Dynasties of Heartbreak 21-30: The Saints of Dangerous Luck

NFL Offseason – Marty Schottenheimer, Rex Grossman, and the Snowplow Sport all exhibiting up in a single article? It should be time to proceed our take a look at the Dynasties of Heartbreak.

As our countdown continues, we start to enter the realm of the actually devastated groups. Up to now, we now have not discovered any groups that really feel that they ought to have received a Tremendous Bowl, simply ones that might have. True, there have been some minor favorites right here and there, and groups grumbling about titles that slipped via their fingers. For essentially the most half, nevertheless, groups under this line have nobody in charge however themselves for his or her lack of final success.

Round these elements, nevertheless, we start to see groups which have reputable arguments that they have been unfairly disadvantaged of the prospect for glory. Questionable refereeing selections taking away large performs. Ticky-tack flags that modified the path of a number of franchises. Groups so poorly completed by the foundations of the time that the league was pressured to vary how performs have been officiated going forwards. All of those groups might screw up completely fantastic on their very own deserves, however a lot of them had an unfair quantity of assist from forces outdoors of their management.

In fact, there’s greater than just a little little bit of cursing star gamers, with the names of Elway, Namath, and Brady being eternally carved into our collective reminiscence banks. Let’s meet our subsequent 10 groups.

Hyperlinks to the total sequence:

No. 30: 1999-2002 Oakland Raiders

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 484.2
Playoff Factors: 211.6
Win-Loss Factors: 107.5
DVOA Factors: 156.2
Report: 41-23 (.641)
Playoff Report: 4-3 (one Tremendous Bowl loss, one AFCCG, one divisional loss)
Common DVOA: 22.2%
Head Coaches: Jon Gruden, Invoice Callahan
Key Gamers: QB Wealthy Gannon, WR Tim Brown, OT Lincoln Kennedy, CB Charles Woodson

The Raiders’ return to Oakland was one thing lower than triumphant, with the staff failing to publish a profitable file of their first three seasons again within the Coliseum. This wasn’t what Al Davis had in thoughts in his return the franchise’s roots, nor was it what Alameda County had in thoughts once they had okayed the development of Mount Davis, the towering block of seats which elevated the Coliseum’s seating and destroyed its sightlines. One thing needed to be completed.

It is awkward at this level in 2022 to reward Jon Gruden, contemplating his ignoble exit from each the Raiders and the NFL on the whole. However Gruden, solely the second coach ever employed from outdoors the Raiders group, helped flip an offense that had completed within the backside half of the league for 5 years straight right into a perennial top-five squad. Wealthy Gannon, longtime journeyman, grew to become a multi-time All-Professional and league MVP. And at age 37 within the Tremendous Bowl 12 months, Gannon was virtually a spring rooster on this staff. We’ll be very good and name them “skilled,” with Tim Brown (36), Jerry Rice (40), Invoice Romanowski (36), and Rod Woodson (37) all taking part in vital roles at superior ages. Gruden had a status for preferring veterans over rookies all through his profession, however by no means did it work in addition to it did in his first run in Oakland.

Gruden’s groups have been snakebit, nevertheless. They solely went 8-8 in 1999, however none of these eight losses have been by greater than a landing. They missed the playoffs regardless of being third in DVOA. They have been extra lucky in 2000, making all of it the way in which to the AFC Championship Sport towards the Ravens. Sadly, dangerous luck struck once more—Gannon was knocked out of the sport after a Tony Siragusa sack, leaving Bobby Hoying to attempt to decide aside among the best defenses in NFL historical past. That went about as dangerous as you are presently imagining. Hoying’s very first go was intercepted, one in every of 4 for Hoying and Gannon mixed on the day, because the Ravens fought to a 16-3 win.

And you then had the Tuck Rule Sport in 2001—the divisional matchup between the Raiders and Patriots within the swirling snow and wind at Foxboro. In the event you’re a Raiders fan, you seemingly declare to today that Tom Brady fumbled the soccer when Charles Woodson sacked him with 1:50 left within the fourth quarter. The ball definitely popped out and Greg Biekert definitely fell on high of it, there is not any query about any of that. However underneath the brand new guidelines put in in 1999, any intentional ahead motion of the arm began a go, and even when management was misplaced when the ball was being tucked again to the physique, it was nonetheless an incomplete go. It was the proper ruling with the foundations that have been in place on the time. It was a foul rule, which is why it was repealed in 2013, nevertheless it was the rule, and accurately known as so. That led to the Patriots tying the sport with a area purpose and subsequently profitable in time beyond regulation, and everyone knows how that story goes from there.

Gruden did not protest the decision on the time, and the rumors state that this was the ultimate straw within the decaying relationship between him and Al Davis. Davis ended up buying and selling Gruden to the Buccaneers for a number of draft picks and putting in offensive coordinator Invoice Callahan as head coach. Callahan did not contact something because the Raiders stormed via the common season and playoffs on their strategy to Tremendous Bowl XXXVII—a technique that has labored wonders for coaches coming into good conditions all through NFL historical past. However George Seifert did not find yourself going through Invoice Walsh in a Tremendous Bowl. Barry Switzer by no means needed to battle Jimmy Johnson. Callahan needed to go heads up towards Gruden and the Buccaneers.

The Raiders got here in with the second-best offense within the league by DVOA, however that does not assist a lot when the opposing protection is aware of every part you are about to do. The 2002 Buccaneers protection did not want any additional benefits, however Gruden was capable of principally give them all the Raiders playbook—John Lynch, miked up throughout the sport, was calling out the Raiders performs earlier than they started. Callahan allegedly hadn’t even bothered to vary the Raiders’ audibles earlier than the Tremendous Bowl. Callahan had, nevertheless, drastically modified the sport plan simply 48 hours earlier than kickoff, beautiful the staff. To make issues worse, All-Professional heart Barrett Robbins vanished earlier than the sport, his psychological well being points overwhelming him. The Raiders entered the competition vastly underprepared. The Buccaneers entered it vastly overready, and that is the way you get a 48-21 blowout.

For many groups, a humiliation within the Tremendous Bowl like that may cap off essentially the most painful 12 months in franchise historical past. The Raiders aren’t most groups. The Callahan Raiders have been by no means going to turn into a dynasty. There are a number of Raiders groups from the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies who would have run circles round each Gruden and Callahan’s Raiders. They find yourself with considerably extra heartbreak factors and we’ll meet them sooner or later.

No. 29: 2013-2017 Carolina Panthers

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 493.7
Playoff Factors: 204.4
Win-Loss Factors: 168.8
DVOA Factors: 120.6
Report: 51-28-1 (.644)
Playoff Report: 3-4 (one Tremendous Bowl loss, two divisional losses, one wild-card loss)
Common DVOA: 9.4%
Head Coach: Ron Rivera
Key Gamers: QB Cam Newton, TE Greg Olsen, C Ryan Kalil, G Trai Turner, LB Luke Kuechly, LB Thomas Davis

This a really unusual run. It is 5 seasons lengthy, with no back-to-back good years; the Panthers alternated between constructive and unfavorable DVOAs like a metronome. However within the years they have been good, they have been excellent, with three double-digit-win seasons. And so they went to the playoffs 4 instances, due to a really bizarre playoff season with a shedding file. You might be forgiven for pondering much less about heartbreak and extra nearly confusion while you appear like a staff like this.

What is not complicated is simply how a lot better and extra enjoyable the Panthers grew to become to look at in 2011, when Ron Rivera and Cam Newton got here to city, and in 2012 when Luke Kuechly joined them. The top of the John Fox period was virtually unwatchable, particularly on offense with a -36.2% DVOA. Newton grew to become a sensation from Day 1. He led the league in speeding DYAR, and he was filling spotlight reels from the second he stepped on the sphere. When Rivera leaned into that, taking extra probabilities together with his offense and incomes the “Riverboat Ron” nickname, the Panthers began profitable soccer video games. After we did our dynasty rankings two years in the past, the Panthers didn’t have a certified unit, however this actual Panthers squad stays the closest they’ve ever come.

The majority of the Panthers’ rating right here comes from 2013 and 2015. They get nothing for his or her 6-10 12 months in 2016 as they struggled with accidents, whereas the 2017 wild-card loss to the Saints finally ends up as type of a vestigial tail, a good season that did not go wherever particularly. 2014 is the odd season out, with the 7-8-1 Panthers not solely profitable a weak NFC South but in addition managing to win a playoff sport, defeating the Ryan Lindley-led Arizona Cardinals within the wild-card spherical in a contest that didn’t precisely showcase the perfect the NFL needed to provide. The Seahawks dealt with the Panthers pretty simply the week after, with the entire debacle being price simply 30 factors.

2013 is attention-grabbing, because the Panthers rebounded from a 1-3 begin to go 11-1 the remainder of the way in which behind extra aggressive play calling from Rivera. That received the NFC South and had Carolina pegged because the staff with momentum getting into the postseason, however the Panthers principally failed to indicate up towards the 49ers within the divisional spherical. They allowed Colin Kaepernick and firm to attain 17 unanswered factors on their strategy to a 23-10 win. The 2013 staff continues to be the third-best staff in Panthers historical past by DVOA, and their greatest to not attain the Tremendous Bowl; any 12 months the place you are approaching a 25.0% DVOA goes to attain pretty extremely.

However 2015 is the explanation the staff qualifies for the listing in any respect, a 15-1 season out of the blue. The 2015 Panthers are one in every of solely 4 groups in our information to have a season above 25.0% DVOA sandwiched between two unfavorable DVOA years. In the event you swap the 2013 and 2014 years chronologically, this period makes extra sense. The 2015 Panthers are the one NFC staff to ever begin a season 14-0, and Newton received his MVP award. I lined this staff for Bleacher Report, and it was a bizarre staff to jot down about, as they only saved profitable regardless of a scarcity of clear receiving expertise. They’d the simplest schedule of the 12 months, however not traditionally so, and so they dominated towards it. It appeared that folks have been extra enthusiastic about speaking about how they have been secretly not contenders, or that Newton’s dancing was ultimately a cultural detriment, or actually the rest apart from acknowledging a run to near-perfection.

The defining second for me for the 2015 staff is a Newton spotlight, however not a flattering one. In Tremendous Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos had taken a lead based mostly extra on huge particular person performs (a Von Miller strip sack-turned-touchdown and a protracted punt return by Jordan Norwood) than truly outplaying Carolina. The Panthers had the ball down 16-10 with lower than 5 minutes to go when Miller acquired to Newton as soon as once more and stripped the ball free. The ball lay there on the bottom for the taking and Newton … hesitated, letting the Broncos get better, rating a landing, and win the sport. This can be a second that maybe has turn into too distinguished in hindsight, however championship video games produce championship moments. It is the inverse of John Elway laying his physique on the road, helicoptering his manner ahead within the Tremendous Bowl towards the Packers—a second the place soccer targets conflict with self-preservation targets. Newton’s profession shouldn’t be outlined by a split-second of hesitation in an important second, however perhaps the Panthers do not seem on this listing if he is a fraction sooner.

No. 28: 1977-1982 San Diego Chargers

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 522.1
Playoff Factors: 191.6
Win-Loss Factors: 145.8
DVOA Factors: 184.8
Report: 55-32 (.632)
Playoff Report: 3-4 (two AFCCG losses, two divisional losses)
Common DVOA: 17.4%
Head Coaches: Tommy Prothro, Don Coryell
Key Gamers: QB Dan Fouts, FB Chuck Muncie, WR Charlie Joiner, WR John Jefferson, TE Kellen Winslow, OT Russ Washington, OT Billy Shields, G Doug Wilkerson, DE Fred Dean, DT Gary Johnson, DT Louie Kelcher

In simply a few weeks, we’ll be revealing the 1981 and 1982 DVOA scores, so preserve a watch out for these. After we write them up, you will get to be taught all in regards to the early Eighties Chargers, as a result of they’re all around the high of the leaderboards.

Don Coryell joined the Chargers the identical 12 months the passing guidelines have been opened as much as attempt to revitalize the stale offense of the Nineteen Seventies, and San Diego was the primary staff to essentially make the most of them. Coryell had already made strides in pass-first offense with the St. Louis Cardinals and at San Diego State earlier than that, being one of many first coaches to experiment with single-back formations and choice routes. He was one of many first to tinker with transfer tight ends, one thing that grew to become a staple of the Chargers once they drafted Kellen Winslow in 1979. After which, with the foundations towards unlawful contact put into place, Coryell’s offense went into overdrive.

The Chargers despatched receivers in movement on almost each play, making them almost not possible to jam coming off the road underneath the brand new guidelines. This stretched the protection, permitting Coryell and the Chargers to learn the protection earlier than the snap and transfer defenders the place they needed them. Typically, all 5 receivers would run out in patterns that stretched the protection to its breaking level, adjusting their route choices based mostly on what the defenses have been doing. The bones of this offense have been discovered within the Sid Gillman methods of the Sixties, however Coryell took every part to the following degree. And so the Chargers led the league in each passing yards and whole yards in each season from 1978 to 1983 earlier than defenses might start catch up.

The knock on Air Coryell, in comparison with the West Coast Offense of the time, was that you simply wanted extra gifted gamers to make it work. You needed to have superstars working issues completely or it was going to break down in underneath its personal weight. The Chargers had these superstars. Dan Fouts continues to be the one participant to guide the league in passing 4 years in a row. Winslow was the primary actual trendy tight finish, the large receiver in an offensive lineman’s physique that grew to become the prototype for each high pass-catching tight finish within the league as we speak. Charlie Joyner was the NFL’s all-time chief in receptions and receiving yards by the point he retired in 1986. The Chargers acquired Wes Chandler from New Orleans and he gained over 1,000 yards in simply eight video games in 1982. On a pure expertise degree, the Chargers could nicely have had the perfect offense of all the Eighties.

And seeing that that is the historical past of the forever-cursed San Diego Chargers, they after all did not win something. Fouts and the Chargers offense was deadly throughout the common season, however they’d a foul behavior of getting turnover-prone within the playoffs when it mattered most.

In 1979, the Houston Oilers managed to decipher the Chargers’ indicators once they have been signaling performs in from the sideline throughout their divisional-round playoff sport. With Houston realizing when and the place Fouts was going to go on almost each snap, they picked him off 5 instances in a 17-14 upset. The following season, Fouts threw a pair extra picks whereas each Chuck Muncie and Mike Thomas fumbled within the working sport to assist set the Raiders as much as a 28-7 early lead within the AFC Championship Sport, and Oakland managed to carry on to the ball for sufficient of the fourth quarter to flee with a 34-27 win.

The 1981 postseason noticed the Chargers come out victorious within the Epic in Miami, the exhausting time beyond regulation thriller within the sweltering warmth and humidity that the NFL named the fourth-greatest sport of all time throughout their one centesimal anniversary celebrations. After which they needed to flip round, mentally and bodily drained, and go play in Cincinnati within the Freezer Bowl, the place the -59-degree wind chill made it the coldest sport in historical past. Dropping almost 150 levels in efficient temperature between playoff video games is past something you might probably put together for, and the warm-weather Chargers simply couldn’t modify. The Bengals opted to kick to start each halves to pressure San Diego to play into the brutally chilly wind, and the precision passing offense froze strong, with Fouts throwing a pair of picks and brazenly questioning how anybody might throw a spiral in these circumstances. San Diego misplaced that one, after which misplaced the rematch with Miami on a five-pick day from Fouts the following 12 months. That is 4 playoff losses and 14 interceptions from the second-team All-Eighties quarterback there.

The Chargers in all probability ought to have had just a few extra bites on the apple, however proprietor Eugene Klein was in a penny-pinching temper. Klein refused to renegotiate any contracts after the successes in 1979 and 1980, buying and selling away stars similar to John Jefferson and Fred Dean reasonably than pony as much as preserve them round. Jefferson had replacements within the passing offense, however the lack of Dean, after which Gary Johnson and Louie Kelcher and the remainder of the Bruise Brothers, in wage cuts ended up tanking the San Diego protection. They ended up plummeting to the underside of the league for the remainder of the Eighties, and the Chargers struggled to cease anybody.

Fortuitously for Chargers followers in every single place, Klein’s wage cuts have been only a prelude to him promoting the staff to the Spanos household, and San Diego by no means needed to fear about their proprietor ever once more.

No. 27: 2005-2013 Chicago Bears

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 528.2
Playoff Factors: 259.8
Win-Loss Factors: 163.1
DVOA Factors: 105.2
Report: 84-60 (.583)
Playoff Report: 3-3 (one Tremendous Bowl loss, one NFCCG loss, one divisional loss)
Common DVOA: 3.4%
Head Coaches: Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman
Key Gamers: QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, WR Brandon Marshall, G Roberto Garza, C Olin Kreutz, DE Julius Peppers, DT Tommie Harris, LB Lance Briggs, LB Brian Urlacher, CB Charles Tillman, CB Tim Jennings, PR/KR Devin Hester

It does appear just a little bizarre to see these Bears not solely on the listing, however this excessive up it. They’re, undoubtedly, the worst staff to qualify for the heartbreak rankings. In the event you have been to get all 44 groups to play each other, the Lovie Smith Bears would find yourself within the cellar.

Chicago had unfavorable DVOAs in three of the 9 seasons on this run, by no means placing collectively back-to-back years with double-digit DVOAs. If I used to be doing this subjectively, I’d have damaged aside the Tremendous Bowl staff from 2006 and the Jay Cutler-led groups beginning in 2009. Smith being in cost the entire time provides it just a little little bit of connective tissue to work with right here, however this appears like essentially the most tenuous staff on this listing. They squeak in as a result of they only occur to tiptoe on the sting of the ruleset, with the 9-7 Kyle Orton-led 2008 staff doing simply sufficient to pin the 2 eras collectively. Regardless of how, when, and the place you draw the road in an train like this, somebody goes to barely fall on one aspect or the opposite.

All that being stated, it is nonetheless price remembering Smith’s defenses. Behind Brian Urlacher, Peanut Tillman, and Lance Briggs, the Bears had a top-10 protection in seven out of 9 seasons between 2004 and 2012, the longest sustained run of success they’d had because the Monsters of the Halfway within the Eighties. Even when the offense was floundering underneath Chad Hutchinson or Kyle Orton, the protection was greater than sufficient to maintain Chicago aggressive week-in and week-out. And the one 12 months Chicago did put collectively a top-20 offense, the Bears went straight to the Tremendous Bowl.

In some ways, the 2006 Bears truly have been the staff that posterity has tried to show the 1985 Bears into. Everybody talks in regards to the 1985 staff as one of many best defenses all time, dragging the lead weight that was the Bears offense to glory. However the Bears have been fourth in offensive DVOA in 1985, and so they did not drop under twentieth till the early Nineteen Nineties; there’s solely so dangerous a Walter Payton offense might be, and Jim McMahon was above common when wholesome. However the mid-2000s offense solely had one season within the high 20 between 2002 and 2012. They actually have been the anchor sinking the Bears down all through the twenty first century. Perhaps the Bears belong right here in any case, as watching promising protection after promising protection be thwarted by horrible quarterback play has to take a toll on a fan base.

Like McMahon, Rex Grossman was usually injured, lacking most of 2004 and 2005 with broken knee ligaments and a damaged ankle. Not like McMahon, Grossman wasn’t good, by no means ending with a constructive DVOA. Smith’s insistence that, no, Grossman was the quarterback was questionable on the time and downright unbelievable with even the slightest hindsight. Even in 2006, his greatest season in Chicago, Grossman was massively inconsistent, capable of go between multi-touchdown days and multi-interception nightmares on the drop of a hat. By the start of the 2006 postseason, followers have been demanding that he be benched for Brian Griese, which will not be an excellent state of affairs to be in as you are attempting to win a championship.

Grossman held it collectively for lengthy sufficient to win the NFC Championship organising Grossman vs. Peyton Manning in essentially the most lopsided passer matchup in Tremendous Bowl historical past. The Bears acquired on the board early with Devin Hester’s kick return, and so they took a 14-6 lead after Thomas Jones rumbled into scoring place on the following drive, nevertheless it could not final eternally. Grossman ended up throwing a pair of picks and fumbling twice because the Bears failed to search out the tip zone for the final 50 minutes of the sport.

Would the Bears have been higher off if we hooked their 2006 protection to the Jay Cutler and Matt Forte offenses from the again half of the last decade? In all probability, though it is not like these squads have a stellar place within the hearts of Chicago followers both. Cutler’s tenure with the staff will likely be eternally outlined by the 2010 NFC Championship Sport, when he left with a sprained MCL and spent many of the second half glowering on the sidelines. The sight of Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie attempting desperately to maintain up with Aaron Rodgers sums up the historical past of Bears soccer.

Someday, sooner or later, the Bears will go into an enormous postseason matchup with a bonus on the quarterback place for the primary time because the Forties. I imply, it has to occur ultimately, proper?

No. 26: 1998-2007 Seattle Seahawks

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 528.8
Playoff Factors: 254.4
Win-Loss Factors: 147.5
DVOA Factors: 126.9
Report: 90-70 (.563)
Playoff Report: 4-6 (one Tremendous Bowl loss, two divisional losses, three wild-card losses)
Common DVOA: 3.3%
Head Coaches: Dennis Erickson, Mike Holmgren
Key Gamers: QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander, RB Ricky Watters, WR Darrell Jackson, WR Bobby Engram, OT Walter Jones, G Chris Grey, G Steve Hutchinson, C Robbie Tobeck, DT Cortez Kennedy, LB Chad Brown, LB Lofa Tatupu

We simply completed saying the Bears have been the worst staff to make the heartbreak rankings, however right here come the Seahawks with a decrease DVOA. The distinction right here is that these Seahawks had 4 years of double-digit DVOA combined in with some dangerous years early within the run, whereas the Bears solely had two years of double-digit DVOA unfold thinly throughout their reign. On common it comes out to about the identical, however the peak Mike Holmgren Seahawks have been the higher staff.

The Seahawks have been mired in a protracted interval of mediocrity—six straight seasons with six to eight wins, and just one 12 months with double-digit wins within the historical past of the franchise. Seattle had virtually misplaced the Seahawks to Los Angeles three years earlier than, with proprietor Ken Behring bizarrely claiming that he needed to transfer from Seattle to L.A. due to the worry of … earthquakes. The NFL discovered a (San Andreas) fault in that logic and stopped the transfer, and Behring ended up promoting to Paul Allen.

Allen saved the staff in Seattle and settled on Mike Holmgren just a few years later, handing him the pinnacle coach and normal supervisor jobs with the directive to make Seattle truly related. Recent off of success with the Packers, Holmgren was searching for extra management over the roster and early outcomes have been good—Holmgren’s first season noticed the Seahawks making the playoffs for the primary time since 1988. Despite the fact that the Dolphins shut down the Seattle offense totally within the wild-card spherical, issues have been definitely wanting up!

Effectively, no, issues weren’t wanting up, with the Seahawks not making the postseason once more till Holmgren stepped down from his normal supervisor position, however that is to not say that Holmgren was a horrible GM. He drafted the core of what ended up being the 2005 Tremendous Bowl staff in Shaun Alexander, Darrell Jackson, and Steve Hutchinson. He traded for Matt Hasselbeck, who ended up turning into the perfect quarterback in franchise historical past on the time. It is in all probability truthful to say that Holmgren was stretched too skinny by being each coach and normal supervisor from 1999 to 2002, and that of the 2 you’d need to preserve coach Holmgren over GM Holmgren, however credit score the place credit score is due. With Holmgren returning simply to the sidelines, nevertheless, he might concentrate on placing the Seahawks into positions the place they might repeatedly blow it in main conditions.

I am pretty sure “we would like the ball and we will rating” nonetheless triggers flashbacks for a big swathe of Seahawks followers after the 2003 wild-card sport towards the Packers. Hasselbeck’s try and pump the gang and his staff up as they entered time beyond regulation backfired when he ended up throwing the game-losing pick-six to Al Harris just a few moments later—the primary ever time beyond regulation defensive landing in playoff historical past. In fact, issues would not have even gotten to that time within the first place had Koren Robinson not dropped a go in the long run zone, however hey, memes be memes and all that. It is definitely extra painful than the loss to the Rams within the wild-card spherical the following season, even when going 0-3 to an 8-8 Rams staff in a single season is irritating in its personal proper.

However no, clearly the explanation this Seahawks staff will get so excessive is the Tremendous Bowl XL loss to the Steelers—enjoyable trivia word, that was performed in Jerome Bettis’ hometown of Detroit! It is a surprise nobody ever talked about that main as much as the sport! It will have been a enjoyable storyline. A much less enjoyable storyline for Seattle followers was the officiating, as Invoice Leavy and his crew made a number of controversial calls in Pittsburgh’s favor. Jackson was flagged for offensive go interference to nullify a first-quarter landing, Sean Locklear was flagged with holding that cancelled a protracted fourth-quarter go, Hasselbeck was flagged for an unlawful block on Ike Taylor’s interception, and a catch-and-fumble by Jerramy Stevens was dominated an incomplete go. After the sport, Holmgren informed followers “we knew it was going to be robust going towards the Pittsburgh Steelers. I did not know we have been going to need to play the blokes within the striped shirts as nicely.”

It definitely wasn’t the refs’ greatest evening by any stretch of the creativeness. With out the flags towards Seattle, we would in all probability keep in mind Tremendous Bowl XL because the 12 months Ben Roethlisberger choked away a title with a pair of interceptions, or how Bettis could not run in any respect towards the Seattle entrance. Blaming all the loss on the referees is an overstatement, however when all of the borderline calls go a method, you’ll be able to perceive why Seattle followers (and impartial followers hoping for a superb sport!) have been so up in arms within the instant aftermath. It is not that the referees acquired every part incorrect, per se, however the Seahawks have been on the shedding finish of a half-dozen coin flips, and that is going to make it arduous to win a soccer sport even when they had performed higher.

Seattle did not instantly go away after the Tremendous Bowl loss, after all. An time beyond regulation defeat to Rex Grossman and people aforementioned Bears within the divisional spherical in 2006 definitely hurts; perhaps Chicago actually was a greater staff than these Seahawks. After which they have been crushed by Inexperienced Bay within the divisional spherical in 2007, permitting the Packers to attain touchdowns on six consecutive drives on the way in which to a 42-20 romp. These assist pad Seattle’s stats out to the purpose the place they hit the highest 30 reasonably than lingering round with the 2000s Panthers and Eighties Eagles. However they by no means acquired a second shot on the Tremendous Bowl, with Holmgren and Alexander each departing on the finish of an injury-plagued 2008 season.

No. 25: 2014-2021 Pittsburgh Steelers

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 545.4
Playoff Factors: 148.2
Win-Loss Factors: 215.4
DVOA Factors: 181.8
Report: 83-44-2 (.651)
Playoff Report: 3-6 (one AFCCG loss, two divisional losses, three wild-card losses)
Common DVOA: 10.7%
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
Key Gamers: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown, OT Alejando Villanueva, G David DeCastro, C Maurkice Pouncey, DT Cameron Heyward, LB T.J. Watt, LB Ryan Shazier, S Minkah Fitzpatrick

This the third of our 5 lively heartbreak dynasties, however “lively” is doing fairly a bit of labor right here. With Ben Roethlisberger retiring this offseason, and Ben Roethlisberger’s arm retiring two years in the past, I really feel considerably snug in saying that there is going to a interval of retooling earlier than the Steelers are contenders as soon as extra. Perhaps Kenny Pickett wows from Day 1, and the protection continues to be projected to be close to the highest of the league—it is doable this paragraph will look very foolish in just a few months. On the very least, nevertheless, the final remnants of the Killer Bs are gone with out a ring to indicate for it.

That is our first entry with out 150 playoff factors since down within the mid-30s, because the Steelers have not actually completed all that a lot within the postseason prior to now decade. The prime years of Huge Ben, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown not often noticed all of them on the sphere collectively within the playoffs. Bell missed the 2014 wild-card loss to the Ravens after hyperextending his knee towards the Bengals in Week 17. Each Bell and Brown missed the 2015 divisional loss to the Broncos—Bell tore his MCL towards the Bengals in November, whereas Brown took an inexpensive shot from Vontae Burfict towards the Bengals within the wild-card spherical. In 2016, Bell was injured within the first quarter of the AFC Championship Sport loss to the Patriots. It is rather troublesome to win soccer video games when your stars get damage! Particularly while you’re speaking about arguably the perfect receiver and working again of this mid-2010s, with each Bell and Brown choosing up a number of first-team All-Professional nods. None of those losses have been actually shut sufficient to say that sure, the Steelers would have gone to the Tremendous Bowl had they been at full energy, nevertheless it does really feel like these fixed accidents to key gamers precipitated some excellent Pittsburgh groups to be taking part in with one hand tied behind their again in January.

2017 was going to be totally different. The staff’s 13-3 file was their greatest on this run—and you might argue it ought to have been higher, as they misplaced out on going 14-2 and having home-field benefit when Jesse James’ obvious landing towards the Patriots was overturned on replay towards the Patriots in December. Their 25.9% DVOA was their greatest because the 2010 Tremendous Bowl staff. The Killer Bs have been in high kind and had been bolstered by the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster. And for the primary time, these Steelers had a protection, with T.J. Watt becoming a member of Cameron Heyward and, earlier than his career-ending damage, Ryan Shazier; the primary top-10 protection in Pittsburgh since 2011. The celebrities have been aligned for an AFC Championship Sport rematch towards the Patriots, avenging the controversial loss from the common season and at last bringing Pittsburgh again to the Tremendous Bowl the place they belonged. All they needed to do first was get previous the #Sacksonville Jaguars, which should not be an issue, proper?

Jacksonville, after all, punched Pittsburgh within the mouth from the opening gun, leaping to a 28-7 first-half lead on the again of a number of Roethlisberger turnovers. The Steelers fired again, with Huge Ben throwing 5 touchdowns and placing up 545 yards of offense, nevertheless it was too little, too late. The Steelers have been closely criticized for wanting previous the Jags and so they acquired overwhelmed up for it.

And that was it for the Killer Bs. Bell by no means performed one other sport for Pittsburgh, holding out in a contract dispute. Brown began, nicely, Antonio Browning, resulting in his commerce after the 2018 season. Roethlisberger tore his UCL to start the 2019 season and was by no means the identical participant once more. There was a smattering of success prior to now couple of seasons, however that has been resulting from a dominant protection, because the Steelers offense died together with Roethlisberger’s elbow ligaments. In the event you might mix, say, the 2020 protection with the 2014 offense, you’d have a staff that would match up with anybody in any period. However contemplating the Steelers luck over the previous decade, they’d simply find yourself with half their stars in slings and casts on the sidelines in January as soon as once more.

No. 24: 1960-1969 Baltimore Colts

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 550.9
Playoff Factors: 251.0
Win-Loss Factors: 165.5
DVOA Factors: 134.3
Championship Penalty: 478.4
Report: 92-42-4 (.681)
Playoff Report: 2-3 (one Tremendous Bowl loss, one NFL Championship loss, one divisional loss)
Common DVOA: 17.0%
Head Coaches: Weeb Ewbank, Don Shula
Key Gamers: QB Johnny Unitas, RB Lenny Moore, RB Tom Matte, E Raymond Berry, WR Willie Richardson, WR Jimmy Orr, TE John Mackey, OT Bob Vogel, G Jim Parker, C Dick Szymanski, DE Gino Marchetti, DE Ordell Braase, DT Fred Miller, LB Don Shinnick, CB Bobby Boyd, S Rick Volk

I might simply write “Tremendous Bowl III” right here and depart it at that, proper? Everybody would nod their heads and perceive and transfer on? However no, the Sixties Colts are way more than only one sport, even when that sport stays the most important upset in NFL historical past and makes them one in every of two NFL champions not to be world champions. The truth is, that 1968 season does not even find yourself making the most important contribution to the Colts’ heartbreak rating, as Baltimore was snakebitten for a whole decade.

With all respect to the Ray Lewises and Peyton Mannings of the world, this stays the perfect decade of soccer for both the Colts franchise or town of Baltimore. Their 17.0% common (estimated) DVOA tops the perfect both franchise has been capable of do since. The Colts have been within the championship image each season, with solely the Packers managing to win extra video games than they did. That is the period of Don Shula, youngest coach in NFL historical past on the time. Behind Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, and Raymond Berry, the Colts had the second-highest scoring offense within the NFL. Behind Gino Marchetti and Bobby Boyd, they’d the second-best scoring protection within the NFL. They have been coming off a number of championships within the Fifties, together with the Biggest Sport Ever Performed. They might win Tremendous Bowl V in 1970. That they might go 0-for-the-entire-Sixties appears unfathomable, even acknowledging how good the Packers and Browns additionally have been on this period. Baltimore repeatedly acquired screwed over by dangerous luck and by guidelines and practices which not exist.

In 1964, the Colts have been favored as they went into the championship sport towards the Browns, however they needed to play it on the highway—at that time in historical past, the NFL Championship Sport simply alternated between the Japanese and Western convention champions’ residence stadium, reasonably than going to a impartial web site or being hosted by the staff with the higher file. House-field benefit alone is not sufficient to clarify why the Browns walked to a 27-0 victory, although the snowy circumstances in Cleveland did contribute to Unitas’ two interceptions and Moore’s key fumble. On the time, this was thought-about the most important upset in NFL playoff historical past because the Colts have been seven-point favorites getting into the sport.

The Colts have been again in 1965, taking part in in a one-game playoff towards the Packers to see who would face the Browns within the NFL Championship Sport—this time, within the Western convention metropolis. The Colts have been severely undermanned getting in, nevertheless, as each Unitas and backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo have been injured. Baltimore tried to signal Ed Brown and George Haffner, choosing them up on waivers within the week main up the playoffs, however the league dominated they have been ineligible to play as a result of they weren’t on the roster for Baltimore’s closing two regular-season video games, a rule which not exists as a result of it’s dumb. That left halfback Tom Matte because the emergency choice. The previous faculty quarterback grew to become the primary participant ever to put on a playbook on his wristband as he tried to run the Colts’ simplified offense towards the Vince Lombardi Packers. And you understand what? It virtually labored! The Colts have been profitable 10-7 with two minutes left when Inexperienced Bay kicker Don Chandler lined up for a possible game-tying 22-yard area purpose. The kick sailed left of the uprights … however the officers dominated it good, as a result of it was kicked excessive sufficient to be over the goa lposts, and the one referee standing beneath could not get a transparent view of the kick. The Packers would go on to win in time beyond regulation, and the NFL prolonged the purpose posts 10 ft upward and added an additional official beneath the uprights on area purpose makes an attempt beginning the following 12 months. When the league instantly modifications the foundations to stop what occurred to you from taking place to anybody else, you may have a superb argument for being screwed.

The Colts even have a bone to choose in 1967. They tied for the perfect file within the league at 11-1-2, however did not get to go to the playoffs. It’s because 1967 was the primary 12 months the NFL cut up into 4 divisions, and the Rams additionally completed 11-1-2 within the Coastal Division. Within the guidelines earlier than 1967, the Colts and Rams would have had a one-game playoff to find out who received the division, however 1967 noticed new tiebreaking guidelines come into play. Because the Rams had a greater level differential than the Colts did of their matchups, they have been declared the champions, and the Colts needed to keep at residence. It is truthful to notice that the Rams would have received the tiebreaker underneath trendy guidelines as nicely, going 1-0-1 towards the Colts throughout the common season, however getting knocked out of the postseason since you misplaced your first sport of the 12 months on the final day of the common season is exceptionally painful. Their .917 win share is the perfect in Huge 4 sports activities historical past for a non-playoff-qualifying staff.

So you’ll be able to see why the 1968 Colts felt like they have been considerably due as they stormed via the NFL season. They crushed the Rams twice. They ended the Packers’ playoff hopes with a win in September. They destroyed the Browns 34-0 to win the NFL Championship Sport. All their demons had been slayed. All they needed to do now was coast as 19.5-point favorites over some fur coat-wearing, showboating, sideburn-coiffed upstart from the AFL. What might probably go incorrect? They did not even trouble adjusting their zone protection—uncommon within the NFL, however fairly widespread within the AFL on the time—figuring their common sport plan needs to be ok to carry off the Jets. As an alternative, Benny Snell ran throughout a predictable Colts scheme whereas Joe Namath’s quick launch beat the Baltimore blitzes, and the Colts have been the victims of the best upset in NFL historical past. Once more.

No. 23: 1983-1989 Cleveland Browns

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 554.0
Playoff Factors: 295.2
Win-Loss Factors: 129.2
DVOA Factors: 129.7
Report: 63-47-1 (.572)
Playoff Report: 3-5 (three AFCCG losses, one divisional loss, one wild-card loss)
Common DVOA: 8.2%
Head Coaches: Sam Rutigliano, Marty Schottenheimer, Bud Carson
Key Gamers: QB Bernie Kosar, TE Ozzie Newsome, OT Cody Risen, DT Bob Golic, LB Clay Matthews, LB Chip Banks, CB Hanford Dixon, CB Frank Minnifield

You by no means need to be on the incorrect finish of a sport that finally ends up being described as The [Noun]. The Catch, The Ice Bowl, The Assure, The Immaculate Reception, The Music Metropolis Miracle—if a sport is notable sufficient to be referred to in shorthand like that, being on the shedding finish of it’s often one thing you need to keep away from! The Eighties Browns acquired to expertise two of them in back-to-back years, a part of a stretch by which they misplaced three out of 4 AFC Championship Video games. That is about as painful as you will get for a franchise which has by no means reached the Tremendous Bowl.

However earlier than the Drive was Pushed or the Fumble was Misplaced, the Eighties Browns represented the tales of two males.

Defensive coordinator Marty Schottenheimer took over in the course of the 1984 season after Sam Rutigliano had primarily been booed out of the stadium and publicly questioned by proprietor Artwork Modell for horrible play calling and strategic soccer. If there’s a patron saint of the heartbreak dynasty listing, it’s Schottenheimer. He is one in every of eight coaches to win 200 video games—and the one one to not be within the Corridor of Fame. He took his groups to the playoffs 13 instances, sixth most in NFL historical past. These 5 coaches above him received a mixed 18 championships, profitable a title greater than 20% of the time they reached the postseason. Schottenheimer by no means received a title. Heck, Schottenheimer not often received playoff video games to start with, as his 5-13 playoff file is second-worst amongst coaches with at the very least 10 playoff video games (we’ll meet Steve Owen subsequent day out). However in 21 years of teaching, Schottenheimer’s groups averaged a second-place end of their division, higher than legendary coaches similar to Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs, Tom Landry, Invoice Parcells … the listing goes on. In the event you had Marty Schottenheimer as your head coach, you primarily assured your self a aggressive staff—a way of stability and regular-season success that only a few coaches within the historical past of the league have managed. You may critique him for enjoying to not lose, with an offense designed to restrict turnovers and a protection designed to pressure them. However by taking part in to not lose, Schottenheimer’s groups not often did. He has the second-best profitable share in Chiefs and Chargers historical past, and the third-best for non-interim Browns coaches.

Schottenheimer’s defenses had already been sturdy as a part of the Kardiac Youngsters run from the early Eighties, however the Browns’ offenses tanked after Brian Sipe left for the USFL. Sipe went to play for Donald Trump, so Cleveland did the one factor they might—they grew to become Bernie Bros. Bernie Kosar needed to play for Cleveland, and manipulated the draft to make it occur. The Payments had the No. 1 decide and weren’t about to commerce that away—they needed Bruce Smith, and weren’t going to let anybody else have him. They have been greater than prepared to commerce away the primary decide within the supplemental draft, nevertheless, and Kosar declared himself eligible for the supplemental draft solely after the Browns organized a commerce for the highest decide there. Regardless of complaints and threats of lawsuits from the quarterback-needy Vikings and Oilers, the NFL principally did an Air Bud “there is not any rule towards it” shrug, modified the foundations for the longer term, and let the Browns draft their hometown hero.

Behind Kosar, the Browns would attain the playoffs in every of the following 5 seasons, reaching the AFC Championship Sport 3 times. In 1985, they let the Dolphins rating 21 unanswered factors to return again and knock them out of the divisional spherical. In 1988, they misplaced to the Oilers by one level in a sloppy, penalty-filled wild-came sport. These would have been dangerous sufficient, however the different three years, they needed to play John Elway and the Denver Broncos within the AFC Championship Sport and … oh boy.

1986 was The Drive. The Browns had a 20-13 lead over the Broncos with 5:32 left to play, and Denver backed up on their very own 2-yard line. All Elway did was march 98 yards in 15 performs. The Broncos by no means confronted a fourth down, and the few instances Cleveland had the prospect for a cease, Elway delivered,most notably hitting Mark Jackson for 20 yards on third-and-18. The landing tied the sport, the Browns punted in time beyond regulation, and Denver received on a Rick Karlis area purpose just a few performs later.

The shoe was on the opposite foot in 1987. Kosar and Earnest Byner fought again from a 21-3 third-quarter deficit and had the ball late within the fourth, down by only a landing. They marched proper down the sphere, contained in the Denver 10, and Byner ran a entice. It will have been his third landing of the day, however Webster Slaughter missed a block and Jeremiah Castille was capable of knock the ball out of Byner’s fingers simply earlier than he might cross the purpose line. The Fumble. Broncos get better, Broncos win, Browns keep residence but once more. By comparability, Elway and firm romping over Cleveland 37-21 within the 1989 Championship Sport was no huge deal—how will you break the spirit of 1 whose spirit was already damaged?

And not using a Tremendous Bowl look, and with the crumbling protection in the end resulting in the demise of this period of Browns soccer, it is arduous to rank them a lot larger than this, even when the Drive and Fumble are a one-two punch the likes of which few franchises have ever seen earlier than. It simply is not lengthy sufficient to succeed in the highest 20. You could possibly push them into the highest 15 for those who linked the Kardiac Youngsters squads to this run. In the end, although, the Browns simply weren’t ok on a week-to-week and year-to-year foundation to get a lot larger. It is the distinctive degree of postseason ache that turns them from a forgettable staff that would not even qualify into one that almost hits the highest 20.

No. 22: 1974-1988 New England Patriots

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 590.0
Playoff Factors: 209.0
Win-Loss Factors: 232.3
DVOA Factors: 148.8
Report: 123-101 (.549)
Playoff Report: 3-5 (one Tremendous Bowl loss, three divisional losses, one wild-card loss)
Common DVOA: 2.3%
Head Coaches: Chuck Fairbanks, Hank Bullough, Ron Erhardt, Ron Meyer, Raymond Berry
Key Gamers: QB Steve Grogan, RB Sam Cunningham, RB Tony Collins, WR Stanley Morgan, TE Russ Francis, OT Brian Holloway, OT Leon Grey, G John Hannah, G Sam Adams, C Invoice Lenkaitis, C Pete Brock, DE Julius Adams, NT Ray Hamilton, LB Steve Nelson, LB Andre Tippett, CB Raymond Clayborn, CB Mike Haynes, S Roland James

One of many challenges in doing a challenge like that is balancing peak with longevity. Lean too far in a single path and we would be bemoaning the poor followers of a one-and-done shock Tremendous Bowl contender such because the 2017 Jaguars. Lean too far the opposite and a decade of 9-7 finishes turns into as dangerous as a Tremendous Bowl loss. I believe the steadiness right here finally ends up being roughly proper, however there are all the time going to be some exceptions proper alongside the borderline. If I have been doing this purely subjectively, I would knock the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties Patriots down just a few pegs, or at the very least cut up them in twain. As a result of what we actually have listed below are two totally different runs, superglued collectively by the unusual 1982 strike season and expanded playoffs.

The late Nineteen Seventies Patriots have been the higher staff by far, usually ending with double-digit estimated DVOA. Beneath Chuck Fairbanks, the Patriots drafted a golden age of gamers—the staff’s first Corridor of Famer in John Hannah, all-time main rusher Sam Cunningham, receiver Darryl Stingley, and lineman Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton all have been picked in 1973, and the following couple years’ drafts introduced in vital contributors as nicely, capped off by quarterback Steve Grogan. With the labor unrest of the early Nineteen Seventies over (keep in mind that, it’s going to come up once more shortly) and Grogan set behind heart, the Patriots put up their first profitable season within the NFL in 1976.

Within the playoffs, the Patriots had a 21-17 lead over the mighty Oakland Raiders late within the fourth quarter of their divisional-round matchup. However Hamilton was flagged for roughing the passer on a third-down sack of Ken Stabler, giving the Raiders new life and permitting them to attain the game-winning landing with lower than a minute left. And keep in mind, this was 1976—quarterbacks did not have wherever close to the identical protections as they do as we speak. Hamilton reached up and slapped Stabler within the head as they went to the bottom. That is a particular penalty in 2022 however hardly even price noting in 1976, when if a quarterback might rise up after taking a shot, it in all probability was a authorized hit.

The Fairbanks period would come to an finish in 1978 because the coach feuded with the proudly owning Sullivan household. Fairbanks sided with John Hannah and Leon Grey, who held out in 1977; the Sullivans saved the pocketbook closed and compelled Fairbanks to renege on contracts he had promised his stars. And in 1978, Fairbanks had labored out a contract extension with Stingley main as much as a preseason sport, however Stingley was paralyzed after successful by Jack Tatum. The following week, the Sullivans responded by pulling Stingley’s new contract. Fairbanks was livid and vowed to go away the staff after the 12 months. The Pats have been 11-4 and Tremendous Bowl contenders, however the Sullivans suspended Fairbanks for the final sport of the season as a result of he had accepted a job on the College of Colorado for 1979. Fairbanks was again for the divisional-round sport, however maybe barely distracted by all of the drama, New England was upset by Earl Campbell and the Oilers.

That is one good, constant run, and issues might need ended there had the NFL been calm within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties. However there was vital labor strife throughout this era. Fairbanks had taken benefit of a 1974 gamers’ strike to ascertain his protection with a bunch of non-union gamers; the Patriots gamers had gone on strike once more in 1975 and cancelled a preseason sport over the Sullivans’ hardball negotiating techniques; we might go on.

Issues didn’t get higher over the late Nineteen Seventies, which led to the 1982 strike and the next shortened season. That meant expanded playoffs, and the 1982 Patriots, regardless of being in the course of a run of unfavorable DVOA and training shuffling, managed to slide into the postseason on the again of the Snow Plow sport, when the sphere crew illegally plowed a patch of area to permit New England to kick a game-winning area purpose in a blizzard towards the Dolphins. Had 1982 been a traditional 12 months, or if that snow plow not entered the sphere, then the Nineteen Seventies Patriots would stand alone.

As an alternative, Mark Henderson plowed a connection between the Nineteen Seventies groups and the Tremendous Bowl staff of 1985. About half of the factors from this run come within the years when New England acquired shuffled over by the Bears in Tremendous Bowl XX and overwhelmed by a late John Elway landing within the divisional spherical in 1986. A strong staff, for certain, with Raymond Berry (briefly) bringing again respect to the franchise after a half-decade of muddling round after Fairbanks left. The 1985 season finally ends up being the most important point-scoring season of this run, as any Tremendous Bowl loss hurts, even when it is a 46-10 embarrassment. However Berry’s groups weren’t ok for lengthy sufficient to qualify for this listing on their very own, and Fairbanks’ groups can be down within the mid-40s if it weren’t for the Berry years. As an alternative, we Frankenstein them collectively and provides the Patriots the next spot than they deserve—however not the very best spot they’re going to get. Keep tuned.

No. 21: 2017-2021 New Orleans Saints

Complete Heartbreak Factors: 632.2
Playoff Factors: 190.8
Win-Loss Factors: 201.6
DVOA Factors: 239.8
Report: 58-23 (.716)
Playoff Report: 3-4 (one NFCCG loss, two divisional losses, one wild-card loss)
Common DVOA: 26.2%
Head Coach: Sean Payton
Key Gamers: QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas, OT Ryan Ramczyk, OT Terron Armstead, G Andrus Peat, G Larry Warford, DE Cameron Jordan, CB Marshon Lattimore

Here’s a listing of each staff in historical past to have 4 straight years with at the very least a 25.0% DVOA:

  • The 1983-1989 San Francisco 49ers, who received three Tremendous Bowls.
  • The 1994-1997 San Francisco 49ers, who received one Tremendous Bowl.
  • The 2012-2015 Seattle Seahawks, who received one Tremendous Bowl.
  • The 2017-2020 New Orleans Saints, who by no means even reached a Tremendous Bowl.

In the event you embody estimated DVOA from 1950 to 1980, you’ll be able to add on the 1950-1954 Cleveland Browns and the 1974-1977 Pittsburgh Steelers, whereas SRS-to-DVOA conversion provides the 1920-1923 Canton Bulldogs. All these groups received a number of titles as nicely. It is arduous to be 25% higher than the league year-in and year-out. Even Lombardi’s Packers or Belichick’s Patriots had years once they have been simply good and never nice. We now have by no means seen a staff just like the Saints who’ve had a lot regular-season success and so little to indicate for it within the postseason.

It is also price mentioning that three of the Saints’ postseason exits since 2017 have been notably agonizing, which in all probability ought to earn some bonus kudos. The 2017 divisional spherical noticed the Saints bounced by the Minneapolis Miracle, the primary playoff sport in NFL historical past to finish on a game-winning landing as time expired. Saints followers can shut their eyes and nonetheless see Marcus Williams whiffing the deal with, knocking Ken Crawley out of place, and leaving Stefon Diggs with 60 yards of daylight. Blowing a lead you had with 25 seconds left is painful sufficient, however doing it on a missed deal with on a play that will likely be in Vikings spotlight reels eternally hurts all of the extra.

And the Miracle was then instantly dwarfed by the No-Name the 12 months afterwards. A minimum of the Vikings received the divisional spherical on an awesome play. The Rams arguably received the 2018 NFC Championship Sport on a blown name. The league admitted that sure, Nickell Robey-Coleman interfered with Tommylee Lewis with 1:49 remaining in regulation. That pressured the Saints to kick the game-tying area purpose early, leaving sufficient time on the clock for the Rams to tie the sport again up, get an interception in time beyond regulation, and kick a area purpose to go to the Tremendous Bowl. I’d level out that the Saints nonetheless kicked the go-ahead area purpose after the missed go interference name, and that every one they needed to do was get one defensive cease to win in regulation. Or that they did in truth get the ball first in time beyond regulation and will have ended issues themselves had Drew Brees not thrown an interception to John Johnson. I would level out both of this stuff, however I want to return to New Orleans sooner or later with out stale beignets being thrown at my head, and so I am going to depart them be.

The Saints simply remixed their earlier two losses in 2019 by shedding to the Vikings (once more) in time beyond regulation (once more), by no means touching the ball within the additional interval and with a Wil Lutz missed area purpose on the finish of the primary half that may have prevented time beyond regulation to start with. By comparability, merely blowing a third-quarter lead towards the Buccaneers within the 2020 divisional spherical appears downright quaint and trouble-free.

Can the Saints construct on this run? They barely squeaked out 15.3 heartbreak factors final 12 months at 9-8 with a single-digit DVOA, and so they’re clearly not the identical staff they have been with out Brees and now with out Sean Payton. However our projections do like them this season, and you do not have to have a nice 12 months to maintain your run going, only a strong one. The way forward for this run in all probability can be a stat-padding tail to the four-year run of phenomenal DVOA, however who is aware of? Perhaps Dennis Allen simply actually wanted a second likelihood to indicate the world what he might do. Crazier issues have occurred.

The Rankings So Far

The Saints take over the general high spot, in addition to essentially the most DVOA-specific heartbreak factors; you do not have 4 straight seasons of 25% DVOA or extra with out getting your justifiable share of notoriety. However it’s not a clear sweep for New Orleans atop the leaderboard, removed from it. Marty Schottenheimer’s Browns take over the lead for many playoff factors earned, which is spectacular contemplating they by no means made a Tremendous Bowl and thus topped out at a most of 100 factors per season for playoff ache, not the 200 you might theoretically get from the title match. Seems, three straight AFC Championship Sport losses, two dangerous sufficient to be named, leaves a everlasting scar.

Technically, the Patriots take excessive spot in win-loss heartbreak factors, however that is an element of two eras getting welded collectively by a snowplow. In the event you do not like that, it is the lively Steelers reign that presently sits in pole place for many ache simply from profitable regular-season video games. Take your decide.

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