It seems to be generally accepted that NFL teams should start playing their best football after Thanksgiving, leading to peak performance in the playoffs in January and ultimately a Super Bowl title in February. As if there is a clear progression to be made, that slowly builds to a climax in the big game.
However after looking back at the last 10 Super Bowl champions I found that this line of thinking is somewhat of a myth, especially since the 2006 Colts won the Lombardi Trophy.
Look at these post-Thanksgiving records of the eventual Super Bowl champs:
- ‘10 Packers: 3-3
- ’09 Saints: 3-3
- ’08 Steelers: 5-1
- ’07 Giants: 3-3
- 06 Colts: 3-3
- ’05 Steelers: 4-2
- ’04 Patriots: 5-1
- ’03 Patriots: 6-0
- ’02 Buccaneers: 4-2
- ’01 Patriots: 6-0
While no Super Bowl winner has had a losing record after Turkey Day, in 4 of the last 5 years the Super Bowl champs had just a .500 record in the supposedly all-important final six games of the regular season. And no team other than the ’01 and ’03 Patriots went undefeated from Thanksgiving to the Super Bowl (ahhhh, thank you very much)…
This just goes to show it’s not about peaking right after Thanksgiving or even in late December. It’s about peaking in the playoffs, and putting together 3-4 games of your best football when it’s all on the line. Clearly there’s not as much correlation to which teams are playing well at the end of the regular season to who takes home the grand prize as we might think.