For NFL players and fans alike, Super Bowl hangovers go hand in hand. While us fans nurse our way through the following day with Gatorade, Advil and some kind of burger on a pretzel bun, losing teams have entire offseasons to dwell on what could have been.
Additionally, deep NFL playoff runs expose players to even more physical abuse than the already taxing 16-game regular season. Because of this, it’s reasonable to accept the hypothesis that teams coming off a Super Bowl loss experience “hangovers” and underperform the following year.
Even though the hangover theory does make sense, I’ve never been presented with stats proving (or disproving) this concept. As a result, I decided to perform my own analysis and answer the following three questions:
1. Do Super Bowl losers underperform the following year?
2. If so, do they start off slowly, then eventually recover from the hangover?
3. Or is the entire season plagued by underperformance?
The table below shows both the Super Bowl winners and losers since 2005.
|Super Bowl Year||Winner||Loser|
|2013||Baltimore Ravens||San Francisco 49ers|
|2012||New York Giants||New England Patriots|
|2011||Green Bay Packers||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2010||New Orleans Saints||Indianapolis Colts|
|2009||Pittsburgh Steelers||Arizona Cardinals|
|2008||New York Giants||New England Patriots|
|2007||Indianapolis Colts||Chicago Bears|
|2006||Pittsburgh Steelers||Seattle Seahawks|
|2005||New England Patriots||Philadelphia Eagles|
While the emotional aspect of losing such a big game is definitely one factor, the physical effects of an extended season also have to be considered. As a result, I used our Bet Labs software to run the numbers for both Super Bowl winners and losers. The table below displays the results, dating back to the 2005 Super Bowl.
|Season After Super Bowl||Winner's ATS Record||Loser's ATS Record|
|Games 1-4||14-18 (43.8%)||14-18 (43.8%)|
|Games 5-16||52-42 (55.3%)||46-47 (49.5%)|
|Overall||66-60 (52.4%)||60-65 (48.0%)|
Ironically, Super Bowl winners and losers have posted the same 14-18 record ATS through their first 4 games of the following season. This trend indicates that the extended playoff season wears equally on both teams, negatively affecting each at the start of the next year.
However, the presence of a hangover does appear around game 5 as Super Bowl winners shake off their early-season struggles and finish strong with a 52-42 (55.3%) record ATS. Conversely, Super Bowl losers do improve, but still post a losing ATS record of 46-47 (49.5%) the rest of the way.
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What are your thoughts on the performance of teams that appeared in last season’s Super Bowl? Will you be fading the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers early this year as the analysis above suggests?