If the Carolina Panthers want to make it back to the Super Bowl they will have to reverse a long trend that has plagued championship runner-ups.
It's been more than two decades since a team that lost in the Super Bowl has made it back to football's biggest game the next season. The last runner-up to make a return to the Super Bowl was the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo made four consecutive trips (1990-93) to the championship game and went home empty handed each time.
Only the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins have successfully received redemption after losing the year prior. The Cowboys lost Super Bowl V to the Colts and won Super Bowl VI over Miami. The Dolphins were defeated by the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy the next season when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
While only Dallas and Miami have won after losing the previous year, history shows that Carolina has a double-digit win season on the horizon. Each of the last eight teams to lose the Super Bowl has recorded double-digit regular season wins the following year.
On paper Carolina has enough talent to be the last team standing in the NFC South, though, odds are stacked against them to make it to Houston. The Panthers' offense should be better with the return of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from an ACL tear. However, defensively, the team's secondary took a major hit with Josh Norman leaving for Washington.
Cam Newton officially put the dab to bed. But Newton and his team will have a much tougher task closing the door on recent history.