Top teams never to win Super Bowl: Nos. 20-11

BY foxsports • January 23, 2013

With no pro football on the docket this week, here's an updated,
numbers-based look at the Greatest Teams To Not Win The Super Bowl —
a list that researches 47 NFL campaigns (1966-2012) and rewards
regular-season record, per-game point differential, turnover margin,
strength of schedule, divisional superiority, blowout victories (and
any other bits of extra credit that may vault certain teams into the
countdown).

The one significant caveat: Only teams
with 10 or more wins from 1966-77 (the NFL had a 14-game schedule) and
11 or more victories from 1978-2012 (16-game schedule) are considered.

Below are Nos. 20 through 11 on the list.







Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 6-2 ... Road: 8-0
Per-game point differential: +7.1
Turnover margin: +1
Wins by 10 points or more: 6
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 1
Record vs. playoff teams: 4-0
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 1
Playoff extra credit: Lost to Super Bowl champion (Giants)


OVERVIEW

Speaking of 14-2 Teams That History Forgot: The 1990 Niners were on path to becoming the first club in NFL history to win three consecutive Super Bowls. Ten straight wins to start the season. A scintillating 8-0 record in road games. And quarterback Joe Montana (3,944 yards passing, 26 TDs) posting the best statistical season of his Hall of Fame career. But alas, a Montana injury and subsequent fumble from Roger Craig in the NFC title game (against the Giants) thwarted San Francisco's bid for three straight Lombardi trophies.



Regular-season record: 12-2
Home: 7-0 ... Road: 5-2
Per-game point differential: +14.1
Turnover margin: +16
Wins by 10 points or more: 9
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 0-0
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 2
Playoff extra credit: None


OVERVIEW

At first blush, the '75 Vikings got the short end of the stick in this countdown. Is a top-20 ranking really commensurate for a Minnesota squad that started the season 10-0 and allowed 23 or more points in a game once that season? In this case, yes. As an unabashed devotee of NFL Films, I respect Jim Marshall (how is he not in the Hall of Fame?), Carl Eller and Alan Page for hailing the '75 team as the franchise's best during an unprecedented run of awesomeness from 1969-78 (nine division titles, four Super Bowl berths and 87 regular-season victories); but there are a few knocks here:

The '75 Vikings played in a noticeably weak NFC Central and faced zero playoff opponents that regular season. It also doesn't help that Minnesota got booted from the playoffs by 10-4 Dallas, via the famous Hail Mary play. What a shame. The Vikings could have gotten revenge on the Steelers in Super Bowl X, but it wasn't meant to be.



Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 7-1 ... Road: 7-1
Per-game point differential: +12
Turnover margin: +12
Wins by 10 points or more: 9
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 5-1
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff extra credit: Lost to Super Bowl champion (Steelers)


OVERVIEW

Sure, the Colts captured the Super Bowl crown one year later. But the 2005 club, in my opinion, stands out as Indy's best team of the Peyton Manning era. Indy opened that season with 12 straight wins, posted a 5-1 mark against playoff teams, tallied nine blowout victories and enjoyed a symmetrical bonanza in point differential (+12) and turnover margin (+12). The only things missing from that special season: A battle-tested kicker (Mike Vanderjagt) and a bit of good fortune after goal-line fumble recoveries (Ben Roethlisberger's season-saving tackle off Jerome Bettis' gaffe).



Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 7-1 ... Road: 7-1
Per-game point differential: +11.2
Turnover margin: +12
Wins by 10 points or more: 10
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 0-2
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff extra credit: None


OVERVIEW

It's not a stretch to draw eerie parallels between the 1999 Jaguars and 2007 Patriots, the kingpins of this countdown (spoiler alert). Both clubs proffered double-digit excellence in point differential and turnover margin while winning at least 10 games by 10 points or more. The two head coaches, Tom Coughlin (Jags) and Bill Belichick (Patriots), were direct descendants of the Bill Parcells coaching tree. And both teams, excruciatingly, lost to only one franchise during their near-flawless campaigns.

Of course, New England (18-1) lost to the Giants in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII — whereas Jacksonville went 0-3 against division-rival Tennessee. In a nutshell, that explains why the Jags are sitting at No. 17.



Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 6-2 ... Road: 8-0
Per-game point differential: +14.4
Turnover margin: -10
Wins by 10 points or more: 9
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 1
Record vs. playoff teams: 6-1
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff extra credit: Lost in Super Bowl (to Patriots)


OVERVIEW

I would love to reward the 2001 Rams (first in scoring, first in point differential, 8-0 road record, 6-1 against playoff teams) with a top-10 ranking, but it's hard to look past the club's minus-10 output in turnovers. When grading the NFL's greatest teams of the Super Bowl era without a curve, you won't find another one that invoked such a sloppy approach to closing out games — especially one playing in a bone-dry dome.

Yes, QB Kurt Warner (4,830 yards passing, 36 TDs), RB Marshall Faulk (2,147 total yards, 21 TDs), WR Torry Holt (81 catches, 1,363 yards, seven TDs) and WR Isaac Bruce (64 catches, 1,106 yards, six TDs) registered monster numbers in Mike Martz's explosive offense, but there's really no justification for 38 forced fumbles and 22 Warner interceptions. Ouch.



Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 8-0 ... Road: 6-2
Per-game point differential: +11.8
Turnover margin: +13
Wins by 10 points or more: 7
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 1-2
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 4
Playoff extra credit: None


OVERVIEW

The planets were aligned for head coach Marty Schottenheimer to experience a career breakthrough in 2006. The Chargers had a top-flight quarterback (Philip Rivers), formidable defense, supremely talented kicker (Nate Kaeding), the NFL's single greatest weapon (LaDainian Tomlinson), home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs and a path to the Super Bowl that didn't involve the notoriously stingy Ravens.

But a crushing loss to the Patriots in the divisional playoff round — when the Chargers couldn't retain possession of a crucial Tom Brady interception in the game's final moments — forever (and unfairly) sealed Schottenheimer's fate as a coach who can't win The Big One.

But that's a shallow perspective for this survey, given the Chargers' 14-2 mark, seismic margins in point differential and turnovers and plum spot atop the highly competitive AFC West.



Regular-season record: 11-1-2
Home: 5-1-1 ... Road: 6-0-1
Per-game point differential: +14.4
Turnover margin: +16
Wins by 10 points or more: 10
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 2-0
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 4
Playoff extra credit: Lost to Super Bowl champ (Packers)


OVERVIEW

The 1967 Rams, led by QB Roman Gabriel and the Fearsome Foursome (Lamar Lundy, Roger Brown and Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones), enjoyed a sublime regular season — 10 blowout victories, one signature win over the eventual champion Packers, plus impressive margins in point differential (14.4) and turnovers (+16).

Simply put, this might have been the Rams' second-greatest team of their 48-year tenure in Los Angeles (after the 1951 NFL champions — led by the immaculate QB tandem of Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield).



Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 8-0 ... Road: 6-2
Per-game point differential: +9.6
Turnover margin: +20
Wins by 10 points or more: 8
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 2-2
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff extra credit: Lost in Super Bowl (to Broncos)


OVERVIEW

There's plenty to love about the 1998 Falcons, from their perfect home record and monster turnover margin (+20) to the eight decisive victories against top-notch competition. Throw in a major upset win in the NFC title game (over the juggernaut Vikings) and a respectable loss to John Elway's greatest Broncos team (in Super Bowl XXXIV), and you have one of history's most undervalued clubs.

How unsung was this group? The team's three biggest offensive weapons were QB Chris Chandler (3,154 yards passing, 25 TDs), RB Jamal Anderson (2,165 total yards, 16 TDs) and WR Tony Martin (1,181 yards, six TDs).



Regular-season record: 15-1
Home: 8-0 ... Road: 7-1
Per-game point differential: +7.6
Turnover margin: +11
Wins by 10 points or more: 8
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 3-0
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff extra credit: Lost to eventual champion (Patriots)


OVERVIEW

The NFL has churned out only five 15-1 or 16-0 teams since the league expanded the regular season to 16 games in 1978. So, the following statement shouldn't be constituted as a slap in the face to the Steel City faithful: The '04 Steelers are the worst 15-win team of the bunch.

Elite humor aside, there aren't enough superlatives to describe the balance between the Pittsburgh defense, ranked No. 1 in scoring that season, and the offense helmed by rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger (2,621 yards passing, 18 total TDs) and veteran RB Jerome Bettis (13 TDs). After a Week 2 defeat to Baltimore, Big Ben and Co. ripped off 14 straight victories to finish the regular season. The Steelers were similarly stellar in three major areas: Turnover margin (+11), blowout wins (eight) and record vs. playoff teams (3-0).

Similar to the 1979 Chargers, Pittsburgh posted easy regular-season wins against the future Super Bowl combatants — New England and Philadelphia (in back-to-back weeks).



Regular-season record: 14-2
Home: 7-1 ... Road: 7-1
Per-game point differential: +12.2
Turnover margin: +7
Wins by 10 points or more: 8
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 1
Record vs. playoff teams: 5-1
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff extra credit: Lost to Super Bowl champ (Cowboys)


OVERVIEW

The 1992 Niners were as dynamic as their dynastic forebears of the 1980s, with Steve Young succeeding Joe Montana at quarterback and George Seifert seamlessly handling the coaching reins after Bill Walsh retired from the pro game in February 1989. Looking at the numbers, the '92 Niners earned strong marks in point differential (12.2), turnover margin (plus-seven), blowout wins (eight) and overall record against playoff teams (5-1).

For good measure, Young and Co. capped the regular season with eight straight victories — a necessity for holding off the eventual champion Cowboys in the race for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. (Not that Dallas needed it to capture its first Lombardi trophy in 15 years.)




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