The 10 Most Overrated Teams in All of Sports
Considering the ever-increasing media hype over sports teams is at an all-time high. Every professional analyst or amateur blogger can voice their opinion about which team should go all the way.
To say things don’t always go according to plan is an understatement.
Teams get more credit than they deserve for a number of reasons. A few of the many reasons why hype builds so much for a team is because they sign a big free agent, they finish the previous season on a hot streak in spite of a miserable year, or they have a player on the verge of a breakout season.
The following is my list of the top 10 overrated teams over the last decade. These are teams that have not won a championship from 2000-2009, are frequently picked as championship favorites, and some that have disastrous results.
I’m not saying these are bad teams. Not all of them, anyway. Although they do get a lot more media attention than deserved and have bandwagon fan bases.
In more ways than one, these teams are overrated.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
This isn’t an easy decision. The Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFL, posting a record of 103-56-1 over the last 10 years. They’ve won five division titles and three Wild Card berths in that length of time, but when they’ve missed the playoffs, the Eagles finish dead last in the division.
The problem is their inability to win the big game. Even with a franchise quarterback, notoriously fierce defense, and one of the league’s best kickers.
Four of their playoff losses have come by double-digits: the other four, by a touchdown or less. Five of those eight seasons have seen the Eagles make their exit in either the NFC Championship Game or Super Bowl, including four years in a row.
So why don’t the Eagles ever win the big game? Two reasons.
First of all, they burn themselves out by the end of the season. Only three of those playoff seasons have granted the Eagles a first-round bye. Having to rip off a massive win streak just to get in the playoffs (as was the case this year) leaves a team running on fumes, and without that extra week to get prepared and rest after a long season, it’s too easy to fall flat in the playoffs.
The other reason is lack of a running game. The Eagles have had some good backs during this time-span, including Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, and most recently, LeSean McCoy.
Unfortunately, the offense chooses to utilize the backs more as receivers in a West Coast system, rather than a pure running game. Without having a balanced attack, it’s impossible to keep the defense guessing, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re forced to throw the ball every play.
For some reason, a team that doesn’t effectively run the ball is consistently picked by ESPN and other media outlets as NFC East division winner or Super Bowl contender. Unless the Eagles learn how to balance their attack and keep their players rested effectively, they’ll remain in the ranks of the overrated.
9. Virginia Tech Football
The Hokies are usually the class of the ACC, and before that, the Big East. Eight of their last 10 seasons have been 10-win years, and they frequently produce successful professional players.
The ACC hasn’t had the strongest competition in recent years. Miami is trying to rebuild, Wake Forest and Boston College are underachievers, and Florida State has become mediocre.
The only legitimate teams the Hokies have to watch out for are Clemson and Georgia Tech. The latter has been taking control in the ACC recently, gaining the conference’s BCS berth for the 2009 season.
But to get to the bottom line, Virginia Tech has only won five of their last ten bowl games, and only finished in the top-10 four times. For a team usually predicted to be in the national championship picture, those numbers are below satisfactory.
In college football, it’s harder to say a team isn’t performing up to expectations if they’re consistently ranked and sporting that high of a win percentage. It’s hard to say 10 wins isn’t enough, but that’s the way the game is. One loss can keep you out of the title hunt.
So what do the Hokies have to do to become legitimate contenders for a BCS title? Be perfect. If they can’t do that, they need to get their one loss out of the way earlier in the season. Late losses absolutely kill a team’s chance at even play for a title.
Either way, the Hokies need to step up their game even more if they want to be taken seriously as a title contender.
8. Carolina Panthers
As much as it pains me to do so, the Panthers have to be on this list. They’re erratic, inconsistent, and downright disappointing.
In the last 10 years, the Panthers have had only three winning seasons in addition to two with a record of 8-8, four at 7-9, and that abysmal 2001 season where they posted just one win. To put it into words, the Panthers are mediocre.
Yet they still get picked to win it all every few years after a good season. In spite of the fact that they haven’t ever had back-to-back winning seasons.
Inconsistency kills the Panthers. One game, the defense posts a shutout, the offensive line opens up great holes for one of the league’s most dangerous running back tandems, and Jake Delhomme keeps himself out of trouble by not throwing picks. The next, they look like a high school JV squad.
Carolina has some great players. Steve Smith is a dynamic threat at receiver, DeAngelo Williams can break a run to the outside better than most running backs, and Jon Beason will be an all-pro linebacker for years to come.
I think the biggest problem is the coaching staff. They clearly don’t motivate the players well enough and don’t condition them to keep their heads in the game when things start to snowball out of control. If you want proof of that, revisit their divisional playoff game against the Cardinals two seasons ago.
A record of 79-83 over a ten-year span doesn’t inspire confidence. And it sure doesn’t make you contenders for anything other than least likely to achieve.
7. Kentucky Men's Basketball
As a fan of college basketball, this one is painful. Kentucky is supposed to be one of the elite programs in the game, they've been winners of seven national titles. But recently, they haven’t put up acceptable numbers for a program with such high standards.
Things start off well. The Wildcats have won 20 games or more in nine of their last 10 seasons, excluding the non-conference mess caused by Billy Gillespie in his first season.
However, only four out of the last 10 years have seen Kentucky reach the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. Four more years have seen a second-round exit, one year saw a first-round loss (as a No. 11 seed), and last season, the Wildcats didn’t even qualify for the field of 65, being doomed to NIT obscurity.
When you’re a big program like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, etc, not winning the National Championship is enough of a disappointment. To miss the Final Four is tough, but to not even get to the Sweet 16 is downright unforgivable.
So what’s the problem with Kentucky? It’s hard to put a finger on exact reasons, but the fact that former coach Rick Pitino is in Louisville and splitting valued in-state recruits isn’t helping.
New head coach John Calipari has lost only once this season, so it looks like things are starting to improve. However, this doesn’t mean anything yet. An upset can happen to anyone come time for the Big Dance, and considering Calipari’s less-than-reputable practices at his two previous stops (UMass and Memphis), even if they win a title or make it back to the big time, there’s no guarantee it won’t get vacated by the NCAA.
I really don’t like the road Kentucky is on. In the end, Calipari will do more harm than good, farming the program for the benefit of his own career and then moving on. Until Kentucky finds someone that wants to eat, sleep, live, and breathe Wildcat basketball for all the right reasons, nothing they can do will get them out of this habit of underachieving.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
This is another one that isn’t quite as easy to label, especially since I’m mostly focusing on the LeBron James era.
The Cavs haven’t missed the playoffs since James’ second season, reaching at least the conference finals the last three seasons. In the team’s first finals appearance ever, they failed to win a single game, dropping four and the crown to the Spurs.
Every year, Cleveland is picked not only as a contender in the eastern conference, but also as the team that should win the finals. I really don’t understand why, LeBron is great and all, but he doesn’t really rely on his teammates.
In spite of what most people would have you think, basketball is still a team sport. You can’t win a title all by yourself. Ask Kobe Bryant if you don’t believe me. He needed a supporting cast with guys like Gasol, Odom, and Bynum to finally win a title post-Shaq.
Michael Jordan didn’t win a title without Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson didn’t win without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and David Robinson didn’t win a title until he had Tim Duncan. You not only need great teammates, but you need to trust them and spread the ball around to be successful.
The only thing the Cavs have proved so far to me is that they can beat the Wizards in the first round, which they've accomplished three years in a row. Until they can win at least one game in the finals or elevate themselves past franchises that actually play together like a team (i.e. Celtics and Magic), the Cavaliers remain the NBA’s most overrated team.
5. New York Mets
I’m sure everyone expected the Mets to be higher up the list, and with good reason. Look up underachiever (or choke) in the dictionary and you’ll see the logo of New York’s less popular, less successful baseball team.
I honestly don’t know where to start. The Mets always throw money at people in free agency and sign big names, but they never seem to pan out. As a result, they’re routinely picked as favorites to win the NL East.
Well, they were until the epic collapse of 2007. Seriously, 17 games left to go and you can’t hold a seven game lead? After that historical breakdown, you’d have figured they would learn and not do the same thing the next year.
You’d have been wrong. With 17 games to go and a lead of three and a half games, the Mets did it again. They again blew the lead to the Phillies, the eventual World Series Champions.
The Mets haven’t been picked as a favorite for anything since then. From 2000-2009, the Mets won just one division title, and have finished more than 20 games out of first place four times.
Why do people keep thinking the Mets will get better? I don’t care if they do have Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, the incredibly versatile David Wright, and Jason Bay, the Mets are bad. I seriously think the Cubs will win the World Series again before the Mets.
I feel as if anything else I say about the Mets would be rubbing salt in the wounds of the dead horse I’m beating. On to the next slide.
4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Nobody else sells more merchandise than the son of arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR history. I know I’m going to catch hell from a lot of my fellow southern brethren over this one, but Dale Jr. really doesn’t deserve any of it.
Luckily for the content of this list, Dale Jr. has run exactly ten full seasons. Given how many endorsements he racks up, you’d think he’s a perennial Sprint Cup winner. Not even close.
In 363 career races, No. 88 has only won 18. He has 88 top-fives and 142 top-10s. He only has four top-10 finishes in the final point standings, three of which were top-five. Dale Jr. only won one race in the last three years, but he’s still made more money than you’ll ever see in your lifetime.
How much exactly? Just a shade under $50 million. For being a below-average driver.
Does that make anyone else sick or just me?
He used the fact that DEI wasn’t a major team as his excuse for not performing to the expected level. Ok, that’s fair, surely he would have won the Chase for the Cup in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports (aka the ’72 Dolphins of NASCAR).
Wait, that didn’t happen either. He finished 12th in his first year with the team and 25th in his second year. If you can’t win races with the greatest team of drivers and crew ever assembled, you don’t deserve all the credit you’re getting.
Stop riding your dad’s coat-tails and win some races.
3. Gonzaga Men's Basketball
If there’s a team completely undeserving of the credit they get, it’s Gonzaga. They play in a mid-major conference and have yet to even play in a Final Four, much less win a national title. They don’t produce NBA players worth noting (with the exception of the great John Stockton, but that was long before they were known by the rest of America).
On the upside, three Sweet 16's in 10 years is pretty solid for a mid-major squad. But to balance that out, they’ve also dropped three first-round games in the same timespan, losing to Indiana, Davidson, and Wyoming.
But for some reason, the media loves the ‘Zags. I think it’s more an infatuation with their name than anything else. This really isn’t a team deserving of a four-seed or better. They haven’t proved themselves to be elite in any way, shape, or form.
To give you a rundown of their conference opponents, Gonzaga has the good fortune to be in a conference with Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland, St. Mary’s, San Diego, San Francisco (winner of two NCAA titles—back in the '50s with Bill Russell), and Santa Clara.
Is the media oblivious to the lack of talent in this conference? Or are they impressed because the uniforms are bright, colorful, and sport such original mascots?
If Gonzaga moves to a more legitimate conference, such as the Pac-10 or Mountain West, and continues this kind of success, I might be more impressed. Until that day comes, you’re just a team that’s head and shoulders above the other mediocre teams that make up the WCC.
2. Notre Dame Football
Just two 10-win seasons in the last 10 years and still more media attention than local elections. Notre Dame is without question the most overhyped, overrated team in all of college sports.
The media and BCS computers are enamored with the Fighting Irish. Why else would a team with a 9-2 record, coming off a lowly 6-6 record, get a berth in the BCS, lose by two touchdowns, and still finish in the top-10 in the final rankings?
None of it adds up. Had that been any other team in the country, they wouldn’t have so much as sniffed a BCS berth (especially with an independent schedule against mostly weak opponents), much less finished ninth after an ugly loss to the Buckeyes in the desert.
Using former coach Ty Willingham’s senior class, Charlie Weis led the Irish to another two-loss regular season, followed by a 41-14 beating to the LSU Tigers in what was essentially a BCS home game for the Bayou Bengals.
Ok, so you’re playing well with someone else’s players and bringing in your own guys. They should be top-notch recruits capable of turning your program around. Right?
A record of 16-21 over the next three years is so bad it got Charlie Weis fired and the players voted on not playing in the bowl game they “earned.” I guess just because you were eligible doesn’t mean you deserve it.
Before beating a severely depleted Hawaii team in a 2008 bowl game, the Irish had lost nine straight bowl games. They haven’t won a legitimate bowl game since the 1993 Cotton Bowl.
I don’t care how well Brian Kelly did at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati. Charlie Weis had won three Super Bowls as an offensive coordinator and look how that turned out.
More than that, he’s given up all credibility after telling his players he wouldn’t take the job in South Bend, then did so behind their backs and didn’t bother to show up for the team banquet or coach them in their BCS game.
College football needs Notre Dame to be good. So much that the media tries to hype them up as something better than they are. Say all you want about Kelly’s coaching record and new recruits, but they haven’t been relevant since Lou Holtz, and I don’t think they will be.
May Touchdown Jesus have mercy on them.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Formerly known as America’s team, the Cowboys are the single-most overrated franchise in sports. With a record of 82-78 the last 10 years, Dallas has fallen on hard times.
The Cowboys have appeared in the playoffs four times since 2000, but until this season, hadn’t won a postseason game since Troy Aikman was quarterback.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Tony Romo may be the most overrated player in the NFL. Sure, he holds a few of the Cowboys’ team records, but he chokes in the playoffs and seems to prefer being a celebrity to the prospect of winning a Super Bowl, evidenced by his vacation to Mexico with Jessica Simpson a few years ago during his team’s playoff bye week.
Every year, professional analysts predict the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl, whether they’re any good or not. I’m not entirely sold on Miles Austin as a No. 1 receiver, Roy Williams still drops way too many passes, and the Cowboys go through kickers like toilet paper.
With a win against the Eagles in the playoffs this year, at least Romo has that monkey off his back. But instead of continuing their strong play (having recently beaten the Eagles twice and knocking eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints from the ranks of the unbeaten) against the Vikings, they rolled over, played dead, and made Brett Favre look like he was 26 again.
This isn’t a great team. They’re certainly not the best team in the NFC, and probably not even the best in the NFC East. Their receiving corps is weak (I’m not entirely sold on Miles Austin and Roy Williams still drops way too many passes), their backfield (while deep) is easily injured, and their defense, at times, resembles Swiss cheese.
Analysts and so-called experts, heed my words—stop picking the Cowboys to win it all. You’re only making yourselves look foolish.