Whenever a team loses the Super Bowl, a popular refrain is that the franchise is built to return as soon as the next season. The reality, however, is a second consecutive trip often does not happen anymore.

And then, the Super Bowl hangover takes another victim.

During the last decade, only the 2018 New England Patriots have reached the Big Game after losing there in the previous year. Not only that, but several runner-ups have missed the playoffs altogether.

This discussion has shades of correlation vs. causation, but the best explanation is that winning games is really hard. We're looking back at how Super Bowl losers have fared since the 2012 season—and the trend that the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals are hoping to avoid.

 

Missed the Playoffs

2016 Carolina Panthers

The previous season, Cam Newton won league MVP honors and propelled the Panthers to a 15-1 record. They lost in the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos, who clipped Carolina in the 2016 season opener, too. And it just didn't get better for the Panthers.

Carolina dropped five of its first six contests, quickly fading from serious playoff contention. Although the Panthers bounced back with an 11-win season in 2017, they trudged to a 6-10 finish in 2016.

 

2019 Los Angeles Rams

Sean McVay rapidly turned the Rams into a title contender, posting a combined 24-8 record in his first two seasons. Los Angeles made the championship stage in 2018 before falling to the New England Patriots.

In 2019, it seemed the Rams were again destined for the postseason after ripping off three straight wins to begin the campaign. However, a three-game skid followed. Two late losses to the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers sealed the Rams' fate. They ended at 9-7 and a game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the second wild-card spot.

 

2020 San Francisco 49ers

One year later, the Rams' division rival experienced a similar letdown. San Francisco had a great shot to topple the Kansas City Chiefs but squandered a fourth-quarter lead during the 2019 season's Super Bowl.

Put simply, the Niners didn't come close to the postseason in 2020. Injuries wrecked the roster, sidelining quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, defensive end Nick Bosa, cornerback Richard Sherman and other key players. San Francisco tumbled from NFC champions to 6-10.