It would seem likely that a Super Bowl loser would have a good shot at returning to the Super Bowl the following year and winning it.
They have the incentive of overcoming the loss the previous year to give them motivation.
And that’s what often happened in the early days of the Super Bowl.
The Dallas Cowboys lost to the then-Baltimore Colts in the fifth Super Bowl, then beat the Miami Dolphins in the sixth one. The Dolphins then came back in 1972 and had their unbeaten season and won the seventh Super Bowl.
Believe it or not, that is the last time a Super Bowl loser has won it the next year.
Now, most years the Super Bowl losers doesn’t even return.
The Minnesota Vikings lost the eighth Super Bowl to Miami at the end of the 1973 season, then lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following year.
Denver lost back-to-back Super Bowls to the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in 1986 and 1987.
And Buffalo lost three Super Bowls in a row — all by double-digit margins — after losing a 20-19 nailbiter to the Giants when Scott Norwood made his famous (or infamous, in Buffalo) miss in 1990.
Since 1993, no Super Bowl loser has even made it back to the Super Bowl, much less won it.
The big question is: Why?
It is easy to explain why New England didn’t win in 2008 after going 18-0 and then losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady got hurt in the opener the next year, and while the Patriots still finished 11-5, they lost critical games with Matt Cassel that cost them the division title and ended up not even making the playoffs.
There aren’t a lot of obvious reasons why the Super Bowl losers don’t fare as well the next year.
Maybe the best answer why the Super Bowl losers don’t repeat is that they just aren’t good enough.
And some may have hangovers from losing the Super Bowl. Seattle is a good example of that after their loss to the Patriots, when even the players second-guessed the decision not to run Marshawn Lynch from the one yard line.
It’s much easier for winners to repeat. Green Bay won the first two, for example, and Pittsburgh did it twice in its Super Bowl run in the 1970s.
San Francisco, Dallas, Denver and New England all did it twice, but it is getting more difficult.
No team since the 2004 Patriots has repeated.
Now New England has a shot at becoming the first Super Bowl loser since 1972 to win it.
But the odds don’t look good. They may make it back because the AFC is in a down cycle, but the NFC probably has three or four teams better than the Patriots, the team has had a lot of offseason distractions, and Brady is a year older. One of these years he is going to slow down.
Philadelphia now has to overcome the odds to try to repeat, and they will be favored if they make it over any AFC team. Their problem will be winning the NFC title again.
Still, if history is any barometer, the Patriots won’t be winning their sixth Super Bowl with Brady and Belichick this year.