For the second time in four years, an NFL team rebounded from a losing season and proceeded to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
It happened for the second time in four years. An NFL team bounced back immediately from a losing season and took home a Lombardi Trophy. Despite a late-season turnaround, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 7-9 in 2019 and missed the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year. One year later and keyed by the addition of quarterback Tom Brady and other veterans such as Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, Bruce Arians’ team got around to pounding the defending NFL champion Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV.
You may recall that the Philadelphia Eagles, off a 7-9 showing in 2016, bounced back the next season and not only won the NFC East with a 13-3 mark, the Birds flew to Minnesota and dethroned the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII.
All told, there have now been five instances in which a team followed up a losing campaign with a Super Bowl title. In 1980, both the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals finished with identical 6-10 records. One season later, Bill Walsh’s Niners went 13-3 and won the NFC West while Forrest Gregg’s Bengals capped off a 12-4 mark with an AFC Central title. The clubs would eventually meet in Super Bowl XVI at the Pontiac Silverdome and the 49ers came away with a 26-21 victory. The 1999 St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV one year after finishing 4-12 in ‘98. And the 2000 New England Patriots were 5-11 in Bill Belichick’s first year as the club’s head coach and 11-5 and Super Bowl XXXVI champs the next season, with a young Tom Brady playing a big part in that turnaround.
What’s been even more amazing is that five of the past six NFC champions were either 8-8 or below .500 before getting to the Super Bowl a year later:
Non-Winning Record, Followed by Super Bowl Appearance (Since 2015)
Year Team Rec. Year Rec. Super Bowl Results
2014 Carolina 7-8-1 2015 15-1 Lost Super Bowl 50
2015 Atlanta 8-8 2016 11-5 Lost Super Bowl LI
2016 Philadelphia 7-9 2017 13-3 Won Super Bowl LII
2018 San Francisco 4-12 2019 13-3 Lost Super Bowl LIV
2019 Tampa Bay 7-9 2020 11-5 Won Super Bowl LV
So there’s more than just hope in 2021 for not only the entire NFC East (Washington won the division with a 7-9 record), as well as the Bears (8-8 and a 2020 Wild Card team), Vikings (7-9), Lions (5-11), Panthers (5-11), Falcons (4-12), Cardinals (8-8) and 49ers (6-10) when it comes to reaching Super Bowl LVI. It’s turned into quite the trend when it comes to the NFC.