There are many ways to measure success in the NFL – regular season wins, division championships, Super Bowl titles, playoff wins, etc.
You could look at any number of those things and come away with the conclusion that the Green Bay Packers were successful in the 00s.
For example, the Packers averaged 9.5 wins per season, which ranked them fifth in the NFL, following only Indianapolis, New England, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. During that period, the Packers won four division titles and had six playoff berths – also pretty solid indicators of success.
Where the Packers fell short, of course, was in the category of real success. And this is a term I’m just making up, but at the end of the day, real success in the NFL isn’t found in regular season wins and playoff berths, it’s found in winning playoff games, conference championships and Super Bowls.
The Packers didn’t do either of the latter two in the 00s, and they didn’t do much of the first one, either.
While the Packers made the playoffs six times, they won only three games. Twelve teams won more, and some of them will surprise you. They are: New England (14), Pittsburgh (10), Philadelphia (10), Indianapolis (9), Baltimore (8), New York Giants (6), New Orleans (5), Carolina (5), Seattle (4), New York Jets (4), Oakland (4), and Arizona (4).
Knowing that Carolina, Seattle, Oakland and Arizona has more playoff wins in the 00s takes a little shine off the Packers success.
Certainly, you have to look at New England as the most successful team of the decade. Throw out the 11.2 wins per season and look at these numbers: seven division championships, seven playoff berths, 14 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl wins.
The Patriots rank first in all of those categories except for playoff berths, which brings me to Indianapolis – the team that ranks first in playoff berths, with nine. Add six division championships, nine playoff wins, two conference championships and one Super Bowl win, and you’re looking at another franchise with real success.
Or take Pittsburgh, which had five division championships, six playoff berths, 10 playoff wins, two conference championships and two Super Bowl victories.
You get the point. Despite having a great deal of regular season success, the Packers didn’t enjoy much in the postseason – what we would consider real success.
There are a couple of teams in the same boat, though. Most notably the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos, who are just above and just below the Packers, respectively, in regular season wins.
Despite Philadelphia’s eight playoff appearances and 10 wins, the Eagles have only one NFC Championship and a Super Bowl loss to show for their success.
The Broncos, despite averaging a solid 9.3 wins per season are even more of an anomaly. During the decade, those wins have translated to only one division championship, four playoff berths and one playoff win.
While it would be tough to categorize the Broncos as a successful team in the 00s, a lot of people would categorize the Packers and Eagles as such.
It’s hard to disagree with such a statement when you look at the overall numbers. Were the Packers “successful?” Sure. Was it real success?
I don’t think so.
Take a look at the NFL standings for the decade here.