It was crystal clear that the 2021 Los Angeles Rams were built with a “win now” philosophy, considering the organization sent Detroit its first-round draft picks in 2022 and ’23 plus a third-rounder in ’21 in exchange for veteran quarterback Matt Stafford.
And we know how that worked out.
The Rams won Super Bowl LVI in February 2022 with gunslinger Stafford throwing 50 total touchdown passes in the regular season and the playoffs.
However, it probably wasn’t all that clear to the Rams’ braintrust just how fleeting “now” would wind up being.
Maybe it is a blessing there is no California sports betting this year.
Just 10 months after hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Rams are on pace to having the worst follow-up season for a defending Super Bowl champion in the history of the NFL’s Super Bowl era (since 1966).
BetCalifornia.com is utilizing historical data to reference just how fall these Rams have fallen.
The hopes for getting sports wagering going in the state failed at the polls in November as two ballot measures were shot down.
Analyzing the Rams’ Problems
After 11 games, the Rams are 3-8, which is, so far, the worst won-loss record of any defending Super Bowl winner in a subsequent season.
Worse still, Stafford has suffered a couple of injuries resulting in concussion-like symptoms and his playing status remains a question. Then there is wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Super Bowl MVP, who has undergone ankle surgery. And No. 2 wide receiver Allen Robinson is finished for the year with foot surgery. And now, defensive superstar Aaron Donald has a high ankle sprain, a notoriously persistent injury.
Given L.A.’s situation, the Rams’ chances of improving on their record are slim and their chances of making the playoffs are mathematically infinitesimal.
In the context of NFL history, the Rams’ 2022 season is uniquely woeful. After 11 games, their 3-8 record is a dismal .273 win rate.
History of Super Bowl Follow-Up Seasons
Since the Green Bay Packers defeated Kansas City in what was then called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game (and renamed Super Bowl I), just 16 defending Super Bowl champions have failed to qualify for the playoffs the next season, an outcome that surely awaits this year’s Rams. And only six defending Super Bowl champions had losing records (a fate that befalls the Rams with one more loss).
Of the six teams that had losing records, two of those were in strike seasons, and one of those teams in a shortened campaign had the worst won-loss record for a defending Super Bowl champion – until these Rams.
In 1982, oddly enough, it was the San Francisco 49ers of the Bill Walsh-Joe Montana dynasty. That team finished 3-6 (.333 win rate) in a season marred by a 57-day players’ strike. Two early games were played, then there was a two-month period with the season in limbo, followed by a final seven games. The NFL concocted a 16-team tournament that the 49ers, with a ragged defense, failed to make.
In 1987, another management-labor dispute led to a strike and the schedule was reduced from 16 to 15 games. Three games were mostly manned by “replacement” players. The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants lost all three of those replacement games and finished 6-9 (.400 win rate).
In a season unaffected by labor problems, the Denver Broncos in 1999 were coming off two consecutive Super Bowl championships but had to deal with the retirement of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. They didn’t deal with it very well and went 6-10 (a .375 win rate), last in the AFC West.
The only other defending Super Bowl champions to finish with losing records in the following seasons were the Green Bay Packers following Super Bowl II (6-7-1, Vince Lombardi left as coach to become team general manager); the Oakland Raiders following Super Bowl XV (7-9), and Washington following Super Bowl XXII (7-9).
A glance at the Twitter account of SportsOddsHistory.com showed defending Super Bowl champs that were a double digit underdog.
- 2022 - LA Rams +15.5 at Kansas City
- 2018 - Philadelphia +13.5 at LA Rams
- 1995 - San Francisco +13.5 at Dallas (Steve Young DNP)
- 1987 - NY Giants +10.5 vs Washington (replacement players)
This is from the SportsOddsHistory.com Twitter account.
Meanwhile, the Rams’ 2022 record is inching closer and closer, loss by loss, to qualifying for the No. 1 overall pick in the next NFL draft. But, of course, that draft pick already belongs to Detroit.
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