Sadly, the 2013-2014 NFL season has officially come to a close. In Super Bowl XLVIII, we once again learned that a great defense usually trumps a great offense. We also learned that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will need to wait at least another year for that elusive second ring.
With this past season fresh in the books, we thought we'd take a comprehensive look at which NFL franchises have enjoyed the most success during the 21st century. Since NFL campaigns stretch over a two-year period, we started with the 2000-2001 season (we realize that the year 2000 was technically part of the 20th century).
To score each franchise, we came up with a simple, yet effective point system.
Regular season win = 1 Point
Wild Card round win/bye = 4 Points
Divisional round win = 8 Points
Conference title = 16 Points
Super Bowl win = 32 Points
Both the Seahawks and Broncos, the participants in this year's big game, finished in the top ten. But where did every other franchise rank? You'll have to find out:
32. Detroit Lions - 69 points
Despite showing at least some promise in two of the past three seasons, the Detroit Lions are the worst team in the NFL since 2000-01. The Lions had five or less wins in eight of those 14 seasons, and had only one playoff appearance -- a crushing defeat to the Saints during the 2011-12 season. Oh, and they had an 0-16 season in there too -- ouch.
31. Cleveland Browns - 75 points
The only things that Browns fans can be excited about during this period are that one - they actually had a team and two - it wasn't the league's worst. Cleveland has gone through 19 starting QBs since 2000, and has averaged just over five wins per season since the turn of the century.
30. Houston Texans - 87 points
Have to give some props to the Texans here -- while the franchise is the third-worst in our rankings, Houston gets robbed a bit due to the fact that its first season wasn't until 2002-03. Coming in as an expansion team isn't easy, but the Texans have managed to advance in the playoffs twice. It makes the Lions and Browns look even worse.
29. Buffalo Bills - 88 points
It hasn't exactly been the golden era for the Bills since the turn of the century -- or maybe it has, since they haven't lost any Super Bowls in recent years. The Bills have averaged just over six wins per season since 2000 and have no postseason successes to talk about. At least things are looking up for the future.
28. Washington Redskins - 98 points
The Redskins, despite being fifth-worst on this list, have been defined more by mediocrity than by failure in the last 14 years. On six occasions, the 'Skins didn't have a losing record, and they did make it to four playoff games, although they only managed to win one of them. Can RGIII take them to the next level?
27. Jacksonville Jaguars - 99 points
The recent utter failure by the Jaguars has made many NFL fans forget the four-year run of success that Jacksonville had from 2004-07. Unfortunately, the difficult years might continue if the Jags can't find a signal-caller.
26. Cincinnati Bengals - 102 points
The Bengals are the highest-ranked team on the list to never have advanced past the first round of the playoffs -- a dubious honor. Cincinnati has more regular season wins than 10 teams during the time frame, but just hasn't been able to put together any postseason success.
25. Kansas City Chiefs - 104 points
The Chiefs seem oddly low for having won multiple division titles since 2000, but the reality is that they have averaged just over seven wins each season and only hit double-digit wins on four occasions. Like the Bengals, KC just struggles to get itself out of the wild card round of the playoffs.
24. Miami Dolphins - 111 points
Dolphins fans might actually be surprised that their team isn't lower on this list, but hey, numbers don't lie. In fact, the Dolphins don't even have a terrible record since 2000, (108-123), but the big problem is pretty obvious: they have only one playoff win in that span, and three of their four postseason games resulted in blowout losses.
23. Dallas Cowboys - 120 points
The Dallas Cowboys are exactly 112-112 in the regular season in the past 14 years, but the storied franchise hasn't come close to sniffing a Super Bowl lately -- the expectation of America's Team. At least for Dallas fans, the team has been thrilling to watch, in both the up years and the down ones. Not every team on the list can say that.
22. Arizona Cardinals - 122 points
The Arizona Cardinals are the lowest-ranked team on the list to make a Super Bowl in the time frame. Of course, they didn't win it, as they were defeated by the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, but it was still a very exciting team to watch during a great season. Their 4-2 playoff record since 2000 isn't bad at all, but the franchise needs to make the playoffs more than twice in 14 seasons.
T-20. St. Louis Rams - 130 points