The defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles had a rough night in their season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. Super Bowl winner and former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions and got sacked a wild seven times in the Rams’ 31-10 loss.
Naturally this got Lions fans talking on Friday morning. Not so much about their former quarterback, but about the 2023 first-round draft pick the Lions got in exchange for that quarterback and what the possibilities could be for the Lions if the Rams have themselves a Super Bowl hangover.
This got the gears in my brain turning and made me wonder just how real this whole Super Bowl hangover thing is. So I went back and charted the seasons after of each Super Bowl champion. I found some things that could be of interest to Lions fans.
First off, the Super Bowl hangover is pretty real. There have been 56 Super Bowls in total. We’ll be looking at 55 because we obviously don’t know how the Rams’ season will play out yet. Of the 55 that we do know about, only eight teams have gone back to win the Super Bowl the following year. So right off the bat, you can see that there’s a slight hangover based off the fact that very few teams are able to get back to the mountain top the next year.
What about teams missing the playoffs? After all, that’s what Lions fans are really hoping will happen to the Rams, and it would guarantee a top-18 pick.
Don’t get your hopes up too much. Only 16 Super Bowl teams—or 29 percent—went on to miss the playoffs the following season. I’ve got some more bad news about that. It’s been a little while since that happened. The 2015 Broncos were the last team to win the Super Bowl and then miss the playoffs the next year. Previous to that, the Ravens missed the playoffs in 2013 after winning the Super bowl in 2012.
Some slightly good news though is that of the 16 teams that missed the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl, seven of them have done so since 2000. So there is a relatively recent trend of this.
Let’s talk about draft placement and what the Lions could expect if the Rams do indeed take the plunge. Fifteen seems to be the magic number here. Of the 16 teams that missed the playoffs the year after winning the Super Bowl, three of them wound up with the 15th pick. If the Lions are able to draft in the middle of the first round with that Rams pick, who could possibly complain about that?
But if you’re dreaming of a top-tier pick, dream again. Only one Super Bowl-winning team in NFL history has been bad enough the year after winning it all to find themselves in the top five of the draft. That’s the 1982 San Francisco 49ers. After winning the Super Bowl in 1981, the 49ers went 3-6 in the strike shortened 1982 season. They wound up getting the fifth pick in the draft off of that. A lot of things had to happen to make that happen.
The next closest Super Bowl hangover teams were the 1981 Raiders and the 1987 Giants, both of whom had the 10th overall pick after raising the Lombardi Trophy the previous year.
Outside of those three anomalies, the common case seems to be in that 15 to 20 range. So if the Rams do fall off the cliff, the Lions are most likely looking at a mid-round pick. That’s not bad at all. The Lions and their fans should cherish anything in that range.
Sadly the issue that remains for the Lions is that while the Super Bowl hangover may be a thing, it’s still relatively rare. More often than not, the team goes back to the playoffs and doesn’t win the Super Bowl. So as bad as the Rams looked on Thursday, there’s a good chance they put it together. Expect a pick in that 25-32 range. Anything is better than 32, though, right?