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Feb 20

Super Bowl Super Study, Part 4: Maximum Losing Streaks

Over two weeks, we’re conducting a super study to assess Super Bowl teams. With this painstakingly-detailed look at playoff team precedence, a few key outliers can illustrate which future playoff teams are likely to win the Super Bowl and which future playoff teams are likely to come up short. This study includes 13 statistical factors that impact a playoff team’s championship viability.

Today, the study focuses on the impact of extended losing streak for Super Bowl teams in their respective regular seasons. The table below examines each Super Bowl combatant’s longest losing streak.

Table 4: Maximum Losing Streaks

SB Winner Count SB Loser Count
I 66 Packers 1 I 66 Chiefs 1
II 67 Packers 2 II 67 Raiders 1
III 68 Jets 1 III 68 Colts 1
IV 69 Chiefs 1 IV 69 Vikings 1
V 70 Colts 1 V 70 Cowboys 2
VI 71 Cowboys 1 VI 71 Dolphins 2
VII 72 Dolphins 0 VII 72 Redskins 2
VIII 73 Dolphins 1 VIII 73 Vikings 1
IX 74 Steelers 1 IX 74 Vikings 2
X 75 Steelers 1 X 75 Cowboys 2
XI 76 Raiders 1 XI 76 Vikings 1
XII 77 Cowboys 2 XII 77 Broncos 1
XIII 78 Steelers 1 XIII 78 Cowboys 2
XIV 79 Steelers 1 XIV 79 Rams 3
XV 80 Raiders 2 XV 80 Eagles 2
XVI 81 49ers 1 XVI 81 Bengals 1
XVII 82 Redskins 1 XVII 82 Dolphins 1
XVIII 83 Raiders 1 XVIII 83 Redskins 1
XIX 84 49ers 1 XIX 84 Dolphins 1
XX 85 Bears 1 XX 85 Patriots 2
XXI 86 Giants 1 XXI 86 Broncos 1
XXII 87 Redskins 1 XXII 87 Broncos 1
XXIII 88 49ers 2 XXIII 88 Bengals 1
XXIV 89 49ers 1 XXIV 89 Broncos 2
XXV 90 Giants 2 XXV 90 Bills 1
XXVI 91 Redskins 1 XXVI 91 Bills 1
XXVII 92 Cowboys 1 XXVII 92 Bills 2
XXVIII 93 Cowboys 2 XXVIII 93 Bills 2
XXIX 94 49ers 1 XXIX 94 Chargers 2
XXX 95 Cowboys 2 XXX 95 Steelers 2
XXXI 96 Packers 2 XXXI 96 Patriots 2
XXXII 97 Broncos 2 XXXII 97 Packers 1
XXXIII 98 Broncos 2 XXXIII 98 Falcons 1
XXXIV 99 Rams 2 XXXIV 99 Titans 1
XXXV 00 Ravens 3 XXXV 00 Giants 2
XXXVI 01 Patriots 2 XXXVI 01 Rams 1
XXXVII 02 Buccaneers 1 XXXVII 02 Raiders 4
XXXVIII 03 Patriots 1 XXXVIII 03 Panthers 3
XXXIX 04 Patriots 1 XXXIX 04 Eagles 2
XL 05 Steelers 3 XL 05 Seahawks 1
XLI 06 Colts 2 XLI 06 Bears 1
XLII 07 Giants 2 XLII 07 Patriots 0
XLIII 08 Steelers 1 XLIII 08 Cardinals 2
XLIV 09 Saints 3 XLIV 09 Colts 2
XLV 10 Packers 2 XLV 10 Steelers 1
XLVI 11 Giants 4 XLVI 11 Patriots 2
XLVII 12 Ravens 3 XLVII 12 49ers 1
XLVIII 13 Seahawks 1 XLVIII 13 Broncos 1
XLIX 14 Patriots 1 XLIX 14 Seahawks 2

Red flag: Four-game losing streak or longer
Amber flag: Three-game losing streak

This factor sees a certain trend emerge. Only two Super Bowl teams before the 2002 realignment owned at least a three-game losing streak at any point of the season, and one of those teams played after the turn of the century. Of the six flagged teams since, half of them are first-time offenders. Therefore, we find this to be a mere coincidence.

Now let’s compile a list of Super Bowl teams that earned red or amber flags in the 13 factors for playoff team precedence. This will allows us to see how many Super Bowl teams compiled flags and determine how many flags a normal Super Bowl team should own. We’ll then determine the most unlikely Super Bowl combatants. First, here’s the overall Super Bowl champions flag count:

  • Four red flags: 2011 Giants
  • Three red flags: 2007 Giants
  • One red flag, two amber flags: 2012 Ravens
  • One red flag, one amber flag: 2006 Colts
  • One red flag: 1988 49ers, 1993 Cowboys, 2001 Patriots, 2010 Packers
  • Two amber flags: 2009 Saints
  • One amber flag: 1967 Packers, 1969 Chiefs, 1979 Steelers, 1995 Cowboys, 1997 Broncos, 2000 Ravens, 2005 Steelers

Next, here’s the overall Super Bowl losers flag count:

  • Two red flags: 2008 Cardinals
  • One red flag, one amber flag: 1979 Rams
  • One red flag: 1980 Eagles, 1996 Patriots, 2002 Raiders
  • Two amber flags: 1986 Broncos
  • One amber flag: 1970 Cowboys, 1971 Dolphins, 1972 Redskins, 1985 Patriots, 1987 Broncos, 1988 Bengals, 1989 Broncos, 1992 Bills, 2003 Panthers, 2004 Eagles, 2009 Colts, 2012 49ers

The 2011 Giants are somehow four-for-four in earning red flags. However, the Super Bowl champion of the ensuing year is collecting flags at a near-exact rate. The 2012 Ravens suffered an ill-timed losing streak late in the season to throw their whole season in doubt. If not for a Ray Lewis retirement, we honestly believe the team never makes it to the Super Bowl.

Up next: Single-Season Improvements

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