The Flagrant Foul: Are the Panthers Having a Historically Bad Super Bowl Hangover?

Derek Anderson couldn't get the job done last night filling in for an injured Cam Newton. (Getty Images)

Derek Anderson couldn’t get the job done last night filling in for an injured Cam Newton. (Getty Images)

– Bill Annechino

Before I get started on tackling this question, I want to say it was nice to see Roberto Aguayo get the game-winning field goal in the Monday Night game. This kid has been through hell since being a second round pick in this past year’s draft. He had a rough pre-season, and was 1/3 on the season coming into tonight’s game, also missing 2 kicks tonight. However, he rebounded and connected on the game-winner, and that’s the kick that matters tonight.

The real reason I am writing this column is to attempt to figure out if the Panthers are having a historically bad Super Bowl hangover. To do that, I am going to look at the last 10 Super Bowl losers, and their ensuing seasons.


2005: The Seattle Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers after going 13-3 in the regular season. They scored 452 points and allowed 271, for a differential of 181. Their expected win-loss record was 12.3-3.7. In 2006, they went 9-7, scoring 335 points and giving up 341, for a differential of -6. Their expected win-loss record was 7.8-8.2.

Change in wins: -4
Change in point differential: -187
Change in expected wins: -4.5

2006: The Chicago Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts after riding a 13-3 regular season to the Super Bowl. In 2006, they scored 427 points and had 255 scored on them, for a point differential of +172. Their expected Win-Loss record of 12.4-3.6. 2007 saw them go 7-9, scoring 334 points and having 348 points scored against them, for a differential of -14. Their expected W-L was 7.6-8.4, so they were right in line with that.

Change in wins: -6
Change in point differential: -186
Change in expected wins: -4.8

2007: The New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants after a 16-0 regular season, which is the gift that keeps on giving for us Patriots fans. In 2007, they scored 589 points against 274 points scored on them, giving them a differential of 315. This led to an expected win-loss record of 13.8-2.2. In 2008, they went 11-5, scoring 410 points and having 309 scored on them for a differential of 101. Their expected win-loss record was 10.6-5.4.

Change in wins: -5
Change in point differential: -214
Change in expected wins: -3.2

2008: The Arizona Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers after a 9-7 regular season. In 2008, they scored 427 points and had 426 scored against them, for a differential of 1. Their expected win-loss record was an even 8.0-8.0. In 2009, they went 10-6, scoring 375 points and having 325 scored against them, making the differential 50. Their expected win-loss record was 9.3-6.7.

Change in wins: +1
Change in point differential: +49
Change in expected wins: +1.3

2009: The Indianapolis Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints after a 14-2 regular season. In 2009, they scored 416 points against 307 scored on them, for a differential of 109. Their expected win-loss record was 10.8-5.2. In 2010, they went 10-6, scoring 435 points and having 388 scored against them for a differential of 47. Their expected win-loss was 9.1-6.9.

Change in wins: -4
Change in point differential: -62
Change in expected wins: -1.7

2010: The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers after a 12-4 regular season. They scored 375 points and allowed 232 points for a differential of 143. Their expected win-loss record was 12.1-3.9. In 2011, the Steelers went 12-4 again, scoring 325 points and allowing 227 for a differential of 98. Their expected win-loss was 11.2-4.8.

Change in wins: 0
Change in point differential: -45
Change in expected wins: -0.9

2011: The New England Patriots lost once again to the New York Giants after a 13-3 regular season. They scored 513 points and allowed 342, for a differential of 171. Their expected win-loss record was 11.6-4.4. In 2012, they went 12-4, scoring 557 points and allowing 331 for a differential of 226. Their expected win-loss was 12.4-3.6.

Change in wins: – 1
Change in point differential: +55
Change in expected wins: +0.8

2012: The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens after an 11-4-1 regular season. They scored 397 points and allowed 273, for a differential of 124. Their expected win-loss record was 11.3-4.7. In 2013, they went 12-4, scoring 406 points against 272 allowed, for a differential of 134. Their expected win-loss was 11.5-4.5.

Change in wins: +1
Change in point differential: +10
Change in expected wins: +0.2

2013: The Denver Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks after a 13-3 regular season. They scored 606 points and allowed 399, for a differential of 207. Their expected win-loss record was 11.7-4.3. In 2014, they went 12-4, scoring 482 points and allowing 354, for a differential of 128. Their expected win-loss record was 10.8-5.2.

Change in wins: -1
Change in point differential: -79
Change in expected wins: -0.9

2014: The Seattle Seahawks lost to the New England Patriots after a 12-4 regular season. They scored 394 points and allowed 254, giving them a differential of 140. Their expected win-loss record was 11.8-4.2. In 2015, they went 10-6, scoring 423 points and allowing 277, for a differential of 146. Their expected win-loss record was 11.7-4.3.

Change in wins: -2
Change in point differential: +6
Change in expected wins: -0.1

Let’s crunch the numbers here and see what the average difference in wins, point differential and expected wins is for Super Bowl losers in the season immediately following their trip to the big game.

Average change in wins: -2.1
Average change in point differential: -65.3
Average change in expected wins: -1.4

Which brings us to this year’s Panthers. Just for fun, let’s forecast what they would look like. I took the liberty of projecting their record for this year based on their current record. I also projected points for/against and differential using their current points per game totals. From there, I was able to use those projections to project a Pythagorean win-loss expectation. The formula for that is (Points for)^2.37 / (Points for)^2.37 + (Points against)^2.37 X 16. Got all that? Cool.

2015: The Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos after a 15-1 regular season. They scored 500 points and allowed 306, for a differential of 194. This gave them an expected win-loss record of 12.1-3.9. In 2016, the Panthers are on pace to go 3-13, score 394 points and allow 432, which would give them a point differential of -38. Their expected win-loss record is 7.1-8.9

Change in wins: -12
Change in point differential: -232
Change in expected wins: -5.0

So how do these numbers stack up against what the average Super Bowl loser’s drop-off has been in the following year? I’m glad you asked.

Difference in 2016 Panthers wins vs. Average Super Bowl Hangover: -9.9
Difference in 2016 Panthers point differential vs. Average Super Bowl Hangover: -166.7
Difference in 2016 Panthers expected wins vs. Average Super Bowl Hangover: -3.6

So, where to begin? This year’s Panthers are currently projected to finish with a win difference that would be about 10 wins worse than the average Super Bowl loser experiences in their following season. They will have a point differential that is 167 points worse than the average Super Bowl Hangover causes. They will also have 3.6 fewer expected wins than the average Super Bowl loser in the following season. Additionally, their projected change in wins would be 6 fewer wins than any other team in the last ten years. Their point differential would be 18 points fewer than any other team, and their expected win difference would also be the highest in the last ten years.

There are two conclusions you must draw from this data, and one major grain of salt to take this with. The grain of salt is that these numbers were calculated under the assumption that they continue to average the points per game and points allowed per game that they have up to this point this season, as well as a projection based on their current record. Having said that, the conclusions that you must draw are as follows:

The first conclusion is that this year’s Panthers team is currently on pace to have 4 less wins than their Pythagorean expectation. This would be a level of bad luck that would be considered historical, in that a deviation like that would suggest a team that lost 4 more games than they could be expected to, based on the points they scored and allowed. The second conclusion is that yes, this year’s Panthers team is historically bad in terms of Super Bowl runner ups. They are worse in every category I measured than the previous ten Super Bowl losers were in their following season. What’s more is that their circumstances are not entirely unique. Cam Newton has been injured this season, possibly suffering a concussion in week 1 and having been forced to miss this week’s game against Tampa Bay due to a concussion. However, the 2008 Patriots lost Tom Brady for the season in their first quarter of gameplay, so you could look to them for an example of a team that played through quarterback difficulties and see that the 2016 Panthers are much worse than them.

The two most likely reasons for this year’s Panthers team’s problems are injuries to Cam Newton and the loss of Josh Norman in the offseason. Losing your best offensive and defensive player is rarely a recipe for success. In the case of the 2016 Panthers, it has led them to be a team that I consider historically bad.

– Bill Annechino (TwitterBill Annechino

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