The NFL Decade Power Rankings: The Top 10
The last 10 seasons in the NFL have provided fans of every team with triumphs and failures, wins and losses, and perhaps most importantly, hope for the future.
Seven different franchises won a Super Bowl this past decade, but fans of all 32 teams entered each season with hope, and that's what makes the NFL great.
The goal of this list is to look back at the last 10 years of the NFL and rank the overall successes and failures of each NFL franchises, and even try to answer questions such as these:
Would you rather your team have been a consistent winner that never quite put it all together in the playoffs, or a perennially poor squad with one magical playoff run?
Just how much is that one Super Bowl win worth to you as a fan?
Today, we unveil the top 10 teams of the decade.
You can find parts one and two below:
10. Carolina Panthers
A record of 79-81, one NFC title, two NFC title appearances, two division titles, three playoff appearances, and five playoff wins.
Best Season: 2003, 11-5, Lost Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2001, 1-15, Missed Playoffs
The Carolina Panthers were the the ultimate up-and-down team of the 2000s, but they managed to slide into the top 10 in the rankings.
At first glance, it's hard to believe that a team that once had a 1-15 season, never had back-to-back winning seasons, and had an overall losing record in the decade could make the top 10.
But the Panthers won an impressive five playoff games—four on the road—in three appearances, made two NFC title games, and made it to the Super Bowl in 2003.
9. Seattle Seahawks
A record of 82-78, one NFC title, one NFC title appearance, four division titles, five playoff appearances, and four playoff wins.
Best Season: 2005, 13-3, Lost Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2008, 4-12, Missed Playoffs
The Seattle Seahawks just might be the most underrated and under-appreciated franchise of the decade.
The Seahawks won four division titles, made the playoffs in five consecutive years, and reached the Super Bowl in 2005. Seattle may have benefited from a traditionally weak NFC West in the regular season but did win four playoff games in five years.
Seattle could have finished even higher on this list had they not fallen apart in 2008 and 2009, only winning nine combined games in two years.
8. Philadelphia Eagles
A record of 103-56-1, one NFC title, five NFC title appearances, five division titles, eight playoff appearances, and 10 playoff wins.
Best Season: 2004, 13-3, Lost Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2005, 6-10, Missed Playoffs
I'll explain in a second.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A record of 79-81, one Super Bowl title, one NFC title, one NFC title appearance, three division titles, five playoff appearances, and three playoff wins.
Best Season: 2002, 12-4, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2009, 3-13, Missed Playoffs
Picture this. You are somehow given the ability to choose your favorite team's future. More specifically, their next 10 seasons.
Behind Door No. 1, your team will average over 10 wins per season, average one playoff win per season, play in a conference title game every other year, but only make the Super Bowl once and lose. Not bad, right?
Behind Door No. 2, your team will have a losing record overall but slip into the playoffs five times, make a Super Bowl once, and win it.
Door No. 1 is the better team. But the Super Bowl is everything. You would have to take Door No. 2.
Door No. 1 is the Philadelphia Eagles. Door No. 2 is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
6. New Orleans Saints
A record of 83-77, one Super Bowl title, one NFC title, two NFC title appearances, three division titles, three playoff appearances, and five playoff wins.
Best Season: 2009, 13-3, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2005, 3-13, Missed Playoffs
The 2009 season was magical and catapulted the Saints into the top 10, but don't overlook what this franchise achieved as a whole in the 2000s.
The Saints were marred by inconsistency throughout the decade but did manage a playoff appearance and win in 2000. The team's worst season was in 2005, when they had to play every game on the road due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
The 2006 season brought the arrival of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. New Orleans won another playoff game that year and made it to the NFC title game. Three years later, Payton and Brees finished what they started and won the decade's last Super Bowl title.
5. Baltimore Ravens
A record of 92-68, one Super Bowl title, one AFC title, two AFC title appearances, two division titles, six playoff appearances, and eight playoff wins.
Best Season: 2000, 12-4, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2007, 5-11, Missed Playoffs
A fantastic 10 seasons for this franchise.
The Ravens rode perhaps the best defense of all time to a Super Bowl win to begin the decade and were consistently successful in both the regular season and playoffs throughout the 2000s.
Baltimore won only two division titles but managed eight playoff wins in six appearances. Even more impressive is that six of Baltimore's eight playoff wins were on the road.
4. New York Giants
A record of 88-72, one Super Bowl title, two NFC titles, two NFC title appearances, three division titles, six playoff appearances, and six playoff wins.
Best Season: 2007, 10-6, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2003, 4-12, Missed Playoffs
The New York Giants' decade was defined by two great runs to the Super Bowl.
In 2000, the Giants were a middling 7-4 but reeled off seven straight wins before losing to Baltimore in that year's Super Bowl.
In 2007, the Giants were 9-5 and fighting to make the playoffs. A Week 17 loss to the undefeated New England Patriots would be the team's last loss before an unbelievable playoff run that included three road wins and an upset of the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.
All six of the Giants' playoff wins occurred in those two seasons.
3. Indianapolis Colts
A record of 115-45, one Super Bowl title, two AFC titles, three AFC title appearances, six division titles, nine playoff appearances, and nine playoff wins.
Best Season: 2006, 12-4, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2001, 6-10, Missed Playoffs
The Indianapolis Colts have set the standard for regular season excellence, not only making the playoffs nine times, but also winning 12-plus games in each of the last seven seasons.
Unfortunately, the Colts will be remembered for some of their mystifying playoff failures, including home losses to the Steelers in 2005 and the Chargers in 2007.
A Super Bowl win in 2009 could have caused a legitimate argument over who would be the No. 1 team on these rankings, but the Colts have to settle for third.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
A record of 103-56-1, two Super Bowl titles, two AFC titles, four AFC title appearances, five division titles, six playoff appearances, and 10 Playoff Wins.
Best Season: 2008, 12-4, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2003, 6-10, Missed Playoffs
The Pittsburgh Steelers would almost certainly be the No. 1 team of the decade had they not lost the AFC Championship Game at home to the New England Patriots in both 2001 and 2004. Or maybe if both seasons following their Super Bowl wins weren't busts.
Nonetheless, the Steelers won two Super Bowls, made four AFC Title Games, and won 10 playoff games in 10 years. That's something for Steelers fans to be proud of.
1. New England Patriots
A record of 112-48, three Super Bowl titles, four AFC titles, five AFC title appearances, seven division titles, seven playoff appearances, and 14 Playoff Wins.
Best Season: 2004, 14-2, Won Super Bowl
Worst Season: 2000, 5-11, Missed Playoffs
It's almost hard to believe after reviewing all their accomplishments, but the most successful franchise of the decade got off to an inauspicious start.
Bill Belichick completed his first season in New England with a 5-11 record and began the 2001 season at 0-2. It was at this moment that Tom Brady stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe to face the 2-0 Colts at home in an old AFC East divisional game.
The Pats won that day and kept on winning that season. The Patriots improbably won the Super Bowl that year, their first of three in a decade that they truly dominated.