Are the New England Patriots victims of a Super Bowl losers' curse?
Not that Game 6 of the NFL season will ultimately determine the New England Patriots' fate, but a loss to Denver tonight would put the Pats at 3-3 and well on their way to continuing an unenviable trend of the last decade for Super Bowl losers.
Green Bay lost the Super Bowl to Denver in 1997. The next year, it lost the wild-card game in the playoffs. Since then, seven of nine Super Bowl losers failed to reach the playoffs during the following season.
Neither of the two teams that made the postseason the following year got back to the big game. Tennessee (1999) and Seattle (2005) both lost in the divisional playoffs. The other seven teams that lost in the Super Bowl? Zero playoff appearances and an overall record of 43-69.
To be sure, the the loss of Tom Brady has hurt the Patriots' offense, but the defense has been just as erratic, the 30-10 loss in San Diego last weekend being a perfect example.
Patriots fans aren't thrilled. With New England's 18-1 record of last season a distant memory, the question now becomes what can the team do to get back on track -- and whether they can avoid a Super Bowl loser jinx that defies explanation.
-- Mike James
Photo: The Patriots' offense behind Matt Cassell, being sacked by the Chargers' Igor Olshansky, hasn't come to life. Credit: Christopher Hanewickel / US Presswire.