Mike Klis, a writer for the Denver Post, has figured out what the Broncos need to do in order to win the Super Bowl this year–lose more games. If they want to have success, they can’t go out and win a bunch of games in a row and get the #1 seed.
I don’t know why it doesn’t work that way. But overwhelming evidence says that ever since the New England Patriots stopped winning Super Bowls eight years ago, regular-season champs usually become postseason chumps.
The past eight Super Bowl winners have averaged 10.9 victories and a 3.9 playoff seed. The Broncos will go 11-5 in 2013. That will be enough to win the weak AFC West and wind up with the No. 3 or No. 4 playoff seed.
That’s right, ever since the Patriots magically stopped winning close Super Bowls and instead started losing Super Bowls in close fashion, the evidence has been overwhelming. Klis wants Denver to win exactly 11 games to increase their chances.
While the performance of higher seeds in recent years has been disappointing, there have been several reasons (other than small sample sizes that are the opposite of overwhelming evidence), some related to the differing schedules and close game performances leading to some teams being much better than record (see Green Bay 2010). The team with the worse record is also 4-1 since 2005 in Super Bowls decided by one score, so we are a few plays from having a much different type of overwhelming evidence. In truth, getting into the tournament is the key, with a slight advantage to home field but better advantage to merely being the better team, healthy, or playing well in January.
There is nothing magical about hitting the 11 win mark that Klis would like Denver to shoot for, though. Since 2005, 22 teams have won 11 games, and only one has won the Super Bowl (Pittsburgh 2005). They are collectively 19-20 in the postseason, with one team (New England 2008) failing to make it on a tiebreaker. The Broncos, according to Klis, “must somehow lose one division game. Maybe at improved Kansas City on Dec. 1.” That Patriots team, like Denver, was an overwhelming favorite entering the season in a division with no other winning teams the prior year, and probably wishes they hadn’t lost to the last place division team (the Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins, 1-15 the prior year, proved costly).
I have the real key for Denver. They need to actually play for a tie. Over the last eight years, the only two teams that made the playoffs with a tie won two games. Playing for the tie would be much rather than playing for a loss to reach the Super Bowl. Of course, they could also just win.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]