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The Super Bowl curse or Super Bowl hangover is a phrase that refers to three phenomena that may occur in the National Football League (NFL). These interpretations of the Super Bowl curse are not mutually exclusive.

First, there is the "home field advantage curse" referring to team(s), whose stadium will host the upcoming Super Bowl, that have a tendency to miss the playoffs or suffer early postseason elimination. In fact, no Super Bowl host team had managed to reach the title game, until the 2020 season, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played in Super Bowl LV as the first such team to play—and subsequently win—on its home stadium.[1][2]

Second, Super Bowl champions rarely win consecutive Super Bowls, compared to other professional sports leagues such as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, or the National Hockey League.

Lastly, the loser of the prior year's Super Bowl will often have a less successful season and may miss the playoffs the next year.

The term has been used since at least 1992, when The Washington Post used the term in print.[3] Former NFL General Manager Charley Casserly attributed the curse to such factors as "a shorter offseason, contract problems, [and] more demand for your players' time".[4] Casserly also noted that "once the season starts, you become the biggest game on everybody's schedule," suggesting that pressure from fans and spectators may also affect a team's performance.[4]

The Home Field Advantage Curse

The home field curse is said to affect the host team(s) of the Super Bowl. So far only two teams, the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2021 Los Angeles Rams, have managed to qualify to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium, Raymond James Stadium and SoFi Stadium respectively, with the Buccaneers winning Super Bowl LV and the Rams winning Super Bowl LVI.

Besides the 2020 Buccaneers and 2021 Rams, two other NFL teams have reached the Super Bowl hosted in their home region: the 1984 San Francisco 49ers, who played (and won) Super Bowl XIX in Stanford Stadium, rather than Candlestick Park, and the 1979 Los Angeles Rams, who played Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl, rather than the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Besides Stanford Stadium and the Rose Bowl, the only other Super Bowl venue that was not the home stadium to an NFL team at the time was Rice Stadium in Houston: the Houston Oilers had played there previously, but moved to the Astrodome several years prior to Super Bowl VIII. The Miami Orange Bowl was the only AFL stadium to host a Super Bowl and the only stadium to host consecutive Super Bowls, hosting Super Bowl II and III. Currently, there are two stadiums that are home to two NFL teams of both conferences: MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, which hosted Super Bowl XLVIII, is the home stadium of two NFL teams: the New York Giants and the New York Jets, and SoFi Stadium, which hosted Super Bowl LVI, is the home stadium of the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams.

Six teams with Super Bowls in their home venue have qualified for the divisional playoffs: the Dolphins twice in 1994 and 1998, the 2016 Houston Texans, the 2017 Minnesota Vikings, the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the 2021 Los Angeles Rams, and three have qualified to play in the conference championship game: the Vikings in the 2017 NFC Championship Game, the Buccaneers in the 2020 NFC Championship Game, and the Rams in the 2021 NFC Championship Game (the 2021 Rams became the first Super Bowl host team to host a Conference Championship). From 1966–2011 (excluding the six Super Bowl games held in a stadium without a professional team), the Super Bowl host team has had 11 winning seasons, four split seasons, and 25 losing seasons. Mathematically, the probability of that many losing seasons or more occurring by chance (assuming a 50 percent chance of having a losing season (disregarding .500 seasons)) is 7.69 percent. Beginning with the 2021 season, the NFL stretched to 17 games being played; it is no longer possible to have a split season, teams can't have a .500 record anymore. The Super Bowl host stadium is selected several years before the game is played, without regard to the teams that qualify.

This list of examples is not exhaustive; until 2020, no team had ever qualified and played in the Super Bowl while their home stadium was hosting it. No team has played Super Bowl in home stadium by being #1 seed and having best overall record in NFL and throughout the season. Tampa Bay Buccaneers were #5th seed in NFC, in 2020. Los Angeles Rams were #4 seed in 2021.

Team Host Field Season Season Record Notes
Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California 1966 (Super Bowl I) 8-6
Miami Dolphins Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 1967 (Super Bowl II) 4-10
Miami Dolphins Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 1968 (Super Bowl III) 5-8-1
New Orleans Saints Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana 1969 (Super Bowl IV) 5-9
Miami Dolphins Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 1970 (Super Bowl V) 10-4 Would lose to the 8-4-2 Raiders in the Divisional Round.
New Orleans Saints Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana 1971 (Super Bowl VI) 4–8–2
Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California 1972 (Super Bowl VII) 6-7-1 Started out the season 4-1-1, but lost six of the last eight games.
Houston Oilers Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas 1973 (Super Bowl VIII) 1–13
New Orleans Saints Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana 1974 (Super Bowl IX) 5–9
Miami Dolphins Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 1975 (Super Bowl X) 10-4 Did not qualify for the playoffs; this was the first season the NFL instituted a seeding system for the playoffs; four playoff spots were given to a conference, the three division winners were the top three seeds, seeded 1 through 3 according to who had the best regular season record, and a Wild Card team had the #4 seed. The Dolphins tied with the Baltimore Colts in the AFC East standings with a record of 10-4 for first place, but lost the tiebreaker due to losing both games to the Colts during the season; and the Dolphins lost out on the last playoff spot because they were beaten out by the Cincinnati Bengals with an 11-3 record.
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 1977 (Super Bowl XII) 3–11
Miami Dolphins Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 1978 (Super Bowl XIII) 11-5 Tied the Patriots with an 11-5 record in the AFC East standings, but lost the tiebreaker to New England, for the New England Patriots had a better division record, so the Miami Dolphins finished in second place. Would host the Houston Oilers in the Wild Card game and lost.
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 1980 (Super Bowl XV) 1–15
Detroit Lions Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan 1981 (Super Bowl XVI) 9–7 Had the chance to win the division entering the final week, but lost to the Buccaneers in a game that decided who would get into the playoffs and win the NFC Central. Previously, the Lions were undefeated in their home games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida 1983 (Super Bowl XVIII) 2-14 Started out the season 0-9.
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 1985 (Super Bowl XX) 5-11
San Diego Chargers Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California 1987 (Super Bowl XXII) 8-7 Started out the season 8-1, but went 0-6 afterwards to miss the playoffs. Final season for quarterback Dan Fouts and tight end Kellen Winslow.
Miami Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida 1988 (Super Bowl XXIII) 6-10
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisaiana 1989 (Super Bowl XXIV) 9-7 After losing to the Rams in week 12 and the Lions in week 13, the Saints were eliminated from playoff contention. Quarterback Bobby Hebert was benched for backup John Fourcade who started the last three games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida 1990 (Super Bowl XXV) 6-10 Started out the season 4-2, with all wins coming against divisional opponents, but then lost six straight games, and ended the season with a 6-10 record. Finished second place in the NFC Central due to a four-way tie with the Lions, Packers, and Vikings; the Buccaneers won the tiebreaker over all the other three teams due to a better division record, the Buccaneers were 5-3 in games within the NFC Central, while the other three teams were all 3-5 in games within the division.
Minnesota Vikings Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota 1991 (Super Bowl XXVI) 8-8 Vikings released Herschel Walker when the season was over after a disappointing experience with the running back.
Atlanta Falcons Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia 1993 (Super Bowl XXVIII) 6-10
Miami Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida 1994 (Super Bowl XXIX) 10–6 Lost 22–21 to the eventual AFC champion San Diego Chargers during the Divisional Round, despite having a 21–6 lead at halftime.
Arizona Cardinals Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona 1995 (Super Bowl XXX) 4-12
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 1996 (Super Bowl XXXI) 3–13
San Diego Chargers Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California 1997 (Super Bowl XXXII) 4–12 Quarterback Stan Humphries was lost for the season after starting eight games because of repeated concussions causing his injury. Backup Craig Whelihan took over as starter and the Chargers were winless the rest of the season.
Miami Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 1998 (Super Bowl XXXIII) 10–6 Lost 38–3 to the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos during the Divisional Round.
Atlanta Falcons Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia 1999 (Super Bowl XXXIV) 5–11 Running back Jamal Anderson was lost for the season after Game 2. The previous season they held 14-2 record and were losing finalists in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida 2000 (Super Bowl XXXV) 10–6 Last Super Bowl host to make the playoffs until the 2014 Arizona Cardinals. Miss opportunity to be the NFC’s #2 seed and having a home Divisional Round game before losing in overtime in final the week of the regular season. That loss dropped Tampa Bay down to the #5 seed and starting on the road in the Wild Card Round, which they would subsequently lose 21–3 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 2001 (Super Bowl XXXVI) 7–9 Lost final four games of the season after starting 7-5 to miss the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California 2002 (Super Bowl XXXVII) 8–8 Started out the season 6–1, but finished 2–7 the rest of the way.
Houston Texans Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas 2003 (Super Bowl XXXVIII) 5–11
Jacksonville Jaguars Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida 2004 (Super Bowl XXXIX) 9–7 The Jaguars' playoff chances were spoiled and dealt a critical blow when they got shut out by the Houston Texans 21-0 in week 16. The loss ultimately eliminated the Jaguars from the playoffs.
Detroit Lions Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan 2005 (Super Bowl XL) 5–11
Miami Dolphins Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 2006 (Super Bowl XLI) 6–10
Arizona Cardinals University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona 2007 (Super Bowl XLII) 8–8 Eliminated from playoff contention after the Cardinals lost to the Saints and the Vikings won against the Bears in week 15. The next season they held a 9-7 record and went to Super Bowl XLIII.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida 2008 (Super Bowl XLIII) 9–7 Lost final four games of the season after starting 9–3 to miss the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 2009 (Super Bowl XLIV) 7–9 Dolphins lost quarterback Chad Pennington, running back Ronnie Brown, and other key contributors on the roster to injury throughout the season. Eliminated from playoff contention in week 17.
Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas 2010 (Super Bowl XLV) 6-10 Quarterback Tony Romo suffered a season-ending injury to his left clavicle. Started the season 1–7.
Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana 2011 (Super Bowl XLVI) 2–14 Quarterback Peyton Manning missed the season due to neck injury. Ended the Colts’ postseason appearance streak at nine years.
New Orleans Saints Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 2012 (Super Bowl XLVII) 7–9 Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the season due to Bountygate.
New York Jets MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey 2013 (Super Bowl XLVIII) 8–8 Eliminated from playoff contention after the Jets lost to the Panthers and the Ravens won against the Lions in week 15.
New York Giants 7–9 Started out the season 0–6.
Arizona Cardinals University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona 2014 (Super Bowl XLIX) 11–5 Cardinals lost quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injury prior to playoffs. Would lose to the 7–8–1 Panthers in the Wild Card Round.
San Francisco 49ers Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California 2015 (Super Bowl 50) 5–11 49ers had fired Jim Harbaugh due to a dispute with the team's front office.
Houston Texans NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas 2016 (Super Bowl LI) 9–7 Lost 34–16 to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots during the Divisional Round.
Minnesota Vikings U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota 2017 (Super Bowl LII) 13–3 Were the first team to host a Divisional Round game while being the host Super Bowl stadium in the same season. The Vikings' last-second 29–24 victory over the Saints would catapult them to the NFC Championship Game against the Eagles, and many expected the Vikings to win. Despite this, the eventual Super Bowl champions defeated the Vikings 38–7. Until 2020, this was the closest a home field team ever came to hosting the Super Bowl.
Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia 2018 (Super Bowl LIII) 7–9 The Falcons would lose several key starters to injury early in the season and were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15.
Miami Dolphins Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 2019 (Super Bowl LIV) 5–11 The Dolphins were criticized for intentionally losing games after trading Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, and Minkah Fitzpatrick for multiple draft picks. The Dolphins were pounded in their first 4 games, losing by 3 TD or more. After they were 3–9, the Steelers beat the Browns 20–13, which mathematically eliminated the Dolphins from playoff contention in Week 13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida 2020 (Super Bowl LV) 11–5 After adding quarterback Tom Brady and running back Leonard Fournette during the offseason in free agency and wide receiver Antonio Brown during the season, the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team to advance to play in and win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The team posted their first playoff win since 2002, their first playoff appearance since 2007, and became the first Wild Card team to appear and win in a Super Bowl since the 2010 Packers. The Buccaneers were also the first club to win a Super Bowl without a first-round bye since the 2012 Ravens.
Los Angeles Rams SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California 2021 (Super Bowl LVI) 12-5 After trading for Matthew Stafford and Sony Michel during the off season and adding the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. via waivers and Von Miller via trade at the deadline, the 2021 Los Angeles Rams became the second team to advance to play in and win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The Rams became the first Super Bowl host team to host the Conference Championship game, as the Rams were the highest-seeded remaining team in the NFC after the Divisional Round (which saw the Rams defeat the Tampa Buccaneers, while the top-seeded Green Bay Packers were upset by the San Francisco 49ers). They were also the first Super Bowl host team to both play in the Super Bowl and have home playoff games.
Los Angeles Chargers 9-8 Had the chance to get into the playoffs as a Wild Card team heading into the week 18 match against the Las Vegas Raiders, either with a win or a tie. Would have been the AFC's #7 seed with a win, or the #6 seed with a tie. The game went into overtime and came very close to ending in a tie, where both the Chargers and Raiders would have made the playoffs in such event. Two seconds remained in the overtime period, the Chargers would lose on a last second field goal when Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson kicked a 47 yard field goal as time expired. This knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs.

The Non-Repeat Curse

Since 1993, few winning teams have followed up their Super Bowl appearances with a second Super Bowl appearance, or even advanced to a conference title game in the subsequent season (the 1994 Dallas Cowboys qualified for their conference title but did not qualify for the Super Bowl). Only seven teams have won back-to-back Super Bowl championships, and only one of these seven have made more than two consecutive winning appearances in the Super Bowl. The only franchise to reach more than three straight title games was the Buffalo Bills who lost four Super Bowls in a row from 1990 to 1993. The salary cap, draft, free agency and the schedule makes it more difficult to win repeat league championships in the NFL, compared to other major North American professional sports leagues (Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League) where dynasties have been prevalent.[5]

Since 2005, no incumbent holder has managed to successfully defend their title. Between 2006 and 2013, every defending Super Bowl champion would conclude the following season either losing their opening playoff game or failing to qualify for the playoffs.

This list of examples includes every team that has ever had back-to-back appearances at the Super Bowl.

Team First Super Bowl Appearance Score Second Super Bowl Appearance Score Third Super Bowl Appearance Score Fourth Super Bowl Appearance Score
Green Bay Packers 1966 (Super Bowl I) 35–10 1967 (Super Bowl II) 33–14
Dallas Cowboys 1970 (Super Bowl V) 13–16 1971 (Super Bowl VI) 24–3
Miami Dolphins 1971 (Super Bowl VI) 3–24 1972 (Super Bowl VII) 14–7 1973 (Super Bowl VIII) 24–7
Pittsburgh Steelers 1974 (Super Bowl IX) 16–6 1975 (Super Bowl X) 21–17
Dallas Cowboys 1977 (Super Bowl XII) 27–10 1978 (Super Bowl XIII) 31–35
Pittsburgh Steelers 1978 (Super Bowl XIII) 35–31 1979 (Super Bowl XIV) 31–19
Washington Redskins 1982 (Super Bowl XVII) 27–17 1983 (Super Bowl XVIII) 9–38
San Francisco 49ers 1988 (Super Bowl XXIII) 20–16 1989 (Super Bowl XXIV) 55–10
Buffalo Bills 1990 (Super Bowl XXV) 19–20 1991 (Super Bowl XXVI) 24–37 1992 (Super Bowl XXVII) 17–52 1993 (Super Bowl XXVIII) 13–30
Dallas Cowboys 1992 (Super Bowl XXVII) 52–17 1993 (Super Bowl XXVIII) 30–13
Green Bay Packers 1996 (Super Bowl XXXI) 35–21 1997 (Super Bowl XXXII) 24–31
Denver Broncos 1997 (Super Bowl XXXII) 31–24 1998 (Super Bowl XXXIII) 34–19
New England Patriots 2003 (Super Bowl XXXVIII) 32–29 2004 (Super Bowl XXXIX) 24–21
Seattle Seahawks 2013 (Super Bowl XLVIII) 43–8 2014 (Super Bowl XLIX) 24–28
New England Patriots 2016 (Super Bowl LI) 34–28 (OT) 2017 (Super Bowl LII) 33–41 2018 (Super Bowl LIII) 13–3
Kansas City Chiefs 2019 (Super Bowl LIV) 31–20 2020 (Super Bowl LV) 9–31

The "Super Bowl Runner-Up Jinx"

Although many teams experience this phenomenon, it is certainly not the rule. There are many speculations made about potential causal factors for this trend, including the team having a shorter offseason due to their extended postseason play, difficulty settling contracts,[6] more pressure on the players, and an increase in visibility, which could contribute to nervous playing.[4][7] Only the 1971 Dallas Cowboys, 1972 Miami Dolphins, and 2018 New England Patriots have followed up a Super Bowl defeat with a Super Bowl win the following season.

One feature of the Super Bowl Runner-Up Jinx is that the team that loses the Super Bowl will not advance as far as the conference championship game the following season — something only three of the last 27 such teams have done (the Patriots twice). Not only that, but 12 of these 27 Super Bowl runners-up did not even make the playoffs the year after, including four that finished last in their division.[8]

This list of examples is not exhaustive.

Examples
Team Super Bowl Season Season Record Super Bowl Score Season Record
Cincinnati Bengals 1988 (Super Bowl XXIII) 12–4 16–20 1989 8–8
Denver Broncos 1989 (Super Bowl XXIV) 11–5 10–55 1990 5–11
Buffalo Bills 1993 (Super Bowl XXVIII) 12–4 13–30 1994 7–9
Atlanta Falcons 1998 (Super Bowl XXXIII) 14–2 19–34 1999 5–11
New York Giants 2000 (Super Bowl XXXV) 12–4 7–34 2001 7–9
St. Louis Rams 2001 (Super Bowl XXXVI) 14–2 17–20 2002 7–9
Oakland Raiders 2002 (Super Bowl XXXVII) 11–5 21–48 2003 4–12
Carolina Panthers 2003 (Super Bowl XXXVIII) 11–5 29–32 2004 7–9
Philadelphia Eagles 2004 (Super Bowl XXXIX) 13–3 21–24 2005 6–10
Chicago Bears 2006 (Super Bowl XLI) 13–3 17–29 2007 7–9
New England Patriots 2007 (Super Bowl XLII) 16–0 14–17 2008 11–5
Carolina Panthers 2015 (Super Bowl 50) 15–1 10–24 2016 6–10
Los Angeles Rams 2018 (Super Bowl LIII) 13–3 3–13 2019 9–7
San Francisco 49ers 2019 (Super Bowl LIV) 13–3 20–31 2020 6–10
Counter-examples
Team Super Bowl Season Season Record Super Bowl Score Season Record Playoffs?
Indianapolis Colts 2009 (Super Bowl XLIV) 14–2 17–31 2010 10–6 Yes
Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 (Super Bowl XLV) 12–4 25–31 2011 12–4 Yes
New England Patriots 2011 (Super Bowl XLVI) 13–3 17–21 2012 12–4 Yes
San Francisco 49ers 2012 (Super Bowl XLVII) 11–4–1 31–34 2013 12–4 Yes
Denver Broncos 2013 (Super Bowl XLVIII) 13–3 8–43 2014 12–4 Yes
Seattle Seahawks 2014 (Super Bowl XLIX) 12–4 24–28 2015 10–6 Yes
Atlanta Falcons 2016 (Super Bowl LI) 11–5 28–34, OT 2017 10–6 Yes
New England Patriots 2017 (Super Bowl LII) 13–3 33–41 2018 11–5 Yes
Kansas City Chiefs 2020 (Super Bowl LV) 14-2 9-31 2021 12-5 Yes

Further reading

References