So today I’m bringing the Checkdowns category to Football Perspective. I was wondering how often a team defeated both eventual Super Bowl participants in the same season. There have been 42 Super Bowl champions since the merger (no team could have done this in the pre-merger era), and surprisingly, 16 teams have accomplished this feat. Most recently, the 2010 Patriots defeated both the Steelers and Packers (playing with Matt Flynn and not Aaron Rodgers). The table below lists all 16 teams, with linkable boxscores to the games in question. I’ve also shown the team’s overall record and winning percentage during the regular season. As always, all columns are sortable.
|NWE||2010||GNB 31-27||PIT 39-26||0.875||14-2-0|
|PHI||2008||PIT 15-6||ARI 48-20||0.594||9-6-1|
|NYG||2008||PIT 21-14||ARI 37-29||0.750||12-4-0|
|JAX||2005||PIT 23-17||SEA 26-14||0.750||12-4-0|
|PIT||2004||NWE 34-20||PHI 27-3||0.938||15-1-0|
|WAS||2000||BAL 10-3||NYG 16-6||0.500||8-8-0|
|TEN||2000||BAL 14-6||NYG 28-14||0.813||13-3-0|
|DAL||1996||GNB 21-6||NWE 12-6||0.625||10-6-0|
|MIA||1993||DAL 16-14||BUF 22-13||0.563||9-7-0|
|SEA||1986||NYG 17-12||DEN 41-16||0.625||10-6-0|
|MIA||1985||CHI 38-24||NWE 30-27||0.750||12-4-0|
|CLE||1981||SFO 15-12||CIN 20-17||0.313||5-11-0|
|SDG||1980||OAK 30-24||PHI 22-21||0.688||11-5-0|
|DAL||1980||OAK 19-13||PHI 35-27||0.750||12-4-0|
|SDG||1979||PIT 35-7||RAM 40-16||0.750||12-4-0|
|RAM||1978||PIT 10-7||DAL 27-14||0.750||12-4-0|
While some of these teams were in the same division as a Super Bowl participant, none of them swept their division foe and also defeated the Super Bowl representative from the other conference.
Each team on the list has its own interesting story. The 1981 Browns won just 5 games, but managed to beat both the 49ers and Bengals that season. The Don Coryell-Dan Fouts Chargers appear on this list in consecutive years. In 1979, San Diego blew out Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and finished the year with the NFL’s best record. But in one of the most improbable upsets in playoff history, the Houston Oilers and shocked San Diego and won, 17-14. In 1980, San Diego went 11-5 and won close games over both the Raiders and Eagles. After defeating Buffalo in the division round of the playoffs, Oakland upset San Diego 34-27 in the AFC Championship Game en route to becoming the first wildcard team to win the Super Bowl.
What sticks out to you on the table?