Seven non-winning teams have won the Super Bowl the next year

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With the Chiefs already vaulting from two total wins in 2012 to three in three games in 2013, an interesting question has emerged, courtesy of The Dan Patrick Show caller known as Jake in Wisconsin.

Jake asked us via Twitter to identify the worst record any Super Bowl-winning team has had in the season before becoming the champions.

So I broke out the 2013 Official NFL Record & Fact Book (an inexpensive and must-have publication for any hard-core football fan), turned to page 373, and started working backward.

Seven teams have won the Super Bowl a year after going .500 or worse.  The first came in Super Bowl XVI, when the 49ers went from 6-10 to the title.  The next year, the Redskins jumped from 8-8 to Super Bowl winner in a strike-shortened season.  (The Redskins went 8-1 in 1982.)

Then came a generation-long gap, with the Super Bowl winner coming from a team that was a winner in the prior season.  Seventeen years after Super Bowl XVII, the Rams went from 4-12 to Super Bowl winner in Super Bowl XXXIV.

The next year, the 8-8 Ravens vaulted to the top of the mountain.

The next year, the 5-11 Patriots did it.

It has happened two more times, with the 8-8 Giants in 2006 winning Super Bowl XLII, and the 8-8 Saints in 2008 winning Super Bowl XLIV.

So the answer to Jake’s question is the 1998 Rams, at 4-12.  The fact that five non-winning teams have won the Super Bowl the next year since 1998 — with only two in 33 Super Bowls before that — shows how the salary cap and free agency made it easier for bad teams to become very good teams, quickly.

Which puts more pressure on coaches of bad teams to make their bad teams into very good teams, quickly.

While Andy Reid has turned the 2-14 Chiefs around quickly, there’s a long way to go before they join the Rams as a team that went from being a dwelling in the basement to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

40 responses to “Seven non-winning teams have won the Super Bowl the next year

  1. Hail to the Redskins!
    Hail Victory!
    Braves on the Warpath!
    Fight for old D.C.!
    Run or pass and score — we want a lot more!
    Beat ‘em, Swamp ‘em,
    Touchdown! — Let the points soar!
    Fight on, fight on ‘Til you have won
    Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!
    Hail to the Redskins!
    Hail Victory!
    Braves on the Warpath!
    Fight for old D.C.!

  2. I am confused. The question was about what was the worst record in the prior season for a super bowl winner. The 98 Rams went from 5-11 to SB, the 01 Patriots went from 5-11 to SB. So how could the answer be “the 98 Rams”? Wouldnt the answer be “the 98 Rams and the 01 Patriots”?

  3. logicalvoicesays says: Sep 20, 2013 11:14 AM

    Hail to the Redskins!
    Hail Victory!
    Braves on the Warpath!
    Fight for old D.C.!
    Run or pass and score — we want a lot more!
    Beat ‘em, Swamp ‘em,
    Touchdown! — Let the points soar!
    Fight on, fight on ‘Til you have won
    Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!
    Hail to the Redskins!
    Hail Victory!
    Braves on the Warpath!
    Fight for old D.C.!
    ________________
    Anybody ever notice how logic guy is always within the first four posts of any given story, and all within six minutes of the articles release? The Redskins are already a polarizing team, and his comments provoke outrage, inflammatory debate, and unpleasantness on both sides, increasing traffic to these articles: traffic, which of course, translates directly into dollars for the writers.

    I’m not saying, I’m just saying. And moreover he doesn’t even have the lyrics right.

  4. “a team that went from being a dwelling in the basement to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy”

    A dwelling in the basement? Those Rams and their sneaky “house-within-a-house” approach to football.

  5. “I am confused. The question was about what was the worst record in the prior season for a super bowl winner. The 98 Rams went from 5-11 to SB, the 01 Patriots went from 5-11 to SB. So how could the answer be “the 98 Rams”? Wouldnt the answer be “the 98 Rams and the 01 Patriots”?”

    The correct answer would actually be the 1998 Rams and 2000 Patriots since they won the Super Bowls representing the 1999 and 2001 seasons.

  6. LVS-
    Didn’t you just post this three days ago?

    “We aren’t the same. We aren’t going anywhere. #fallingoffthebandwagon”

    Way to stick to your guns buddy.

  7. That’s the crazy thing, the Chiefs weren’t as bad as their record last year. It was a crazy year for weird turnovers and the offense just couldn’t get it going. 6 pro bowlers on the team. This year they are making use of those guys, especially unleashing the defense finally. The offense has got to find some rhythm and the O line had better step it up or we’re going nowhere.

  8. Hey Richiebburg – Your squealers sure won’t….

    The fact of the matter is that the Chiefs have done all the right things in the past few years. They WILL BE a contender this year. I’m not a fan, but know a good team when I see one – which by the way yours is not….

  9. It’s amazing that people still talk about Super Bowl winners this early in the season. So many teams win the SB by making a late run. It’s ridiculous to even think about it at this point.

  10. thirdistheworrd, you make a very good point. Either logical works for them (great idea by the way) or he literally has nothing better to do…ever.

  11. @thirdisthewordd

    I’ve long hypothesized that @logicalvoicesays is actually a Dallas Cowboys fan.

    He is constantly saying things that get people who could care less to hate the Washingtons (That’s for you Tirico). He is trying to pull the hatred away from “Americas Team” and towards America’s Capital. And to be honest… for me… it’s working. I very much enjoy watching the Washingtons lose week after week.

    C’mon logical…. show us your Dez jersey….

  12. KC 3-0!!!

    Even the well known Alex Smith whiner hater Stephen A Smith on “First Take” said where was Alex Smith when he saw Kapernoob failing like a clueless rook all night long in Seattle lol rofl LMAO, doesn’t get funnier than that!

    Kapernoob DIDN’T EARN THE JOB. It and a SB caliber team was handed to him on a silver platter and the sliver spoon was stuck right into his mouth, same with the over rated publicity in the off season. Too much fame too fast. Taking the job away from Alex Smith like that was straight up robbery, then trading Alex Smith for picks was like throwing away a used condom and getting $10 back, thus what happen in the SB and what’s happening now is Karma lol!

  13. I’m a Redskins fan and sometimes I can’t understand my fellow brethren. Every year they say the same thing, “its our year for the Super Bowl!” The reality is the Redskins have been terrible since 1992. I was excited last year wining the division with RG3 and Morris, but this season is looking like another 5-11 season. I root for my team every single week. I just think there needs to be more realistic Redskins fans.

  14. richiebburg says:
    Sep 20, 2013 11:48 AM
    The Chiefs aren’t winning the Superbowl
    ***********************************************
    Finally, a true voice of reason.

    This years Chiefs team reminds me of the Bills a couple of years ago, getting an unusual amount of turnovers and winning, besides not having any offense to speak of.

    By midseason the swoon was in full gear, just like it’ll be for the Chiefs too.

    Watch.

  15. In case you didn’t know, the Vikings never won a Superbowl no matter what their record was the previous season. They did lose all 4 they played in and that was over 30 years ago.

  16. It’s amazing that people still talk about Super Bowl winners this early in the season. So many teams win the SB by making a late run. It’s ridiculous to even think about it at this point.
    ____________________________________They aren’t talking about the Chiefs going to the superbowl. They are just talking about their vast improvement. Now speculating how many teams have improved so much to actually win a title.

  17. It’s a good thing these articles are fact checked as if anyone had taken a minute to visit Pro Football Reference or even Wikipedia they’d find the 1998 Rams went 4-12, thereby making them they clear “winners” of this discussion.

  18. Don’t forget the playoff format which added wild cards at some point (very early 90’s?) but also the current system begun in 2002 which has 4 division champions with automatic bids into the playoffs. We’ve even had a losing team (7-9 Seahawks) in the playoffs and they even won their first game.

    The any given sunday concept is strong enough with free agency but throw in that inferior teams can gain entry into the playoffs and get a second chance to be good. Just ask the Giants, they did I twice! This wasn’t possible from the 60’s through the 90’s.

  19. “The next year, the 5-11 Patriots did it.”

    No they didn’t, the tuck rule which was made up on the spot in a PATRIOT-ic year did it for them.

    Oh yeah and Spygate too…

  20. How about everyone slows down for a second…

    The 2012 Arizona Cardinals started 4-0 beating New England, Seattle, Miami and Philly. 2 playoff teams and 2 not so much. They did it by playing great D (which didn’t change all year) and not killing themselves with turnovers. Finished 5-11.

    Every single year a team starts hot and falls for any number of reasons and it’s usually the one getting a ridiculous amount of hype like the Chiefs are now.

    I’m not saying the Chiefs can’t maintain this or they’re destined to fail. I’m just saying pump the effin brakes man. It’s week 3. At least make them earn the crown.

  21. Just an indication of how poorly the better teams have done at maintaining what they are doing. You can go from worst to first in this league, but even easier you can go from playoff team to non-playoff team. Only the real deal teams can consistently make it, and the rest are simply posers that eventually reveal themselves. That’s what you need a good GM for, to maintain and build and stay on top and to continue with creating separation. You have to have that strong GM or it’s inevitable that your fate and results with resemble a random teeter-totter motion to some effect.

  22. Nobody is saying the Chiefs are winning the superbowl. You obviously missed the point of this piece. I believe the Chiefs have a good shot at making the postseason if not this year then next year. The fact that the same trolls can’t leave a post that even mentions KC makes me laugh. (you know who you are) Both of your teams are garbage. I guess I would be angry at the world as well if my football dreams hinged on the success of the Redskins and the Raiders. Oh…and were are all those Eagles fans at that couldn’t leave a Chiefs post untainted with their stupidity this summer? I think I am starting to miss you : (

  23. LOL. No. The Chiefs have beaten three teams that didn’t sniff the playoffs last year. They are going nowhere

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