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10 biggest Super Bowl hangovers in NFL history

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It’s usually easy for football fans to remember Super Bowl winners, but what about the worst Super Bowl hangovers? After all, as great as it is to win a championship and perhaps be considered one of the greatest NFL teams of all time, the slate is always wiped clean the following season.

That got us thinking about the worst Super Bowl winners the following season. What teams simply failed to follow up on their season of glory?

Worst Super Bowl hangovers

With over 50 Super Bowls in the books, more than 50 teams have had to follow a championship season. Most of those teams have managed to fare well enough the following year, but others haven’t been able to avoid the dreaded hangover. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the 10 worst Super Bowl hangovers in league history.

10. 1970 Kansas City Chiefs

After winning Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs became the first team to experience a significant hangover the following year. They weren’t the worst team to experience a hangover, but they did lose their season opener and ended up settling for two ties the following season.

Kansas City went 11-3 the previous year and then won three playoff games, including the Super Bowl. But after a slow start and losses in the season’s final two weeks, the Chiefs went 7-5-2 in 1970 and missed the playoffs, finishing a game behind the rival Raiders in the AFC West.


9. 2012 New York Giants

In 2011, the Giants were triumphant over the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons, once again making New England one of the best teams to lose the Super Bowl. But the G-Men fell back into mediocrity the following season.

Ironically, the 2012 Giants had an identical 9-7 record that they had in 2011. The difference is that 9-7 in 2011 was good enough to win the NFC East whereas a 9-7 record in 2012 wasn’t enough to even get the Giants to the playoffs. To be fair, they began the 2012 season 6-2 and looked like a contender. But they went 3-5 during the second half of the season.

In fact, the Giants continued to spiral after their Super Bowl XLVI win, making the playoffs just once in the next decade and not winning a playoff game until the 2022 season.

8. 2016 Denver Broncos

With Peyton Manning retiring, Trevor Siemian taking over at quarterback, and head coach Gary Kubiak dealing with health issues that forced him to retire after the season, the Broncos predictably had a rough time defending their Super Bowl title in 2016.

Despite starting the season 4-0 and avoiding an immediate hangover, things fell apart during the second half of the season. Denver was 8-4 at one point but lost three of four games to finish the season, leaving them at 9-7 and out of the playoffs.


7. 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite expectations that the Bucs had a chance to defend their Super Bowl win from the previous season, things didn’t click for Tampa in 2003. The Buccaneers weren’t quite as good as the previous season and were maybe a little tired from the previous year because they had two overtime losses in the first five weeks and three other losses that came by three points or less.

Also, after the Tampa defense carried them to the Super Bowl, a lack of offensive prowess caught up with them. The Bucs failed to reach 20 points in 11 of their 16 games in 2003. That led to a 7-9 record and a locker room that was divided at teams because the Tampa offense still couldn’t carry its weight.

6. 1988 Washington Football Team

After winning the Super Bowl in convincing fashion the previous year, Washington failed to keep it going in 1988.

To be fair, Washington was 5-3 at the midway point of the season and very much in the playoff race. But following a 41-17 loss to the Oilers in Week 9, the wheels fell off.

Washington was just 2-6 during the second half of the season, losing three of those games by at least two touchdowns. With just one win in the final six weeks of the season, Washington finished the 1988 season 7-9, far removed from the playoff picture.

5. 1981 Oakland Raiders

The Raiders went on a little bit of a surprise run as a Wild Card team during the 1980 season, but that led to one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers. Offensively, the Raiders were just atrocious in 1981. They scored 10 points or less in six of their nine losses during their 7-9 campaign that landed them fourth in the AFC West.

That included a stretch early in the season when the Raiders were shut out in three consecutive games. That would have been an embarrassing NFL record for any team to set, but it’s even worse for the reigning Super Bowl champions to set a record like that for offensive inefficiency.

4. 1999 Denver Broncos

It shouldn’t be surprising that after John Elway retired following back-to-back Super Bowl wins, the Broncos experienced one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers ever. Denver went with rookie Brian Griese at quarterback, so there were some obvious growing pains, especially during the team’s 0-4 start.

Things got a little better during the second half of the season when the Broncos finished the year 4-4. But that wasn’t enough to save them from finishing 6-10 and finishing last in the AFC West. Of course, that’s not a bad price to pay after winning back-to-back Super Bowls.

3. 1987 New York Giants

After going 14-2 and winning the Super Bowl the previous season, the Giants quickly turned into one of the worst Super Bowl winners the following season. If nothing else, during the early part of the season, the G-Men were a complete disaster.

They lost their first five games of the season, scoring less than 20 points in those games, including an ugly 6-3 overtime loss to the Bills to complete the 0-5 start.

If there’s a silver lining, the Giants turned things around after that, going 6-3 following that dreadful start. However, they ended up just 6-9, scoring 20 points or less in 10 of those 15 games, making them one of the worst teams the NFL has ever seen while defending their championship. 

2. 1982 San Francisco 49ers

Even in the midst of their dynasty, the 49ers experienced one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers ever seen. In fairness, the strike that season canceled seven games in the middle of the season.

But even before the strike, San Francisco started the year 0-2. Things weren’t much better after the strike was resolved, as the 49ers lost four of their last six games, ultimately finishing the season just 3-6. While the strike contributed, this was the only season the 49ers failed to win at least 10 games between 1981 and 1998.  

1. 2022 Los Angeles Rams

The Rams did a complete faceplant in 2022 after winning the previous Super Bowl. Even before there were injuries to key players like Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald, the Rams got off to a terrible start, losing their season opener at home 31-10.

They later endured a six-game losing streak during the middle of the season, taking away any playoff hopes.

After having such a prolific offense in 2021, the Rams scored 17 points or less in 11 of their 17 games, contributing to a 5-12 record and the worst season (based on winning percentage) ever put together by a reigning Super Bowl champion.

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