NFL 9-Year Report Card: Ranking the Teams By Regular Season Performance

Commenting AlwaysContributor IJanuary 18, 2011

NFL 9-Year Report Card: Ranking the Teams By Regular Season Performance

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    The 2002 season saw the Houston Texans replace the departed Oilers as the league's 32nd franchise.

    Thirty-two was a nice round number, so the NFL decided to reorganize the divisions into no less than eight distinct groupings of four teams based on geography (unless the Cowboys are involved). One team, the Seahawks, even switched conferences.

    The NFL has a very simple and fair scheduling process, but like every other North American league, we can not completely take the numbers on face value due to the different strength of schedule teams will always have in non round-robin processes.

    That said, let's look at the cold hard numbers. Every group and team ranked by regular season wins, out of a possible 144.


    C = Conference
    D = Division
    T= Tie 

32) Detroit Lions

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    Record: 37-107

    Best Year: 2007 (7-9)

    Worst Year: 2008 (0-16)

    The team that went a whole year without winning a game bottoms out the list. I can hear the gasps.

31) Oakland Raiders

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    Record: 48-96

    Best Year: 2002 (11-5)

    Worst Year: 2005 (2-14)

    The Raiders have had the Super Bowl hangover to end them all thus far, but things are finally looking up after the team swept its division.

30) Cleveland Browns

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    Record: 52-92

    Best Year: 2002 (9-7)

    Worst Year: 2004, 2006, 2008 (4-12)

    The Browns had been on a playoff drought since 2002. Thousands look to Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis to turn things around.

29) San Francisco 49ers

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    Record: 54-90

    Best Year: 2002 (10-6)

    Worst Year: 2004 (2-14)

    The 49ers, neighbor Raiders and the Cleveland Browns all last made the playoffs in 2002, the very first year of alignment. The 49ers managed to win the most irrelevant games of the three. 

28) Houston Texans

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    Record: 55-89

    Best Year: 2009 (9-7)

    Worst Year: 2005 (2-14)

    The Texans caused the realignment, but they're also the only team in pro sports to never make the postseason. 

27) St. Louis Rams

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    Record: 56-88

    Best Year: 2003 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2009 (1-15)

    The Rams have been on a six-year playoff drought, but this year saw them win more than the previous three years combined.

26) Arizona Cardinals

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    Record: 57-87

    Best Year: 2009 (10-6)

    Worst Year: 2003 (4-12)

    The Cardinals have been up and down—mostly down.

25) Buffalo Bills

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    Record: 59-85

    Best Year: 2004 (9-7)

    Worst Year: 2010 (4-12) 

    The Bills are tied with the Lions for the longest playoff drought in football. In fact, neither team has gone since the turn of the century. That's why it's kind of surprising that there's seven teams that have won less games over the timeframe. 

24) Washington Redskins

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    Record: 60-84

    Best Year: 2005 (10-6)

    Worst Year: 2009 (4-12)

    The Redskins have been on the floor of the best NFC division. They remain the second most valuable franchise in North America.

8D) NFC West

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    Average Record: 60.25-83.75

    Best team: Seattle Seahawks

    Worst team: San Francisco 49ers 

    The NFC West wasn't just the worst division this year, it was the worst since realignment. Somehow and despite the lack of Super Bowl championships, the NFC West also has the best playoff record in this timeframe. The next worse division won seven games more. The average is brought up by its leader, as the bottom three teams are all even worse than this mean. 

23) Cincinnati Bengals

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    Record: 62-82-1

    Best Year: 2005 (11-5)

    Worst Year: 2002 (2-14)

    The Bengals are one of four teams with a tie. 2009 wasn't the best, and 2010 wasn't the worst for the cats. That speaks to how inconsistent life has been in Cincinnati.

22) Miami Dolphins

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    Record: 64-80

    Best Year: 2008 (11-5)

    Worst Year: 2007 (1-15)

    Has there ever been a bigger improvement from one year to the next? The good news is if the Dolphins go 16-0 next season, they can finish the decade at .500. They're the first team on the list that can finish that high. And while the odds are slim, if there's one team known for perfect seasons... 

21) Kansas City Chiefs

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    Record: 67-77

    Best Year: 2003 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2008 (2-14)

    The Raiders-Chiefs rivalry has gotten dull for fans in other cities. 2010 may help return the rivalry to national prominence.

7D) NFC North

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    Average Record: 67.25-76.75

    Best Team: Green Bay Packers

    Worst Team: Detroit Lions

    Despite being the second lowest ranked division, the NFC North hasn't been particularly bad, but having the Lions really hurts the average.

2C) National Football Conference

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    Average Record: 69.75-74.25

    The NFC has been the weaker conference. Any difference from the league mean is the result of interconference play. The AFC has undoubtedly been stronger since realignment. 

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Record: 70-74

    Best Year: 2002 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2009 (3-13)

    The Bucs are the only team in the extremely volatile NFC South to finish under .500. Fun fact: The 2010 Bucs became the first team in NFC South history to not make the playoffs the year after it finished last in the division. Eight out of nine ain't bad.

    The Buccaneers are by far the worst team to win a Super Bowl in this period, winning the first one after realignment. So, in the only way that really counts, the Bucs are ranked much higher.

6D) AFC West

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    Average Record: 70.25-73.75

    Best Team: San Diego Chargers

    Worst Team: Oakland Raiders

    The West manages to be the worst division in both conferences. 

19) Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Record: 71-73

    Best Year: 2005 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2003, 2008 (5-11)

    The Jaguars make up the last sub-.500 team. Being stuck with the Colts certainly hasn't helped them.

18) New York Jets

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    Record: 72-72

    Best Year: 2010 (11-5)

    Worst Year: 2005, 2007 (4-12)

    The Jets are the only .500 team. The decade has been a wash for the junior New York team. 

5D) AFC North

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    Average Record: 72.5-71.5

    Best Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

    Worst Team: Cleveland Browns 

    Despite the Steelers and Ravens being two of the best teams in the NFL, the division average is brought down by the two teams in Ohio.

17) Carolina Panthers

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    Record: 73-71

    Best Year: 2008 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2010 (2-14)

    If NFC South patterns hold true, the Panthers will do very well next year. It'd be hard to not improve.

14T) Seattle Seahawks

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    Record: 74-70

    Best Year: 2005 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2008 (4-12)

    The Seahawks are the only NFC West team above .500. In any other division, they probably would not have made it. The next two teams tied with the Seahawks, but Seattle loses the tiebreaker on division strength.

14T) Minnesota Vikings

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    Record: 74-70

    Best Year: 2009 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2002, 2010 (4-12)

    The Vikings have had ups and downs, and so have their quarterbacks. I placed them under the next team based on their most recent performance.

14T) Chicago Bears

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    Record: 74-70

    Best Year: 2006 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2002 (4-12)

    Da Bears were underperforming, and when they finally do well enough to make the playoffs, no one believes in them. They'll look to change that perception with a win over the Packers next week.

1C) American Football Conference

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    Average Record: 74.25-69.75

    Obviously if the NFC is the worse conference, the AFC must be the best. This slide's placement shows that only 13 teams averaged a better record than the AFC as a whole.

4D) NFC South

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    Record: 74.375

    Best Team: Atlanta Falcons

    Worst Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The extremely volatile NFC South comes in as a middle of the road division.

3D) AFC East

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    Average Record: 76.25-77.75

    Best Team: New England Patriots

    Worst Team: Buffalo Bills

    The AFC East is the third best division even though only one team finished above .500. 

12T) New Orleans Saints

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    Record: 77-67

    Best Year: 2009 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2005 (3-13)

    The Saints were tied for the 12th best team, and are the second worst team to win a Super Bowl. This is a testament to the volatility of the NFC South.

12T) Tennessee Titans

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    Record: 77-67

    Best Year: 2003 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2005 (4-12)

    The Titans get the tiebreaker over the Saints due to divisional strength.  

2D) NFC East

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    Average Record: 77.125-66.775

    Best Team: Philadelphia Eagles

    Worst Team: Washington Redskins

    The NFC East takes the cake as the greatest division in the conference. The East has made a habit of beating on the other three conferences, occasionally sending no less than three teams to the playoffs.

11) Atlanta Falcons

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    Record: 77-66-1

    Best Year: 2010 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2007 (4-12)

    The Falcons are the best placing team in the up-and-down NFC South.

1D) AFC South

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    Average Record: 78-66

    Best Team: Indianapolis Colts

    Worst Team: Houston Texans

    The best four divisions are those ending in "South" or "East". The AFC South comes on top of them all.

9T) Denver Broncos

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    Record: 78-66

    Best Year: 2005 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2010 (4-12)

    Wow, where did 2010 come from? The Broncos have never lost in the double digits since realignment, and then McDaniels craps the bed. Maybe John Elway can fix things up.

9T) Dallas Cowboys

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    Record: 78-66

    Best Year: 2007 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2002 (5-11)

    The Cowboys win the tiebreaker over Denver due to a harder division. Aikman continues to see Romo break his records in every way except the trophy case.

8) New York Giants

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    Record: 79-65

    Best Year: 2008 (12-4)

    Worst Year: 2003 (4-12)

    The Giants have been doing pretty well for themselves. The Super Bowl didn't hurt, either.

7) Baltimore Ravens

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    Record: 82-62

    Best Year: 2006 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2007 (5-11)

    The Ravens are the first team that could go 0-16 next year and still guarantee a winning decade. I kinda want to seek out some 2007 preseason predictions now.

6) Green Bay Packers

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    Record: 84-60

    Best Year: 2007 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2005 (4-12)

    The Packers are the second best NFC team, yet have not been able to get to the Super Bowl since realignment. Will this be the year?

5) San Diego Chargers

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    Record: 88-56

    Best Year: 2006 (14-2)

    Worst Year: 2003 (4-12)

    The Chargers are the worst divisional champion in the AFC. This is still good enough for fifth overall. By comparison, the worst NFC champion is tied for 14th overall. Yes, the AFC is stacked.

4) Philadelphia Eagles

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    Record: 91-52-1

    Best Year: 2004 (13-3)

    Worst Year: 2005 (6-10)

    The Eagles have been the best NFC team since realignment. They have one NFC championship and zero Super Bowl wins to show for it. The playoffs are kind of a crap shoot.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Record: 93-50-1

    Best Year: 2004 (15-1)

    Worst Year: 2003 (6-10)

    The Steelers might win their third Super Bowl this year. This would make them the most successful since realignment and tied for first since Y2K. In none of these seasons have they had to get past the Patriots.

2) Indianapolis Colts

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    Record: 109-35

    Best Year: 2005, 2009 (14-2)

    Worst Year: 2002, 2010 (10-6)

    The Colts are the only team to make the playoffs every year. One Super Bowl ring is definitely underperforming. Such is life in the best of one playoff system, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

1) New England Patriots

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    Record: 110-34

    Best Year: 2007 (16-0)

    Worst Year: 2002 (9-7)

    The Patriots are the number one team since realignment. They have missed the playoffs twice on tiebreakers, including a surprising 11-5 season brought on by Matt Cassel after Brady went down.

    The Pats are only up by one regular season win, but for now they are the best regular season team since realignment.