The Cardinals are the oldest pro football team in America, dating back all the way to 1898. They started as the Chicago Cardinals and spend decades in St. Louis. Now the Arizona Cardinals have one of the best collections of offensive talent in the current NFL, despite years of disappointing finishes. With Ken Whisenhunt bringing a new attitude to the team, maybe Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Edgerrin James can bring winning football to Phoenix.
Clearly the most troubled franchise in the NFL in recent years, the Falcons are still shaking off the effects of the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal. The Falcons have often been snake-bitten, such as their ’78 and ’80 comeback playoff losses to the Cowboys, their loss of Neon Deion Sanders in the first year of free agency, their loss of the Dirty Bird, Jamal Anderson, to career-ending knee injuries and, of course, the Vick debacle.
The Baltimore Ravens used to be the Cleveland Browns, and the Browns fans are bitter about it. When Ravens owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore in the late-90′s, the NFL moved in to assure the Browns got to keep their name and history. This didn’t help very much, especially when the newly-christened Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a couple of years later. That should have been the Browns’ win, and great players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Jamal Lewis should have been Browns greats.
The team from upstate New York will perhaps always be remembered for their trip to four straight Super Bowls in the early nineties. Unfortunately, this team also lost all four games. Still, the Bills had many great players on those teams, such as Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett. The current team has young stars like Marshawn Lynch, Lee Evans and Paul Pozluzsny.
The Carolina Panthers came into the NFL in the 1995 expansion year, and were in the NFC Championship Game after the 1996 season. The Panthers veteran team fell apart soon after, but John Fox built them into a Super Bowl contender again in the early 2000′s, when he brought in stars like Jake Delhomme, Stephen Davis, Steve Smith and Julius Peppers to lead the team.
The Chicago Bears are one of only two remaining teams which founded the NFL. Bears history are full of great names: Halas, Grange, Nagurski, Luckman, Butkus, Sayers, Ditka, Payton, Singletary, McMahon and Urlacher. Some might dispute that last name, though Urlacher did lead a defense that led the Bears to their first Superbowl appearance in twenty years.
Another team with a close link to the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals came about when Paul Brown (the man the Browns were named for) was fired in Cleveland and started a new, rival AFL franchise across the state of Ohio. Paul Brown was the mentor to Bill Walsh, and the two used the laboratory of Bengals football to create the West Coast Offense. These days, that’s a forgotten fact, and the Bengals are better known for offensive stars like Carson Palmer, "Ocho Cinco" Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
The Browns have often had solid, contending teams, but they’ve yet to make a Super Bowl. The Browns can point to famous flops like "The Drive" and "The Fumble", but their fans remains loyal through it all. The Dawgpound remains one of the storied sites in all of football. The current Browns have stars like Kellen Winslow Jr., Braylon Edwards and an intriguing quarterback tandem in Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
America’s Team and the Team of the 90′s. The home of Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The Cowboys have won five Superbowls and been to more Super Bowl games than any other team. Their quarterbacks are legendary, from Don Meredith to Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman to Tony Romo.
The Broncos have been a mainstay in the AFC West for most of the past 30 years, with a large portion of that due to the efforts of John Elway and later Mike Shanahan. When those two figures hooked up in the late-1990′s with Terrell Davis, the Denver Broncos won two Super Bowls back-to-back, becoming one of only seven teams to match that feat (Packers, Dolphins, Steelers twice, Niners, Cowboys and Patriots). The Broncos have been in playoff contention for most of the past decade, but the likes of Jay Cutler, Jake Plummer and Brian Griese have not been able to match the exploits of Elway.
Another NFC North team is the Detroit Lions, who haven’t won a title since 1957, but boast some of the great talents in NFL history, like Barry Sanders and Billy Sims. The Lions are currently mired in the Matt Millen Era, when they have the NFL’s most criticized GM, who also happens to be its second-highest paid executive. Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams lead the current squad.
The Green Bay Packers came into the league in its second year of existence, in 1921. The Packers and Bears have played 170 times, an NFL record. Green Bay has legendary figures to match anyone: Lambeau, Lombardi, Starr, Nitschke, Hornung, Taylor, Favre. The Green Bay Packers can boast they were the team of the Sixties, and have three times more Superbowl titles than the Bears.
The Houston Texans were one of the last expansion teams to come into the NFL, and have experienced the same kind of growing pains that most NFL expansion teams experience. The current team has a fine list of young stars, due mainly to the high draft picks the Texans have accumulated. Stars include Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Demeco Ryans, Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye.
The Colts are one of the premier franchises in the NFL today, mainly due to the efforts of Peyton Manning. The Colts have a whole lot of stars over the last few years, like Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Dwight Freeney and Bob Sanders. Tony Dungy adds the nice guy quality to the team, making the Colts a perennial fan favorite against the evil empire built by Bill Belichik. Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl with his team in 2006, and is probably as good a chance as anyone to knock off the Patriots for the AFC title in 2008.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a punishing defense and running game, making them a solid contender for the last several seasons. They have the misfortune of playing in the Indianapolis Colts’ division, meaning they usually have to go on the road as a wildcard in the playoffs. That usually means they play a team like the New England Patriots, who have knocked them out of the playoffs twice in recent years. The Jags’ stars are David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor.
The Chiefs may have had as much to do with the AFL-NFL merger as the New York Jets, as their victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV showed the AFL’s win the years before was not a fluke. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt is thought to have engineered the merger with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The team hasn’t appeared in a Superbowl since, though the recent teams have had offensive stars like Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes.
The New England Patriots are clearly the team of the 2000′s, despite their loss in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots have appeared in three other title games this decade, winning the world championship every time. Led by Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Bill Belichik, the Patriots are a machine these. That wasn’t always the case, since the Pats only appeared in one Superbowl before 2001.
The Saints have often been as snake-bitten as the Falcons, though their first twenty years of football were an exhibition in being bad. Over the past twenty years, though, the Saints have been playoff contenders more than they haven’t been, and currently boast an impressive array of offensive talents, such as Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Marques Colston and Drew Brees.
The defending Super Bowl Champs and holders of three Super Bowl titles. The New York Giants have been the NFL’s premier team in Gotham since the 1920′s. Read all about Giants history, from the early years through the Parcells era to their recent championship season.
The Patriots chief enemy through the years has been the New York Jets, who have often switched players (Curtis Martin) and coaches (Bill Parcells, Bill Belichik, Pete Carroll) with their Boston-area rival. The Jets have a unique place in NFL history, as their win in Super Bowl III gave the AFL legitimacy and helped lead to the AFL-NFL merger. The game also made Joe Namath a New York sports legend.
The Miami Dolphins boast the only perfect season of the Superbowl era (’72 Dolphins) and the all-time winningest coach in Don Shula. Until recently, Dan Marino was the all-time single-season and career touchdown leader. These days, the Dolphins are awful, coming off a 1-15 year, but they hired Bill Parcells and Tony Spurano to turn that around. With Jake Long as the #1 pick of the 2008 NFL Draft and John Beck as the probable new starting quarterback, the Dolphins are in a rebuilding mode.
The Minnesota Vikings have contended for NFC titles in each of the past five decades, though they are still chasing their first Super Bowl title. From the time of Tarkenton to the days of Culpepper and Moss, the Vikings have usually put together an exciting offensive style of football. Adrian Peterson is the latest franchise player for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Greatness of the Raiders, Commitment to Excellence and Just Win, Baby! The Oakland Raiders still have one of the largest fan bases, despite the fact Al Davis tries to run the team likes it’s 25 years ago when he was still winning Super Bowls. The Raiders have 3 Super Bowl titles and 5 Super Bowl appearances, and their team has had its share of near misses over the years, too. There are too many Raiders greats to list, but this is the team of Kenny Stabler, Cliff Branch, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson and Tim Brown. Many other stars have spent a few years in town, such as Randy Moss and Rich Gannon.
The final entry from the NFC East, I only put the Iggles last because they’ve never won a Super Bowl. The Eagles have been there twice, once in the Dick Vermeil-Ron Jaworskie era and once in the Donovon McNaab-Andy Reid era. Philadelphia Eages fans are often as much of the story as the team, such as the year they pelted Cowboys coach, Jimmy Johnson, or the time they booed Santa Claus.
Few teams can match the Superbowl legacy of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were the Team of the Seventies, and have won five Super Bowls all-time (tying the Cowboys and Niners for most Super Bowl titles). The Steelers of the 70′s had Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert, while their last Superbowl team featured stars like Ben Roethlisberger, Jerome Bettis, Fast Willie Parker and Hines Ward.
Many people believe the Chargers are among the most talented teams in the NFL at present, with such stars as Ladainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Shawn Merriman, Shaun Phillips and Antonio Cromartie on their roster. The Chargers went 14-2 in 2006 and went to the AFC Championship in 2007, but lost to the New England Patriots both times. Many consider the Chargers the current "next years champion".
The 49ers once won 10 or more games for 16 straight seasons, which is perhaps more impressive because it’s in the modern era of parity. During that stretch, the Niners were led by Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, won five Super Bowls and brought about the West Coast Offense revolution. Forty-Niners great Jerry Rice is widely acknowledged to be the greatest receiver that ever lived.
The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the most consistent NFC teams in the past decade, when Mike Holmgren came over from the Green Bay Packers to reenergize the franchise. Stars like Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander starred on those teams, though 2005 NFL MVP Alexander was recently waived by his old team. Read about the full history of the Seattle Seahawks franchise in this one-page article.
From the Cleveland Rams to the Los Angeles Rams to the St. Louis Rams, this franchise has competed for titles every few years throughout their history. After their worst stretch in team history (the Nineties), the Rams returned to win the 1999-2000 Super Bowl and become known as the Greatest Show on Turf, boasting such stars as Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson.
Derisively known as the Yuckaneers for the first generation of the franchise, the teams fortunes turned around in the mid-Nineties when Malcolm Glazer (who also owns Manchester United) bought the team and hired Tony Dungy as head coach. Jon Gruden finished what Dungy started, leading the Bucs to their lone world title in 2002. Stars like Mike Alstott, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Keyshawn Johnson were instrumental in that Superbowl victory.
Vince Young was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2006 when he nearly led the Titans to the playoffs. The team took a step back last season, but Jeff Fischer continues to be one of the best coaches in the NFL and the Titans continue to build a young team around Young. Lindale White came into his own last season, perhaps giving the Tennessee Titans a solid running game in the coming years.
The Redskins started in Boston of all places, but have been D.C. football team since the mid-1930′s. The Skins have the most famous fight song in the NFL, "Hail To the Redskins", and have been a compelling rival to the Dallas Cowboys in the modern NFL era. The Redskins have won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, and have a star-studded Ring of Honor, from Slingin’ Sammy Baugh to Darrell Green.