For the second straight season, the NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by an NFC West team.
This team, unfortunately, is not the St. Louis Rams. In fact, the Rams have not been to the playoffs since 2004, one of longest current droughts in the NFL. Of course, St. Louis would like to end that drought – and soon. Head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead are each entering their third year, and these days, NFL owners usually don’t tolerate anything longer than a three-year plan to get their teams back to prominence.
The Rams are no exception. However, the Rams just so happen to play in the best division in football and arguably the best division since division realignment in 2002. Which is to say even if the Rams win 10 or 11 games in 2014, they will need one or perhaps two of their division foes to falter next season in order to make the playoffs, let alone win the division.
So for the purposes of this column, let’s focus on the divisional rival that is playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday: the Seattle Seahawks. Is Seattle more likely to regress next season if they win the Super Bowl or if they lose it? Below, I’ve made the case for each scenario.
Why the Seahawks winning would be a good thing
Once you’ve washed the puke out of your mouth, you’ll realize that Seattle winning the Super Bowl, although annoying, might actually help the Rams in 2014. Why? Since 2005, no Super Bowl-winning team has returned to the Super Bowl the next season. That’s eight Super Bowls and counting. Actually, let’s go ahead and list out how the winning teams have done the year after their Super Bowl victories:
- 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-8 in ’06; missed playoffs
- 2006 Indianapolis Colts: 13-3 in ’07; lost in divisional round
- 2007 New York Giants: 12-4 in ’08; lost in divisional round
- 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7 in ’09; missed playoffs
- 2009 New Orleans Saints: 11-5 in ’10; lost in wild card round
- 2010 Green Bay Packers: 15-1 in ’11; lost in divisional round
- 2011 New York Giants: 9-7 in ’12; missed playoffs
- 2012 Baltimore Ravens: 8-8 in ’13; missed playoffs
Over the past eight years, Super Bowl champions have actually done pretty well the following year (a combined winning percentage of .664 plus none have finished below .500), but for some odd reason they have all crashed and burned in the playoffs (a combined 0-4)…if they qualify at all. You also have anecdotal evidence from players such as former Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty who insist that the Super Bowl hangover is real.
Why the Seahawks losing would be a good thing
You mean besides the obvious reason, which is that you can still brag to your friends that the Rams are the last NFC West team to win a Super Bowl? (While conveniently dismissing the fact that the Cardinals and 49ers came inches away from winning Super Bowls in the past few years.) Here is a look at how Super Bowl losers have fared in their post-Super Bowl seasons over the past eight years:
- 2005 Seattle Seahawks: 9-7 in ’06; won wild card game, lost in divisional round
- 2006 Chicago Bears: 7-9; missed playoffs
- 2007 New England Patriots: 11-5 in ’08; missed playoffs
- 2008 Arizona Cardinals: 10-6 in ’09; won wild card game, lost in divisional round
- 2009 Indianapolis Colts: 10-6 in ’10; lost in wild card round
- 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4 in ’11; lost in wild card round
- 2011 New England Patriots: 12-4 in ’12; won divisional game, lost AFC Championship
- 2012 San Francisco 49ers: 12-4 in ’13; won wild card game, won divisional game, lost NFC Championship
Interesting, right? The Super Bowl losers have actually fared a little better than the winners since 2005. The eight teams have a lower winning percentage (.648) in their next season than the winners, but that margin is negligible. What’s more compelling is that six of the Super Bowl losers qualified for the playoffs the next season (and that’s with the 11-win ’08 Pats somehow missing the playoffs) as opposed to four of the Super Bowl winners. Additionally, the losers’ playoff record of 5-6 is much more impressive than the winners’ 0-4, although none of the losers were able to make it back to the Super Bowl the next season either.
Recent history suggests the Seahawks – win or lose on Sunday – are going to be a force to be reckoned with next season. The current makeup of their roster also suggests this team is built for sustained success.
But like I said, the Rams need every edge they can get, even if it’s a slight mental one, and that 0-4 playoff record by defending Super Bowl champions since 2005 speaks volumes. That means Rams fans should swallow their pride and realize it’s probably best for the 2014 Rams if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.
Will the Seahawks actually win it all?