to preserve a 20-18 win over the defending champs, New England. So, we have a team that won by 34 taking on a team that won by two in the conference championship game in this year’s Super Bowl. Which team has the advantage?
Let’s take a look at previous conference championship games. First, let’s look at those conference title games that had a margin of victory more than 30 points. It has now happened eight times including Carolina’s win this year. Of the previous seven games where one of the Super Bowl teams won their previous game by 30-plus points, only two of those seven teams won the Super Bowl that year.
Here’s a look at those seven games.
1967: Oakland over Houston 40-7 (33-point margin)… lost in the Super Bowl
1968: Baltimore over Cleveland 34-0 (34-point margin)… lost in the Super Bowl
1975: Dallas over Rams 37-7 (30-point margin)… lost in Super Bowl
1990: Buffalo over Raiders 51-3 (48-point margin)… lost in the Super Bowl
1991: Washington over Detroit 41-10 (31-point margin)… won Super Bowl
2000: New York Giants over Minnesota 41-0 (41-point margin)… lost in the Super Bowl
2014: New England over Indianapolis 45-7 (38-point margin)… won Super Bowl
2015: Carolina over Arizona (49-15 (34-point margin)… ?
Let’s now look at the conference title games that were decided by only a couple of points. In fact, Denver’s 20-18, two-point win over New England in the AFC Championship Game was only the third time since 1966 (the Super Bowel era) that a conference title game was decided by two or fewer points. Of those two occasions, both teams went on to win the Super Bowl.
Here’s a look at those two games.
1981: San Francisco over Dallas 28-27 (one-point margin)… won Super Bowl
1990: New York Giants over San Francisco (two-point margin)… won Super Bowl
2015: Denver over New England 20-18 (two-point margin)… ?
It certainly appears that Denver may have the advantage based on the history of conference championship game blowouts vs. nail-biters. We’ll see if history remains true to form.
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