Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy following their 34-31 win against the Baltimore Ravens during Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome.
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens face an uphill struggle to repeat last year's success if recent history is any indication.
The last team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles was the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and it's been eight years since a reigning champion won a playoff game the next season.
The Green Bay Packers, who play at Baltimore on Sunday, know a little something about the challenges that follow a championship.
The Packers won the Super Bowl three years ago and the next season lost in their playoff-opening divisional game against the New York Giants.
"I would say 2011 was much more difficult than 2010," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I know we won a lot of games (15-1 during the regular season), I just felt it was a tougher ride than 2010."
Champions must battle human nature and feelings of complacency and entitlement, not to mention motivated opponents taking their best shots at the top dog.
"There was definitely at times some complacency we had to deal with for sure," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, referring to the Packers' 2011 season.
"Everybody has to keep that same hunger they had before they won, because it gets easier to let it slip and rely on your talents and what you've done than it is to dig in and prepare hard, practice hard."
Rodgers has been through the year-after syndrome and speaks from experience. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, on the other hand, is going through it for the first time and sounds like he has a lot to learn.
Flacco said this week he hasn't noticed any extra burden that goes with winning the Super Bowl.
"It's just a matter of having to answer some questions about it," Flacco said. "Other than that, the challenges are just as normal as you'd get any other season."
Whether he's na´ve or ignorant, Flacco would do well to listen to some current Packers coaches and players who lived through the Super Bowl-winning experience and the season that followed.
"You carry that burden, that responsibility of being the world champion," McCarthy said. "It can be a challenge."
The Packers raced to a 13-0 record the year after winning the Super Bowl, but defensive lineman B.J. Raji said that was deceiving.
"It wasn't as easy as the record made it look," Raji said.
"I felt like once you're crowned the champs, from that moment forward, that's when the real challenge begins because you're going to get everyone's best shot, every play, every game."
Common sense says an NFL team's greatest challenge is handling losing. In reality, dealing with winning is more difficult.
"Success is the hardest thing, believe it or not," said 13-year veteran defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.
"You definitely have to fight (complacency). Definitely any team winning the Super Bowl, the next year the talk is you can't be complacent. You've got to stay humble. ... You've just got to fight that temptation."
On the day McCarthy was hired in 2006, he stressed the importance of managing success. Many listeners wondered what he was talking about, considering the Packers were coming off a 4-12 season.
"I think they know now," said McCarthy, who has guided the Packers to five playoff berths in seven seasons, three division championships and that Super Bowl crown.
"I've always felt that's one of the biggest challenges as far as dealing with human nature. Expectations are higher not only for the group but the individual."
McCarthy has followed his father's advice to never forget where he came from and never allow success to change him. Those are lessons he has tried to impart on his Packers teams during prosperous times.
"Those words have rang true," Rodgers said. "It's been our greatest struggle is continuing to stay hungry, after a championship, after a 15-win regular season. And that's going to be our biggest battle I think is ourselves.
"I think that's exactly what handling success is: (not) being complacent, (not) being OK with the fact that you rest on your laurels."