SI.com Home
Get SI's Duke Championship Package Free  Subscribe to SI Give the Gift of SI
  • PRINT PRINT
  • EMAIL EMAIL
  • RSS RSS
  • BOOKMARK SHARE
Posted: Wednesday June 3, 2009 10:42AM; Updated: Wednesday June 3, 2009 11:52AM
Don Banks Don Banks >
INSIDE THE NFL

Team of the decade (cont.)

13. Chicago

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
brian-urlacher.jpg
Brian Urlacher and the Bears won the NFC in '05 before falling to Indy in Super Bowl XLI.
John Biever/SI

Regular season: 74-70, .514
Playoff wins/record: 2-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0 of 1
Playoff seasons: 3
Winning seasons: 4
Losing seasons: 5

After telling you how much weight I've given to teams that made Super Bowl runs, how come I have the Chargers ahead of the Bears despite San Diego owning two fewer regular-season wins? Good question, but despite the Bears' 2006 trip to the Super Bowl, I can't get past them posting five losing seasons in nine years. They're better than .500 in the regular season, but for the majority of time this decade, the Bears have been losers. And that's in an NFC that clearly has been the weaker conference.

14. Carolina

Regular season: 71-73, .493
Playoff wins/record: 5-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0 of 1
Playoff seasons: 3
Winning seasons: 3
Losing seasons: 5

The Panthers have been a pretty inconsistent bunch this decade, and never once in franchise history have they recorded consecutive winning seasons. But Carolina has won 11 games twice and 12 once in the past six years, and it made deep playoff drives in both 2003 (losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots) and 2005 (losing the NFC title game at Seattle). Only last season's playoff-opening upset at the hands of Arizona mars the Panthers' penchant to make some noise when they do manage to reach the postseason.

15. New York Jets

Regular season: 71-73, .493
Playoff wins/record: 2-4
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 4
Winning seasons: 6
Losing seasons: 3

The Jets crack the top half of our rankings because they've somehow scratched and fought their way to six winning seasons and four playoff trips in the first nine years of the decade. Having just three losing seasons should count for something, even though when it's bad, New York has a tendency to be very bad (three double-digit loss seasons).

16. St. Louis

Regular season: 70-74, .486
Playoff wins/record: 3-4
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0 of 1
Playoff seasons: 4
Winning seasons: 3
Losing seasons: 4

Our collective memory is very short in the NFL these days, but it's not right to penalize a team like the Rams just because their success took place in the first half of the decade rather than more recently. I couldn't quite bump St. Louis, with its meager three winning seasons, ahead of the Jets. But the Rams did go to a Super Bowl and make four playoff trips in the first five years of the decade.

17. Miami

Regular season: 72-72, .500
Playoff wins/record: 1-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 3
Winning seasons: 6
Losing seasons: 3

Last year ended a six-year streak of missing the playoffs in Miami, and the Dolphins haven't won a playoff game since 2000, the year after Dan Marino retired. But despite conventional wisdom, it hasn't been all misery in South Florida. The Dolphins three times had winning seasons but missed the playoffs (2002, 2003, 2005), and last year's worst-to-first turnaround (11-5, after going 1-15 in 2007) was one for the record books.

18. Minnesota

Regular season: 72-72, .500
Playoff wins/record: 2-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 3
Winning seasons: 4
Losing seasons: 3

There was a time in Vikings history when they made the playoffs every year (eight out of nine seasons from 1992 to 2000), then disappointed their loyal fans. But this decade, Minnesota probably pined for the always-eventful Denny Green coaching era, after missing the postseason six out of seven years from 2001 to 2007. Last year's division title at least ended the misery for now.

19. New Orleans

Regular season: 70-74, .486
Playoff wins/record: 2-2
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 2
Winning seasons: 3
Losing seasons: 3

With 42 NFL seasons under their belts -- only one fewer than the Super Bowl itself -- the Saints still haven't managed to reach the league's biggest game. But the good news? They at least recorded two playoff wins this decade, which was two more than they owned pre-2000. The Saints made their first NFC title game appearance in 2006, and did keep things competitive -- for the most part -- the rest of the time. They've had just three losing seasons this decade, with three 8-8 finishes to boot.

20. Dallas

Regular season: 71-73, .493
Playoff wins/record: 0-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 3
Winning seasons: 5
Losing seasons: 4

Pretty stinking low ranking for America's Team, huh? The team of the 1990s slips all the way to 20th this time around? Well, yeah, that can happen to the best of 'em when you go 12 years between playoff wins. About the best thing you can say for Jerry's team is that those 5-11 years in the Dave Campo era seem like a long time ago. But Dallas remains synonymous with underachievement for the time being.

21. Jacksonville

Regular season: 69-75, .479
Playoff wins/record: 1-2
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 2
Winning seasons: 3
Losing seasons: 5

The decade has been neatly divided into the lost years (2000-2003, 24-40 record) and the return to relevance (2004-2007, 40-24 record). Unfortunately, last season was a bit of tiebreaker in J-town, and the Jaguars' 5-11 finish was a first-rate disaster. That makes 2009 kind of a big season in Jacksonville to my way of thinking. The proverbial fork in the road.

22. Atlanta

Regular season: 66-77-1, .462
Playoff wins/record: 2-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 0
Playoff seasons: 3
Winning seasons: 3
Losing seasons: 5

As bad as NFL football has been in Atlanta for the most part, there have been highlights for the Falcons this decade. Like the 2002 team ending the Packers home playoff winning streak at Lambeau. Like the 2004 team earning its way to the NFC title game. And like the wholly unexpected 2008 team, which went 11-5 and made the playoffs following Atlanta's calamitous 2007 -- one of the worst years endured by any franchise in any sport. But other than that, the Falcons have richly earned their No. 22 ranking.

1 2 3 4
  • PRINT PRINT
  • EMAIL EMAIL
  • RSS RSS
  • BOOKMARK SHARE
ADVERTISEMENT
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs NFL schedule LaMarcus Aldridge Michael Pineda Phil Jackson Tiger Woods
TM & © 2013 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint