The San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XVI to complete the 1981 National Football League season and thus became the first team to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy following a year with a losing record. Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl after compiling a 7 and 9 campaign in 2016.
Between the 49ers being the first and the Eagles the most recent to win the Super Bowl after a losing year there are two other teams that accomplished that feat. The 1999 St. Louis Rams, led by surprise Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner, downed the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV following a losing record in 1998. Two seasons after winning their title, the Rams were upset in Super Bowl XXXVI by the New England Patriots.
That was the first year Tom Brady started for New England and the Patriots have not had a losing year since … although they did have a 5-11 record in 2000 before Brady stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
So, what do we have here? We’ve had 52 Super Bowl winners and four of them had a losing record the season before they won it all. Or, put another way, 48 of the 52 winners did not suffer a losing year before winning the NFL’s top prize.
With that as a fact, if you want to pick a team to win Super Bowl LIII that didn’t compile a winning mark in 2017 you are pulling against a stat that wins 93% of the time … not normally the right side of the proposition. But, like any stat, percentages are just what happened and on game day, or on a season long bet, all wagers that don’t push are 100% winners or 100% losers.