Sturm’s 11th Annual NFL Franchise Rankings

Today is the day that I have settled your work-place debate with your buddies.

What you are about to read is a labor of love and perhaps insanity. Read on if you are brave enough and love never-ending debates about football.

The 11th annual Sturm NFL Franchise Rankings are ready for your viewing pleasure. I have tabulated the latest figures after the 2011 Playoffs and Super Bowl 46.

Why do I do this?

To recap, eleven years ago, a good listener of the radio show asked me to rank the franchises from #32 to #1 based on their accomplishments during the Super Bowl era.

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. So, I have been doing this since every year since 2001, on the week following the Super Bowl. Since then, it has been imitated a time or two, but I don’t mind. It is pretty obvious idea for any sports nerd with time on hand 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 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 expanded 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.

We have added “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 46 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 43 seasons to work with.

Here are the Final Rankings through Super Bowl 46 – And for the first time since we started this, the Dallas Cowboys are no longer on top.

TEAMS #1-#10

#1 – Pittsburgh Steelers
(Last year, #2)

It has finally happened. When Super Bowl 30 was completed, the Cowboys were at 101 and the Steelers were at 68 points. Well, since then, the Steelers have been the model of excellence for anyone not in New England, and the Cowboys have been, well, the Cowboys. Therefore, based on the tie breaking system, the Steelers take over as the current heavyweight leader in the Super Bowl era. The first time in years that the Cowboys have not held this post.

Total Points: 108
Total Playoff Years: 72C, 73, 74S, 75S, 76C, 77, 78S, 79S, 82, 83, 84C, 89, 92, 93, 94C, 95SL, 96, 97C, 01C, 02, 04C, 05S, 07, 08S, 10SL, 11

P: 26
4: 7
2: 2
1: 6

Average: 2.34 points per season

Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker over Dallas because of Lombardi Trophies, 6-5.

#2 – Dallas Cowboys (Last Year, #1)

Dallas has the most playoff appearances, the most Final 4s, and are tied with Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl appearances. However, since 1996, they have a performance level that actually trails the Jacksonville Jaguars and is certainly a team that is getting by on reputation and history. They are far removed from where they once stood, and yet, they still can claim to have as many or more points than any other franchise. They were a dominant, dominant franchise for 30 years.

Total Points: 108
Total Playoff Years: 66C, 67C, 68, 69, 70SL, 71S, 72C, 73C, 75SL, 76, 77S, 78SL, 79, 80C, 81C, 82C, 83, 85, 91, 92S, 93S, 94C, 95S, 96, 98, 99, 03, 06, 07, 09

P: 30
4: 8
2: 3
1: 5

Average: 2.34 points per season

#3 – San Francisco 49ers (#3)

The 49ers finally found their way back into the playoff mix this season after taking nearly a decade off from the tournament all together. A trip to the final 4 will restore some pride in San Francisco, and the 49ers have reason to believe they will be in the mix again next season. Clearly the 3rd best franchise in the last 46 years.

Total Points: 88
Total Playoff Years: 70C, 71C, 72, 81S, 83C, 84S, 85, 86, 87, 88S, 89S, 90C, 92C, 93C, 94S, 95, 96, 97C, 98, 01, 02, 11C

P: 22
4: 8
2: 0
1: 5

Average: 1.91 points per season

#4 – Oakland Raiders (#4)

Now, having missed the playoffs every season since their last Super Bowl in SB 37, they reside easily in the Top 5, but have been a dormant franchise themselves for a while now. But, looking at the rest of their history, they remain one of the strongest franchises of the Super Bowl era.

Total Points: 77
Total Playoff Years: 67SL, 68C, 69C, 70C, 72, 73C, 74C, 75C, 76S, 77C, 80S, 82, 83S, 84, 85, 90C, 91, 93, 00C, 01, 02SL

P: 21
4: 9
2: 2
1: 3

Average: 1.67 points per season

#5 – Green Bay Packers (#5)

They certainly had higher hopes for 2011, but their 2010 production put them into the Top 5, where they hold a slight tie break lead over the Patriots. Of course, their older fans will remind the crowd that their 13 Championships overall might dispute football history starting in 1966. Nevertheless, in the Super Bowl era, they had a substantial break between Bart Starr and Brett Favre where nothing got accomplished.

Total Points: 66
Total Playoff Years: 66S, 67S, 72, 82, 93, 94, 95C, 96S, 97SL, 98, 01, 02, 03, 04, 07C, 09, 10S, 11

P: 18
4: 2
2: 1
1: 4

Average: 1.43 points per season

Green Bay holds the tiebreaker over New England because of Lombardi Trophies, 4-3.

#6 – New England Patriots (#6)

The gold standard of this millennium, the Patriots have been the Giants victim twice, or they would be right on top of the Raiders and past the Packers. However, given that they have gained 49 points since 2001, they are still the franchise that has been on the move the most. And overall, they have now been to 7 Super Bowls, which trails just 2 other franchises.

Total Points: 66
Total Playoff Years: 76, 78, 82, 85SL, 86, 94, 96SL, 97, 98, 01S, 03S, 04S, 05, 06C, 07SL, 09, 10, 11SL

P: 17
4: 1
2: 4
1: 3

Average: 1.43 points per season

#7 – New York Giants (#13)

The Giants, despite their rich history, are a team with a shocking few number of playoff years. Yet, when they do actually get in, they seem to do some pretty special things. 5 Super Bowls in just 14 playoffs years is outstanding, and 11 more points this season pushed them past 6 more franchises into the Top 7. To the victors go the spoils.

Total Points: 59
Total Playoff Years: 81, 84, 85, 86S, 89, 90S, 93, 97, 00SL, 02, 05, 06, 07S, 08, 11S

P: 14
4: 0
2: 1
1: 4

Average: 1.28 points per season

# 8 – Denver Broncos (#9)

By virtue of the Tim Tebow run of 2011, the Broncos now push past the Miami Dolphins. The Broncos ended a 6 year playoff drought with their berth and win over Pittsburgh, but their future is anyone’s guess. Still, soundly in the Top 10 franchises after going the first 12 years of the Super Bowl era before they made their initial playoff entrance.

Total Points: 58
Total Playoff Years: 77SL, 78, 79, 83, 84, 86SL, 87SL, 89SL, 91C, 93, 96, 97S, 98S, 00, 03, 04, 05C, 11

P: 18
4: 2
2: 4
1: 2

Average: 1.26 points per season

Denver holds the tiebreaker over Miami because of Super Bowl appearances, 6-5.

#9 – Miami Dolphins (#8)

Another proud franchise with a strong history, but they have certainly allowed that to be about all they have to fall back on this last decade. No consistent QB play and a carousel of coaches have put the Dolphins on the outside looking in since Dan Marino’s prime. The drought continues for the Dolphins.

Total Points: 58
Total Playoff Years: 70, 71SL, 72S, 73S, 74, 78, 79, 81, 82SL, 83, 84SL, 85C, 90, 92C, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 08

P: 22
4: 2
2: 3
1: 2

Average: 1.26 points per season

#10 – Washington Redskins (#9)

Speaking of strong histories and long droughts, the Redskins have not accomplished much of anything since Joe Gibbs’ first tenure with the Redskins when he led the team to three Super Bowl championships with 3 different quarterbacks. But, since then, including Gibbs getting back into the mix, there has been a whole lot of nothing. Still in the Top 10, but its been 20 years since the Redskins were a Super Bowl possibility.

Total Points: 56
Total Playoff Years: 71, 72SL, 73, 74, 76, 82S, 83SL, 84, 86C, 87S, 90, 91S, 92, 99, 05, 07

P: 16
4: 1
2: 2
1: 3

Average: 1.22 points per season

TEAMS #11-#20

#11 – Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts (#10)

Peyton Manning and the Colts have certainly accumulated points in just about every season since his arrival, but not enough Super Bowls to satisfy expectations. Then, he is lost for the year, and the Colts franchise vanishes from the playoff mix. Just looking at the year by year production should be enough to show the Colts they are crazy to tell him goodbye, but $28 million is a fair way to make decisions.

Total Points: 54
Total Playoff Years: 68SL, 70S, 71C, 75, 76, 77, 87, 95C, 96, 99, 00, 02, 03C, 04, 05, 06S, 07, 08, 09SL, 10

P: 20
4: 3
2: 2
1: 2

Average: 1.17 points per season

#12 – Minnesota Vikings (#11 last year)

Every team above the Vikings on this list has not only won a Super Bowl, but they have won at least two Super Bowls. So, for the Vikings to be so close to those teams despite never winning one, surely speaks to their excellence for so many years. 26 playoff entries is more than anyone in the league aside from the Steelers or Cowboys. They just have never won a gold medal. Nor, as it turns out, have they ever had the lead in any of their 4 Super Bowls. Truly cursed.

Total Points: 52
Total Playoff Years: 68, 69SL, 70, 71, 73SL, 74SL, 75, 76SL, 77C, 78, 80, 82, 87C, 88, 89, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 98C, 99, 00C, 04, 08, 09C

P: 26
4: 5
2: 4
1: 0

Average: 1.13 points per season

#13 – St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (#12)

The Rams are another team that has been pretty quiet during the last several seasons since the days of Kurt Warner and the greatest show on turf. But, in the 1970s, they had a run of 4 years out of 5 where their seasons ended in the NFC Championship game, usually, at the hands of the Cowboys.

Total Points: 51
Total Playoff Years: 67, 69, 73, 74C, 75C, 76C, 77, 78C, 79SL, 80, 83, 84, 85C, 86, 88, 89C, 99S, 00, 01SL, 03, 04

P: 21
4: 6
2: 2
1: 1

Average: 1.10 points per season

#14 – Philadelphia Eagles (#14 last season)

Like the Colts, a mainstay in the playoffs for nearly the entire decade, but missing the 2011 playoffs. Another team that has often been a resident of the post season, without ever winning the big prize. This is a fact that is not lost on its rivals.

Total Points: 35
Total Playoff Years: 78, 79, 80SL, 81, 88, 89, 90, 92, 95, 96, 00, 01C, 02C, 03C, 04SL, 06, 08C, 09, 10

P: 19
4: 4
2: 2
1: 0

Average: 0.76 points per season

#15 – Chicago Bears (#15)

Like Green Bay, the Bears would like to use championships that preceded the Super Bowl era, but in the 46 years of the modern era, the Bears have not been able to string together any prolonged success. In fact, with the exception of those great teams in the 1980’s, it has often been a series of good seasons that are not followed with any manner of success in the next year. Like 2010’s NFC Championship Game followed by 2011 in which they missed the playoffs altogether.

Total Points: 34
Total Playoff Years: 77, 79, 84C, 85S, 86, 87, 88C, 90, 91, 94, 01, 05, 06SL, 10C

P: 13
4: 3
2: 1
1: 1

Average: 0.73 points per season

Chicago holds the tiebreaker over Buffalo because of Lombardi Trophies, 1-0.

#16 – Buffalo Bills (#16)

The Bills obviously had their crack at NFL immortality during their 4 year stretch of the 1990s when they ran into NFC East buzz-saws. Since then, they have not sniffed much of anything, with their last moments in the playoffs still being the “Music City Miracle” in Nashville. That was a long, long time ago.

Total Points: 34
Total Playoff Years: 66C, 74, 80, 81, 88C, 89, 90SL, 91SL, 92SL, 93SL, 95, 96, 98, 99

P: 14
4: 2
2: 4
1: 0

Average: 0.73 points per season

#17 – New York Jets (#17 last season)

After two AFC Championship Games in a row, the Jets were unable to join the postseason this year. Despite that, Rex Ryan has been able to accomplish more in his 3 seasons than the 40 years prior to that going back to Namath’s Super Bowl 3.

Total Points: 32
Total Playoff Years: 68S, 69, 81, 82C, 85, 86, 91, 98C, 01, 02, 04, 06, 09C, 10C

P: 13
4: 4
2: 0
1: 1

Average: 0.69 points per season

#18 – Kansas City Chiefs (#18)

The Chiefs played in 2 of the first 4 Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl 4. However, since 1970, the Chiefs have only been to one AFC Championship Game in 1993. Other than that, it has been a series of one-and-outs and plenty of years with no playoffs whatsoever.

Total Points: 31
Total Playoff Years: 66SL, 68, 69S, 71, 86, 90, 91, 92, 93C, 94, 95, 97, 03, 06, 10

P: 15
4: 1
2: 1
1: 1

Average: 0.67 points per season

#19 – Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers (#19)

The Titans remain at #19 after another year of missing the post-season. With some reasonable years of success in Houston and one Super Bowl loss in Nashville, the Oilers remain safely in the Top 20 for now.

Total Points: 30
Total Playoff Years: 67C, 69, 78C, 79C, 80, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 99SL, 00, 02C, 03, 07, 08

P: 18
4: 4
2: 1
1: 0

Average: 0.65 points per season

#20 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#20)

Established 1976

Surely, at this point, the Buccaneers realize that being in a hurry to chase Jon Gruden out of there was mistaken, right? Regardless, a team that hit its prime in the late 90s and rode it to a Super Bowl Championship in 2002, has returned to its place among the also-rans in the NFC. They now have a 4 year streak going with no playoffs and will attempt to get that turned around with a new coaching staff.

Total Points: 24
Total Playoff Years: 79C, 81, 82, 97, 99C, 00, 01, 02S, 05, 07

P: 10
4: 2
2: 0
1: 1

Average: 0.66

Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker over Cleveland because of Lombardi Trophies, 1-0.

TEAMS #21-#32

#21 – Cleveland Browns (#21)

No season 1996-1998

The post-relocation Cleveland Browns has been absolutely pathetic. One playoff appearance in the 13 seasons since being a new expansion team and really no real signs of having turned the direction of the franchise around. But, let’s not act like they were winning a ton before they lost the Browns to Baltimore. They severely need a revival amongst their franchise to give those loyal fans something to smile about in Cleveland.

Total Points: 24
Total Playoff Years: 67, 68C, 69C, 71, 72, 80, 82, 85, 86C, 87C, 88, 89C, 94, 02

P: 14
4: 5
2: 0
1: 0

Average: 0.56

#22 – Baltimore Ravens (#24)

Established 1996 – (The NFL ruled that all old records stay in Cleveland with the Browns.)

Speaking of the Browns, in the NFL settlement, Cleveland was able to keep its history. Therefore, the Ravens were born a new franchise in 1996, and since then they have actually put together a rather impressive run. 22 points since 1996 is quite admirable, including 2 Championship Game appearances in the last 4 seasons. That is enough to put them right on the heels of the Cleveland franchise that has existed for decades.

Total Points: 22
Total Playoff Years: 00S, 01, 03, 06, 08C, 09, 10, 11C

P: 7
4: 2
2: 0
1: 1

Average: 1.37

Baltimore holds the tiebreaker over San Diego because of Lombardi Trophies, 1-0.

#23 – San Diego Chargers (#22)

Certainly, more was expected from this franchise given their level of QB play they have had for almost 3 decades. But, to this point, they have flirted with some real good teams and even made one Super Bowl, but San Diego still chases its one dream season that may or may not await them down the road.

Total Points: 22
Total Playoff Years: 79, 80C, 81C, 82, 92, 94SL, 95, 04, 06, 07C, 08, 09

P: 12
4: 3
2: 1
1: 0

Average: 0.47

#24 – New Orleans Saints (#23)

Established 1967

The Saints are living their glory days right now in the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era, and have won a Super Bowl and flirted with others in the last several years. This once pathetic franchise has raised its accomplishment level several notches and has worked its way out of the basement of franchises in the NFL in quick fashion.

Total Points: 21
Total Playoff Years: 87, 90, 91, 92, 00, 06C, 09S, 10, 11

P: 9
4: 1
2: 0
1: 1

Average: 0.46

#25 – Cincinnati Bengals (#25)

Established 1968

The Bengals have 2 different Super Bowl losses to great San Francisco teams in the 1980s. Beyond that, they have never been able to put together consecutive seasons of playoff football and now look to make that happen in 2012 with a young group of players including Andy Dalton. Time will tell as Mike Brown running the franchise still has many thinking that long-term success will not happen with him at the helm.

Total Points: 18
Total Playoff Years: 70, 73, 75, 81SL, 82, 88SL, 90, 05, 09, 11

P: 10
4: 0
2: 2
1: 0

Average: 0.41

Cincinnati holds tiebreaker over Seattle with 2 Super Bowl appearances to 1.

#26 – Seattle Seahawks (#26)

Established 1976

Seattle’s worked its way to the playoffs 6 times in the last 9 years, but missed out in 2011. Still chasing its first Super Bowl title, the Seahawks have at least climbed out of the bottom of the league into the mid-20s.

Total Points: 17
Total Playoff Years: 83C, 84, 87, 88, 99, 03, 04, 05SL, 06, 07, 10

P: 11
4: 1
2: 1
1: 0

Average: 0.47

Seattle holds the tiebreaker over Atlanta because of average points per year.

#27 – Atlanta Falcons (#27)

This season was a real break-through for the Atlanta franchise. For the first time in Falcons’ history, Atlanta has gone to the playoffs 2 years in a row. Hardly a giant accomplishment, but for the Falcons, they can no longer say that it has never happened.

Total Points: 17
Total Playoff Years: 78, 80, 82, 91, 95, 98SL, 02, 04C, 08, 10, 11

P: 11
4: 1
2: 1
1: 0

Average: 0.37

#28 – Carolina Panthers (#28)

Established 1995

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 don’t get there often, but when they do, they make it count.

Total Points: 12
Total Playoff Years: 96C, 03SL, 05C, 08

P: 4
4: 2
2: 1
1: 0

Average: 0.70

Carolina holds the tiebreaker over Detroit because of Super Bowl Appearances, 1-0 .

#29 – Detroit Lions (#29)

Detroit has rejoined the NFL playoffs for the first time since 1999. With a number of young players that appear to be special and still building to their primes, it is highly possible the good times in Detroit are soon to come. We shall see.

Total Points: 12
Total Playoff Years: 70, 82, 83, 91C, 93, 94, 95, 97, 99, 11

P: 10
4: 1
2: 0
1: 0

Average: 0.26

#30 – Arizona/St Louis Cardinals (#30)

The Cardinals, formerly of St Louis, also used Kurt Warner to usher in a brief revival of their franchise (like the Rams). But, it was short-lived, and now the Cardinals look to Kevin Kolb to get them out of the bottom handful of teams in this study. To be ranked 30th and only above two expansion franchises speaks to the futility of this team that has had many horrid seasons in its long history.

Total Points: 10
Total Playoff Years: 74, 75, 82, 98, 08SL, 09

P: 6
4: 0
2: 1
1: 0

Average: 0.22

Arizona holds tie-breaker over Jacksonville due to Super Bowl appearances, 1-0.

#31 – Jacksonville Jaguars (#31)

Established 1995

Jacksonville certainly showed their fans how easy football was when they took off from expansion and went to the playoffs in 4 of their first 5 years with Tom Coughlin and Mark Brunell getting the Jaguars to two AFC Championship Games. Since then, not much of anything has happened for them and the stadium has a real difficult time finding capacity crowds.

Total Points: 10
Total Playoff Years: 96C, 97, 98, 99C, 05, 07

P: 6
4: 2
2: 0
1: 0

Average: 0.58 per season

#32 – Houston Texans (32)

Established 2002

Finally, in last place, but at least now on the scoreboard, are the Houston Texans. They made their first playoff appearance of their history in 2011, and will need many good seasons to pull out of 32nd place (short of a Super Bowl victory). That being said, they are now on the scoreboard and are feeling good about their future.

Total Points: 1
Total Playoff Years: 11

P: 1
4: 0
2: 0
1: 0

Average: 0.10

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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