The end of another NFL season is a good opportunity to check up on the team’s postseason success since the league moved to a 32-team format which included some realignment. We’ve ranked all 32 of them, focusing on the top 10, based solely on their playoff achievements.
The rankings include all 15 seasons since and including 2002, when the Houston Texans made their debut on the NFL stage. The points are distributed like this: 1 points for losing in the wild card round, 2 points for losing in the divisional round, 3 points for losing in the conference championship game, 4 points for losing in the Super Bowl and 6 points for a season that ended with a Super Bowl win. The top 10 is split with 5 teams from each conference. Two teams in the top 10 didn’t win a Super Bowl during that stretch.
10. Carolina Panthers: 17 points
The highest ranked NFC South team on the list, the Panthers are also the only one of the bunch to make two Super Bowls during the last 15 seasons: Once in 2003, losing to the Patriots on a Adam Vinatieri field goal, and again after 2015, as a 15-1 season fell apart against the Denver Broncos.
9. Philadelphia Eagles: 18 points
From 2002 through 2010, the Eagles made the playoffs 7 times, including Super Bowl 39 where they lost to the New England Patriots. Since then? Just once (2013, Chip Kelly season), and haven’t won a playoff game since 2008.
8. New York Giants: 18 points
It’s been a weird, wild ride for the Giants over the last 15 years, including quite a few bad seasons. However, two moments stand out: Winning the Super Bowl after the 2007 and 2011 seasons, both times beating the New England Patriots, as well as in the Pats perfect season, which ended 18-1.
7. Denver Broncos: 19 points
The Broncos peaked in their short Peyton Manning era (2012-2015) that included two one-and-done postseasons and two Super Bowl appearances. The first was a humiliating affair against the Seahawks. The other was a triumphant moment for him and especially the defense, beating the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
6. Baltimore Ravens: 21 points
The Ravens golden phase since 2002 came in the first five Harbaugh-Flacco years, making the playoffs each time, including 3 AFC Championship game trips and winning the franchise’s second Super Bowl, beating the San Francisco 49ers for a surprising finish to the 2012 season.
5. Green Bay Packers: 27 points
The Packers have missed the playoffs just twice since 2002, winning the Super Bowl in 2010. However, they’ve also been something of an underachieving team in the eyes of many, losing in 3 conference championship games. Some see their recent years as a waste of Aaron Rodgers talents.
4. Indianapolis Colts: 28 points
Peyton Manning again, who had an excellent run with the Colts, including making the postseason each season from 2002 through 2010. That stretch had two Super Bowl trips in it: One a victorious one in 2006 against the Bears, the other a slightly surprising loss to the Saints in 2009.
3. Seattle Seahawks: 28 points
The top ranked NFC team on our list, and the only one of them with 3 Super Bowl appearances. The first came during their Mike Holmgren years, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 with some very controversial calls going against them. Years went by, Pete Carroll came, and the franchise’s best days arrived, along with Russell Wilson at quarterback. So far, that’s meant back-to-back Super Bowls: Crushing the Broncos in one, and losing to the Patriots in the next, with the now infamous pass-instead-of-run call on the goalline.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: 29 points
The Steelers are the only other AFC teams besides you-know-who to win more than one Super Bowl in the 2002-till now stretch. They won the franchise’s 5th overall in Super Bowl XL, beating the Seahawks in a depressing affair. Three years later they joined the Cardinals for arguably the best Super Bowl ever, winning on that magical Santonio Holmes catch. They lost to the Packers in the Super Bowl two years later, which was another terrific game.
1. New England Patriots: 49 points
…and it’s not even close. Since 2002, the Patriots, with the Belichick-Brady duo running things, have been to six Super Bowl games and won four of them. They’ve never dominated anyone in the big game, once winning on a Vinatieri field goal (2003 vs Panthers), once winning by 3 points (24-21, it wasn’t that close vs the Eagles), once with a goal line interception (vs the Seahawks in 2014) and not too long ago, with an overtime game-winning touchdown by James White (vs Falcons). They lost twice to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl by a combined 7 points.
The Rest of ’em (11-32):
32. Buffalo Bills, 0 points. Only team without a playoff appearance since 1999.
31. Cleveland Browns, 1 point. Last one was in 2002.
30. Miami Dolphins, 2 points. Haven’t won a playoff game since 2000.
29. Detroit Lions, 3 points. Their playoff win drought stretches back to 1991.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3 points. Made the playoffs four years in a row (1996-1999). Only twice since then.
27. Los Angeles Rams, 4 points. Out of the playoffs since 2004.
26. Washington Redskins, 5 points. Are 1-4 since 2002 in the postseason, including losing their last four games.
25. Oakland Raiders, 5 points. After making the Super Bowl in 2002, it took them 14 years to get back into the postseason, and lose in the wild card round.
24. Cincinnati Bengals, 7 points. Have lost in the wild card round 7 consecutive times.
23. Houston Texans, 7 points. Took them 10 seasons to make their playoff debut. Never been past the divisional round.
22. Tennessee Titans, 8 points. Haven’t made the playoffs since Jeff Fisher left.
21. Minnesota Vikings, 8 points. Peaked in 2009 with Brett Favre, making the NFC title game, losing to the Saints.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8 points. Most of the Bucs points come thanks to their Super Bowl win in 2002. Haven’t made the playoffs since 2007.
19. Kansas City Chiefs, 9 points. Haven’t been to a conference title game since 1993.
18. Chicago Bears, 9 points. Only 3 postseason appearances in the timespan, but one of them was a Super Bowl trip and another to the 2010 conference title game.
17. Dallas Cowboys, 10 points. The Cowboys have been knocked out by the Packers twice in the last 3 years.
16. Arizona Cardinals, 10 points. The Cardinals peaked in the 2008 season, led by Kurt Warner to one awesome Super Bowl, losing in possibly the best one ever.
15. New York Jets, 11 points. Surprising or not, the last time the Jets were in the playoffs was with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, leading them to 2 AFC championship games.
14. Los Angeles Chargers, 12 points. Made one conference championship game with Philip Rivers. Last postseason appearance in 2013.
13. San Francisco 49ers, 12 points. Peaked with Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines (2011-2014), going to 3 consecutive NFC title game and one Super Bowl.
12. New Orleans Saints, 14 points. The Sean Payton – Drew Brees era before Bountygate was pretty fun, including a Super Bowl ring.
11. Atlanta Falcons, 16 points. It’s going to take quite a lot to put their historic Super Bowl LI collapse behind them.