Dynasty Rankings, Part I: The Bottom Six
Welcome to our rankings of every dynasty, near-dynasty, and coulda-been and shoulda-been dynasty in the history of the NFL. Over this series of articles, we're going to run down every team to ever have a sustained run of success, compare them with their peers, and find out who comes out on top. I mean, we needed something to do in quarantine.
If you haven't yet, you should check out our methodology for defining a dynasty. There, we defined what a team needed to do in order to earn dynasty points, and listed every team in NFL history to ever compile at least 10. You can rank those 56 teams by dynasty points to find out which team had the biggest dynasties -- the most championships, the most division titles, the most winning seasons, and so forth.
But we're not just interested in the quantity of a dynasty -- if we were, we'd just rank teams by the number of Super Bowls or NFL championships they've won and call it a day. No, we want to evaluate the quality of each dynasty -- to delve in a little deeper than win-loss records and find the teams that have had the greatest runs in NFL history. To do that, we're re-ranking all 56 teams, incorporating DVOA into the system to crown an overall champion.
To do that, we're turning to Z-scores; comparing how many standard deviations above or below average each qualifying team is compared to their peers. We use eight inputs, and combine them all at the end to get to one final score:
- Peak Dynasty Points: This is the bread-and-butter of the rankings, combining championships, division titles, playoff berths, and winning seasons into one easy number.
- Length of Run: Did a team create a multi-decade culture of success, or did they burn out before a modern rookie contract could even expire?
- Championships: Banners fly forever. How many times did a team end the season in a shower of confetti?
- Quality Seasons: We remember Super Bowls and 14-win seasons more than we remember 10-6 wild-card exits. How much of a team's run was composed of great seasons, instead of very good? Any season with at least three dynasty points counts.
- Average DVOA: How much above average was a team throughout the length of their run? We use DVOA from 1985 to 2019; Andreas Shepard's estimated DVOA from 1950 to 1984; and Football Perspective's Simple Rating System (converted to an estimate of DVOA) from 1920 to 1949. This is double-counted in the system; team quality is very important!
- Top-Five DVOA: We remember a dynasty for their best years, not their solid ones in the middle. This is the average of the five highest DVOAs a team put up in their run. If a run lasted less than five seasons, we add extra 0.0% years as a penalty. This is also double-counted.
Add the standard deviations from the average of all teams on the table up, and you get one final score we can use to rank each squad.
We start with the teams at the very bottom of the barrel -- the ones that slipped past the bouncer and are trying to blend in with their far-better looking counterparts. There are teams with eight or nine dynasty points out there who would rank higher than these squads if we lowered the barrier of entry. But, well, those teams didn't get to 10 points, and these ones all did. Even being the worst team on this table is something worth celebrating.
And remember, half the fun of ranking teams is the ensuing arguing about the ranking.
So, without further ado...
No. 56: 2003-2007 Seattle Seahawks
Peak Dynasty Points: 10
Average DVOA: 8.0%
Top-Five DVOA: 8.0%
Rec: 51-29 (.638)
Head Coach: Mike Holmgren
Key Players: QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander, T Walter Jones, G Steve Hutchinson, LB Lofa Tatupu, LB Julian Peterson
At every party, there must be someone who least fits in. Maybe they knew somebody's brother, or they're the only ones with access to a keg, or someone's Mom said they need to be allowed to come or you're not going, buster. They'll inevitably end up floating around the proverbial punch bowl as everyone else tries to avoid them lest they get sucked into a long discussion of how bad the referees were in Super Bowl XL.
Yes, Mike Holmgren's Seahawks do just slip past the 10-point barrier with the least impressive resume of any team on this table. In two of these five seasons, they had negative DVOAs, tumbling to a nadir of -13.0% in 2006. That would normally keep a team well away from this list, but those Seahawks were division champions both times; the four-team NFC Wests of that era were, to use the technical term, hot garbage. Their three divisional opponents all had DVOAs of -15.3% or worse in both those seasons, and only managed one positive DVOA season in 15 tries during Seattle's period of divisional dominance. Put these Seahawks in a more competitive division, and they do not sniff 10 dynasty points.
And yet, they are not entirely undeserving of being here. Before Holmgren took over the Seahawks, they had made the playoffs only four times in franchise history. This squad made the playoffs five times in a row, and they haven't gone three years without a postseason berth since. This was the genesis of Seattle as a competitive football town. The 2005 Super Bowl edition was particularly good, ranking first in offensive DVOA at 28.5%. Matt Hasselbeck's 1,394 combined DYAR and 32.2% passing DVOA that year are both still franchise records. Shaun Alexander's 453 rushing DYAR has never been surpassed either, though 2014 Marshawn Lynch does pip him to the line when you include receiving value. And perhaps they should have a championship; Super Bowl XL referee Bill Leavy has apologized to the franchise for mistakes he made while officiating the 21-10 loss, and the NFL listed it as one of the top 10 controversial calls of all time. It wouldn't change their position on this list -- those even-year Seahawks teams were too bad -- but it might give these Hawks a little more historical respect.
In 2008, Alexander (who had begun to rack up injuries) was cut, and injuries cut short the seasons of Hasselbeck, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch, and Bobby Engram. The team tumbled to 4-12, Holmgren retired, and the run was over. They've been more or less supplanted in common memory by the Pete Carroll squads that came after, but these Seahawks still have their place in history -- even the worst team on this list deserves a little credit.
To celebrate his 41st birthday...
— NFL (@NFL) August 30, 2018
No. 55: 1924-28 Frankford Yellow Jackets
Peak Dynasty Points: 10
Average DVOA: 9.2%
Top-Five DVOA: 9.2%
Rec: 55-22-8 (.694)
Head Coaches: Punk Berryman, Guy Chamberlin, Swede Youngstrom, Ed Weir, Charley Rogers, Russ Daughtrey, Charley Moran
Key Players: B Two-Bits Homan, B Hust Stockton, E Guy Chamberlin, T Bull Behman, T Ed Weir, G Rudy Comstock
To be a successful team in the 1920s, all you really needed was a baseline level of organizational stability. The first decade of the NFL saw 44 different teams officially join the league; 22 of them lasted three seasons or less and only nine survived to see the 1930s. One of those teams, and the one that may have hit the ground running faster than any other team in league history, was the Frankford Yellow Jackets.
Frankford was a successful team well before 1924. Absorbing other local Philadelphia teams and competing as the Frankford Athletic Association, a non-profit team who played to support the local hospital and American Legion, Frankford dominated Philly football in the first half of the 1920s, winning at least one unofficial city championship. Even though they were an independent team, they still played quite a few games against NFL squads -- you could schedule nearly anyone you wanted back then -- and went 6-2-1 against their professional opponents. That led the league to invite them to join for the 1924 season. Imagine the Houston Roughnecks rolling into town, beating up on the Texans and Cowboys, and getting to join the NFL as a reward. That's kind of how professional football worked in the 1920s!
The Yellow Jackets' immediate success (and the money generated by that success) allowed them to sign a bunch of stars to their roster. Their biggest name was Guy Chamberlin, the former Nebraska All-American and the best end of the 1920s. No less than George Halas called Chamberlin the best two-way end the world had ever seen; a tremendous tackler and triple-threat on offense. As a player-coach, Chamberlin won titles with three different clubs, and still has the best winning percentage of any coach in NFL history with at least 50 wins. In his two years as a player, the Yellow Jackets went 25-2-2 with Chamberlin in the lineup, and just 2-6 with him out -- one guy could have that much impact in the 1920s.
Chamberlin was flanked by other stars like 5-foot-5, 150-pound "Two-Bits" Homan, sort of the Russell Wilson of his day. The "Manikin in Moleskins" was a speedy quarterback … and punt returner, and receiver, and safety, because this was the era before free substitution. He was also reportedly the first player to ever celebrate a touchdown, though that story is probably more myth than fact.
With names like this, Frankford won more games than any other team -- because they scheduled more games than any other team. Since Philadelphia's blue laws kept them from playing on Sundays, they would typically schedule a home game on Saturday, win, get on a train, ride to another city, and then play a road game on Sunday, which they would also win. This hectic schedule helped them go 14-1-2 in 1926, winning their only official NFL championship. 14 wins in a regular season would hold up as the record until 1984. These weren't close games, either -- they shut out 10 of their opponents, and their SRS of 7.5 translates into an estimated DVOA of 20.0%. Like Holmgren's Seahawks, the Yellow Jackets are so low on this list because they alternated dominant seasons with poor ones, finishing just sixth and seventh in the league in 1925 and 1927. But when they were on, they were on -- champs in 1926, runners-up in 1928, and with an argument for the 1924 championship depending on which teams you count as official NFL franchises.
So what stopped the Yellow Jackets? The Great Depression, mostly -- the economic crunch forced the team to cut nearly all veteran players in 1930. A fire also forced them to move from their Frankford neighborhood stadium to downtown Philadelphia, which killed their local support. Without money, without fans, and without stars, the Yellow Jackets tumbled to the bottom of the league and folded after the 1931 season. The franchise returned to the league, and two years later, their assets were sold to Bert Bell for his new "Philadelphia Eagles" squad. In that sense, their legacy does sort of live on, and any time the Eagles bust out their terrible blue-and-yellow throwbacks, that's to honor the Yellow Jackets, not the Eagles.
No. 54: 1963-1966 Buffalo Bills
Peak Dynasty Points: 15
Average DVOA: 9.0%
Top-Five DVOA: 7.2%
Rec: 38-15-3 (.705)
Head Coaches: Lou Saban, Joe Collier
Key Players: QB Jack Kemp, RB Cookie Gilchrist, G Billy Shaw, DT Tom Sestak, LB Mike Stratton, CB Butch Byrd
The early AFL was not an NFL-quality league. The 1961 Bills hold the dubious honor of being the only current NFL team to have lost to a CFL opponent; it was a minor league with minor-league teams. By the mid-'60s, however, the league got television deals and big pocketbooks and generally showed that it was going to be here to stay -- not quite on the NFL's level, but a respectable alternative. This middle era, in between startup and equality, was owned by the Buffalo Bills.
Now, you will note that the Bills are the lowest team on this list with multiple titles. As every team with back-to-back championships are, by definition, included in the table, that makes these Bills the least impressive multi-time champions in NFL history, even before you take into account the relative strength of the AFL at the time. A lot of that is due to the relative shortness of their run; the Bills made four straight playoff appearances, including two AFL Championship wins and a third appearance, and then rattled off six straight losing years. But you can see that their average estimated DVOA isn't all that high; a 9.0% DVOA will get you into the top 10 most years, but isn't superbly impressive. But that in itself kind of doesn't tell the full story of the 1960s Bills, which can be divided by Cookie Gilchrist.
In 1962, the Bills added two major offensive figures to their roster. One was quarterback Jack Kemp, who had led the Chargers to multiple titles but had a hand injury that led San Diego into thinking he was toast. The other was Gilchrist, a five-time CFL All-Star at running back. Gilchrist was, at first, the juice that made the Bills' offense go. He led the AFL rushing in 1962 and 1964 and in rushing touchdowns from 1962 to 1965 and was a terrific blocking back, back in an era where running backs actually did matter. The Bills led the league in scoring by a wide margin. When 1964 added a defense to Kemp and Gilchrist -- Butch Byrd was added as a rookie and had seven interceptions in his first year in the league -- the Bills romped to a 12-2 record, an easy win in the championship, and a 19.3% estimated DVOA. But late in the season, Gilchrist refused to take the field, upset he wasn't getting enough touches. Lou Saban actually cut Gilchrist (partially for the benching, partially for off-field trouble with the law, partially for repeated trade demands, and partially because Gilchrist was outspoken in the Civil Rights movement -- it was a whole thing), before Kemp was able to convince everyone to calm down and finish out the year. Gilchrist was traded away before the 1965 season, and the offense immediately tanked -- they went from 400 points and 5.6 yards per play in 1964 to 313 points and 4.3 yards per play in 1965. They were able to cobble together an offense with some mid-season trades, the defense remained stingy, and they were able to repeat as champions, but that explains why their estimated DVOA dropped to -0.9%; they just weren't the same team anymore.
Saban, who was notorious for jumping from team to team, left after 1965, saying there was little left to conquer in pro football. The Bills bounced back in 1966, only to fall in the championship game to the Kansas City Chiefs and miss out on Super Bowl I. But nagging injuries to Kemp (and trading away backup Daryl Lamonica, who would go on to star for Oakland) set the offense back to levels the defense simply could not carry; by the end of 1968, they were starting running back Ed Rutkoswki at quarterback simply due to lack of options. The 1965 title remains the last championship the city of Buffalo has won.
— NFL (@NFL) November 9, 2019
No. 53: 1980-1985 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Peak Dynasty Points: 13
Average DVOA: 4.7%
Top-Five DVOA: 10.2%
Rec: 61-28 (.685)
Head Coach: Tom Flores
Key Players: RB Marcus Allen, T Henry Lawrence, DE Howie Long, LB Ted Hendricks, LB Rod Martin, CB Lester Hayes
Most teams that relocate are bad. As the Oakland Raiders prepare to move to Las Vegas in 2020, they're coming off of three straight losing seasons. The Chargers had lost double-digit games for two years in a row before moving to Los Angeles. The Rams had a dozen years without a winning season before they left St. Louis. If you're winning, there's no need to rock the boat; attendance rises and the money keeps rolling in. Normal owners would never consider moving a team just after a Super Bowl run. But then, Al Davis was never just a normal owner.
Two major events in Raiders history happened before the 1980 season. Firstly, Davis was unable to get permission to add luxury boxes to Oakland Coliseum, and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL to be allowed to move to Los Angeles. Secondly, Ken Stabler was controversially traded to the Houston Oilers for Dan Pastorini, who almost immediately broke his leg. That forced former first-overall pick Jim Plunkett, by this time considered a bust and on his third team, into the lineup. The off-field turmoil and on-field turnover would have been plenty of excuse for the team to fold, but they didn't. Plunkett came in when the Raiders were 2-3. They finished 11-5, earned a wild-card berth, beat Stabler in the playoffs, and ended up becoming the first wild-card team to win a championship, crushing Ron Jaworski's Eagles in the Super Bowl. Plunkett's heroics aside, this was a defensive-led team, with Lester Hayes' 13 interceptions and Ted Hendricks' four fumble recoveries helping the Raiders lead the league in turnovers with 52. Their -7.6% estimated defensive DVOA gets them to a grand total of … 0.0%, making them the second-worst Super Bowl champion of all time. Add in a collapse to 7-9 in 1981 with first-round pick Marc Wilson replacing Plunkett behind center, and you could write these Raiders off as a fluke; a Cinderella underdog story to be forgotten as they packed up and moved to SoCal.
Then came the Los Angeles years. Marcus Allen, Heisman Trophy-winner and future Hall of Famer, comes across town from USC in the 1982 draft, and gives the aging Plunkett (and oft-injured Wilson) much-needed help. But it's really is the defense that defines this Silver and Black era. Hendricks and Hayes are joined in 1981 by future Hall of Famer Howie Long and in 1983 by future Hall of Famer Mike Haynes. They never have worse than a -9.0% defensive DVOA in their four years in Los Angeles during this era, finishing second, fourth, fourth, and second in the league. This was a drinking, fighting, mean, and nasty defense -- they were the ones who inspired the Lyle Alzado rule which states that, no, you can't rip your opponent's helmet off and use it as a weapon. Linebacker Matt Millen once punched the Patriots' general manager in the face after a playoff game. This was a team that was going to hit you, very hard, and challenge you to get back up again. They stormed to an 8-1 record in the strike-shortened 1982 season, and then won the Super Bowl the next year in a victory that was very much not a fluke, finishing the year with a 12.5% DVOA. Tom Flores' crew never quite hits those highs again, though they do win double-digit games the years after that.
The 1986 Raiders are infamous for one of the biggest late-season collapses in NFL history, going from 8-4 to 8-8 and missing the postseason. By this point, Davis was accusing Allen of faking injuries; the constant swapping of Wilson and Plunkett was not doing either quarterback any favors; and Davis was once again complaining about a lack of luxury boxes in his stadium. By 1988, the Raiders were once again scheduling preseason games in Oakland, and the writing was on the wall for their time in Los Angeles. The lack of offensive consistency and the gap between their Oakland and L.A. Super Bowls means that these Raiders clock in as the worst multiple-Super Bowl winners in NFL history, but I'm fairly sure if you told them that, they'd probably punch you in the face.
3. HISTORIC RUN
Jan. 22, 1984
Raiders RB Marcus Allen turns a busted play into a Super Bowl-record 74-yard touchdown run against the Redskins in XVIII.
Factoid: Allen finished with 191 rushing yards and two TDs to secure game MVP honors. pic.twitter.com/yJkZumz7x0
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) September 3, 2019
No. 52: 1983-1991 Denver Broncos
Peak Dynasty Points: 12
Average DVOA: 4.6%
Top-Five DVOA: 13.4%
Rec: 90-52-1 (.633)
Head Coach: Dan Reeves
Key Players: QB John Elway, RB Sammy Winder, G Keith Bishop, DE Rulon Jones, LB Karl Mecklenburg, S Dennis Smith
The NFC dominated the 1980s. The older conference won eight of the ten Super Bowls in the decade, part of a run of 15 titles in 16 years. Someone had to be the sacrificial lamb, and on three occasions, those lambs were the Denver Broncos.
Sometimes, you have to poke and prod around to figure out why a dynasty starts in any given year, but no, this one is easy. John Elway, after refusing to play for the Baltimore Colts, was traded to the Broncos, who had averaged more than one starting quarterback per season in their franchise history up to that point. It turns out adding a quarterback who would go on to be named to the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team is pretty good for your fortunes. Elway's place in history has always intrigued me, however. He obviously passes any eye-test you throw at him. Our own Aaron Schatz had him just outside the top five quarterbacks of all time back in 2010. FO-alum Mike Tanier, who ran down the top-five quarterbacks for every franchise back in 2011, said he would pick Elway if he needed a quarterback who could succeed in any era, under any conditions. And yet, his stats don't always hold up compared to his contemporaries. It's not just Peyton Manning who tops Elway's best 1980s season (1986, with 948 DYAR) in Broncos history; Elway trails Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler and Brian Griese, as well. We now have complete DYAR from 1985 on, and Elway's best 1980s season ranks as the 22nd-best in the half-decade. He didn't break a 20.0% passing DVOA until the 1990s. His stats don't always back up his legacy.
I'm going to go well out on a limb and say that's because he was standing on his head in the 1980s. His top skill position players were guys like Vance Johnson, Sammy Winder, and Mark Jackson -- not exactly a Hall of Fame crew there. Denver's estimated offensive DVOA had been below average in seven of the eight seasons before Elway showed up; their offense ends up above average every year from 1984 to 1991, and usually in the top 10. Sometimes, people like to say that if you took [All-World QB du jour] and stuck them on [the Worst Team in the League, Usually Cleveland], you'd end up with a playoff contender. John Elway and the 1980s Broncos are exhibit 1A.
The Broncos are the first team on our list with more than one or two really good seasons; in addition to appearances in Super Bowls XXI, XXII, and XXIV, they had a 13-3 season in 1984, winning a very tough AFC West where three teams had double-digit wins and none had double-digit losses. They also have the mystique factor on their side; you're pretty special if some of your franchise's highlights get simple names like The Drive or The Fumble. Yet they finish with the worst average DVOA of any of the 56 teams on the list, thanks in large part to having three negative-DVOA years, and two in which they accumulated zero dynasty points (1988 and 1990). Add in the fact that all of their three Super Bowl losses were snoozers, losing each game by at least three touchdowns, and you can't really put the Broncos any higher than this. Eventually, the Broncos' bouncing back-and-forth between losing seasons and conference championships ended Dan Reeves' tenure with the team, and the franchise would have to wait until they found a team that could get them over the top … but that's a story for a later entry.
For the record, the alternate universe in which these Broncos are three-time Super Bowl champs would vault them to 41st on this list; the bad seasons are still bad, but a couple Lombardi Trophies would have smoothed that out a bit.
98 yards in 15 plays.
— NFL (@NFL) April 21, 2020
No. 51: 1933-1935 New York Giants
Peak Dynasty Points: 11
Average DVOA: 15.9%
Top-Five DVOA: 9.5%
Rec: 28-11 (.718)
Head Coach: Steve Owen
Key Players: QB Harry Newman, FB Ken Strong, E Red Badgro, C Mel Hein, T Bill Morgan, T Len Grant
In 1932, the NFL was stuck. Up to that point, the champion of the league had just been the team with the best record, but they had two teams tied atop the league that year, and no system of tiebreakers to break them. They scheduled an impromptu championship game (on an 80-yard field indoors), and decided hey! That was pretty cool. We should do that more often, with a regularly scheduled championship game starting in 1933. And the first three times they did that, the game featured the East Division champion New York Giants.
This is the start of the Steve Owen era. Owen was promoted to player-coach at the very end of the 1930 season and went on to be one of the most influential coaches of the early NFL. In 1933, passing was made legal anywhere behind the line of scrimmage, rather than from 5 yards out and further back. In response, Owen began experimenting with moving his quarterback closer to the line of scrimmage, allowing Hall-of-Fame center Mel Hein to snap the ball to the quarterback, fullback, or blocking back. This made the quarterback the primary passer, if not yet the focal point of the offense like in the not-yet-invented T Formation. This would eventually develop into the A Formation that took the Giants well into the 1950s, but at this point, Owen's offense was still an experimental version of the single-wing. It still placed the Giants in a strategic tier above and beyond the rest of the league; you had to specifically practice to stop the Giants' weird trick formation. And Owen was primarily a defensive coach, experimenting with five- and six- man lines in an era where seven-man lines were the standard -- the extra linebackers giving more mobility against a league where all of a sudden, passing was viable. Owen eventually took that formation and developed it into what became the 4-3 defense, but even here, in Owen's first years running a team, you can see his innovation and ideas beginning to creep in.
Of course, you need players to run those formations. Before the 1933 season, the Giants added Michigan All-American quarterback Harry Newman and future Hall of Fame fullback Ken Strong, bolstered their offensive line, and shattered all the passing records in the books. Newman threw for 973 yards! The league record entering 1933 was 639; that would be the equivalent of someone throwing for just over 8,300 yards in 2020. The offensive explosion gave them a projected DVOA of 26.8%, leading the league that year, although they would lose to the second-ranked Bears in a back-and-forth title game that saw the league's best defense keep up with the league's best offense. They got revenge in 1934 in the famous Sneakers Game. A frozen field in the Polo Grounds meant both teams slipped and slid their way around the turf for the first half, but the Giants pilfered the lockers of the Manhattan College basketball team, came out for the second half in sneakers, and turned a 10-3 halftime deficit into a 30-13 victory.
Things went sour with Newman, who was at that point the highest-paid player in football. He briefly retired because he didn't want to give up his liquor store, though he came back and led the Giants to a loss in the 1935 NFL championship game. He left the team before the 1936 season over an issue with pay -- it didn't make sense, president John Mara said, to pay one guy $800 a game while the rest of the team made $100 a game. Extravagance!
A lot of historians group this three-year Giants run with the 1938-46 Giants stretch which will appear later on this countdown. It's all Steve Owen and Mel Hein teams, so the continuity makes sense. Our system splits them up because the Giants stumbled to 5-6-1 and 6-3-2 records in 1936 and 1937, and the loss of their leading passer and rusher in Newman does make for a significant change. We'll get to the rest of the Owen era soon enough.
— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2019
Eight Men Out
Before we go, there are eight active franchises which did not make the main table, because they've never had a run of even 10 dynasty points. Fans of those franchises won't have much to look forward to over the next few articles, so we figured we would at least give them a chance to acknowledge the closest their teams have come. Here are those eight failed franchises, ranked from least to most embarrassing:
- The 2011-2012 Houston Texans topped out at four dynasty points, with J.J. Watt and a plethora of draft picks leading a defensive resurgence that allowed Houston to win the AFC South in back-to-back seasons. A pair of wild-card wins over the Bengals still represent the high-water mark for Houston's postseason success. In 2013, Matt Schaub imploded, Gary Kubiak was fired, and the Texans came back to Earth. The current 2018-2019 squad is sitting at three points, and could easily set the new franchise high-water mark next year.
- If Super Bowl 50 goes a little differently, Ron Rivera, Cam Newton, and Luke Kuechly are the leaders of a mini-dynasty. Instead, the 2013-2017 Carolina Panthers top out at eight dynasty points. Honestly, even if they had hit 10, the fact that they got two points for a 7-8-1 season in 2014, complete with a playoff win over the Ryan Lindley-led Cardinals, might be enough to scratch them off the list. But hey, talk to the non-existent ring, I guess. Injuries to Newton have obviously scuppered any chance of a Panthers dynasty becoming a thing; they're back down at 0 points.
- The 1996-1999 Jacksonville Jaguars topped out at seven dynasty points, as they became the first expansion franchise to make the playoffs in four of their first five seasons. They lost in two AFC Championship Games; just flipping one or the other wouldn't quite be enough alone to get them to a round 10, but they'd get close. Salary cap problems brought the team back to Earth in 2000, and a run of four losing seasons killed that chance of a dynasty dead.
- The 1999-2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are as close as you can get to the table without making it, finishing with nine dynasty points after their win in Super Bowl XXXVII. Tony Dungy and that Tampa-2 defense got them to the brink, and then Jon Gruden got them over the hump. Flip their 1999 NFC Championship Game to a win, or get literally any success out of Gruden's grinders in 2003, and the Bucs make the main table. Instead, infighting between Gruden and general manager Rich McKay ended up cratering the team. They haven't earned any dynasty points since 2007.
- You'd think it'd be the 1980s Super Bowl years but no, it's the 2011-2015 Cincinnati Bengals that end up with the franchise record of five dynasty points -- one for each wild-card round loss. The two Super Bowl losses just were too isolated; before Marvin Lewis came along, the Bengals' longest playoff streak was just two seasons. Compared to that, five straight losses in the first round of the playoffs is … well, it's certainly something. Eventually, Lewis' bunch stopped performing even that well, and the run came to an end.
- The 2010-2012 Atlanta Falcons finish with seven points, as their three consecutive playoff berths represent the most in franchise history. They had never even had back-to-back winning seasons at that point, so regular trips to the playoffs for Mike Smith and Matt Ryan were a welcome development. An injury-plagued 2013 and poor 2014 ended that run, however, preventing it from connecting to the more recent Super Bowl season.
- The 1968-1969 New York Jets are responsible for arguably the most important win in NFL history, but top out at seven dynasty points because a lack of success around it. An Emerson Boozer injury in 1967 and Joe Namath injuries in 1970 and 1971 kept them from building a run of success, and they've never come particularly close again. They haven't earned any dynasty points since 2010.
- All of these teams were expansion clubs of relatively modern vintage; they have at least some excuse for never putting up a strong squad. But the Chicago Cardinals were a founding member of the AFPA and yet have never put up a run of 10 points in what can only be described as a disaster of a franchise. Their closest run was the 1947-1948 squads, where the Million Dollar Backfield of Paul Christman, Charley Trippi, Elmer Angsman, and Pat Harder played in back-to-back championship games, splitting them with the Philadelphia Eagles. Flip the loss to a win, and you get to 11 points. Instead, they're stuck at nine, survived a dismal 1950s, nearly went bankrupt, had to move to St. Louis, and have never strung together a significant chunk of successful seasons since.
The Rankings So Far
The following graphic shows the rankings of all teams that have been revealed so far. Click the image to open it in a larger size in a new window.