There’s a difference between what a Super Bowl team “looks like” and what a Super Bowl team actually is. The two concepts in a Venn diagram probably share very little of the same surface area. In our minds, a Super Bowl champion is perfect, flawless, dominant. Think of it like the girl or guy of your dreams before you met the real girl or guy of your dreams.
I doubt the reality lined up with your expectations of what you thought that person may look like, sound like, and do for a living — but did it matter? No. It was better than you imagined and you still got a ring.
Instead, we talk shit about teams, insult their ownership, coaches, and players, talk about every little thing they did wrong, analyze how awful they are at anything they’re just not great at, ignore how good they are at other things, and take a dry eraser to all of those question marks and doubts if they happen to win the Super Bowl. But the internet makes it hard to erase what we said, and dry eraser doesn’t work on Google.
This isn’t about the 2016 Seattle Seahawks and their Super Bowl chances. It’s every bit as notable for every other playoff team, including the 13-2 Dallas Cowboys and their rookies who don’t have the experience to win in January, the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, and Houston Texans playing with backup quarterbacks, the inconsistent Green Bay Packers and/or Detroit Lions, the Pittsburgh Steelers who were recently 4-5, the Atlanta Falcons who recently lost four of seven games, the New York Giants who can’t run the ball and may be overrated, the Kansas City Chiefs who lost to the Tennessee Titans recently and have a head coach who can’t win playoff games, and the New En- Ok, maybe not the New England Patriots so much. Though they did lose to the lowly Seahawks at home. Not long ago. I remember that.
It’s a pretty wide open playing field right now. More than half of the NFL knows they don’t get anymore games this season. The Chargers may not even ever get another game in San Diego. These recent Super Bowl champions didn’t look so hot for the whole season, and I’ve provided some links as proof.
The 2015 Broncos, 12-4:
Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler are worst starting quarterbacks in NFL; Most interceptions thrown; Lost 4 of 7 games at one point; Could’ve been 1 seed or 6 seed on final week.
Guy says Manning isn’t coming back, won’t win if he does: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/12/14/tony-dungy-peyton-manning-broncos-super-bowl/
But then Manning should start: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/01/peyton-manning-denver-broncos-starter
Broncos only had fifth-best odds to win Super Bowl despite entering playoffs as 1 seed: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/01/why-arent-more-people-taking-the-broncos-seriously-as-super-bowl-contenders
Still hadn’t named a starting QB just a week before first playoff game: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2016/01/03/the-broncos-turn-to-peyton-manning-will-it-matter-in-the-playoffs/
The 2014 Patriots, 12-4:
Started 2-2; Lost 41-14 to Kansas City Chiefs; 5-3 on the road; Beat 4-12 New York Jets by a single point in Week 16;
Had just seventh-best odds to win Super Bowl following a blowout loss to the Chiefs: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2015-super-bowl-odds-chiefs-climb-quickly-off-monday-night/
Some fans call for Tom Brady to be benched: http://www.nj.com/eagles/index.ssf/2014/09/tom_brady_being_benched_kicked_to_curb_by_some_patriots_fans_a_lesson_for_nick_foles_eagles_fans.html
Donovan McNabb says it could be Brady’s last year with Patriots: http://thebiglead.com/2014/09/30/donovan-mcnabb-makes-dumb-tom-brady-comment-jay-glazer-destroys-him/
Bill Belichick isn’t a good GM: http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/news/nfl-patriots-belichick-brady-offense-players-gone-since-2011-welker-blount-mankins-aaron-hernandez/b6hsktvz7tlg19gr13nksdops
Problems entering the playoffs: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/01/02/hurley-equal-reason-for-concern-optimism-regarding-patriots-super-bowl-chances/
2013 Seattle Seahawks, 13-3:
Things went pretty well; Rare wire-to-wire great team; Bad stretch Week 4-Week 6 included near loss to Texans, loss to Colts, close win over Titans; Lost two of last four games
2012 Baltimore Ravens, 10-6:
Lost 43-13 to the Houston Texans; lost four of last five games; Lost 34-17 to the Denver Broncos; Not a top-10 team in passing yards, rushing yards, passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, total yards, points allowed, first downs, yards per attempt, yards per carry; 4-4 on the road.
Terrell Suggs injured, overweight: http://nflspinzone.com/2012/10/21/source-terrell-suggs-overweight-crazy-to-play-today/
The Ravens are in trouble: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/20636953/sorting-the-sunday-pile-week-7-nfc-head-and-shoulders-above-afc
Fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron midseason: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/baltimore-ravens-fire-offensive-coordinator-cam-cameron-replace-165009818--nfl.html
Fans boo Baltimore, Joe Flacco says they should: http://www.baltimoreravens.com/news/article-1/Joe-Flacco-Fans-Entitled-To-Boo/88f80586-c2d4-45a6-9222-dfba65b63977
Flacco says it feels like 0-14: http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/12/ravens_joe_flacco_it_feels_lik.html
Bernard Pollard says “We are the problem”: http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/12/ravens_bernard_pollard_we_got.html
2011 New York Giants, 9-7:
Quite simply, they went 9-7; Outscored by six points over the course of the season; Lost five of six games in the middle of the year; Lost four games by double digits, including 49-24 to the Saints; Just 4-4 at home; 32nd in rushing yards and yards per carry; 25th in points allowed and 27th in yards per carry; Swept by the Washington Redskins, a team that went 5-11; Lost to the 7-9 Seahawks and 8-8 Eagles; Had to win road playoff games against 15-1 Green Bay Packers and 13-3 San Francisco 49ers.
Giants reeling after third straight loss, giving up 5 TDs to Drew Brees: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/story/2011-11-28/giants-saints/51452574/1
The annual pursuit of quitting on Tom Coughlin: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-annual-pursuit-of-quitting-on-tom-coughlin/
Tiki Barber rips the Giants: http://larrybrownsports.com/football/tiki-barber-rips-giants-tom-coughlin-in-column/101568
Giants have only two Pro Bowl players: http://gmenhq.com/2011/12/27/two-giants-make-pro-bowl-roster/
2010 Green Bay Packers, 10-6:
Started 3-3; Lost 3 of 4 games in the second half of the year; 24th in rushing yards and 25th in yards per carry; 28th in yards per carry allowed; wild card team; Lost by a score of 7-3 to the Lions, who were 3-10 at the time; went 3-5 on the road, then needed three road playoff wins just to make the Super Bowl.
Must win final game just to get into playoffs: https://lombardiave.com/2010/12/28/nfl-playoff-picture-as-of-12-27-10/
Aaron Rodgers suffered two concussions during season: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/packers-quarterback-aaron-rodgers-returns-practice-field-start-sunday-giants-article-1.471891