The New England Patriots will make a record 9th Super Bowl appearance in SB LI. For the Atlanta Falcons, it’ll only be their second time in the NFL’s modern championship game, hoping to get out of the club that welcomes teams without a Super Bowl ring.
The Bills are rightfully considered as the biggest Super Bowl losers, for making it four straight years to the championship game and losing each time. Their most famous loss was the first one following the 1990 season, when Scott Norwood’s famous “wide right” field goal left them stunned as the New York Giants walked away with a 20-19 win. That choke-job was followed by losing to the Washington Redskins and two years in a row to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bengals Super Bowl history includes two visits to the big game in the 1980’s, twice losing to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. The first came in SB XVI, as the Bengals overcame a 20-0 halftime deficit to make a game out of it, but score their final touchdown without enough time to try and win the game. Seven years later in Super Bowl XXIII it was Montana’s drive in the final 3 minutes that snatched the Bengals’ victory in the last moment.
The Browns have never made it to the Super Bowl. Winning more than 5 games in a season is a sign of success and progress for them, and it’s happened just twice in the last 11 years. In the 80’s, they made a few conference championships games and there are obviously some great seasons with Jim Brown and 1950’s championships. But they’ve never been to the Super Bowl, and they seem light years away from making one.
The youngest organization in the NFL, the Texans haven’t been to the Super Bowl. They haven’t even been out of the divisional round. It took them almost a decade to make the postseason for the first time, something they’ve been doing quite regularly in the last six years, but they haven’t been able to get very far.
Another AFC South team, which is the division with the fewest Super Bowl winning teams in it (just one, the Indianapolis Colts). The Jags, like the Texans, have never even played in the Super Bowl. They have, however, made it to a couple of AFC championship games during their Tom Coughlin era, once losing to the Patriots and the other to the Tennessee Titans.
The final team in the cycle of AFC South suckiness, the Titans were previously the Houston Oilers, a team with two AFL championship games, before the Super Bowl era. As the Titans, they made it to the Super Bowl once, losing to the St. Louis Rams, with Kevin Dyson trying to reach the end zone, stopped by Mike Jones in one of the more memorable Super Bowl plays, nicknames ‘The Tackle’ or ‘One Yard Short’.
Los Angeles Chargers
It’s really weird writing Los Angeles Chargers. Now that’s it over with, the Chargers are the only AFC West team without a Super Bowl victory. They did make the Super Bowl once after the 1994 season, only to get blown out by Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers. The Chargers have had some good seasons since with pretty nice playoff runs, but the Super Bowl didn’t come knocking on their doors a second time.
From the only team in the AFC West without a Super Bowl ring to the only team in the NFC East, which is an exceptional bummer, due to the nationwide following teams in that division have, and the combined 12 Super Bowl championships between the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins. Three time NFL champions, the Eagles have been to a couple of Super Bowls, losing to the Raiders in SB XV and to the New England Patriots 24 years later in SB XXXIX.
The Lions aren’t the only team in the NFC North to miss out on the joy of winning a Super Bowl ring, but they are the only franchise that has never made the trip. Worse: In the entire Super Bowl era, the Lions have a single postseason win, coming 25 years ago.
Like the Buffalo Bills, the Vikings have played in 4 Super Bowls (not consecutive) and lost each one. All their SB visits came in an 8-year stretch (1969-1976) with losses to the Chiefs, Steelers, Dolphins and Raiders, scoring more than a single digit number just once. Their vaunted defense of the era got them far, but not to the holy grail of American Football.
Super Bowl LI will be the second time the Falcons play in the Super Bowl. Their first visit was 18 years ago, losing to a repeating Denver Broncos team. Since then they’ve made it as far as the NFC Championship game twice, and are hoping to leave the Panthers as the only team in the division without a Super Bowl ring.
The Panthers arrived into the NFL along with the Jaguars, and have made it to a couple of Super Bowls. One after the 2003 season, losing to the Patriots and an Adam Vinatieri field goal. The second one came last year after a 15-1 regular season, as their Cam Newton led offense couldn’t figure out how to beat the Denver Broncos.
One of the least successful organizations in the NFL, with sporadic playoff appearances over the years. One shining moment stands above: Their appearance in what I believe is the best Super Bowl of all-time, SB XLIII, where a terrific performance by Kurt Warner was almost enough to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Almost.