Super Bowls - From Where Did They Come (Part 2)
Super Bowl VII - 47 - 29
Both the Raiders and the Seahawks returned to the Super Bowl for the second time in 2016, each hoping to secure their first league title. The Seahawks were doing something that no other team has repeated in the GZL to date, which is play in consecutive Super Bowls and the Raiders were hoping to turn a league-best 12-4 record into silverware.
The end result was the Seahawks putting their Super Bowl VI defeat to bed by controlling the game the entire time, consistently scoring and effectively shutting down one of the league's greatest running backs, forcing the Raiders to take to the air with Michael Vick. LeGarrette Blount's 252 yards remain a Super Bowl record to date. The Seahawks made the Super Bowl from the wildcard position after their 11-5 record was only good enough to secure the #2 NFC West position behind the Rams. Their wildcard game against the Eagles was a one-sided affair before a tight tussle with the NFC North winning bears saw them face off with the Rams in a low scoring NFC Championship game. The victory there set them up for their first GZL title.
The Raiders, who made the AFC Championship game in the 2015 season, looked the favourites as the #1 team in the GZL heading into the playoffs with their 12-4 record. They accounted for divisional rivals the Chiefs in the divisional round by a touchdown and then accounted for the Ravens in the AFC Championship game to win their second AFC Championship title. Unfortunately, the Raiders' defense couldn't keep the high-powered Seahawks offense in check in the Super Bowl and while their own score of 29 was inline with the regular season performance, the Seahawks blunted the Raiders second attempt to win.
Seahawks - The Seahawks continue the trend of winners missing the playoffs, with their 2016 GZL win being their last playoff appearance since.
Raiders - The Raiders would return to the playoffs in the 2017 season, reaching the divisional round.
Super Bowl VIII - 23 - 13
In 2017, the Steelers would return for their third Super Bowl appearance in GZL history and record their third GZL championship. The Bears made their second Super Bowl appearance, having lost to the Chargers in Super Bowl I.
The Steelers, who had missed the 2016 playoffs defending their Super Bowl VI victory, returned with an 11-5 winning record to secure another AFC North title and secure the bye for the wildcard round. They defeated the Chiefs by a field goal in a high scoring divisional round game before facing off against the Titans, who were making their third AFC Conference championship appearance, hoping to finally break through to the Super Bowl. But in a repeat of the 2012 AFC Championship, the Steelers once again prevailed, this time by just 3 points where they faced the Bears in the decider where they played sensible, if not exciting, football to record their third GZL title and become the most successful franchise in GZL history to date (if counting titles alone).
The Bears, who were knocked out of the 2016 playoffs by eventual winner the Seahawks, won the NFC North on a tie breaker but were ranked #18 on the power polls. Their path to the Super Bowl started with a comfortable win over the Saints at home in the wildcard round before needing to travel to Phoenix and Tampa to face the NFC's #2 and #1 teams respectively. A high scoring affair in Phoenix saw the Bears move onto the NFC Championship game, where they faced the NFC-leading Buccaneers, who were making their first NFC Championship appearance since the 2012 victory. The Bears pulled off the upset and progressed to the Super Bowl, winning their second NFC Championship along the way.
Steelers - The Steelers bucked the trend and returned to the playoffs in 2018, though after 8 winners, they remained the only franchise to achieve this feat.
Bears - The Bears would miss the 2018 playoffs with a 7-9 record.
Super Bowl IX - 26 - 19
Before their appearance in Super Bowl IX, the Rams had been building to the result, having reached the 2016 NFC Championship game and losing by a single point to the NFC-leading Buccaneers in the 2017 divisional round. They entered the 2018 playoffs with a NFC-best (on tie break) 13-3 record. The Dolphins were another team that had queued up playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017 and were one of three AFC divisional winners with a 10-6 record.
The Rams enjoyed their week off and reversed the previous season's divisional loss to the Buccaneers by winning their 2018 encounter. This saw the team line up against the Packers in the NFC Championship game, where they would make at least 30 points for the second consecutive game in the playoffs. Upon reaching the Super Bowl, the Rams were considered the favourites but with the Dolphins leading by 3 at three-quarter time, a boilover was expected. But the Rams ultimated outscored the Dolphins by a touchdown in the second half and that was the final difference in the game.
The Dolphins 10-6 record also matched the records of the AFC South Titans and the AFC West Broncos, with the AFC North Ravens securing AFC home field advantage with their conference-leading 12-4 record. But on the tie-break, their record was enough to secure them the first week bye. They defeated the Titans in the divisional round before overcoming the Broncos, who had upset the Ravens the week before, to win the AFC Championship.
Rams - The Rams would reach the playoffs again the next year, but their extraordinary 12-4 record only left them playing for a wildcard spot, becoming the first team not from Pittsburgh to do so.
Dolphins - The Dolphins would miss the 2019 season with a break-even 8-8 record.
Super Bowl X - 31 - 28
Like Super Bowl IX, the 2019 championship game once again saw two first time Super Bowl attendees in the Redskins and the Bengals. The Redskins entered with an 11-5 record that won them the NFC East, but in a highly-competitive NFC that season, was the worst record of any of the divisional winners. The Bengals posted double-digit victories with a 10-6 record that granted them the #2 AFC North position behind the Browns and a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
The Redskins started their playoffs with a convincing victory over the 49ers, making their long-awaited playoff return after turning a 2-14 2018 season into a 12-4 record that amazingly did not win the NFC West for them. The Redskins then had to beat the NFC #2 Buccaneers in Tampa and the NFC #1 Lions in Detroit, both games resulting in 10 point wins for the 'Skins. The Super Bowl between the Bengals and Redskins was a game of two halfs, with the Bengals jumping out to a 28-7 halftime lead before the Redskins piled on 24 unanswered points in the second half to win by 3.
The Bengals road to the Super Bowl was literally on the road as a wildcard team. They started with a convincing win over the Patriots in Boston before upsetting the AFC #1 seed Raiders in Oakland in a low scoring affair before facing the Titans in the AFC Championship game. In what would be a preview of the Super Bowl, the Bengals established their lead in the first half before packing up shop in the second. Unlike the Super Bowl, the Titans could not overhaul the 17 point differential.
Redskins - The Redskins joined the collection of previous winners who failed to return to the playoffs the following year with a 7-9 record.
Bengals - The Bengals also missed the playoffs with a 5-11 record.
Super Bowl XI - 23 - 15
It was nearly a decade in the making but Super Bowl XI saw a replay of Super Bowl II, with the Raiders making their third appearance in GZL history while still looking for their first win and the Packers making their first return since their 2011 victory having got close in the 2018 season with an NFC Conference championship appearance.
The Raiders enacted their revenge and secured their first GZL victory after recording an AFC-best (on tie breaker) 12-4 record to win the AFC West. This gave them the bye in the first week. In the second week, they fought out a high-scoring affair against the Titans where 75 points in total was scored. In the AFC Championship game, the Raiders faced the Ravens who also finished the season with a 12-4 record. The game was a defensive tussle with only a single touchdown scored. Despite only scoring a single field goal in the second half, the Raiders held on to record the closest of victories and win their third AFC Championship title. Whereas Super Bowl II saw the Packers thump the Raiders, this replay saw the Raiders rely on their defense to shut down the Packers. Despite the Packers controlling the clock and nearly doubling the offensive production of the Raiders, it was the turnover ratio that won the game for the Raiders.
The Packers won home field advantage with a 12-4 record and began the playoff push with a divisional victory against the Bears, where they managed to win by a field goal. This lined up the first playoff matchup between the Packers and Buccaneers for the NFC Championship which despite the playoff credentials of both franchises had not occurred for until the 11th season. The Packers would be successful against the Buccaneers to win their way into the Super Bowl.
Raiders - The Raiders would win the AFC West again and make it to the AFC Championship game where they would fall short of defending their title.
Packers - The Packers would come from a wildcard position in the playoffs where the Buccaneers would avenge their 2020 loss by defeating the Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Super Bowl XII - 27 - 15
The Broncos entered the Super Bowl as a wildcard, having lost the AFC West title race to the Raiders despite a 10-6 record while the Buccaneers would avenge their 2020 NFC Championship loss to the Packers on the back of 12-4 record and being the NFC #2 seed. While the Buccaneers are perennial playoff participants and have never had a losing season, the Broncos recruitment program had only begun to show fruit in recent seasons, with a trip to the AFC Championship game in 2018.
The Broncos had a tough road into the Super Bowl, starting as a wildcard in the AFC. They would go on to string together come-from-behind victories against the Titans in the wildcard round, the 12-4 Patriots in the divisional round, and the 12-4 divisional rival Raiders in the AFC Championship game. That game will go down as one of the craziest in GZL history with the Raiders exploding out to a 24-6 half-time lead before injuries saw the Broncos jam home 21 points in the final quarter to send the game into double-overtime before they were able to slot home the winning field goal. The Super Bowl against the Buccaneers was less spectacular, but like Super Bowl XI, turnovers gave the Broncos the chances they needed and after a close first half, outscored the Buccs 17-6 in the second half to secure their first GZL title and the first ever Madden GM title for Wade Pearce.
The Buccaneers are a team we all want to win (unless you're playing them) because despite never posting a losing record and never missing the playoffs, they have only made the Super Bowl twice and both were losses. To reach Super Bowl XII, the Buccs posted a 12-4 record, ensuring the bye week. In the divisional round, they defeated the Panthers, who were making their first ever playoff appearance in GZL history. They then met the Packers in a replay of the 2020 NFC Championship, this time on Buccs' home soil. The Buccaneers won the day in a high-scoring affair that helped contribute to a Conference Championship weekend that netted a total of 146 points across two games.
Broncos - Have the roster to reach the playoffs again, but given some roster movements, rookie starters and the division they compete in, no sure bet.
Buccaneers - Twelve seasons, twelve winning records, twelve playoff appearances. They'll be back.
Some Statistical Breakdown
Here are some interesting statistics from the Super Bowls:
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders (3)
Conference With Most Winners
- AFC (7) vs NFC (5)
Division With Most Winners
- AFC West (4), AFC North (3), NFC East (2), NFC West (2), NFC North (1)
Number of Winners Who Missed The Next Season Playoffs
- 6 [ Chargers (2010, 2013), Packers (2011), Steelers (2015), Seahawks (2016), Redskins (2019) ]
Number of Competitors Who Haven't Made The Playoffs Since
- 3 (Jaguars, Seahawks, Redskins)
Number of Wildcard Winners
- 3 [ Giants (2014), Seahawks (2016), Broncos (2021) ]