What Does Beating Both Super Bowl Participants Mean?


Did you hear the Kansas City Chiefs beat both of this year’s Super Bowl participants? It’s like we’ve basically won the Super Bowl!

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The Chiefs beat the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks — both at Arrowhead — in the regular season, becoming the 17th team in NFL history to beat both of the Super Bowl participants. Some of that is scheduling luck. Only five teams had the opportunity to do that this season — he AFC West and the Green Bay Packers — so this stat is a bit overstate. However, it does say something about the Chiefs’ ability to compete now with the NFL’s best teams.

So where do we go with this? What does it mean that the Chiefs beat both the Patriots and the Seahawks this season? Four other teams beat both the Super Bowl teams and failed to make the playoffs that season. Let’s take a look at what those teams did the season after their accomplishment.


1981 Cleveland Browns

Next Season: 4-5

Result: Lost in Wild Card

The ’81 Browns beat the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals by three points each on their way to a 5-11 record. The season before they had gone 11-5 and won the AFC Central division, so, like the Chiefs, the Browns were coming off a successful season the year prior.

What makes the Browns situation weird is in 1982 the NFL players went on strike, which brought about a shortened season and a strange 16-team tournament style for the playoffs. That fluke allowed the 4-5 Browns to qualify for the playoffs, who were quickly dispatched in the opening round by the Los Angeles Raiders.

Not much can be gained here because of the odd circumstances of the 1981 season, so we may as well look past this glitch and move on to the three teams who may more accurately reflect what the Chiefs were this season.

1986 Seattle Seahawks

Next Season: 9-7

Result: Lost Wild Card Round

After failing to make the playoffs as a 10-6 team in 1986, Seattle returned the following season to make the playoffs as a 9-7. The NFL is weird like that.

Seattle dealt with quarterback injuries throughout the season. Starter Dave Krieg played in 12 games and was knocked out of a few of those which put the team in the hands of Bruce Mathison and Jeff Kemp. One can imagine how that went. And it wasn’t as if Krieg was much better as he threw 15 interceptions in those 12 games he managed to play in.

Still, Seattle made the playoffs and lost on the road in overtime to the then very good Houston Oilers.

1993 Miami Dolphins

Next Season: 10-6

Result: Lost Divisional Round

Dan Marino was injured five games into the season in 1993, which led to mass chaos at the quarterback position for the Dolphins. Steve DeBerg would start four games before being injured himself, which put the fate of the Dolphins into the hands of Scott Mitchell.

Miami would lose the final five games of the season after starting 9-2 to miss the playoffs in ’93. Sound somewhat familiar?

The following season the Dolphins would go 10-6 and make the playoffs as a wild card team. Keep in mind the early 90’s Dolphins were at the mercy of the early 90’s Buffalo Bills teams that made four-straight Super Bowls. They would lose both of those Bills games in ’94, which accounts for a third of their losses.

Kansas City’s long playoff winless drought would open up with a road loss to the Dolphins in the wild card round that season. Marino would throw for 257 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-17 win over the Chiefs. Obviously KC hasn’t won a playoff game since.

2000 Washington

Next Season: 8-8

Result: Failed To Reach Playoffs

Brad Johnson. Jeff George. Those two quarterbacks somehow managed to lead Washington to victories over the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants in 2000, both of whom would go on to play in the Super Bowl.

The following season Washington would finish 8-8 again, this time with one Tony Banks leading the offensive charge. Yes, Tony Banks is a real person who actually played in the NFL. No joke.

Johnson, as you may remember, went on to quarterback the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and would win the Super Bowl in 2002.


What do we make of this? In truth, nothing, but there are three interesting outliners to these teams.

First, you have to be talented to pull off wins against both Super Bowl teams. It isn’t a fluke. Of the 17 teams to beat both of the Super Bowl participants, only the Browns had a losing record. Twelve of the teams won 10 games or more, 10 teams won 12 games or more.

Second, injuries played a big part in each team’s failure to make the playoffs and their failure to advance far in the playoffs the following season. Miami, Seattle, and Washington all had quarterback injuries, while the Browns had to deal with a player strike. Alex Smith missed just one game due to a lacerated spleen but the team lost massive contributors for bits or all of the season.

Third, coaching seemed to matter a bit here. Seattle featured Chuck Knox and Miami had Don Shula. Kansas City has Andy Reid. For the most part in the NFL, if you can get the right coach then you can trump some of the deficiencies that may be on your roster. If you can pair a good coach up with a good quarterback then you have what we’ve seen in New England for the last 15 years. Good coaching from year to year generally means sustained success.

An optimist could look at this and say the Chiefs’ 9-7 record is a good one with a trend pointing upwards. Kansas City is a young team that struggled to play consistently from week to week. Andy Reid will be back, holes in the roster should be filled, and some of the star injured players should be back, too.

History would seem to suggest Kansas City can build on this kind of season and make it back to the playoffs. And if they can get lucky with the injury bug, a playoff win is possible. (Cross your fingers we play the Bengals.)