Super Bowl Power Rankings: Where Do The 2012 Ravens Rank Among All Super Bowl Champions?

After the Giants’ shocking upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Chase Stuart (who now runs the excellent footballperspective.com) wrote a piece on the Pro Football Reference blog comparing how that Giants team measured up to previous Super Bowl champions, using several different statistical methods. His conclusion, as you can probably tell from the title of the post, wasn’t particularly favorable to young Eli and company. I won’t try to summarize the article any further here since it’s a great read and you should check it out for yourself, but I will take just a moment to see how the five Super Bowl champions that have been crowned since that post was written fare in the various categories Stuart used:

2008 Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Regular season winning percentage: .750 (t-28th out of 47)
  • Point differential per game: +7.8 (t-33rd)
  • Pythagorean win percentage: .7375 (29th)
  • Pro Football Reference SRS: 9.8 (18th)
  • Playoff margin of victory: +8.0 (t-40th)

2009 New Orleans Saints

  • Regular season winning percentage: .813 (t-18th)
  • Point differential per game: +10.6 (17th)
  • Pythagorean win percentage: .725 (31st)
  • Pro Football Reference SRS: 10.8 (13th)
  • Playoff margin of victory: +16.0 (t-17th)

2010 Green Bay Packers

  • Regular season winning percentage: .625 (t-43rd)
  • Point differential per game: +9.2 (t-25th)
  • Pythagorean win percentage: .75625 (24th)
  • Pro Football Reference SRS: 10.9 (12th)
  • Playoff margin of victory: +11.25 (31st)

2011 New York Giants

  • Regular season winning percentage: .5625 (47th)
  • Point differential per game: -0.4 (47th)
  • Pythagorean win percentage: .49375 (47th)
  • Pro Football Reference SRS: 1.6 (46th)
  • Playoff margin of victory: +11.5 (t-28th)

2012 Baltimore Ravens

  • Regular season winning percentage: .625 (t-43rd)
  • Point differential per game: +3.4 (45th)
  • Pythagorean win percentage: .5875 (45th)
  • Pro Football Reference SRS: 2.9 (45th)
  • Playoff margin of victory: +9.0 (39th)

If you can get past the ’08 Steelers and ’10 Packers’ (relatively) unimpressive win totals, they probably deserve to join the ’09 Saints as teams that are in the top half of all Super Bowl champions. The Packers faced a tough schedule and lost a brutal amount of close games that drove their record down; the Steelers, meanwhile, had one of the greatest defenses of all-time and great defensive teams are often underrated by point differential and traditional margin of victory metrics. If I had to rank all 47 Super Bowl champions in order, I would probably stick the ’09 Saints and ’10 Packers somewhere in the mid-to-low teens and the ’08 Steelers in the low teens-to-high-twenties.

The past two champions, however, don’t look so good compared to their peers. The Giants had the worst winning percentage of any Super Bowl winner and were the only team to win the Super Bowl in a year in which they had a negative point differential. They played a very tough schedule and rank better in per-play metrics, so I’m unwilling to call them the worst Super Bowl champ of all time, but they certainly don’t deserve to rate any higher than 40th.

And the Ravens? Well, they don’t rank much better in point differential, Pythagorean record or SRS, ranking third-to-last in each category. And unlike last year’s Giants, they played a below-average schedule with thoroughly unimpressive yards-per-play figures. During the regular season, they were essentially a team with a slightly above-average offense and a slightly above-average defense – their special teams were outstanding, but it’s tough to imagine that making a big difference in a fictional matchup against the ’89 49ers or ’66 Packers.

Now the Ravens do deserve some credit for their last three postseason games, in which they beat teams that all probably would have ranked in the top half of Super Bowl champions had they won it all. Their run of winning at Denver, at New England, and then against San Francisco was not quite as impressive as the ’07 Giants’ run of winning at Dallas, at Green Bay, and against New England, but it’s fairly close. For that reason, I wouldn’t list the ’12 Ravens as the worst Super Bowl champion of all time – that title probably deserves to go to the ’70 Colts or ’80 Raiders or even the ’01 Patriots (the fact that team won the Super Bowl becomes approximately 7% more unfathomable with each passing year). Ultimately, however, I think they probably have to go in the bottom five. There just wasn’t anything special about this team in the regular season to warrant a higher ranking. Of course, now’s a good time to remind everyone that it’s much, MUCH more desirable to be listed as one of the worst Super Bowl champions ever than one of the best teams to never win it (somewhere, Alan Page is nodding his head right now).

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