Team of the decade (cont.)
5. New York Giants
Regular season: 80-64, .556
The Giants present us with our first real judgment call, because No. 6 Baltimore owns three more regular-season wins, not to mention that Super Bowl XXXV lambasting of New York in January 2001. But we're giving a slight nod to the Giants based on their two Super Bowl trips this decade, and that monumental upset of New England two years ago. New York also has one more playoff season than the Ravens (six to five), albeit one of them was of the cheapie, 8-8 variety.
Regular season: 83-61, .576
The Ravens have undoubtedly ridden the roller coaster this decade, only once putting together back-to-back double-digit win seasons (2000 and 2001). But when you total it all up, they've been in the playoffs five times, won seven postseason games, a Super Bowl trophy, and posted three seasons with 11 or more victories. That's not too shabby for a once-vilified franchise that won only 24 games in its first four seasons after relocating from Cleveland.
7. Green Bay
Regular season: 84-60, .583
After winning 53 games and going to the playoffs four times in the decade's first five seasons, the Packers are limping to the finish. They own just 31 wins the past four years, and 2007's surprising 13-3 record represents their only postseason trip in that span. Even that was a bit of a downer, given Green Bay's overtime loss at home to the underdog Giants in the NFC title game. Playoff setbacks aside, the Packers are rightfully a top 10 team in this NFL decade.
Regular season: 85-59, .590
Why on earth did the Broncos fire coach Mike Shanahan? The guy won the AFC's fourth-most regular-season games this decade, posted six winning seasons, made it to the playoffs four times, and had just one losing record. Oh, yeah, that's why. Because Denver lost four of five of those playoff games, beating only defending champion New England in 2005's divisional round. The Broncos have won 59 percent of the time in the regular season this decade, but that only protected Shanahan for so long given his lone playoff win since earning back-to-back rings in 1997-98.
9. Tampa Bay
Regular season: 76-68, .528
We told you we valued a Super Bowl run pretty highly in our rankings, and the Bucs prove it. Their .528 regular-season winning percentage is lower than our next two teams (Seattle and Tennessee), but Tampa Bay gets credit for its five playoff seasons, six winning seasons, and most important, getting the job done in 2002, its one and only Super Bowl appearance. That, however, was the only season this decade in which the Bucs won a playoff game.
Regular season: 77-67, .535
For the decade, the Seahawks own virtually identical results as that of their 1976 expansion brethren, the No. 9 Bucs. But that Super Bowl win for Tampa Bay is a heck of a tiebreaker over Seattle, which lost its only Super Bowl appearance, against Pittsburgh at mid-decade. I give the Seahawks kudos though for dominating a poor division, with five consecutive playoff trips and four NFC West titles in a row.
Regular season: 83-61, .576
Though quite successful in terms of regular-season play, the Titans' decade has been marred by twice having the AFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, only to lose their postseason opener at home to those scrappy Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and 2008. You have to tip your hat to Tennessee's ability to endure some lean years in the middle of the decade. After making the playoffs three out of the first four years, they missed three years in a row, but have since gone to the postseason in both 2007 and 2008.
12. San Diego
Regular season: 72-72, .500
Knock him if you want, but Chargers coach Norv Turner is 3-2 in the playoffs since replacing Marty Schottenheimer, who was 0-2 and twice lost their postseason openers at home. The Chargers rightfully can be called underachievers this decade, but after going just 18-46 in the first four seasons, they're 54-26 with four playoff trips and four winning records in the past five years.
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