As loyal readers of the Cold, Hard Football Facts are aware, we put a lot of stock in Quality Wins – how a team performs against opponents with winning records. We track these records each and every week throughout the season (our final regular-season Quality Standings can be found here).
 
As we noted after Super Bowl XLI, teams with the better record against quality competition posted a 10-1 record in the 2006 playoffs. It's the second time in our three-year history that teams with a superior mark against Quality Opponents posted a remarkable 10-1 record in postseason play.
 
The Colts were the class of the NFL in the 2006 regular season, with a 4-1 mark against Quality Opponents. Following their four postseason wins, they ended the year with an 8-1 mark against winning teams.
 
Only four Super Bowl champions have better records against quality competition. Here's how the Colts stack up historically:
 
Team
Overall Record
vs. Quality Opponents
SB Result
2003 Patriots
17-2
10-0 (1.000)
won XXXVIII
1981 49ers
16-3
6-0 (1.000)
won XVI
1972 Dolphins
17-0
5-0 (1.000)
won VII
2004 Patriots
17-2
10-1 (.909)
won XXXIX
1973 Dolphins
15-2
8-1 (.889)
won VIII
1985 Bears
18-1
8-1 (.889)
won XX
1986 Giants
17-2
8-1 (.889)
won XXI
2006 Colts
16-4
8-1 (.889)
won XLI
 
(Remember, the Cold, Hard Football Facts define a quality opponent as any team that has a winning record.)
 
The 2004 Patriots, 2003 Patriots and 1979 Steelers are the only teams in NFL history to win 10 games against quality opponents in a single season. The 1979 Steelers went 10-3 against quality opponents, topping our list for games in a single season against teams with winning records. Numerous Super Bowl teams have played 11 games against quality opponents in a single season. Only four have played more than 11:
  • 1979 Steelers (10-3, .769)
  • 1986 Broncos (7-5, .583)
  • 1992 Bills (8-4, .667)
  • 2005 Steelers (8-4, .667)
SUPER BOWL TEAMS vs. QUALITY OPPONENTS (since the AFL-NFL merger)
SB (Season)
Winner (Record)
vs. Qual. Opp.
Loser (Record)
vs. Qual. Opp.
V (1970)
Baltimore (14-2-1)
4-2 (.667)
Dallas (12-5)
4-5 (.444)
VI (1971)
Dallas (14-3)
5-1 (.833)
Miami (12-4-1)
4-2 (.667)
VII (1972)
Miami (17-0)
5-0 (1.000)
Washington (13-4)
6-2 (.750)
VIII (1973)
Miami (15-2)
8-1 (.889)
Minnesota (14-3)
5-3 (.625)
IX (1974)
Pittsburgh (13-3-1)
3-1-1 (.750)
Minnesota (12-5)
4-2 (.667)
X (1975)
Pittsburgh (15-2)
7-2 (.778)
Dallas (12-5)
5-3 (.625)
XI (1976)
Oakland (16-1)
7-1 (.857)
Minnesota (13-3-1)
3-2-1 (.600)
XII (1977)
Dallas (15-2)
7-1 (.875)
Denver (14-3)
7-3 (.700)
XIII (1978)
Pittsburgh (17-2)
7-2 (.778)
Dallas (14-5)
6-4 (.600)
XIV (1979)
Pittsburgh (15-4)
10-3 (.769)
L.A. Rams (11-8)
4-6 (.400)
XV (1980)
Oakland (15-5)
6-4 (.600)
Philadelphia (14-5)
5-4 (.556)
XVI (1981)
San Francisco (16-3)
6-0 (1.000)
Cincinnati (14-5)
6-2 (.750)
XVII (1982)
Washington (12-1)
6-1 (.857)
Miami (10-3)
6-3 (.667)
XVIII (1983)
L.A. Raiders (15-4)
7-4 (.636)
Washington (16-3)
9-2 (.818)
XIX (1984)
San Francisco (18-1)
7-1 (.875)
Miami (16-3)
8-2 (.800)
XX (1985)
Chicago (18-1)
8-1 (.889)
New England (14-6)
5-5 (.500)
XXI (1986)
N.Y. Giants (17-2)
8-1 (.889)
Denver (13-6)
7-5 (.583)
XXII (1987)
Washington (14-4)
4-1 (.800)
Denver (12-5-1)
7-4 (.636)
XXIII (1988)
San Francisco (13-6)
9-2 (.818)
Cincinnati (14-5)
7-4 (.636)
XXIV (1989)
San Francisco (17-2)
9-2 (.818)
Denver (13-6)
7-4 (.636)
XXV (1990)
N.Y. Giants (16-3)
7-3 (.700)
Buffalo (15-4)
6-4 (.600)
XXVI (1991)
Washington (17-2)
9-2 (.818)
Buffalo (15-4)
4-3 (.571)
XXVII (1992)
Dallas (16-3)
6-2 (.750)
Buffalo (14-6)
8-4 (.667)
XXVIII (1993)
Dallas (15-4)
8-2 (.800)
Buffalo (14-5)
6-5 (.545)
XXIX (1994)
San Francisco (16-3)
7-2 (.778)
San Diego (13-6)
6-4 (.600)
XXX (1995) 
Dallas (15-4)
8-2 (.800)
Pittsburgh (13-6)
5-3 (.625)
XXXI (1996)
Green Bay (16-3)
7-3 (.700)
New England (13-6) 
6-5 (.545)
XXXII (1997)
Denver (16-4)
6-3 (.667)
Green Bay (15-4)
9-2 (.818)
XXXIII (1998)
Denver (17-2)
6-1 (.857)
Atlanta (16-3)
5-3 (.625)
XXXIV (1999)
St. Louis (16-3)
3-1 (.750)
Tennessee (16-4)
6-2 (.750)
XXXV (2000)
Baltimore (16-4)
7-3 (.700)
N.Y. Giants (14-5)
5-4 (.556)
XXXVI (2001)
New England (14-5)
5-3 (.625)
St. Louis (16-3)
8-2 (.800)
XXXVII (2002)
Tampa Bay (15-4)
7-4 (.636)
Oakland (13-6)
8-3 (.727)
XXXVIII (2003)
New England (17-2)
10-0 (1.000)
Carolina (14-6)
4-4 (.500)
XXXVIII (2004)
New England (17-2)
10-1 (.909)
Philadelphia (15-4)
3-2 (.600)
XL (2005)
Pittsburgh (15-5)
8-4 (.667)
Seattle (15-4)
5-3 (.625)
XLI (2006)
Indianapolis (16-4)
8-1 (.889)
Chicago (15-4)
4-2 (.667)
 
Only 4 of 36 teams that have won post-merger Super Bowls ended the postseason with a worse record against quality opponents than the team they vanquished in the championship. These four teams are:
  • 1983 Raiders (7-4, .636) over Redskins (9-2, .818)
  • 1997 Broncos (6-3, .667) over Packers (9-2, .818)
  • 2001 Patriots (5-3, .625) over Rams (8-2, .800)
  • 2002 Buccaneers (7-4, .636) over Raiders (8-3, .727)