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The Steelers, Packers and Franchise Superiority

A couple years ago I got really into NFL history and started to ponder which NFL franchise was the greatest. We all know the Steelers lead the league in Lombardi trophies with 6. But Packer fans will argue they cheer on the league's greatest as they have 12 total championships. The counter-argument, of course, is that most of those championships should hardly count as they were in the days of leather helmets and other such nonsense.

But I figure, why can't we quantify what each championship is worth? So a while back, I came up with a formula that applies a different value to each of a team's championships depending on the state of the league when it was won. Here's the key:

Early: This counts championships from 1920-1932. During this era, the league had no championships game, no common schedules (just play whoever, whether they're from the NFL or not) and no draft, among other things. Not to mention that it was basically a bunch of semi-pros playing in their spare time and not hitting each other all that hard because there was no money in it. This is the base value so each championship from this era counts as 1 point.

(Note: You could argue that the 1932 year shouldn't be in this era because there was a championship game. However, it was impromptu, and it was freakin' indoors. Although take any chance you can to learn about that game as it was one of the most influential games of all time.)

Legit: This category covers two eras, 1933-1945 and 1950-1959. These were eras with a planned championship game, and for most of these eras there was a common draft and schedule. The knock on these eras is how small the league was at this time, ranging from 8 to 12 teams. However, these eras are still important because the champion each of these years is the undisputed greatest team on the planet. A championship from these eras scores 4 points.

Contested: This category covers 1946-1949 and 1960-1965. These years are much like the "legit" championships except that there was a rival league at the time (the AAFC and the AFL) and the two leagues did not meet for a championship game at the end of the season. These leagues count, as opposed to the UFL, because teams from these leagues had teams that were eventually absorbed into the NFL (the Browns, 49ers and a now defunct Colts team from the AAFC, and the entire AFL). Since it's questionable which team is the true champion from these eras, a champion from any league at this time receives 3 points. This helps the Browns a lot because they won the AAFC all four years. You can't just brush those off because the Browns also won the NFL championship immediately once they were merged into the NFL. Like the AFL champs, the Browns always challenged the NFL champion to a final game, but the NFL always declined. While the Packers won the first two Super Bowls no problem, there's really no guarantee that they would have beaten the Oilers, Texans (Chiefs), or Bills of the day.

Bowl: Super Bowl championships. These are worth 7 points, almost twice as much as a legit championship from previous eras. The reason is that the league was much bigger at this point (starting at 22 and going up from there) and quickly grew into the stable and incredibly popular league we know today.

The final result? The Packers and Steelers are the top two teams in the league, with the Packers holding a slight edge, 45-42. The Steelers, of course, did absolutely nothing before taking over the league in 1974 and never letting go. Meanwhile, the Packers won 3 of each type of championship: 3 early, 3 legit, 3 contested, and 3 Super Bowls.

That means the winner of Super Bowl XLV will be the undisputed greatest franchise of NFL history. The stakes are high!

Below is the full list:

(edit: added the lions. Thanks to MDSTEELERSFAN for pointing out the omission)

 

class team founded early legit contested bowl champs points
top packers 1921 3 3 3 3 12 45
top steelers 1933 0 0 0 6 6 42
elite cowboys 1960 0 0 0 5 5 35
elite 49ers 1946 0 0 0 5 5 35
elite giants 1925 1 3 0 3 7 34
great bears 1920 2 4 2 1 9 31
great redskins 1932 0 2 0 3 5 29
great browns 1946 0 3 5 0 8 27
winners colts 1953 0 2 0 2 4 22
winners patriots 1960 0 0 0 3 3 21
winners raiders 1960 0 0 0 3 3 21
winners lions 1930 0 4 0 0 4 16
winners rams 1937 0 2 0 1 3 15
winners dolphins 1966 0 0 0 2 2 14
winners broncos 1960 0 0 0 2 2 14
struggling chiefs 1960 0 0 1 1 2 10
struggling eagles 1933 0 0 3 0 3 9
struggling ravens 1997 0 0 0 1 1 7
struggling buccaneers 1976 0 0 0 1 1 7
struggling jets 1960 0 0 0 1 1 7
struggling saints 1965 0 0 0 1 1 7
struggling bills 1960 0 0 2 0 2 6
struggling titans 1960 0 0 2 0 2 6
struggling cardinals 1920 1 0 1 0 2 4
struggling bulldogs 1920 3 0 0 0 3 3
struggling chargers 1960 0 0 1 0 1 3
minor jackets 1920 1 0 0 0 1 1
minor steamrollers 1920 1 0 0 0 1 1
minor pros 1920 1 0 0 0 1 1
minor texans 2002 0 0 0 0 0 0
minor panthers 1995 0 0 0 0 0 0
minor jaguars 1995 0 0 0 0 0 0
minor seahawks 1976 0 0 0 0 0 0
minor falcons 1968 0 0 0 0 0 0
minor bengals 1968 0 0 0 0 0 0
minor vikings 1961 0 0 0 0 0 0
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