Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Feb 2010

NFL Standings, 2000-2009

With the last year of the first decade of this century now complete, here's how each team fared over the past ten seasons.

Teams are sorted by average regular-season wins, with ties counted as half a win. "Playoff Success" is simply Playoff Wins plus First-Round Byes. This rewards teams for "advancing" in the playoffs, whether they won there or not. This year, for example, the Bengals and Chargers both went 0-1 in the playoffs, but the Chargers made it to the Divisional Round since they had a first-round bye. In my mind, that makes their season more successful than Cincinnati's. You may disagree, and if so, feel free to ignore this column. There's really not much difference between this and Playoff Wins anyway.

Standard Deviation is the standard deviation (duh) of regular season wins for that team. Teams are ranked from most erratic (St. Louis, which started the decade in dominant fashion and ended as the worst team in the league) to most consistent (Buffalo, which was basically the same boring, C- team almost every year of the decade).

The Patriots are pretty clearly the team of the decade, finishing just behind the Colts in average wins and in first place in almost everything else. Indianapolis did have a remarkable span, though, making the playoffs nine times in ten years. (For comparison, Atlanta has made the playoffs nine times, total, in their entire 44-year history).

Surprisingly high team: Denver. The Broncos made the playoffs only four times in the '00s, and won only one playoff game, so it's easy to forget that only five teams won more regular-season games this decade.

Surprisingly low team: Well, none, really -- all the teams at the bottom of the list look like they belong there. If I had to pick one, it would be Houston -- they've been .500 or better three years in a row. I thought that would have boosted them a little, especially considering they were only around for eight years.

Team with the most playoff success, relative to regular season success: Really, it's New England, which has way more playoff success than anyone else despite being "only" second in regular-season wins and third in playoff berths. But look at Oakland -- seventh in playoff success, 28th in regular-season wins! They had three real good teams at the beginning of the decade, got to a Super Bowl, and then the bottom dropped completely.

Team with the least playoff success, relative to regular season success: Denver, as noted. Green Bay would be a good choice too -- six playoff berths, but only three wins (plus one first-round bye).

The Jets and Ravens tied for most Wild Card berths with four each. Not surprising, since they played most of the decade in the same divisions as the Colts and Patriots, the teams that finished one-two in division championships. (The Ravens were in the AFC Central and the Colts in the AFC East until the league thankfully realigned in 2002.)

NFL Standings, 2000-09
Team Avg. Wins Wild Cards Div. Champs Total Playoff Berths First-Round Byes Post. Wins Playoff Success Conf. Champs Super Bowl Wins Std. Dev. Rank
IND 11.5 3 6 9 3 9 12 2 1 2.37 24
NE 11.2 0 7 7 4 14 18 4 3 3.08 9
PIT 10.4 1 5 6 3 10 13 2 2 2.58 20
PHI 10.4 3 5 8 3 10 13 1 0 2.08 29
GB 9.5 2 4 6 1 3 4 0 0 2.84 12
DEN 9.3 3 1 4 1 1 2 0 0 1.77 31
BAL 9.2 4 2 6 1 8 9 1 1 2.57 21
TEN 9.1 2 3 5 3 2 5 0 0 3.21 7
NYG 8.8 3 3 6 2 6 8 2 1 2.66 17
SD 8.5 0 5 5 2 3 5 0 0 4.20 2
MIN 8.4 1 3 4 2 3 5 0 0 2.27 27
NO 8.3 0 3 3 2 5 7 1 1 2.58 19
DAL 8.2 2 2 4 1 1 2 0 0 2.82 13
SEA 8.2 1 4 5 1 4 5 1 0 2.70 15
CHI 8.1 0 3 3 3 2 5 1 0 3.28 5
NYJ 8.0 4 1 5 0 4 4 0 0 2.40 23
MIA 7.9 1 2 3 0 1 1 0 0 3.38 4
CAR 7.9 1 2 3 1 5 6 1 0 3.11 8
TB 7.9 2 3 5 1 3 4 1 1 3.03 10
JAC 7.6 2 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 2.41 22
ATL 7.6 2 1 3 1 2 3 0 0 2.63 18
STL 7.1 2 2 4 2 3 5 1 0 4.25 1
KC 7.0 1 1 2 1 0 1 0 0 3.23 6
WAS 7.0 2 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 1.94 30
CIN 6.9 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 2.77 14
SF 6.8 1 1 2 0 1 1 0 0 2.86 11
BUF 6.6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.71 32
OAK 6.2 0 3 3 2 4 6 1 0 3.46 3
ARI 6.2 0 2 2 0 4 4 1 0 2.25 28
HOU* 6.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2.36 25
CLE 5.7 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.31 26
DET 4.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2.70 16
* Houston entered the league in 2002.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 08 Feb 2010

113 comments, Last at 12 Feb 2010, 10:16pm by nat


by Kulko :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:47am

Hmm Even when the Ravens where in the AFC Central, the still doidi not play in the division of the Pats and Colts. They just where competitive throughout the decade but justa notch below Pit, which is the reason for most of the WCs. And when they manage to beat the Steelers, CIN somehow has a magical season and denies them the title again.

Anyway nice list, which has a few other interesting tidbits.

Arizona ist right next to Oakland in turning lots aof lousy seasons into two good playoff runs.

Why again is Carolina year in year out one of the Favs in the NFC when in relality they have just been middling about.

by countertorque :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:05pm

The Jets and Ravens tied for most Wild Card berths with four each. Not surprising, since they played most of the decade in the same divisions as the Colts and Steelers, the teams that finished one and three in division championships.


by dryheat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:50pm

The Jets played most of the decade in the same division as the Colts? I think your fix needs fixing. Patriots and Steelers, perhaps?

by countertorque :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:51pm

Yup, I'm an idiot :)

by ammek :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:09am

Would love to see VOA, DVOA, estimated wins and 'variance' added to this list!

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:34am

While you do explain in the text, you really should correct the heading to "Avg. Reg. Wins" or add a column for "Total Wins" that actually counts all the wins. It's not like you don't know the total. You're just hiding it.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:44am

Quick hint: multiply the 10 year average by 10 to get the 10 year total.

by iapetus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:00pm

Unless you're in Houston.

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:51am

Congrats to PIT for a solid second in the "team of the decade" sweepstakes, with its two Super Bowls and overall playoff success. It's easy to forget them with all the hype for Manning and the Colts. Patriots grab first (most total wins, best playoffs by far). Yippee from this Pats fan, despite a disappointing showing this year.

PHI and IND can argue about third place. IND has a Super Bowl win. PHI has more playoff success and wins despite being hampered by a much tougher (in terms of playoff appearances by divisional rivals) division. The Colts' regular season record might tip the scales, but again, that's in a much easier division.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:15am

Super Bowl win easily trumps the better record.

Philadelphia doesn't even really deserve to be in the top5, imho, because of only one Super Bowl appearance and no Super Bowl victories.

by billsfan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:45am

Who, then, are your top five, if you're automatically excluding a >100-win team for having *lost* a Super Bowl?

I can see putting PHI in 4th, behind IND/NE/PIT, but it's absurd to say a team that was a serious championship contender for more than half of the decade isn't in the top 5.

(I also like the Eagles)

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:27pm

I would, and have, argued that the Giants have had a better decade than Philly (not because they won a championship, but because of how they did it). They haven't been as consistently good, but their peaks were more memorable. Plus, it seems (wrongly, I concede) like the Giants have turned over their whole roster while it's the same old Reid-McNabb Eagles

by billsfan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:07pm

It's all a matter of timing. 2 SB appearances with a turnover of almost the entire roster vs. consistent success in the intervening years.

Regardless, it definitely made for some entertaining divisional games!

(I also like the Eagles)

by The Blow Leprechaun (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:08am

The AFC South is a "much easier" division? What NFL are you watching? Reasonable people can disagree about whether the NFC East or the AFC South is the toughest division in football. Only non-rational people would describe one as "much easier" than the other.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:45pm

There's a rational person who can claim that Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee is a tougher divisional slate than Washington, Dallas, New York during this decade?

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:12pm

I think there's a debate to be had, yes. The Titans have been slightly better than the Giants (the best of the other NFC East teams). The Jags have been slightly worse than the Cowboys; the Texans have been slightly worse than the Redskins. Factor in the two years in a fairly tough AFC East (with, for example, the 2001 Patriots), and the fact that the Colts have probably had tougher out-of-division schedules overall due to playing in the stronger conference (much stronger, once you take the East out of the NFC and the South out of the AFC) and winning their division more consistently (presumably leading to tougher SoS games against the likes of the Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Chargers and Ravens) and I don't think it's at all clear that Indy has enjoyed easier schedules than the Eagles over the course of the decade.

by billsfan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:05pm

I think most of the reasonable people actually debate NFCE vs. AFCN, or at least that was the case last time we had this argument. Maybe something has changed in the last month.

(I also like the Eagles)

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:34pm

That doesn't seem right either. The AFCN contains the two Ohio teams. Not a real good decade for them. I mean, the AFCW has had some good seasons from KC and Oakland, as well as Denver and SD.

by nuk :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:21am

That's funny - I thought the Colts were a "solid second." I think 11 more regular-season wins and three more playoff appearances beats out one superbowl win. As disappointed as I was in last night's loss, there's only so much anguish I can get out of one game. 11 more happy regular-season Sundays more than makes up for it.

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:48am

See my chart below for my thinking on the relative value of games. As a minimum, you need to rate the Super Bowl high enough that an 8-8 wildcard that wins the Super Bowl is rated as more successful than a 16-0 runner up. That puts a Super Bowl win at 9 or more regular season wins in value. If you consider an 8-8 Conference Champion as successful as a 16-0 conference runner up, that bumps the values higher still.

You can't really give extra points for playoff appearances. These are either due to regular season wins (already counted) or easy divisions (not worth anything, really).

So, if you want to claim Colts as second, you need to tune your values really, really, really carefully. And we'll all just laugh at you.

Third place. Best regular season record, though. They're really quite good when the pressure is off. Just 9-9 when it matters, though. Them's the breaks.

by nuk :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:08pm

Years ago I came up my own arbitrary system for this sort of thing. I don't value playoff victories as highly as you do. Personal opinion. I think the Patriots had a better season in '07 than the Giants did.

1 regular-season victory-equivalent for losing in the WC round, 2 for divisional, 4 for conf. championship, 7 for SB loss, and 11 for SB victory. That gives the Steelers 33 win-equivalents in the playoffs, and the Colts 31. So by my reckoning, the Colts are 9 games ahead of the Steelers for the decade.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:43pm

Also a solid second for these Steelers for "Best decade in Steeler history".

by kamiyu206 :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 1:18am

I don't mind someone call Steelers are second best franchise of the decade, but it is certainly arguable. I think Colts and Steelers are in the conversation of "second best in the decade", while Eagles seems fit in fourth best position.

by ChrisFromNJ :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:17pm

I think you could make a credible case that the Giants should be ahead of the Eagles- the Giants are the only NFC team to make multiple Super Bowls this decade, and unlike the Eagles, they actually won one of them.

Yes, the Eagles were more *consistently* strong, with a higher average performance and lower variance (they didn't have any horrible seasons like our 2003 and 2004), but I'm not sure that *any* Giants fan (such as myself) would give up the decade we just had for the decade the Eagles had. Whereas I think it's safe to say that Eagles fans would have gladly given up a couple of those NFCCG appearances for a Super Bowl win.

Regardless, the Eagles and Giants are certainly the only two teams worth discussing as "best in the NFC" over the last decade, and I'd say both are somewhere between 4th and 6th overall for the decade, along with the Ravens.

by Quincy :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 2:43pm

I'm a Giants fan and I think the Eagles were clearly a better team over the course of the decade. I would not give up the one month the Giants had in 2008 to trade places with any team on the list, but that's hardly a reasonable way to evaluate which team was better over the course of 10 years.

by ChrisFromNJ :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 3:02pm

Oh, I 100 percent agree that the numbers point to the Eagles being the better team year-in and year-out. I just think this is one of those areas where squishy concepts like "legacy" and "which fan base would you rather be" come into play.

by andrew :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:44am

Playoff dissapointment

Teams with more byes than wins:

Chicago 3:2
Tennessee 3:2
Kansas City 1:0

of course they may not have been the same year. Could get data for # of byes that didn't win a postseason game that year.

Best team to not win a superbowl - Eagles. Pretty much what we already knew.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:07am

The Titans had byes in 2000, 2002, and 2008; their two wins came in 2002 and 2003.

The Bears had byes in 2001, 2005, and 2006; their only two wins came in 2006.

The Chiefs had a bye in 2003 and lost their only playoff game.

by graywh (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:05pm

Don't make it sound like the Chiefs only had one playoff game in the decade--they also made it as a wild card in 2006.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:22pm

Ah, yeah, my statement was a bit unclear. I meant they lost their only playoff game in their bye season.

by Phil Osopher :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:25am

I guess Detroit fans can really tell Browns fans that Matt Millen screwed them harder than the Lerners ever did to Cleveland.....and be right.


by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:10pm

Super Bowls are better then Conference Championships are better then other playoff advances are better than regular season wins. But by what ratio?

One way to think of it is by looking at the pool of teams at each level.
Regular season = 32 teams = 1 regular win.
Conference Champioship games = 4 teams = x8 win.
Super Bowl = 2 teams = x16 win.
Byes and divisional round wins = 8 or 12 teams =
(about) x3 wins.

So each playoff success is worth 3 regular season wins. Each conference championship is worth an additional 5 wins (3+5=8). Each Super Bowl win is worth an additional 13 wins (3+13=16).

That seems about right. Your mileage may vary.

... Reg Win Success
NE. 112 126 225
PIT 104 114 179
IND 115 124 174
PHI 104 114 148
BAL 92. 100 137
NYG 88. 94. 135
NO. 83. 88. 122
TB. 79. 82. 109
GB. 95. 98. 107
TEN 91. 93. 106
SEA 82. 86. 102
CAR 79. 84. 102
CHI 81. 83. 101
SD. 85. 88. 100
DEN 93. 94. 99
MIN 84. 87. 99
NYJ 80. 84. 92
STL 71. 74. 91
DAL 82. 83. 88
ATL 76. 78. 85
OAK 62. 66. 85
MIA 79. 80. 82
JAC 76. 77. 79
ARI 62. 66. 79
KC. 70. 70. 73
WAS 70. 71. 73
SF. 68. 69. 71
CIN 69. 69. 69
BUF 66. 66. 66
HOU 49. 49. 49 (8 seasons)
CLE 57. 57. 57
DET 42. 42. 42

Contrary to my earlier comment, that puts the Colts clearly ahead of the Eagles, but behind the Steelers by virute of their Super Bowl loss. That feels right.

The Ravens and the Giants are very close for fifth/sixth place.

by DelawareSteeler (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:50pm

worth mentioning that these are closer than they appear at first, especially at the top, due to the added weight of playoff games...assume, for example, that bettis picks up that first down in the first quarter of the 2004 AFCCG...might have been the steelers that went on to win the 04 super bowl and been the clear #1 here. Of course, at the same time, had the colts won the divisional game in 05, the steelers aren't even in the discussion.

not criticizing the system...i think it makes sense considering how close the games themselves really are.

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:41pm

That's crediting the Steelers with two wins for turning around one play. That's a bit much, although your basic point is valid: when you're talking about wins, especially playoff wins, there's a lot of noise in the system.

This was a "Success" chart. It is supposed to include the lucky bounces, the team-wide flu outbreaks, etc. And it is supposed to value Super Bowls much higher than regular season games.

If you want to look at team quality, you need something with specific opponent adjustments, preferably done on a per-play basis. You want DVOA, or at least wins adjusted by opponents' DVOA.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:35pm

No offense, but that's homerriffically insane. Are you now saying that you would trade an 0-16 season in 2010 for a Pats SB win (regardless of record) in 2011? (if I read it right)

Losing 6 is frustrating, 8 crushing, 10 demoralizing, and 16 is almost terra incognita, and surely worse for fans of a team with SB aspirations than for Lions fans who knew the days was coming eventually. I lived through a 1-15 Colts season a couple decades ago; living in NYC my only bright spot was their win over the Jets. I'd put on my ball cap every morning and head to work more a way to say F-you to the rest of the world than anything else.

Just a gut feeling, but I suggest you halve everything in your chart above.

I agree with the poster above in that I'd rather have had the Pats 18-1 2007 season (much as I like to ridicule it) than the Giants heroic, unlikely, luck-fest. 18 weeks of intense happiness followed by one week of knowing you were edged out by the skin of someone's teeth, compared to about 8 weeks of happiness, 4 weeks of doubt, 4 weeks of uncertainty, three weeks of rising optimism and happiness, and one great blow-out day of supremacy (during which you keep looking over your shoulder to make sure Mephistopheles is not coming to collect on his bargain). If they played 2 out of 3, I think most people--including Giants fans--would give the edge to the Pats.

To me, that season (as with the season my Colts just finished) was pretty damn awesome.

Also, to me, there's a value in low variance from year to year. (That could be my 20/20 hindsight Colts homerism showing through, not sure.) Chalking up 12+ wins every year makes me a lot less nervous each week. In fact, I don't look at the next year's sked and see who we will beat, but look at it and see what games we might lose and figure out which ones I'd be okay with (top teams away usually, but AFC losses hurt more than NFC losses).

by Mystyc :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:19pm

You can't seriously be suggesting that winning or losing the Super Bowl is only exciting or painful for one week.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:37pm

I'm still not over 18-1...magnified greatly by the fact I was in attendance for the would-be coronation, and got something less. I doubt I'll ever watch that game again. I know for a fact I won't watch the 2006 AFCC again.

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:29pm

Hi, Bobman, you Colts fan you.

I'm saying a Super Bowl win is much more noteworthy than a regular season win. How much more is a matter of taste. I don't mind if you want to value it differently.

I came up with a value based on how many teams are left at each stage of the playoffs. This makes the Super Bowl twice as noteworthy as a Conference game (reasonably), and each of those more than twice as valuable as an early round playoff game (again, reasonable. It's a championship after all). I put advancing in the early rounds as worth 3 regular season games. For example, I'd rather get in as a sixth seed and lose in the conference game than get a bye week and go one and done. As a Colts fan, you know what I'm talking about. From the early years of the decade, anyway.

Feel free to try different numbers. Any reasonable numbers put the Colts second or third. I'm a fan of champions, so I put the Colts third. You may favor teams that win when the games aren't so important. So you can put the Colts second, if it helps.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:38am

"Thankfully realigned"? Really? I still hate this realignment.

by NoraDaddy :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:59pm

I'm interested. What's your issue(s) with the current alignment? You have to admit that the 32 team, 8 division alignment is great for scheduling purposes. For the most part teams with long standing rivalries are still in the same division. Some divisions are much stronger/weaker than the others but that's going to happen.


by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:28pm

Yeah, I think the realignment was really well done. It's to the point now that I rooted against the Saints yesterday because they're in Tampa's division, and I'm starting to actively dislike them. It's not exactly Packers-Vikings, but there's at least some sense of division rivalry starting.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:21pm

I'm a Texans fan who was rooting against the Colts in a living room with two Falcons fans who were rooting against the Saints.

Actual hatred is reserved for the Titans and Cowboys, however.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:58pm

I guess if you're going to realign, this is how to do it, but I just feel it increases the odds of a weak team winning a weak division and thus making the playoffs over a better team in a deeper division. Every time that happens, that feels like an argument against realignment, and one stronger than the smoothness of scheduling that the realignment has given us. (For what it's worth, I don't mind the wild card in baseball, but also don't care for the new divisions they created).

Has it actually created that many rivalries? I disliked Tampa when they were in the Central, but don't now that they've moved. It's created new rivalries, but at the expense of old ones.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:27pm

Well, most of the "traditional" rivalries still exist. The NFC East still has all their traditional rivals (Arizona never fit in), the NFC North has them (Tampa never fit in), the AFC North still has the Steelers-Bengals-Browns axis, plus the Ravens thrown in for new fun. I don't think any particularly interesting old rivalries were dropped during realignment, and a bunch of new ones have been added (Indy-Tennessee springs to mind as a big one). All in all, it really improved things.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:21pm

But strangely, Indy-NE became the league's premier rivalry AFTER they were pulled apart (and possibly because of that--by that, I mean if either team won twice in the reg season would there be as much buildup for their post-season clashes? having a single, usually close regular season game kept the post-season games much more "edgy").

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:56pm

I'm still not sure how it improved things. Aren't most of these rivalries that developed just a function of the two teams being good, or being at about the same competitive level? Which is to say, if the Bucs and Packers dominated a continued NFC Central throughout this decade, that would be a really good rivalry right now, simply because good teams that play each other a lot tend to make for a good rivalry. The realignment appears to have created different rivalries, but I'm not sure I see an improvement.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:42am

With the Katrina year removed, the Saints' average move up to 8.9 wins/year, just above the Giants.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:09pm

NO 8.3
CAR 7.9
TB 7.9
ATL 7.6

Welcome to the NFC South, apparently the NFL's most utterly average division.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:33pm

the south and the west each produced three different super bowl representatives in the decade, despite their perceived inferiority to the east

by TXNiner :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:47pm

Surely you speak not of the NFC west. They only got 2 teams into the Super Bowl this decade. And for kicks, their division rankings:

SEA 8.2 (14th)
STL 7.1 (22nd)
SF 6.8 (26th)
ARI 6.2 (28th)

Yikes. That's a bad division.

by Jonah (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:57pm

XXXVI: St Louis
XL: Seattle
XLIII: Arizona

That is 3, right?

by nuk :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:58pm

If we count current denizens of the West,

Rams, '1
Seahawks, '5
Cardinals, '8

Were you ignoring the Rams because they were elsewhere in '1? I forget.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:20pm

They were indeed in the old-style NFC West as well.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:11pm

In the 8 years since realignment, the NFC South has been the best NFC division in the Playoffs. They're 1st in NFC Championship game appearances (6, 1 more than NFC East), 1st in NFC titles (3, 1 more than the East and West), 1st in Super Bowl titles among NFC divisions (2, 1 more than East). Their 2 Super Bowl titles ties the AFC East (2 Patriot titles) and the AFC North (2 Steeler titles) for most titles by a division.

Of course, they change position more than any other division; Those 3 NFC championships were won by 3 different NFC South teams.

by wr (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:35pm

Hate to tell you this, but the AFC East (Pats) have 3 SB titles
this decade. (01, 04, 05)

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:44pm

Hence the "8 years since realignment".

Here's a useful guide to FO posts: If a poster uses a strange choice of time period (e.g. 8 years since realignment, 6 most recent "significant games", etc) to make a point, it's a sure bet that just before that period something happened that blows the argument out of the water.

This is usually true even if there's a good reason for the otherwise strange time period.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:49pm

Hint: when discussing a division, it might be helpful to use a time period in which the teams were together.

by nat :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 9:44am

This is usually true even if there's a good reason for the otherwise strange time period.

Close captioned for the humor impaired.

by D :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:42pm

The Saints and the Bucs winning the Super Bowl in the same decade who ever would of thought it.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:41pm

Same folks who could foresee New England winning three and Seattle and Arizona making it that far. I guess Cincinnati and Detroit next year?

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:46pm

No, really. Bengals over Lions in 2010-11.

by confused (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:15pm

1. If Indy is third, why are they first in the chart?
2. What the hell is the "Rank" column about? It doesn't appear to match anything in the chart or article? Did I just miss the "Explaining the charts" article somewhere?

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:23pm

"Rank" is the rank of the std deviation. Not very useful on this chart, in my opinion.

Indy is first on the chart because they have the most regular season wins, although regular season games are the least important games listed here. Why is it done this strange way? Because Colts fans will whine if you order the chart by total wins, or playoff wins, or Super Bowl wins, etc.

The Colts are in a five-way tie for third in Super Bowl wins this decade, a three-way tie for second in conference championships, a three-way tie for third in lesser playoff wins, a four-way tie for second in playoff byes, and first for regular season wins. They are second in total wins and fourth in playoff wins of all types.

So naturally, the list is ordered by regular season wins. Go figure.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:27pm

The rank gives you an indication of how consistent a team has been this decade during the regular season. As he said, St. Louis at #1 has varied the most, ahead of San Diego and Oakland.

The top of the most consistent list includes Philadelphia and Denver (unfortunately they're pretty consistently just short of playoff consideration).

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:56pm

We get it. You hate the Colts.

Your ranking method a few levels up isn't bad, actually, though it might weigh Super Bowl wins a little too much. But your constant harping against the Colts (and their fans' whining, though no one has complained about your method) makes it look like you've chosen your methodology just to get them as low as you can without looking crazy.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:38pm

Jeez, Eddo, you think?

I was with you until the part about not looking crazy--too late for that.

by Sunil (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:25pm

Interesting to see SEA with average 8.2 wins has 4 NFCW titles - that's the level of suckitude in the NFCW!!

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:51pm

Putting the Steelers ahead of the Colts based on two fluky Super Bowl wins is pretty silly. they haven't been nearly as consistently good as the Colts (in fact, they've mostly just been lucky they didn't have to -play- the Colts in the playoffs).

Winning a single football game isn't that impressive, even if it's a Super Bowl. "Any Given Sunday" and all that. I would characterize the Steelers as about equal to the Eagles. (Indeed, in both regular season and playoff wins, they're equal).

The interesting teams are a little further down. I think Dallas has had a reasonably successful decade, but the numbers don't bear it out. Likewise, New Orleans was awful until they got a quarterback and the rest of the NFCS simultaneously misplaced theirs (or said quarterback's ability to play football, in the case of Carolina).

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:48pm

This Colts fan has little problem putting the Steelers ahead of the Colts. They are ALWAYS a threat, DID win two SBs and DID beat the Colts H2H in Indy when the Steelers were the 6 seed and Colts the 1st. (To this day I am pained more by that game than ysterday's.) To my mind, that combination easily evens things out when comparing reg season wins, and to others (see gnat's irrational SB worship above) it puts them light years ahead.

Also, not sure I'd call their SB wins fluky--big plays happen--Harrison was the DPOY for a reason, and while the officiating bit the big one in the Seahawks SB, I doubt I am the only Seattlite who saw a couple calls/non-calls go the other way as well (notably a pushoff non-call in the EZ that resulted in a Seattle TD--trade that for the Ben QB sneak that didn't go in and the margin is the same). I'd call the Steelers-Colts playoff game that season flukey regardless of who won--many strange plays and calls in that one and in the end, the better team that day won. if they got to play 2 out of 3, I'd like the Colts chances....

By the way, did you know Jerome Bettis was from Detroit? I had no idea, myself.

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:09pm

The Steelers come out ahead or behind the Colts depending on how you value Super Bowls. Remember, this started with an analysis of "how they fared" rather than "how good they were". Most people would give more weight to Super Bowl wins for that purpose. And flukiness (I don't recall the details) doesn't matter. A win is a win when it comes to success or failure in football.

Most people put a lot of value on a Super Bowl win. As was commonly said after the 2007 playoffs, 10-6 with a Super Bowl win is much more successful than 16-0 with a Super Bowl defeat. That puts the common perception of the value of a Super Bowl win at much more than 6 games.

I put the value at 16 games, based on the number of teams that advance that far each season. Coincidentally, that makes Super Bowl Sunday worth the same as a typical regular season week. It certainly garners more fan interest and fame than a typical week.

This also leaves room to value conference championships at 8 each: also the same value as a regular season week. The earlier playoff rounds each rate lower than a regular season week, but not by a lot. That matches the level of fan interest and fame involved.

So, whether or not the Steelers have been as good as the Colts, they have been more successful in terms of advancing through the playoffs to championships. If you want to say there is less at stake on Super Bowl Sunday than in week three of the regular season, go right ahead and rate the Colts higher. It's okay with me.

by cd6!!! (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:20pm

in fact, they've mostly just been lucky they didn't have to -play- the Colts in the playoffs


Way to forget the most memorable divisional round playoff game, basically ever.

by Nico (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:22pm

I think everyone understands the any given sunday scenario but the point is you need to be there on the Sunday. They play the game to win superbowls so no way can you say the Eagles are equal to the Steelers given the Steelers 2 superbowls to the Eagles nil and considering playoff and regular season perfromance.
I could understand debate around Colts and Steelers being 2 and 3 but without doubt they are 2 and 3.
Someone could also argue that the Steelers were unlucky to play the Patriots in the playoffs a couple of times, they did after all beat the Colts when they met.

by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:55pm

Let me just be a voice for not trying to combine these into one "Who did the best" number. It's just far too subjective an idea for a formula to make any sense.

With that said, let me move on to my subjective and non-formulaic reason why I think the Colts are a much more significant team from the past decade than were the Steelers (still behind the Pats), which is admittedly different from "most successful", an equally nebulous and, I think, less interesting label.

The Colts were a regular season machine, and at least twice in my memory forwent regular season wins because they already had the 1-seed sewn up. Although no-one is arguing that the point is to win in the playoffs, the regular season is a lot longer and consistent regular season success more memorable, for that reason, than is irregular playoff success. Furthermore, the Colts, like the Patriots, were an iconic team. Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are an iconic trio, with Peyton Manning one of the most iconic football players (probably the most) of our generation.

Furthermore, Indy's unique style of no-huddle offense is iconic (for its uniqueness and success). The steelers, though their teams had their own personalities, and for much of the decade it was a "physical defense/run-the-ball" team, is no where near the icon that Indy is.

And finally, Indy's main rival for the decade was the most significant team of the decade, New England. There is no comparison between Colts/Pats and Steelers/Pats. Colts/Pats was clearly the rivalry of the decade.

Now, I recognize I've redefined what we're talking about. None of this (with the exception of the first paragraph) was meant to be an argument against any points made above, as we were probably talking about different things. This is just how I choose to think about the teams of the last decade. "Success", in my mind, doesn't have to just be about wins, however you choose to weight different types of games.

by cd6!! (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:17pm

If you're forced into trying to argue that the Indiannapolis Colts are more iconic than the Pittsburgh Steelers, its safe to assume to have completely lost your argument.

by Treima (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:39pm

This decade, they were. Peyton Manning is approaching Michael Jordan levels of awareness even among non-fans of the sport. Who/what did the Steelers have from 2000-9 besides that they have fans (some of them rather obnoxious) across the four corners of the earth? Go shine off the six Lombardis your team is heralding from the rafters.

by cd6!! (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:22am

Go shine off the six Lombardis your team is heralding from the rafters.

Way to hit me where it hurt.

by cd6!! (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 1:22am

In retrospect, I didn't give this ridiculous argument the embarrassing beatdown it deserves.

If you're going to make the case that the Colts are "iconic" because Peyton is recognizable, as he's willing to overexpose himself into "cut that meat" commercials, then you should make sure the other team isn't filled with more immediately recognizable persons, like Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, or Bill Cowher. The Colts have Manning (look, there he is, getting beat at ping pong by justin timberlake! How iconic!) and who else? Marvin Harrison? Um, the Edge? I guess Tony Dungy's making a name for himself on the "bash the gays" dinner circuits.

You brough up the point that the steelers have a lot of fans, although that kind of disproves your argument a little. Hey, the colts do have all of those 11 kind souls who didn't jump off the bandwagon, willing to meet the team at the airport after the superbowl. That's kind of cool.

You also mentioned lombardi trophies, which are, of course, the ultimate intent of each year in the NFL. The steelers won twice, to the colts lone win. And James Harrison's INT return TD may well go down as the best single super bowl play ever. That's sort of iconic. On the Colts side, well, there is the fact 100 million watched Manning's pickerception to give the game away. The colts HAD their chance at the history books with the undefeated season, but chose to rest their players, to ensure everybody was nice and healthy for their super bowl loss and historical irrelevance. Football gods do not smile upon walking away from a shot at infamy.

But all that aside, I think there's one example, above all others, that firmly displays for all which team is the most iconic. When the colts wanted to find a symbol, to get their fans into the game and declare to the rest of the NFL what support they had, they invented THE TERRIFIC TOWEL. (link in my name)

That's just embarrassing. The terrific towel? You have to be kidding me. Game, set, match.

by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 1:38am

Hi, thanks for trolling. I should point out though, that even trolls usually manage to distinguish between two different people they are "arguing" with.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:33am

The Steelers had a lot of success this decade. but in terms of history, this decade will be remembered by the casual fan for the Manning Colts vs the Brady Patriots a lot more than it will be remembered for anything the Steelers did. If you view SB titles as the only measure of a Team of the Decade, then you are a troll who should not have come to this board, as us serious fans try to take multiple factors into account.

by Red (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 9:54pm

I actually think the Colts are the opposite of iconic. They're the NFL version of the San Antonio Spurs: an ultra-consistent, fundamentally sound, conservatively coached, predictable robotic team.

I also believe the Peyton Manning Colts are the most boring great offense in NFL history. Teams like the 2007 Pats, 99-01 Rams, 1998 Vikings, and Air Coryell Chargers were exciting, unpredictable, and inspiring. After a decade of watching these Colts, they pretty much put me to sleep.

That being said, I still have immense respect for Manning and everything the Colts have accomplished this decade. They just don't move the needle for me.

by billsfan :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 9:51am

I agree that they execute plays with robotic precision. But if you can't get excited about an absurdly precise pass hitting a player in stride in double coverage, after two other players both tried to tip the ball on its way back down, then you're watching the wrong sport. Where I was on Sunday, fans of both teams immediately reacted to that play.

I am entertained every time Peyton Manning predictably completes a pass into tight coverage.

The 2007 Pats were boring. Line up in max protect, try to hit Moss behind the safeties, or Welker underneath if Moss didn't get behind the safeties. It was pretty predictable. In 2007, I did most of my grocery shopping during the second half of Pats games, while they were frantically running up the score on an opponent that had clearly quit in the first quarter.

(I also like the Eagles)

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 5:56pm

You've said this same silly shit about the boring 2007 Pats offense twice now (although I think the last time it was to diminish Brady, but that's probably what this is about too). According to PFP 2008 (and I am sure the FO Pats' homers are just hiding the truth), they lined up in max protect 7 percent of the time in 2007. Seven plays out of every 100. IIRC, they lined up with at least 3 WR 72 percent of the time, and led the league in the 3 and 5 wideout categories. I get that you hate the Pats and Brady (which is fine, free country), but inflating their minimal max protect stats in 2007 as some form of justification of your negative opinion seems pretty weak.

by tuluse :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 8:42pm

The 2007 Pats were boring because so few teams could keep up and/or slow them down. They played 4 interesting games, against the Colts, Ravens, Eagles, and Giants (this is regular season only).

That's really all I have to add.

by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 11:32pm

My only hope is that they can ever become close to that boring again.

I agree first half of the season was arguably boring from the competition perspective. Second half (containing the games you list) and playoffs when they tried to hold on to perfect record for dear life had a bunch of edge-of-your-seat stuff if you were interested in the Pats. In any event, I would trade all the boredom (and a few of the 18 wins) for winning the last game though.

by billsfan :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 10:51am

Sorry about that, but their offense was still somewhat predictable.

I'll change my tack and say they ran too many boring WR screens with the QB lined up in shotgun. Go disprove that.

It still doesn't change when I went to Stop and Shop, but I'll concede that the Ravens and Eagles games were interesting.

(I also like the Eagles)

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 2:19pm

I must admit I generally find it hard to get very excited about the WR screen.

by nat :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:31pm

I won't rerun the numbers, but I'm willing to try some different assumptions about the relative value of playoff games. Using just integer values (so we can easily talk about tradeoffs)...

Reasonable tradeoffs:
I would give up more than...
2 regular season wins for one more playoff advancement.
2 early round advancements for one conference championship
2 conference championships for one Super Bowl victory

If "more than" is +1 game of value
regular season = 1
early round win/bye week = 2 + 1 = 3
conference win = 6 + 1 = 7
Super Bowl win = 14 + 1 = 15

If "more than" is worth adding a tie (.5 win)
regular season = 1
early round win/bye week = 2 + .5 = 2.5
conference win = 5 + .5 = 5.5
Super Bowl win = 11 + .5 = 11.5

That puts a minimum value of 11.5 regular season wins on a Super Bowl win, unless you really wouldn't give up two otherwise meaningless regular season wins to avoid a one-and-done, or do any of the other tradeoffs.

At that minimum valuation, the Colts just fall short of the Steelers. I think that's a stretch - I personally would much rather have one Super Bowl win than three Super Bowl losses (giving up 2 appearances for a win). It's not a close tradeoff.

We could ask older Bills or Vikings fans what they think. Guys?

by jebmak :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:09am

I wonder if there are deminishing returns between one and two SB wins. I think that most people would say that you have to have one win, so one is way more important than zero, say value 100. Maybe the second win in the decade is value 80? Of course the third might be 150 as long as it is within dynasty range (like those bastard Patriots).

by nat :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 10:10am

FYI: Using this new minimum weighting (in response to Colts fan complaints) the top ten teams remain the same, with TB dropping from 8 to 10. The teams get closer together, naturally, but the order otherwise remains the same.

Congratulations to the Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Eagles, and Ravens: your five most successful teams of the decade.

Special mentions to the Patriots and Steelers for multiple Super Bowl wins, to the Patriots, Steelers, and Eagles for the most playoff wins, and to the Colts, Patriots, Eagles, and Steelers for the most regular season wins.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:30am

The colts are without question the number two team of the decade. Only moron steeler fans would say the Colts are # 3. As this chart shows, an average of a whole win per year more than Pitt, and only one notch less in playoff success. However, this chart fails to take the Steelers down a notch for having the worst fans in sports. My favorite football story of the decade was when, after the Jets humiliated the Steelers at the Meadowlands, two whiny females complained to the NY Times about being harrassed. hahah, go back to your second rate city Losers.

I wonder if this chart could decrease points for playoff wins over seriously flawed teams (the 02 browns), playoff wins when you injure the opposing star qb on the first play (cincy in 05) or playoff wins where you need the referees help (SB 40 and 43). Colts, an easy number 2 for TOD

by Jerry :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 9:57pm

How many points do you deduct for Doug Brien missing a couple of field goals?

by Crymeariver (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 3:39pm

I fled FO a few years ago when the toxicity of Pats hatred was getting dangerously high. But what a treat to come back and see Colts and Steelers fans going at each other hammer and thongs over which one is #2. From an (ahem) outsider's point of view, I must say it was an honor to watch my boys play and beat both teams through the decade, but the truth of it is though Peyton was the more scary QB, the Steelers were the scarier team.

And just to show that a Pats fan can still bring it when it comes to being obnoxious, I should point out that the Pats missed two playoffs due to tie-breakers. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Them's the rules, and we Pats fans will always...always live and die by the rules.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 3:55pm

I love they guys who pull out the troll word even though they are on an analytical site and the people arguing against them are the ones with the analysis. Hey colts fans...how would you combine all the stats on this board in a legitimate analytical way to make the colts #2 and the Steelers #1. Please go ahead...we're waiting...

That's right not insulting the fans, not pulling out the "flukiness off the wins" which is ironic considering the troy intereception reversal in the pit-colts game is the worst missed call in an important game in the history of instant replay era.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 3:57pm

Sorry I meant colts #2 and Steelers number #3...

by Jetspete :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:32pm

colts fans do not need to provide any evidence, the article does it for them! The steelers are number one in zero categories. The Colts dominated regular season after regular season, and have nine playoff berths to show for it. Basically, what you and Steeler fans are saying is that super bowls are the only barometer of team of the decade. But this site always attemps to use multiple ways to look at greatness. You seem to use one victory by the Steelers over the Colts in 2005 as a way to justify your argument.

In 20 years, when we look back at this era, the Manning Colts and the Brady Pats will be the teams remembered. Then, after thought, people will realize the greatness of the steelers.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:44pm

and lets look at the hall of famers each team has produced. Steelers have Polamula, and three possibles in Casey Hampton, Hines Ward and Alan Faneca (although those are up in the air). The colts have Two first ballot guys in Harrison and Peyton, a potential first ballot guy in Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark who are on their way there, and likely Jeff Saturday.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:55pm


You are dodging the question. You are the one saying we should use multiple categories so come up with an algorithm that shows the colts are ahead of the steelers that is defendible using these multiple categories to create a unified rank. This is the home of DVOA after all. The crickets are chirping...

I'll put the future hall of famers argument next to the fluky wins, annoying fans and "iconic" status that's already been trotted out at the same time as people are using the word trolls and arguing about how analytical this site is...

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:26pm

"Hey colts fans...how would you combine all the stats on this board in a legitimate analytical way to make the colts #2 and the Steelers #[3]. Please go ahead...we're waiting..."

I'm not a Colts fan, but how about total wins?

1. Patriots = 126 (112 reg + 14 post)
2. Colts = 124 (115 + 9)
3. Steelers = 114 (104 + 10)

Let's count Super Bowls double:
1. Patriots = 129 (112 reg + 11 post-non-SB + (2*3) SB)
2. Colts = 125 (115 + 8 + (2*1))
3. Steelers = 116 (104 + 8 + (2*2))

Let's count each Super Bowl as five(!) wins:
1. Patriots = 138 (112 reg + 11 post-non-SB + (5*3) SB)
2. Colts = 128 (115 + 8 + (5*1))
3. Steelers = 122 (104 + 8 + (5*2))

Does that work for you?

by Jetspete :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 6:07pm

i'm not dodging anything, except maybe your irrational mindless dribble. The Steelers have one more playoff win and one more SB win. If your methoodolgy is solely SB wins, then like i said there is no argument. But when you factor in regular season wins (Colts by a lot), and ten win seasons/play-off appearances (9-6), there is no contest. The Steelers had 3 seasons where they were never in the race, and one in which there weren't even competitive. The colts only had one such season (in a division where three teams made the play-offs).

I also like how having multiple players that are among the all time greats is no bearing to you. HA, spoken like a true moronic Steeler fan. Why dont you go whine about having beer dumped on you.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:16pm

Oh and if you want a truce I am happy to agree the colts were the better regular season team and the steelers were the better playoff team in the decade....We can call it the 2005 truce...

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:34pm

Thanks Eddo. Do you actually believe that a SB win is only equal to 5 regular season wins? The colts just gave up two wins in the regular season because...wait for it...the post season matters ALOT more than the regular season. If you really believe those tradeoffs...more power to you...

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:49pm

Well, all you asked for was a way to get the Colts ranked #2 and the Steelers ranked #3. You didn't say I had to agree with the method.

And I don't necessarily agree that a Super Bowl win is the same as five regular season wins. I know, as a fan, that I would rather have a Super Bowl win three losing seasons over four conference championship losses.

But we're not trying to measure what you would rather have as a fan, or even which team accomplished their ultimate goal (Super Bowl wins) the best. If not, you would just rank by Super Bowl wins and use total wins as a tiebreaker. Rather, we're trying to find out which team was the best team this decade, and the best team doesn't always win the Super Bowl. Look no further than the 2001 Patriots, 2006 Colts, or 2007 Giants for an example of this. And even this year, you can't say for certain that the Saints were necessarily better than the Colts or Vikings, just that, on the days they played those teams, the Saints played a little bit better.

So, if you're trying to determine which team is truly "the best", you can't weight a small subset of games (playoff games) too heavily. If you're ranking the "most successful", then sure, I would say the Colts have had little success relative to how good they have been this decade, whereas the Steelers have had quite a bit of success relative to how good they have been.

by billsfan :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 10:01am

So if the Colts were willing to trade 2 regular season wins for a better shot at a Super Bowl win, the latter must clearly be worth more than 5 regular season wins?

Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Geronimo (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:49pm

In my view, I think the Steelers are the #2 team of the decade, the Colts a close #3, and for me it's the playoff performance that counts. Any of the teams that racked up a ton of regular season wins spent a fair amount of time beating up on the league's dregs. While regular season performance is important to me when weighing this issue, it's ultimately, to me, about how a team did when the stakes were highest and the competition the toughest.

And on that scale, the Steelers have been pretty clearly better than the Colts. Not to mention, the one time these teams met in the playoffs, the Steelers had the Colts beat pretty handily, and if not for a fluke fumble, would have had the 10-point win they deserved for that game.

Moreover, the Steelers accomplished more great things this decade than did the Colts, and that's without their elite QB playing in four of the ten seasons.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 6:16pm


You have an interesting take but I'm not sure what best team this decade even means the way you are talking about it. Teams change. The 2003 Steelers have nothing to do with the 2009 steelers (besides their lack of success.)

Should we put together a fictional combo team and play them against each other on playstation? Are we seriously debating the difference between the best team and the most successfull?

I'd love to see this same analysis for the 90's. I'm sure under your method the bills would be rockign and rolling. They the best least successful team ever! Hurray for them!

I hate the yankees, but do you think anyone cares about how many regular season wins they have or how many times they have been to the playoffs? No they have more than two dozen championships. Period the end. In only a decade span I accept that SB wins aren't the only thing that counts but lets not make it an angels on the head of a pin argument either that somehow best and most successful are two different things in a sport with a scoreboard with teams very happy to throw away regular season games to give them a slight advantage in the post season.

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 6:30pm

Again, you seem to be talking about success; that is, the goal of every team, which is to win the Super Bowl. I'm not arguing that people care more about regular-season wins than Super Bowl wins. Very few do.

What I'm saying is that the best team and the most successful are not always the same. To use your baseball example, in 2001, the 116-win Mariners were quite clearly the best team in the league; they were definitely better than the 95-win Yankess, yet in the playoffs, the Yankees were hot and the Mariners were not.


Let me use a hypothetical example. You have a team, that from 2010 through 2019 goes 16-0 every year, dominating every opponent. This team is pretty clearly the best in the league every single year.

Unfortunately, on the very first snap of their first playoff game each year, their star quarterback breaks his ankle. As a result, they lose that game and have zero playoff wins and zero Super Bowls to show for it.

Were they the most successful team? Hardly. The organization, players, and fans would all be extremely disappointed that they could not manage to win a Super Bowl and achieve their top goal at all during the decade.

But were they the best team? I'd say so. They dominated the league every single year! The only reason they didn't win any Super Bowls was because their quarterback suffered the most ill-timed injuries possible.


Am I saying that this is the situation with the Colts? No. I'm just using this example to clarify my point, that you can't necessarily use Super Bowl wins as a measure of the best team in the league, and therefore you cannot extrapolate it for the decade.


Your comment about how the 2003 Steelers have nothing to do with the 2009 Steelers doesn't weaken my argument any more than it weakens yours. If anything, it just shows that there's no reason to group teams by decade.


The 1990s Bills are interesting. I don't have win totals from the decade, but I can't see how the Cowboys wouldn't be everyone's team of the decade. If the Bills had reached ten straight Super Bowls, maybe I'd consider them, but they weren't particularly relevant in the second half of the decade. The Cowboys, Packers, 49ers, and maybe even the Broncos could legitimately be ranked ahead of the Bills, in my opinion.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 7:16pm

Thanks Eddo. I really think pulling out the 1990's data would be great. I'm willing to bet that the bills would look like the "better" team (under your definition) than a bunch of the teams you mentioned.

another analogy that fits very well our debate is boxing. You can sit there and watch a "boxer" dominate a "puncher" for 9 rounds and then the "puncher" knocks him out. You';d say the boxer was better, I'd say you aren't seeing the big picture.

The regular season is not and should not be (IMHO) an end in itself. It is very similar to those early rounds of fight. It gets you in position but a regular season game is no more an achievement than winning the round in hypothetical boxing match that must eventually end with one man standing.

Does that mean that the steelers are better just because they won one more SB...not really...but to me their collective post season success dominates the colts regular season success.

In the end, at least we both agree the Steelers were the more successful team...

by Jetspete :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 12:32pm

How was the Steelers postseason success collectively better than the Colts? They had one more playoff win/success point over the course of ten years. By your logic the Eagles and Steelers had the same amount of postseason success, and no one would make that case. You are pinning your whole argument on one game that occurred in the 2005 season, and that makes it a flimsy argument at best.

You have not even looked at the years when the Steelers were uncomptetitive or out of the play-off race by Thanksgiving. Yes, the steelers had one historic run to the superbowl and another title victory, that does not make a team of the decade, especially against the greatest or second greatest qb of our generation, a team loaded with hall of famers, a team that dominated the wins column and has a title under its belt.

by Geronimo (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:20pm

So, which team had a better decade in the 1980s (1980-1989): the Raiders or the Broncos?

The Raiders won two Super Bowls. The Broncos lost three in four years - quite a nice run, but no championships.

The Broncos had the iconic QB and some victories that stand among the game's most dramatic. It's not the same thing, but some of the elements are similar.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 5:51pm


I didn;t mean playoff success as defined above. That weights winning the AFCCG the same as winning the SB, obviously that's flawed. It all comes down to what you value. Please explain to me how the Colts had more playoff sucess than the Steelers in the 2000's...

1. They had an inferior record in the playoffs (and not by a little)
2. They won fewer superbowls
3. They won fewer games in the playoffs

I can't imagine a way of looking at playoff success that you could truly stand behind that would say the colts had more playoff success than the steelers.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 6:40pm

i'm not saying that nimrod, but you make it sound like the Steelers dominated the Colts in the playoff success category, and the chart in the article to which you are responding clearly shows that, over ten years the steelers only had one win more than the Colts in the playoffs, and an equal amount of AFC Championships. If there is a difference, it is negligible and clearly not enough to make a case.

and in terms of playoff record, you are referencing two years (00 and 03) in which the Steelers were not even in the playoffs, and in one of those years not even close! So to use your phrase, the Steelers had fewer playoff appearances than the Colts, by a lot!

here is your argument: the steelers won two superbowls to the Colts one. since that is the case you should go back to trolling espn.com boards since you clearly do not want the advanced analysis brought on FO. When you take a cursory glance beyond that fact, you see a consistently dominant team versus one that had a few good years.

by bigsnack (not verified) :: Fri, 02/12/2010 - 5:26pm

A consistently dominant team wouldn't win only one super bowl in a decade. Now a team that consistently dominated in the regular season could win one SB and have tons of playoff appearances (and probably a few playoff choke jobs...) That's what the colts are: a dominate regular season team with a very mediocre track record in the playoffs. The steelers were a sometimes dominant, very inconsistent team with a very good (clearly second best for the decade) playoff track record. To say it's 1 SB versus 2 misses the highly divergent W-L record. Playoff Apearances is a Regular season reward NOT a sign of Playoff success dontcha think? And the name calling shows me (maybe belatedly than everyone else here) that you in fact are the troll.

by nat :: Fri, 02/12/2010 - 10:16pm

I was initially tempted to hassle you for being too hard on the Colts. They have been to the playoffs a lot, and consequently won a bunch of playoff games including a Super Bowl.

You do have a point, though. Consistent playoff appearance is a measure of regular season prowess, not playoff strength. Fans who assign value to both the regular season wins and to the sheer number of playoff appearances are double-counting.

That may be at the core of the "Colts are Number Two!" movement. It doesn't seem fair to count all those playoff losses against the Colts, but people tend to forget that means you shouldn't assign much value to regular season wins or playoff appearances. In my book, that puts the Steelers ahead for the decade.

Ah well, it doesn't matter too much. Second or third, the Steelers and the Colts had excellent decades. Some people like chocolate. Other people like peanut butter. Having their fans duke it out for second best record of the decade is like a delicious peanut butter cup treat.