This year’s Super Bowl will feature the Carolina Panthers, who lost one game this season, and the Denver Broncos, who lost four games in 2015. The three-loss difference is the 12th time in the 50 years of the Super Bowl that one team had three or more regular season losses than their Super Bowl opponent.
The greatest loss difference in Super Bowl history was in 2008 when the undefeated Patriots faced off against the six-loss Giants. Twice there was a four-loss difference between the Super Bowl teams: 2012 (New England, three losses versus vs. the Giants, seven losses) and in 1986 (one-loss Bears versus the five-loss Patriots).
Here’s a look at the 12 times there was a three-loss (or greater) difference in Super Bowl opponents (the team that won the Super Bowl that year is noted in bold).
2016: Carolina (1 loss) vs. Denver (4 losses)
2012: New England (3 losses) vs. New York Giants (7 losses)
2009: Pittsburgh (4 losses) vs. Arizona (7 losses)
2008: New England (0 losses) vs. New York Giants (6 losses)
2004: New England (2 losses) vs. Carolina (5 losses)
2002: St. Louis (2 losses) vs. New England (5 losses)
1990: San Francisco (2 losses) vs. Denver (5 losses)
1987: New York Giants (2 losses) vs. Denver (5 losses)
1986: Chicago (1 loss) vs. New England (5 losses)
1980: Pittsburgh (4 losses) vs. Los Angeles Rams (7 losses)
1973: Miami (0 losses) vs. Washington (3 losses)
1968: Oakland (1 loss) vs. Green Bay (4 losses)
In 12 of the 50 Super Bowls we have had two teams that had the same number of losses in the regular season; in the other 38 games one team had fewer losses than the other.
In the previous 10 Super Bowls prior to this year’s game, there have been eight times when one team has more regular season losses than their Super Bowl opponent (in the last two Super Bowls, in 2014 and 2015, the two teams had the same number of losses). That team has won seven times. That’s a good omen for the Broncos for this year’s game, although in the 37 Super Bowls where one team had more losses than their opponent, those teams were 15-22 in the big game (they were 8-21 from 1968 to 2005, 7-1 from 2006-13).
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