NFL’s Most Prolific Offenses Have A History Of Not Winning The Super Bowl
Much has been made of the 2016 Atlanta Falcons offense as they prepare for their first Super Bowl appearance in nearly twenty years, and rightfully so. Their productivity has been so prolific that they've been compared to the turn of the 21st century St. Louis Rams and their "Greatest Show on Turf."
Matt Ryan has been an MVP favorite since early in the season, Julio Jones is almost unanimously considered the best wide receiver in the NFL, and their one-two punch of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman offers an above average rushing attack. They've scored 24 total touchdowns between them.
The New England Patriots are a formidable foe to face in Super Bowl LI, but if there has ever been an offense that can keep pace with Tom Brady and the way that he is playing right now, it's the 2016 Falcons. Or at least that's how it appears; because historically, the highest-scoring NFL offenses don't necessarily fare well in the Super Bowl. That's if they even make it there at all.
Here's a list of the 20 teams since 1940 that have scored 500+ points in a season, per Pro Football Reference:
Of those teams, only four went on to win the Super Bowl*:
The 1994 San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX
The 1998 Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII
The 1999 "GSOT" Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV
The 2009 New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV
*The 1961 Houston Oilers won the AFL Championship, beating the San Diego Chargers 10-3.
Here's how the other 14 teams fared:
The 1983 Washington team lost 38-9 to the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.
The 1984 Miami Dolphins lost 38-16 to the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX.
The 1998 Minnesota Vikings lost 30-27 to the Falcons in the NFC Championship.
The 2000 Rams lost 31-28 to the Saints in the wild card round.
The 2001 Rams lost 20-17 to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXVI.
The 2004 Colts lost 20-3 to the Patriots in the divisional round.
The 2007 Patriots lost 17-14 to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
The 2010 Patriots lost 28-21 to the New York Jets in the divisional round.
The 2011 Patriots lost 21-17 to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
The 2011 Saints lost 36-32 to the 49ers in the divisional round.
The 2011 Packers lost 37-20 to the Giants in the divisional round.
The 2012 Patriots lost 28-13 to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.
The 2013 Broncos lost 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The 2015 Carolina Panthers lost 24-10 to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
As you can see, the Patriots themselves are no strangers to heading into the playoffs and Super Bowls with one of the league's all-time scoring offenses, only to come up short against a team that is either unafraid or comes prepared with an aggressive game plan; or preferably both.
It's reasonable to think that Super Bowl LI could be a shootout for the ages. However it's rare that the number one scoring defense doesn't come out on top in a match up like that, which gives the edge to the four-time Super Bowl Champions.
One thing's for sure, it's been a very long time since two offenses of this caliber have faced each other in the Super Bowl. Get your popcorn ready.
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