Super Bowl week means many things to many people. To me, it means it is time to tabulate the annual numbers in the NFL to find the answer to a question that was asked a decade ago and launched a bit for every Super Bowl.
The 10th annual NFL Franchise Rankings are ready for your viewing pleasure. We have tabulated the latest figures after the 2010 Playoffs and Super Bowl 45 (Final Results Pending, of course).
To recap, a few years ago, a good strong listener asked me to rank the franchises from #32 to #1 based on their accomplishments from Super Bowl I to present.
So I did. I wanted it to be objective, not subjective. I wanted it to be a formula and you would just enter the numbers and it would spit out the rankings with no favoritism or prejudice. We have been doing this since 2001. Since then, it has been imitated a time or two , but I don’t mind. It is pretty obvious idea for any sports nerd to come up with.
Here is how it works. Each Franchise gets 1 point for each season it makes the playoffs. Then, if it reaches the Conference Championship Game it gets a total of 3 points. If it makes the Super Bowl it gets 5, and if it wins the Super Bowl it wins the maximum total of points in a given year of 11. It used to be 10 for the Super Bowl, but I have adjusted it last year because I didn’t like the idea that 2 Super Bowl losses equaled a Super Bowl win. So, Now 11 points for a win and 5 for a loss in the Super Bowl.
I have been asked why no points are given for wins in the Wildcard round, but I decided that would not make sense with the idea that the playoffs have grown over the years and there is no way to equalize a smaller field to a larger one. Also, a Wildcard win is not that big a deal anymore with 6 teams in the playoffs, so unless you reach the Conference Title game, no additional points beyond the 1 for making the post-season.
I also have been asked how come I don’t go by average points per season (since many teams have joined the league since Super Bowl 1. My answer is simple: I don’t want to penalize teams who have been in the league all of the years. If you go by average points per year rather than total points, it is possible that the Baltimore Ravens would have been #1 if they had won the Super Bowl this year. No chance I would believe that premise, given that they didn’t exist prior to 1996. But, if a team has been established since the season of Super Bowl 1 (1966), it is notated.
Just add up the points for all the years, and that is the entire formula. (By the way, if you disagree with the point totals for each accomplishment, you will find that just about any reasonable formula spits out about the same results.
Otherwise, I break ties based on the team with more Super Bowl wins, then Super Bowl losses, then Championship Game wins, then playoff berths, and finally average points per year. There are no ties. I will settle it somehow.
I have decided to add the category this year in version 9.0 that many have requested - average pts per year - so that we may determine results based on years in the league. 24 of the 32 teams have been here the entire span of the 45 years of Super Bowl football, but this metric will help put the other 8 teams: Saints '67, Bengals '68, Seahawks '76, Buccaneers '76, Jaguars '95, Panthers '95, Ravens '96, and Texans '02. Also, the Browns missed 96-98, so they only have 42 seasons to work with.
So, let's check the Super Bowl XLV update - today we release the bottom 12 teams. Teams #21-32. In a few days, we will release teams #11-20, and then when the game is over on Sunday, we will know who is #1 in the NFL in the Super Bowl Era.
And, assuming you are a Cowboys fan, I should tell you that Dallas has been #1 the first 9 times we have done this. That could change on Sunday evening. Pittsburgh is playing for a chance to pass Dallas for the 1st time if they can defeat Green Bay.
#21 - Cleveland Browns (#21)
No season 1996-1998
Cleveland, one of the few teams to never make a Super Bowl, remains at #21 in our countdown. There is plenty of prestige and tradition in their franchise, but most of it happened with Otto Graham and Jim Brown. Both players retired prior to the 1st Super Bowl.
Total Points: 24
Total Playoff Years: 67, 68C, 69C, 71, 72, 80, 82, 85, 86C, 87C, 88, 89C, 94, 02
#22 - San Diego Chargers (#22)
San Diego has accumulated a number of playoff berths recently, but without that breakthrough win, remains in the bottom third of the league. They have been to one Super Bowl, but overall, they have often been a post season disappointment. The Chargers missed the playoffs in 2010, and therefore are stuck at #22.
Total Points: 22
Total Playoff Years: 79, 80C, 81C, 82, 92, 94SL, 95, 04, 06, 07C, 08, 09
#23 – New Orleans Saints (#23)
Following a Super Bowl champion year, the Saints shot up from #31 to #23 last season. It was a banner year and one that many expected to be followed up with another post-season run. Instead, the Saints lost to 7-9 Seattle and added just 1 point to their total.
Total Points: 20
Total Playoff Years: 87, 90, 91, 92, 00, 06C, 09S, 10
#24 – Baltimore Ravens (#24)
Established 1996 - (The NFL ruled that all old records stay in Cleveland with the Browns.)
The Ravens have become a staple in the playoffs in the John Harbaugh era. And their average points per season dwarf those franchises that surround them down here in the rankings.
Total Points: 19
Total Playoff Years: 00S, 01, 03, 06, 08C, 09, 10
#25 - Cincinnati Bengals (#25)
The Bengals were good enough to rise up and lose two Super Bowls to Joe Montana and Bill Walsh in the 1980's. Other than that, this long time franchise has had great difficulty getting any footing and sit at a disappointing #25 in the NFL.
Total Points: 17
Total Playoff Years: 70, 73, 75, 81SL, 82, 88SL, 90, 05, 09
Cincinnati holds tiebreaker over Seattle with 2 Super Bowl appearances to 1.
#26 - Seattle Seahawks (#26)
Seattle certainly did not expect to add to its point total this year, but won their division in 2010. This decade has far out-produced the first 25 years of Seahawks football, but there is still substantial room for improvement moving forward.
Total Points: 17
Total Playoff Years: 83C, 84, 87, 88, 99, 03, 04, 05SL, 06, 07, 10
#27 – Atlanta Falcons (#27)
At #27, the most notable fact is that the Atlanta Falcons still have not made the playoffs on consecutive seasons in their franchise's history. Their one-and-done run this year was not met with approval.
Total Points: 16
Total Playoff Years: 78, 80, 82, 91, 95, 98SL, 02, 04C, 08, 10
#28 - Carolina Panthers (#28)
So close to winning Super Bowl 38, the Panthers have only made the playoffs 4 times, but the Final 4 in 3 of those 4 runs. They have a lot of work to do.
Total Points: 12
Total Playoff Years: 96C, 03SL, 05C, 08
#29 - Detroit Lions (#29)
When you discuss the two saddest franchises in NFL history, look no further than #29 and #30 on our list. Detroit has only advanced to the Conference Championship game one time, a game they lost 41-10 to the Redskins. Words cannot describe how long Lions fans have waited for a winner. The wait continues.
Total Points: 11
Total Playoff Years: 70, 82, 83, 91C, 93, 94, 95, 97, 99
#30 – Arizona/St Louis Cardinals (#30)
The Lions can actually look down at a team that has been worse. However, it sure appeared that they would win Super Bowl 43 2 years ago when Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger crushed their dreams. The Cardinals did make a Super Bowl, though, leaving only Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, and Houston as the only teams to never attend.
Total Points: 10
Total Playoff Years: 74, 75, 82, 98, 08SL, 09
Arizona holds tie-breaker over Jacksonville due to the Cardinals having been to a Super Bowl (1-0).
#31 – Jacksonville Jaguars (#31)
Jacksonville, an expansion team that always seems somewhat competitive, made it to two AFC Championship games in its first 5 years, but then spent much of this decade chasing the Colts in the AFC South.
Total Points: 10
Total Playoff Years: 96C, 97, 98, 99C, 05, 07
Average: 0.6 per season
#32 – Houston Texans (32)
And the bottom team in our rankings is the youngest team in the NFL, but also a team that has never made the playoffs. Certainly, the natives of Houston would like to see that change sometime very, very soon.
Total Points: 0
Total Playoff Years: None
Explanation of Years:
Just the year means they made the playoffs (1 point). Year followed by “C” means they lost in the Conference Championship Game (3 points), Year followed by “SL” means they lost the Super Bowl (5 points), and Year followed by “S” means they won the Super Bowl (11 points).
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