NFL Power Rankings of 2000s decade



Don Banks of SI.com
did a cool feature in which he ranked all 32 teams based on their performance this decade.

1. New England
Regular season: 102-42, .708
Playoff wins/record: 14-3
Super Bowls won/appeared: 3 out of 4
Playoff seasons: 6
Winning seasons: 8
Losing seasons: 1
In the past six seasons, the Patriots have won an astounding 77 games in the regular season (one shy of 13 per year), and 11 more in the playoffs. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that Bill Belichick’s 2001 no-name club authored one of the most remarkable Super Bowl upsets in history. If the 2007 Patriots had just been able to close the deal against the Giants, the only debate would be whether that New England team is the NFL’s greatest ever, not whether the Patriots are the best of the current decade. Alas, the Pats are one miraculous David Tyree helmet catch away from all of that.

He’s top five consists of the Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Eagles and Giants, which is hard to argue with. The Patriots won three of the four Super Bowl appearances they played in, while the Steelers won both of theirs. The Colts made the playoffs eight times this decade and won the Super Bowl in 2006. Even though the Eagles didn’t win their Super Bowl appearance in 2004, they had seven playoff seasons and seven winning seasons.

Giant fans might be a little upset that their team didn’t get a higher ranking than No. 5 after producing one of the best upsets in SB history (if not the best), but they were stomped in their other SB appearance of the decade and had three losing seasons, which was the most of any teams in the top 5. Banks’ ranking was fair.

Not surprisingly, the Lions ranked dead last in Banks’ rankings and there’s little debate that they’re the worst team of this decade.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Top 10 Super Bowl Finishes

The Love of Sports compiled a list of the top 10 Super Bowl finishes of all-time.

Super Bowl XLII2. Super Bowl XLII: New York Pulls Off Giant Upset (2007)
Maybe it was due to the historical implications, with New England looking to go down as the greatest team in NFL history, but the ending was epic and had fans on the edge of their seats (and couches) with history unfolding in front of their eyes. The Giants were a resilient bunch late in the game to pull off the upset and secure its place as the second most exciting finish. Eli Manning, of course, drove his team downfield with 35 seconds left after Randy Moss helped the undefeated Patriots take a 14-10 lead. Similar to the Patriots-Panthers game in ’03, there wasn’t much scoring early, as both teams could only muster points on their first possessions of the game. The AFC representatives only led 7-3 at the half on the strength of a Laurence Maroney score, but it was the quest for an undefeated season that kept things intriguing – until late in the fourth quarter when both teams marched up and down the field Down 10-7 after David Tyree put New York on top, Tom Brady engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive, after the Giants defensive line shut him down during the first three and a half quarters. Moss’ six-yard TD catch crushed the hearts of those anti-Patriots supporters, seemingly sealing the deal. The Patriots looked destined for perfection, but the student (Eli) beat the master (Brady). Eli, taking a page out of Peyton’s book, calmly marched his offense down the field in the final two minutes. He eluded three Patriot defenders to set up Tyree’s unbelievable one-handed-to-helmet catch before Plaxico Burress’ game-winning score. 21 points were tallied in the final frame to make it a great finish, with the Giants winning 17-14 in arguably the second greatest upset in Super Bowl history.

1. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Vinatieri’s Second Act (2003)
A game that was so dull in the first quarter and a half, with neither team scoring until late second quarter amidst a tight defensive battle, turned out to be the best finishes ever. A 14-10 halftime score was met by another scoreless quarter in the third before the fun really began. After an Antowain Smith two-yard TD run to open the fourth, the Panthers’ offense can alive on its next two possessions. The latter of which resulted in a thrilling 85-yard catch and run by Muhsin Muhammad into the end-zone to give Carolina its first lead, 22-21, with a little under seven minutes left. This was just the start of something special under the domed Reliant Stadium in Houston! Mike Vrabel was the recipient of his first of two career Super Bowl touchdowns to put the Patriots back on top, ahead 29-22 with 2:51 remaining. Just over a minute left in the game, Delhomme marched the Panthers downfield and hit Ricky Proehl to tie it up (his second game-tying TD against New England). At this point, the game was almost destined for overtime. But then, Carolina kicker John Kasay makes the mistake of his life, booting it out of bounds with 14 seconds left to give Tom Brady prime field position – and we all know what he can do in the two-minute drill. He put the Pats in field-goal range and Adam Vinatieri did his thing with another game-winning kick with no time on the clock. New England won its second title in three years with a 32-29 victory to cap off the greatest ending to any Super Bowl.

Considering the amount of points scored in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII, I could see why the boys at TLOS would choose that finish as the best. But last year’s ending with Eli avoiding the sack, Tyree’s catch and Burress’s game-winning score was my top finish. Given the magnitude of the Patriots’ undefeated season being on the line, that was one of the best Super Bowls ever played and that finish got your heart racing. Either way – this is a great list.

Top 10 Worst Super Bowl Teams

RealClearSports.com compiled a list of the top 10 worst Super Bowl teams of all time.

David Tyree7. 2007 New York Giants
Is it easy to discount the Giants’ unbelievable win over the then 18-0 Patriots because of “luck?” Of course it is – they needed a wild sack-escape by Eli Manning and David Tyree catching a pass on his helmet to pull-off the win. But before you get upset over the ratings of another bitter Patriots fan, consider this: the Giants were quite possibly the worst team to win a Super Bowl. Ever. And the numbers say so.

Of the 42 teams that have won the big game, the 2007 Giants are last (or tied for last) in winning percentage (0.625), point differential per game (1.4) and the Pythagorean record (0.536). Additionally, the Giants had just one Pro Bowler, went 0-4 against playoff-teams Dallas, Green Bay and New England in the regular season (losing by a combined 46 points) and finished second-to-last in margin of victory per game in the playoffs (5.0).

Is that a somewhat complicated, numbers-heavy way to say the 2007 Giants weren’t a very good Super Bowl team? Sure is.

Here’s a simpler version: In 2007, there were 10 teams with an equal or better record than that of the 10-6 New York Giants. One of those teams was the Cleveland Browns.

5. 2003 Carolina Panthers
Carolina’s 2003 season defined “average,” which makes their near win in Super Bowl XXXVIII all the more surprising. In no area did the Panthers stand out. As a team, they ranked 15th in points scored and 10th in points allowed—slightly above the norm, but by no means great numbers. Additionally, the Panthers were only 3-3 against opponents with a .500 record or better—a statistic notable for its small size (10 opponents had losing records) and mediocrity. Their season appeared more impressive than it was because of that weaker schedule, and the strides made from Carolina’s disastrous 1-15 performance in 2001, but the team was, in the end, simply not that good…

1. 1979 Los Angeles Rams
In 1979, the NFC West was just as bad as it was this year. The Rams made the playoffs by winning the West with a 9-7 record (the 9-7 mark is still the worst record for a Super Bowl team, but another NFC West team, the Cardinals, have a chance to tie that this season)…

It’s amazing that the 2007 Giants and 2003 Panthers are on a list of “top 10 worst Super Bowl teams” considering they gave fans two of the greatest Super Bowls of the last decade. It just goes to show you that in the NFL, you don’t have to necessarily have to be the best team in the league during the regular season. You just have to be one of the best two teams in the league during the playoffs.

2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

At the end of the year, it’s always interesting to look back at all that has happened in the world of sports over the last 12 months. 2008 brought us a host of compelling sports stories, including the culmination of the Patriots’ (unsuccessful) quest for perfection, a Bejing Olympics that featured incredible accomplishments by the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and the Redeem Team, and, of course, Brett Favre’s unretirement, which managed to hold the sports news cycle hostage for a solid month or more.

As is our tradition, we’ve once again broken our Year End Sports Review into three sections. The first is “What We Learned,” a list that’s packed with a number of impressive feats. And when there are feats, inevitably there are also failures.

Don’t miss the other two parts: “What We Already Knew” and “What We Think Might Happen.”

The New England Patriots weren’t so perfect after all.

After rolling through the 2007 regular season unscathed, the Patriots entered the 2008 Super Bowl as overwhelming favorites to roll over the pesky, but seemingly inferior New York Giants. The Pats were just one win away from staking their claim as the best football team in NFL history. But thanks to a dominating Giants’ defensive line, an improbable catch by David Tyree, and a virtually mistake-free performance by Eli Manning, the unbeatable New England Patriots were beat. It’ll go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, and considering Tom Brady’s season-ending injury in 2008 cost the Pats a chance for redemption, it seems that many have forgotten how New England stood just one win away from perfection. – Anthony Stalter

Michael Phelps is part fish.

Eight gold medals in one Olympiad? No problem. Michael Phelps made the seemingly impossible look (relatively) easy en route to one of the most – if not the most – impressive Olympic performances ever. Phelps had to swim all four strokes, compete in both sprint and endurance races, and deal with the constant media attention and pressure that came along with his quest. Sure, NBC turned up the hype, but what Phelps accomplished is simply incredible. – John Paulsen

Usain Bolt is part cheetah.

First, Usain Bolt made Jamaica proud by setting a new world record (9.69) in the 100-meter sprint. Then, he broke the 12 year-old 200-meter world record with a time of 19.30 seconds. He showboated during the first race but cleaned up his act to win the second race in a professional manner. Some even say that Usain Bolt – not Michael Phelps – was the biggest story to come out of the Bejing Olympics. – JP

The Big 12 has the best quarterbacks in the nation.

The Big 12 housed some of the best quarterbacks in all of college football in 2008. Texas’s Colt McCoy, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Missouri’s Chase Daniel and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell were all considered Heisman candidates at least at one point during the season, while McCoy and Bradford are still in the running. Amazingly, Bradford and McCoy aren’t done; both will return in 2008. And although they don’t receive as much attention as the top signal callers in the conference, Kansas’s Todd Reesing and Baylor’s Robert Griffin certainly turned heads this year as well. In fact, the highly versatile Griffin is only a freshman and could make the Bears a very dangerous team for years to come. – AS


Read the rest after the jump...

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