In today’s post, we will be looking at the top 15 NFL franchises since the beginning of the Super Bowl Era (1966 season). The order of this list has been selected by an algorithm rather than opinion. I did this because I don’t believe I can be completely unbiased in my selections.
My weighted calculation was based on success over the entire period mostly based on season performances. I used 5 categories to create my calculation: playoff appearances, number of Hall-of-Famers, Super Bowl appearances, Super Bowl wins, and 2016 franchise value. With the weightings as follows:
- Playoff appearances – 0.4/40%
- # of HoFers – 0.15/15%
- Super Bowl appearances – 0.15/15%
- Super Bowl wins – 0.25/25%
- Franchise Value – 0.05/5%
Each statistic is from the Super Bowl era or later, meaning that any Hall-of-Famers that retired before 1966 will not count towards the HOF total, and so on. I also played around with the weightings a bit and I felt like this is the best formula I could come up with. So without anymore explanation, lets get started.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
My Favourite team since I was a kid has been the Eagles. I would put them higher on the list if it was based on opinion. However, with the weighting method I have used they came in at 15. Even without the Super Bowl win this past February, they ended up in the 15th spot. With 12 Super Bowl era Hall-of-Famers, including Reggie White, Brian Dawkins and Bob Brown the Eagles have been a storied franchise that has won throughout several eras. It took them until 2018 to win their first Super Bowl, but they were extremely competitive through the late 1960s, the 1974-1984 Dick Vermeil Era, and through the 2000s.
14. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has had some great teams through every decade, however, the last time they made the big game was 1969. With a rabid fanbase, the Chiefs are a team that has made the playoffs 19 times since 1966 and has kept the loyalty of their fans through a lot of above-average-but-not-great teams. However, there have been some talented players and coaches to come through Arrowhead with 20 HoFers. These include: Derrick Thomas, Len Dawson, Marcus Allen, Emmitt Thomas and Super Bowl winning coach Hank Stram.
13. Los Angeles Rams (St. Louis Rams)
Moving back to LA recently was a huge move by this franchise. Los Angeles has been a pretty weak organization over the past decade or so (when they were in St. Louis) but has put together a Super Bowl favourite once again. Through 1999-2001 they were a dominant force on offence with a fantastic nickname: “The Greatest Show on Turf”. The 1999-2001 version of the Rams included names such as Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, HoFer Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner; each who went on to have either have Hall of Fame careers or close to it. This would be where they went on to win their only Super Bowl in their history. Aside from the “Greatest Show” years, in the 1960s, they would have one of the greatest defensive lines in NFL history called the “Fearsome Foursome” led by HoF pass-rusher Deacon Jones.
12. New York Giants
While I dislike the Giants just as much as the next Eagles fan, I love them for beating the Patriots twice in the big game. Those two championships are only the latter half of the Giants Lombardi trophy haul; with the first two coming under all-time great coach Bill Parcells. Parcells would have one of the most batshit crazy defensive ends in history named Lawrence Taylor. Taylor is a Hall of Famer of course but was also so dominant, that the “Blind Side” tackle was to be the next highest paid player on a team behind the Quarterback. With many more hall of fame players in this organization and four Super Bowls, I was surprised to see our algorithm rank the Giants so low.
11. Indianapolis Colts
Peyton Manning may be considered the best Quarterback of all-time by some, while Johnny Unitas is another that jumps into the conversation for the best of all time. While both are great passers, they also both played football for the Colts. This team has been able to win two Super Bowls in its history, one in 1970 and the other in 2006. The 1970 iteration of the colts was led by the aforementioned Johnny Unitas, who would win Super Bowl V. In 2006 the Colts would defeat the Bears for their second Lombardi trophy, with Peyton Manning being named MVP. Aside from two of the best pivots in history the Colts were actually mediocre for the time period in between both playing.
10. Miami Dolphins
1972 and the Dolphins are NFL history, being the only team to go undefeated from the first week to the Super Bowl. The Dolphins of ’72 had coach Don Shula leading the way, with Bob Griese, Larry Czonka, and Earl Morrall. While the 2007 Patriots have the most wins in a season, the Dolphins have the only perfect season to date. Besides the ‘72 team, the 1980s and 90s were led by the great Dan Marino, who unfortunately had a championship ring elude him. They are no doubt a solid franchise and one that comes to mind when thinking about the great franchises of the National Football League.
9. Denver Broncos
In 1983, Marino was drafted by Miami, and the Baltimore Colts selected a talented but unwilling Quarterback in John Elway. Elway was traded that same offseason to the Broncos for a plethora of picks and players, and as they say: the rest is history. Elway would lead the Broncos to their second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth AFC conference title but would not win the big one until 1997, when Elway was nearly 40 years old. Mainly because of Elway and an older Peyton Manning, the Broncos were able to dominate teams through the 80s 90s and 2010s. Most simply, they are a force to be reckoned with.
8. Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins have been mired in mediocrity throughout the last decade in an always strong NFC East division. However, in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s the Redskins were a playoff contender in most years. The great Joe Gibbs created a team that was nearly always competitive, especially through the 80s and early 90s. Most notably was the stretch from 1982 to 1987 where the Redskins would make the Super Bowl 3 times, winning it twice. In 1982 they would lose only 1 game enroute to a near perfect season lead by running back John Riggins and pivot Doug Williams.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Norseman are tough and hardy and the Vikings franchise is no different. The Vikings of the 70s were a staple in the NFL and a perennial Super Bowl contender; they accomplished this by winning their division 11 times from 1968 to 1980. With a defensive line that is known through the ages, the “Purple People Eaters” dominated the NFL trenches. That defensive line featured two Hall-of-Famers in Alan Page and Carl Eller. However, the integral part of these great teams was legendary head coach, 4-time Grey Cup champion and CFL Hall of Fame inductee, Bud Grant. Unfortunately for Vikings fans these teams would never wear rings and to this day remain one of the only franchises in the NFL to not win a Super Bowl.
6. Oakland Raiders (Los Angeles Raiders)
On the West Coast in the 1970s, the Raiders of Los Angeles would also make the playoffs much like the Vikings. However, the Raiders would come out with 3 wins in the Super Bowl (1976, 1980, 1983). The Raiders of the 70s likely would have 2 or 3 more rings if they did not run into the Steelers in the AFC championship nearly every year. With two HOF coaches in John Madden and Tom Flores; an outspoken owner in Al Davis; and a number of legendary players such as Fred Bilitnekoff, Ken Stabler and Mel Blount, the Raiders are one of the staples in the NFL.
5. Green Bay Packers
This is where our equation for this model starts getting interesting, because I would have predicted the packers to be in the top 3. The Packers and their significance in football history is undeniable (the freaking trophy is named after Vince Lombardi!). 5 times the aforementioned trophy has been won by the Packers, and in 3 different decades, by 3 of the best quarterbacks to ever play (Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers). As a franchise it is miraculous that it has survived so long in a town of 150,000 people, however that is part of the charm of the Packers. Because half of the city is at historical Lambeau field to witness a team that is a year-in, year-out contender.
4. New England Patriots
I was shocked to see the Patriots so high considering they’ve only been relevant since a guy named Tom Brady took over. But in all seriousness, they have been the best team in the league since 2001, winning six Super Bowls in the same time frame. I can not deny the Patriots and their success, whether they cheated a couple times or not, they have won more games in a season than the Browns have won in the last five. Maybe, that is more of a testament to how terrible the Browns are, but it is still crazy nonetheless. Outside of Brady, there is Bellichick, Bledsoe, and Bruschi; all which had names that started with “B” and allowed Boston’s NFL team to dominate the 21st century.
3. San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco was the center of the hippie movement in the 1960s and 70s; in the 1980s they became the center of the football world. At this time of greatness, coach Bill Walsh created a system of football called the west coast offence, which is in use by many NFL teams today in a very pass-heavy league. This system would help to create a team that cantered around QB Joe Montana and WR Jerry Rice, both who went on to have okay careers. When Montana was getting past his prime, the Niners brought in a young gunslinger by the name of Steve Young, who would lead them to another two Super Bowls in what seemed like a never-ending dynasty.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
An extremely storied franchise, the Steelers have six Super Bowls, including four from the span of 1974-1979. Those four Super Bowls were with the dominant defence known as the Steel Curtain. The Steel Curtain had names such as “Mean” Joe Greene, Jack Hamm, Jack Lambert; and Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and Lynn Swann on Offence. This franchise had possibly the greatest team of all-time in the ’75 Steelers and has nearly always been competitive with many stars on defence throughout the decades.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Let us get this out of the way; I hate the Cowboys. But it is tough to debate the Cowboys as being one of the great franchises in NFL history. The 1970s brought the in the era of Tom Landry and Roger Staubach. This is where they would go on to earn the moniker “America’s Team”. In the 1990s with Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Charles Haley and other Hall of Fame inductees they would go on to win three Super Bowls. They possibly could have won more if they didn’t run into the Steve Young led Niners. Being the most valuable franchise in North American pro sports is something that they also claim. While I feel that they are overrated, they do have a long and storied history.