Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll be giving you one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry.
The NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. In the 32 seasons with a 16-game slate (labor strife meant a nine-game schedule in 1982 and 15 games in 1987), there have been only six teams to win at least 15 games. The Packers, of course, are one of those teams, posting a 15-1 record last season. You knew that, but did you know how the best regular-season teams since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 fared the following season? Neither did we ... until now.
New England, 16-0 (2007; lost Super Bowl): Tom Brady was lost for the season in the opening game. With Matt Cassel at quarterback, the Patriots won their last four games, finished 11-5 and tied Miami for the AFC East crown but didn't qualify for the playoffs.
Miami, 14-0 (1972; Super Bowl champion): The Dolphins went 12-2 and breezed through the playoffs, capped by a 24-7 win over Minnesota in the Super Bowl. My, how times have changed. In the Super Bowl, the Dolphins ran it 53 times and Bob Griese threw seven passes.
Chicago, 15-1 (1985; Super Bowl champion): The Bears were dominant again, rolling to a 14-2 record and home-field advantage, but lost to Washington in the divisional round. Jim McMahon, of course, was out for the season after being slammed by Charles Martin. Doug Flutie started the playoff game.
Minnesota, 15-1 (1998; lost NFC Championship Game): The Vikings went 10-6 to finish second in the NFC Central. After a wild-card win over Dallas, they gave up four consecutive touchdowns to start the second half in a 49-37 drubbing at eventual Super Bowl-champion St. Louis.
Pittsburgh, 15-1 (2004; lost in divisional round): Maybe this is the winning formula for this year's Packers. In 2004, the Steelers lost to New England 41-27 in the AFC title game. In 2005, they won the AFC North with an 11-5 record, and won at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver to reach the Super Bowl, where second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and retiring running back Jerome Bettis led a victory over Seattle.
Oakland, 13-1 (1976; Super Bowl champion): The Raiders finished 11-3, in second place in the AFC West behind Denver. The Broncos hosted the AFC Championship Game and beat Oakland 20-17. That was the Raiders' fifth consecutive appearance in the conference title game. In another ode to how the game has changed, that Oakland team set a record with 681 rushing attempts — a stunning 48.6 per game.
Los Angeles Raiders and Washington, 8-1 (1982; Raiders lost in divisional round of 16-team Super Bowl tournament while Redskins won the Super Bowl): The Redskins went 14-2 and won the NFC East and the Raiders went 12-4 and won the AFC West. They played each other in the Super Bowl, with the Raiders romping in stunning fashion 38-9.
Additionally, 19 teams have posted 14-2 records. The following season, five teams won the Super Bowl (2011 Patriots, 2006 Colts, 2004 Patriots , 1992 Redskins and 1979 Steelers. However, six teams didn't even qualify for the playoffs — including five that posted losing records.
All told, of the 27 best regular-season records since the merger, eight teams won the Super Bowl the following season. Green Bay will try to make that nine this season.
HONORABLE MENTION: Green Bay, 13-1 (1962; won NFL championship): The 1962 team was the best of Vince Lombardi's five championship squads. The 1963 team had a chance to make it a three-peat. Instead, the Packers were swept by Chicago (10-3 and 26-7), finished 11-2-1 and didn't qualify for the playoffs.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.