Last season, the Carolina Panthers finished the regular season with a 15-1 record and eventually lost the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos.
With a young team, their star receiver Kelvin Benjamin coming back, a dominant defense and the reigning league MVP Cam Newton expected to improve even more, the Panthers looked primed and ready to make another run through the NFC and back to the Super Bowl.
Much to their dismay, the NFC champs started the season 1-5 and although they have won their last two games, they serve as yet another Super Bowl team who didn’t nearly live up to the hype the next season.
This decrease in wins the following season is what they call the Super Bowl Curse and this epidemic has affected many teams throughout history, not just the 2016 Panthers.
In 1988, the Cincinnati Bengals had a 12-4 season and lost the Super Bowl to the San Francisco 49ers. The following season, they finished 8-8.
The 1989 Denver Broncos, led by John Elway, had an 11-5 regular season, but also lost to the 49ers dynasty. The following season, they finished even worse than the Bengals did with a 5-11 record.
The 1998 Atlanta Falcons had the best record all time (14-2) for a Super Bowl loser who had a losing record the next season (5-11).
Most recently, the Chicago Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006 after finishing with a 13-3 record, eventually losing to the Indianapolis Colts. The next season, they finished 7-9.
Overall, there have been 10 teams in history who have played in the Super Bowl one season and the next failed to have a winning record, which makes this list, and what the Panthers are doing so far this season, so exclusive and mind-boggling.
You would have to think that most of the teams on this list entered the next season with the same team for the most part, much like the Panthers this year. Maybe they even mirrored the 2016 Panthers in that their roster projected to be even better than their Super Bowl roster.
What tends to happen with most of these teams is the weight of expectation the next season overrides the journey it took them to become a Super Bowl team in the previous season(s). Teams like the Panthers work hard to craft teams over the course of some years to ultimately prepare them for runs at the Super Bowl. Through the draft, key free agent acquisitions and team chemistry that is built over the growing pains of losing seasons and the joy of winning seasons, teams rise from mediocrity to the brink of a championship that foundation built is not even during the big game, but how they come back from it afterward.
Most teams in history have bounced back effectively the next season, with a good amount even going back to the Super Bowl and winning it, except if you’re the Buffalo Bills from 1990-1993 where they lost four straight Super Bowls. Therefore, it is so surprising that this year’s Panthers team struggled so much out of the gate.
Again, they have won two games in a row, so we’ll have to see if they become the 11th team on the list of those affected by the Super Bowl loser’s curse.
Do you think the Panthers will finish with a winning record this year? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.