Best NFL franchises in the Salary Cap Era

Most successful NFL franchises in the Salary Cap Era

The 2015 NFL regular season is about to launch with the season opener between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the defending champion New England Patriots. Who will take it all in Super Bowl 50? Most experts predict the usual suspects: Patriots, Packers, Colts. This seems to be a fairly safe bet considering that these teams feature the league’s top 3 quarterbacks.

Best NFL franchises Locations Stadium USA -US Map by States (Vectormap, gray, with no label)

Locations US Map (by states) – NFL Stadium


It is not all about the quarterback though: the Patriots, the Packers and the Colts are the three most successful franchises in the Salary Cap Era which started more than twenty years ago in 1994. That is, long before the current star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck took their first snaps in the NFL. The introduction of the salary cap back in 1994 prevented successful teams from stacking all available talent on their rosters leaving only leftovers for the other teams. Ever since 1994 general managers were forced to make crucial decisions regarding roster cuts and resigning expensive talent. In this way draft choices became way more significant, too.

Best NFL franchises Locations Stadium Capacity - US Vector Map PowerPoint

Stadium – capacity and locations

If one was to assess a franchise’s success, counting the Super Bowl titles would be the easy thing to do. Winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal after all. It doesn’t suffice though: Most organizations and fans would consider a participation in the Super Bowl a very satisfying season. Therefore, a more compelling measure is a franchise’s ability to make the playoffs. And there it is: the most successful franchises in the Salary Cap Era are the Patriots, the Packers and the Colts, all three of which have made the playoffs in no less than 16 of 21 seasons. On the other hand, the salary cap helped the Cleveland Browns as much as Johnny Manziel did so far: In 18 years they’ve only made it to the playoffs twice.

The above named three most favored Super Bowl contenders do not only feature the three best quarterbacks, they also happen to be the most successful and well managed organizations for the past two decades. These organizations simply have done a better job in evaluating talent. In the long run, a franchise’s success won’t be determined by a quarterback rather than by its general manager and probably even more by its scouts. After all, these are the ones who tell you to draft a guy called Tom Brady in the sixth round – if they’re right – or to draft Alex Smith instead of Aaron Rodgers with your first overall pick – if they’re wrong.

Best NFL franchises in the Salary Cap Era

Excel-Map – NFL



Franchise Post-season qualification Post-season qualifications since 1994 Seasons played since 1994
Green Bay Packers 76,2% 16 21
Indianapolis Colts 76,2% 16 21
New England Patriots 76,2% 16 21
Pittsburgh Steelers 61,9% 13 21
Philadelphia Eagles 57,1% 12 21
Baltimore Ravens 52,6% 10 19
Denver Broncos 52,4% 11 21
Dallas Cowboys 47,6% 10 21
Minnesota Vikings 47,6% 10 21
San Francisco 49ers 47,6% 10 21
Seattle Seahawks 47,6% 10 21
Atlanta Falcons 38,1% 8 21
Miami Dolphins 38,1% 8 21
New York Giants 38,1% 8 21
San Diego Chargers 38,1% 8 21
Kansas City Chiefs 33,3% 7 21
New York Jets 33,3% 7 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33,3% 7 21
Carolina Panthers 30,0% 6 20
Jacksonville Jaguars 30,0% 6 20
Cincinnati Bengals 28,6% 6 21
Detroit Lions 28,6% 6 21
New Orleans Saints 28,6% 6 21
Tennessee Titans 28,6% 6 21
Chicago Bears 23,8% 5 21
St. Louis Rams 23,8% 5 21
Arizona Cardinals 19,0% 4 21
Buffalo Bills 19,0% 4 21
Washington Redskins 19,0% 4 21
Houston Texans 15,4% 2 13
Oakland Raiders 14,3% 3 21
Cleveland Browns 11,1% 2 18