The NFL’s parity makes it harder than ever for teams to win with dominant regular-season records. Outside of the New England Patriots, few teams have been able to string together multiple seasons with double-digit victories.
These days, it’s so hard to compete that even going 8-8 feels like a major accomplishment. But has an 8-8 NFL team ever won the Super Bowl? Let’s look at the teams with the worst records that went on to win the league’s ultimate prize.
New York Giants, Super Bowl XLII
This game is one of the biggest upsets in NFL history for good reason; the New England Patriots were 18-0 heading into the game. Meanwhile, the Giants had limped into the 2007 playoffs with a wild-card spot and a 10-6 record.
None of this mattered when Super Bowl XLII kicked off, however, as the Giants beat the Patriots, 17-14. New York’s defensive front absolutely annihilated Tom Brady while Eli Manning took home MVP honors for leading a late touchdown drive for the victory.
It’s hard to say what spurned their magical postseason run. But many point to their week 17 game against the Patriots. The Giants had already locked in a spot in the postseason tournament. But in the name of gamesmanship, head coach Tom Coughlin played all his starters to give the Patriots a true test before they went undefeated. The Giants came up short, but they beat the Patriots a month later when it truly mattered.
San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIII
When you consider football’s greatest franchises, the San Francisco 49ers’ name should come up. One of the last teams you’d think of is the Cincinnati Bengals. But entering Super Bowl XXIII, the AFC champion Bengals actually had a better regular-season record. They went 12-4 during the 1988 NFL season as the 49ers went 10-6.
Led by Jerry Rice and Joe Montana on offense, the 49ers of the ’80s were nearly unstoppable. The two NFL stars performed magically in this game, leading a fourth-quarter where the Niners scored 14 to rally and win 20-16.
Green Bay, Super Bowl XLV
Before Aaron Rodgers was known as one of the greatest quarterbacks of this era, he had to prove it in the postseason. In 2010, the Packers qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record before facing off with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
It was a matchup of truly iconic franchises, as the Steelers have won six Super Bowls as an organization. Green Bay went on to win a thrilling game, 31-25. It was Green Bay’s fourth Super Bowl and their first since Brett Favre’s retirement. Rodgers had arrived.
Has an 8-8 NFL team ever won the Super Bowl?
Unfortunately for all those .500 teams out there hoping to go from mediocre to great with a playoff push, the answer is no. But there have been a few somewhat close calls. Two 9-7 teams have made the Super Bowl and lost:
- Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl XIV
- Arizona Cardinals, Super Bowl XLIII
Coincidentally, the team they both lost to? The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Two teams with records under .500 have made the playoffs, including the 2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9) and the 2014 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1). Will an 8-8 team ever win a Super Bowl? Maybe, some day. But with the NFL’s elite teams playing better than ever, it seems highly unlikely.