Following the most monumental collapse in Super Bowl history, should Atlanta fans be optimistic?
Unless you took shelter under a rock for the past 48 hours, you’re quite aware of the Atlanta Falcons blowing a 25-point second-half lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The overtime loss was the largest letdown in Super Bowl history. So, it goes without saying that this loss will sting the Falcons and their fans all offseason. What remains to be seen is if this tragedy lingers into the 2017 season.
We’ve seen it countless times…the dreaded Super Bowl Hangover!
While Atlanta fans are surely comforting themselves with the thought of being so close and the hopes that they’ll be back next year, it just ain’t that simple.
Here is a sobering statistic for Falcons fans still licking their wounds from Super Bowl LI and hoping next season will be better: No team in the past 44 seasons has lost the Super Bowl and come back to win it the next season. The 1972 Miami Dolphins were the last team to accomplish the feat.
On top of that, no team since the 1993 Buffalo Bills lost the Super Bowl and even made it back to the title game the following year. The Super Bowl loser’s hangover is quite real. And as reliable as a Nate Dogg hook.
In the past 44 seasons, the loser of the Super Bowl has made it back to the game five times — 1974 Minnesota Vikings; 1987 Denver Broncos and the Bills in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Only four Super Bowl losers have even made it back to the conference championship game the following season — 1977 Vikings, 1985 Dolphins, 2012 New England Patriots and 2013 San Francisco 49ers. In other words, 35 of the past 44 Super Bowl losers were eliminated prior to their conference championship.
In addition, 17 Super Bowl losers were one-and-done in the playoffs the next season and 13 missed the playoffs entirely. Falcons fans have some consolation in that six of the last seven Super Bowl losers made the playoffs the next season.
The lone outcast? Just this past season, the Carolina Panthers, fresh off a Super Bowl 50 loss to Denver, disappointed their way to a 6-10 season. Good for butt-naked last in the NFC South.
Losing a Super Bowl is more devastating to a team than losing earlier in the playoffs or not even making to the post-season. In the past 11 seasons, three teams won the Super Bowl the year after missing the playoffs and three had lost the conference championship game the year before.
The NFL is ever-evolving. Things change, team chemistry is different, and performances fluctuate. What are the chances Matt Ryan has another MVP season in 2017? What happens if Devonta Freeman doesn’t get paid? Are we sure that young defense takes the next step. And even if all this happens, some other team is likely to be next season’s version of the 2016 Falcons.
So, while it may be comforting for the Atlanta fan base to think the Falcons have reached an automatic stepping-stone to a Super Bowl title, history tells us otherwise.