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Vikings' Latest Push for a Super Bowl Ring (and Stadium) Begins Thursday

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Only seven eventual Super Bowl champions have lost their season opener; none has ever faced the reigning champion on the road in an opening game

While all three major gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota are warm to the idea that the state should have a role in helping to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, public skepticism and a bleak state budget outlook leaves little doubt that a Super Bowl victory in the 2010-11 season would go a long way in building the necessary public support for the measure.

The political justifications for a new pro football stadium vary - from the team's cultural significance to the state to the construction of the stadium being an economic development project in a down economy.

But political momentum could very likely be stalled without a Super Bowl victory. Before the Brett Favre era began in August 2009, the vast majority of Minnesotans were against a taxpayer funded stadium.

In May 2009, a Rasmussen poll found 75 percent of Minnesotans against using taxpayer money to build a Vikings stadium, with just 12 percent in favor of such a measure.

The Vikings' drive to the Super Bowl begins Thursday evening in New Orleans, in a rematch of last year's dramatic NFC title game that saw Minnesota fall to the Saints in overtime.

The Vikings are just shy of a touchdown underdog according to the latest line, and history suggests a loss in their season opener would put the Vikes in a position few eventual Super Bowl champions have overcome.

A Smart Politics analysis of NFL historical records finds that only 7 of the 44 Super Bowl champions in league history have lost their first game of the season.

In total, 36 eventual champions have won their season opener, with one tie (Green Bay Packers, against Detroit in 1967).

Admittedly, six of these losses have come in road games: San Francisco at Detroit (1981), New York Giants at Dallas (1986), Dallas at Washington (1993), New England at Cincinnati (2001), New England at Buffalo (2003), and the New York Giants at Dallas (2007).

Still, another 19 Super Bowl champions won their season opener on the road, or 76 percent of such games. In short, most elite teams find a way to win, even on the road when wearing training camp rust.

However, most eventual Super Bowl winners have not had to square off against the reigning champions in their season opener - in fact, it has only happened one time, and never on the road.

In 1976, the Oakland Raiders began their 13-1 campaign with a 31-28 victory over the Super Bowl X champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders would go on to win Super Bowl XI 32-14 over the Vikings.

And while most NFL prognosticators are not picking the Saints to repeat, if New Orleans does want to be just the eighth NFL franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowls, that hope may very well die with a loss to the Vikings.

Only one eventual Super Bowl champion has lost a home opener in the history of the league

The exception: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa lost their 2002 opener at home to New Orleans by a 26-20 margin, en route to a 12-4 season and a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.

As for the state's gubernatorial candidates, it will be interesting to see if the substance or passion with which each advocates for the state to have a role in funding a new stadium changes depending on the Vikings' record through the first seven games before Election Day on November 2nd.

These seven games include not only the road game against the Saints, but also road games against the highly touted New York Jets (October 11), Green Bay Packers (October 24), and New England Patriots (October 31).

If the Vikings struggle early during these first two months it might be readily apparent if Dayton, Emmer, or Horner truly have purple blood flowing through their veins.

Eventual Super Bowl Champion Performance in Season Openers, 1966-2009

Season
Super Bowl Winner
Opener
Opponent
1966
Green Bay
W 24-3
Baltimore Colts*
1967
Green Bay
T 17-17
Detroit
1968
New York Jets
W 20-19
at Kansas City
1969
Kansas City
W 27-9
at San Diego
1970
Baltimore Colts
W 16-14
at San Diego
1971
Dallas
W 49-37
at Buffalo
1972
Miami
W 20-10
at Kansas City
1973
Miami
W 21-13
San Francisco
1974
Pittsburgh
W 30-0
Baltimore Colts
1975
Pittsburgh
W 37-0
at San Diego
1976
Oakland
W 31-28
Pittsburgh
1977
Dallas
W 16-10
at Minnesota
1978
Pittsburgh
W 38-17
at Buffalo
1979
Pittsburgh
W 16-13
at New England
1980
Oakland
W 21-10
at Cincinnati
1981
San Francisco
L 17-24
at Detroit
1982
Washington
W 37-34
at Philadelphia
1983
Los Angeles Raiders
W 21-10
at Cincinnati
1984
San Francisco
W 30-27
at Detroit
1985
Chicago
W 38-28
Tampa Bay
1986
New York Giants
L 28-31
at Dallas
1987
Washington
W 34-24
Philadelphia
1988
San Francisco
W 34-33
at New Orleans
1989
San Francisco
W 30-24
at Indianapolis
1990
New York Giants
W 27-20
Philadelphia
1991
Washington
W 45-0
Detroit
1992
Dallas
W 23-10
Washington
1993
Dallas
L 16-38
at Washington
1994
San Francisco
W 44-14
Los Angeles Raiders
1995
Dallas
W 35-0
at New York Giants
1996
Green Bay
W 34-3
at Tampa Bay
1997
Denver
W 19-3
Kansas City
1998
Denver
W 27-21
New England
1999
St. Louis
W 27-10
Baltimore Ravens
2000
Baltimore Ravens
W 16-0
at Pittsburgh
2001
New England
L 17-23
at Cincinnati
2002
Tampa Bay
L 20-26
New Orleans
2003
New England
L 0-31
at Buffalo
2004
New England
W 27-24
Indianapolis
2005
Pittsburgh
W 34-7
Tennessee
2006
Indianapolis
W 26-21
at New York Giants
2007
New York Giants
L 35-45
at Dallas
2008
Pittsburgh
W 38-17
Houston Texans
2009
New Orleans
W 45-27
Detroit
* Home game played in Milwaukee. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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1 Comment


  • MOA Stadium Sports and Events Facility at Mall of America along with a Phase II will revive Minnesota's image to the world while creating 25,000 jobs with $75 Billion in Revenue's over 25 years, just need to get Governor Pawlenty, have you seen him, on board, call him. more info. at vikingbuzz(dot)com. william jewell, Bloomington

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    Remains of the Data

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