In the mid-eighties, the National Football League hit a stride where the team that lost in the NFC Championship Game won the Super Bowl the following year. It happened three times in a five year span beginning in 1983.
It seemed that teams built foundations that took another step each year and after missing on the edge of a Super Bowl appearance, were destined for the Super Bowl the following year. The evidence is the San Francisco 49ers losing to the Washington Redskins in the 1983 NFC Championship Game, and then winning Super Bowl XIX the following season.
The team the 49ers beat to earn a trip to Super Bowl XIX was the Chicago Bears, who downed the New England Patriots the following season to cap 1985.
In 1987, the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl after having lost the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants the prior year.
While the pattern has never been as consistent as it was in that five year period in the 80’s, it still has validity. History shows that a team that has progressed in stages to a championship challenge is best prepared to succeed.
Today, that team is the Green Bay Packers.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having a season that will most likely end with him being named Most Valuable Player. Today, he goes up against Tom Brady who is looking to win his tenth conference championship game. This would be his first in the NFC, after having won nine AFC titles during 18 campaigns in New England.
Last week, we conducted a study to determine the success of teams meeting opponents for a third time in the same season. Turns out, division opponents destined for a playoff appearance seldom beat their playoff bound opponent twice. Only 20 times in 70 games did playoff bound teams win both sides of a home-and-home matchup.
Does that compute to favoring the teams in today’s games that lost the first time these two teams met?
When the Packers host the Buccaneers today, they will be taking on an opponent that beat them big 14 weeks ago, 38-10. In that game, the Buccaneers were a home underdog and the public was wagering on the road favorite by almost 70%. It was a perfect spot for Tampa Bay, and they capitalized in spades.
Now, the Packers are at home and bet on off a loss, facts that could be considered an edge to the visiting team. Then again, what we are dealing with here is a Buccaneers squad on the fly based on the arrival of Tom Brady, and a Packers team that has built towards this moment with history and development poised to play their best against a respected foe.
In the proud tradition of losing the NFC Championship game the year before winning it all lands at the feet of the Packers.
I think those feet are in good hands.
Qoxhi Picks: Green Bay Packers (-3½) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers