A few days ago, someone posted a comment somewhere about super bowl teams having sustained success prior to their appearance and that it was uncommon to have a team, to paraphrase, 'come out of nowhere'. That struck me as incorrect, but i didnt have time to post as i was heading to work. And then i couldnt find it, but i decided to do a little research on how true this was anyway.
I decided to focus on what I consider to be the "Modern Era". i focused on everything on the 00 super bowl on up. There were 30 SB teams.
I decided to focus on the prior 4 years before their super bowl run, because that correlates to the lions current situation. 2010 is when the fog of "him" started to lift, and it wasnt even until halfway through the season. nevertheless, its a good starting point. The Lions, since 2010, have won 6, 10, 4, and 7 games, for an average of 6.75 wins a season(1 winning season). Not good. Not good at all. Really, any team that averaged less than a .500 record, you cannot consider to have sustained success. So how many teams have averaged a losing record?
By my count 10. 33% of the teams to reach a superbowl in this era seemingly came out of nowhere. and half of those were coming from a worse position than the lions currently are.
the 2000 superbowl featured 2 of these teams. The rams averaged 5.5 (0 winning) and the titans were middling at 7.75 (0).
so did the 01 SB. the ravens averaged 6 (0) and the giants averaged 7.25 (1).
in 04, the panthers averaged 5.75 (0) wins. In 07, the bears averaged 6.75 (1). 08, the giants had averaged 7.25 (1). in 09, the cards had averaged 6 wins (0). in 10, the saints had averaged 7 (1). and this past year, the seahawks had averaged 7.75 (1).
on only 2 of those teams did the team have a winning record the year prior to the SB appearance (in 05, the bears had 11, and the 14 seahawks also had 11)
2 teams stuck out to me as having been on a downward trend. the 00 rams went from 7 to 6 to 5 to 4 before they exploded. The 02 pats, while not counted on my list because they averaged exactly 8 games, were on a steeper decline, going from from 10 to 9 to 8 to 5.
and if you are thinking of discounting the teams that lost the super bowl, it does nothing to the %. of the 15 SB winners, 5 averaged losing records over the previous 4 years. And only 1 SB winner had a winning record the year before the appearance. And to top it all off, 5 teams didnt have a winning record IN ANY of the previous 4 years!
Another theme i noticed was change. 5 teams embraced changes that put them over the top. for 00, the rams went with warner. for 01, the ravens turned to dilfer (not that impressive i know, but he was able to do enough to not screw it up, unlike tony banks). for 04, the panthers turned to delhomme. for 09, the cardinals did 2 things: drafted calais campbell and DRC AND it was the first full season that haley started calling plays, which was a marked improvement from before. And for 10, the saints had turned to greg williams, who turned that D into something to fear.
so, in conclusion, while 33% is not a ton, it is far from rare. from 07 to 10, every SB had a team that had a losing average, and those teams went 2-2. The lions are coming from a place where, according to recent history, they could have an opportunity to make a run. Did they embrace enough change? They certainly appeared to hit 3 of the biggest weaknesses (Coaching in general, #2 WR, and Staffords mechanics between Jim, joe, and big jimmy bob). Im certainly not saying they will make a run, and i am not going to predict double digit wins, but its not impossible......