Chat with Page 2's Thomas Neumann
By using a points system that took into consideration 10 different criteria, since the league merger in 1970, Neumann was able to create a modern NFL franchise hierarchy.
Send in your questions now, and then join Neumann at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday!
Thomas Neumann (4:00 PM)
Greetings, SportsNation. I hope you're enjoying the Page 2 ultimate NFL rankings project. I'm here to answer your questions on the rankings . . . and take your best punch as to why your favorite team wasn't ranked higher. Let's begin.
Devin (Green Brook, NJ)
Not that I want to knock the Giants down the list, but how does the Trey Junkin game not make the crushing playoff defeats? It took a couple of years to recover from that one.
Thomas Neumann (4:03 PM)
That game was considered, but as I looked at all the other worthy candidates, I just didn't think it ranked among the 25 worst since 1970. The Giants, after alll, were 10-6 that season. They weren't exactly expected to win the Super Bowl . . . Of course, the Giants were 10-6 last season, too. Come to think of it, maybe you're better qualified to say whether that loss was crushing. In any event, that decision wouldn't drop the Giants a spot in this ranking as it turns out anyway.
Jerry Jones (Dallas, Texas)
On a scale of 1-10, how responsible am i for making the cowboys great?
Thomas Neumann (4:05 PM)
Boy this is a fastball down the pipe. I'm going to say 9 for the 1992-95. . . and zero for the time since. So approximately 4.5 overall.
Omar (New York,New York)
On your rankings for NFL teams, you have the Jets too low. Also on your stats, you seem to forget about super bowl 3. The year the Jets won. I think you should think again about your rankings
Thomas Neumann (4:08 PM)
Glad you asked. This project begins with the AFL-NFL merger. The Jets won Super Bowl III on the wrong side of that dividing line. The Jets and Joe Namath deserve credit for bringing legitimacy to the NFL . . . but 14 coaching changes in 38 years? Twelve seasons of four or fewer wins? That means almost one in every three years the Jets win four games or less. That's amazing, really.
Thomas Neumann (4:08 PM)
Should said legitimacy to the "AFL" on that post. Oops.
I am a huge Pats fan, so you know I am no fan of the Jets. However, I did notice that in the article "NFL ultimate power rankings" you didn't have the correct Super Bowl record for them. The Jets are 1-0 (SB3) not 0-0.
Thomas Neumann (4:10 PM)
Again, this goes back to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Jets' Super Bowl win was in the 1968 season. They haven't made it to the big game since.
Christian (High Point, NC)
How hurt was Green Bay (and KC and the Raiders) in the rankings by choosing to start with the merger instead of the first Super Bowl?
Thomas Neumann (4:13 PM)
Green Bay and Kansas City were certainly hurt. Oakland wasn't. However, to figure in the total body of work -- regular season, etc. -- it wouldn't make sense to grade GB against NFL standards and KC and Oakland by AFL standards. Plus "MNF" debuted in 1970. It's when the NFL really started to become the NFL that we know today.
Thomas from New York
I think the criteria should be judge them from the modern age....in other words when they started playing superbowls...who cares about the merger? I believe Green Bay would move up a bit.
Thomas Neumann (4:16 PM)
They certainly would move up. That's two Super Bowl wins and a bunch more NFL championships. However, that wouldn't fairly reflect how the Pack has done head-to-head against teams such as Miami, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New Orleans and all the AFL teams, though. It was an entirely different league then.
Sean (Denver, CO)
Seriously, the Jags upset of the Broncos in 1997 wasn't one of the most crushing defeats? The Broncos were the favorites to win it all that year and JAX was a .500 club who lucked their way into the play-offs and somehow became the first visting team to win a play-off in the old Mile High.
Thomas Neumann (4:18 PM)
You still sound crushed over it, so maybe I'm wrong. That game was one of the final cuts from the list. I left it off because Denver won the next two Super Bowls, so their fans were only crushed for a year, right? Plus, the Broncos already had two losses in the crushing category.
Jon (Elyria, OH)
The Browns are the best franchise in the league. Maybe not when you factor in statistics, or regular season success, or playoff success, or any type of quantifiable success, but I think it goes without saying that the Browns are the most awesome.
Thomas Neumann (4:19 PM)
They had Brian Sipe, so who am I to argue with that kind of logic?
Good call on the Dolphins. They don't get much love anymore. People forget that they were good.....a while back
Thomas Neumann (4:20 PM)
They dominated the early '70s. Put it this way: even after going 1-15 last season . . . they STILL have the best winning percentage in the league since 1970 (although Pittsburgh is right on their heels). That's saying something.
Hey billy, way to go getting the pumpkins back together...but your old stuff is still your best!
Thomas Neumann (4:21 PM)
Duly noted, bro. Duly noted.
Dan (Greensboro, NC)
I understand the low winning percentage hurts the Giants, but I can't see how a team with 3 Super Bowl wins and the most dominant defensive player in the history of the game finishes any lower than 8 or 9? Remember, they delivered crushing defeats to the Niners (49-3) and Vikings (41-10). No way they are below the Vikings/Rams, and you could make an argument they should be ahead of the Pats and Redskins.
Thomas Neumann (4:26 PM)
I deliberately didn't think about that when setting up the ranking formula. Good points, but the Giants had some bad times mixed in there -- they didn't win more than six games in a season once from 1973-79. That's difficult to do. Bottom line is that they've lost more games than they've won since 1970. They're the highest-ranked team in that boat. Still, you guys have 18-1 in your basket. That should keep you warm for a while.
David (Houston, TX)
What is more impressive, a Super Bowl victory or getting to Super Bowl 4 stright years and loosing (Bills)?
Thomas Neumann (4:27 PM)
Depends on whom you ask. I would say what the Bills did is more impressive . . . but it might be easier to be a Bucs or Ravens fan with that championship memory to always fall back on.
Matty Cassell, Foxboro
seems like 10 points per playoff win penalizes the teams that get a bye. Why not 10 pts per win or bye?
Thomas Neumann (4:29 PM)
Matty . . . nice game Sunday. A team with a bye should win its opener, no? Then you're even. Teams with byes get to the Super Bowl more often, too. Also, the playoff format has changed more than once since 1970, so I thought 10 points per playoff win would be the most consistent way to go.
Rob (Omaha, NE)
Ever hear the story about the college professer that handed out a test with "Just hand this in blank" in the instructions, but 90% of the class filled out the whole thing? This chat reminds me of that. Also, Mike Williams should have counted against Detroit in the Bust category.
Thomas Neumann (4:32 PM)
Difficult to say Mike Williams wasn't a bust -- especially with Shawne Merriman still on the board. I'll kindly deflect that criticism to our NFL team, although I'm guessing they left him off because it was a relatively recent draft. David Carr isn't on the list, either.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Redskins at #8? This is like when espn.com had the 1991 Redskins #14 in the list of greatest Super Bowl teams. Pure disrespect.
Thomas Neumann (4:34 PM)
Hmmm. I had a hand in that Super Bowl list, too, so consider the source. Snyder has made the team unstable in recent years with numerous coaching changes. Surprisingly, they also have just three seasons of 12 or more wins since 1970. Finall, they only have 31 first team All-Pros, which is dead, flat average.
Jerry (San Diego, CA)
How did you arrive at using the stats you used? MNF appearances? Coaches Turnover rates? I don't understand?
Thomas Neumann (4:35 PM)
The complete scoring formula is detailed in the right column of the rankings pages.
fred B., phoenix
You guys are screwing over my cardinals...in the fans rankings, you had us last too. is espn biased agaijsnt arizona?
Thomas Neumann (4:38 PM)
I think the ownership is a much bigger factor here than ESPN. I've been to Cards games at Sun Devil Stadium. There's a core of diehard fans for that team, and I feel bad for them. Check these numbers, though: ZERO seasons of 12 or more wins since 1970. TEN seasons of four or more losses. THIRTEEN coaching changes. Maybe this is the year?
How do you credit the Cowboys with only 1 bust? Did you guys look at some of the people they drafted in the 80s?
Thomas Neumann (4:41 PM)
For the draft bust list, I defer to our NFL team, which is much better qualified to delve iinto such matter. Here's the list: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/news/story?id=3325687 But, yeah, you're right. Danny Noonan?!?!
Matt Millen (Detroit, MI)
Shouldn't the Lions have lost points for the day I was hired? That certainly has to be Crushing in hindsight.
Thomas Neumann (4:42 PM)
We considered having a category of "Have you employed Matt Millen as an executive?" which would dock only Detroit 100 points. But we figured Lions fans had suffered enough already.
Martin Sandoval (Mora,New Mexico)
Is the cowboys franchise the greatest in all of sports?
Thomas Neumann (4:43 PM)
I'm not a Yankees fan, but it's tough to argue with 26 championships. Montreal Canadiens have 24 titles, too.
Dan (Brooklyn, New York)
Explain to us all why Monday Night Football was such an important indicator as to the severity of a team's success.
Thomas Neumann (4:44 PM)
I wouldn't say it was "important." Each appearance was worth one point each. I thought that was a good gauge for overall prestige and fan buzz.
Were you surprised when you saw those instances where a teams rating was tied mainly to one era (49ers, Rams, Colts, etc) or does this just show the cyclical nature of pro sports?
Thomas Neumann (4:47 PM)
I think you nailed it. For our younger readers, I'm sure many of them are surprised to see the Rams, Vikings, Raiders and Dolphins ranked so high. But that's how consistently good those teams were back in the '70s and '80s.
Marques Dayton, Ohio
Do you think the Steelers should be where they are in the rankings given who they've played?
Thomas Neumann (4:51 PM)
That's what makes it a fun debate, right? Dallas has been to eight Super Bowls. That's almost one out of every five. That's amazing if you really think about it. Also, the Steelers had four fewer seasons of 12 or more wins thhan Dallas. That tells me that Dallas has gone beyond consistent and into the greatness area more often than the Steelers. Still, just three points separated them, and I assure you the totals weren't manipulated to make it a better story.
Finlay (Manhattan Bch, CA)
Thomas- Thanks for the great research and articles on BCS Softies--Did you catch a lot of flack from down south?
Thomas Neumann (4:52 PM)
Thank you. Let's just say that I got plenty of responses from SEC fans . . . and the language was often spicy.
Rob Neumann, Hawaii
Nice job Numbnut, you have put together the most unresearched, unaccurate, piece of electronic stool in the history of journalism.
Thomas Neumann (4:53 PM)
It's always nice to be appreciated, dad.
If you're counting playoff wins, shouldn't you also count playoff losses?
Thomas Neumann (4:54 PM)
Isn't it better to get to the playoffs and lose than not get there at all? If I did that, 5-11 would be better than 11-5 wiith a first-round loss.
Mercury Morris (Retirement City, FL)
How about getting 10 extra points for *delivering* a crushing defeat? Doesn't it raise your prestige to be on the right side of a crusher?
Thomas Neumann (4:56 PM)
Those teams often went on to win the Super Bowl. I felt like it would be doubling up on the points if I did that.
Matt Millen (Detroit, MI)
Clearly my work in Detroit is not done. What would it take to drop the Lions down a few more spots?
Thomas Neumann (4:56 PM)
Sign Dominik Hasek to play QB . . . go 0-16. Even the Fords might have to take action at that point.
How are the Cowboys ranked higher than the Steelers. They may have a little better stats but 2 of 3 of their Superbowl loses came from the Steelers.
Thomas Neumann (4:59 PM)
It was neck and neck. It came down to two more conference championships and four more seasons of 12 or more wins for Dallas. Twelve more "MNF" appearances, too, if you're counting. That's it.
Urban Meyer (Gainesville, FL)
An Lions scout asked me the other day if Tebow could play receiver. I lied and said "no" figuring it was in Tim's best interests.
Thomas Neumann (5:00 PM)
Well played, Urban . . . although we both know Tim could probably play QB and WR at the same time.
What team do you think had an undeserved low ranking?
Thomas Neumann (5:02 PM)
I can't say anybody does. There's very little subjectivity in these numbers. It's mostly wins, Super Bowls, fewest coaching changes, etc. We can debate, but I think the formula works pretty well overall.
who should i keep for fantasy football? chad pennington, joe flacco, gus frerotte, or vince young?
Thomas Neumann (5:02 PM)
I just picked up Frerotte, so clearly you're asking the wrong guy.
Jean Claude Van Damm (Somewhere in Asia)
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.
Thomas Neumann (5:03 PM)
If I only had a nickel for every time . . .
Mike (Lexington, KY)
Can the Bengals lack of success since 1990 be directly attributed to Mike Brown's management of the franchise? He has the smallest scout staff, no real general manager and has been quite franklu cheap!
Thomas Neumann (5:04 PM)
Difficult to argue otherwise. The Browns and the Bidwells are legendary in that regard. Coincidentally, both teams have relatively new publicly subsidized stadia.
Wouldn't it have been easier to calculate the biggest bust list by just listing all of the RB's from Penn State who never panned out?
Thomas Neumann (5:05 PM)
It's pretty uncanny how many hyped Penn State RBs have flopped in the pros.
We now have the best QB ever to play the game, we should be ranked higher!!!
Thomas Neumann (5:06 PM)
You just signed Joe Montana? How did I miss that?
Jason (Ocala, FL)
Organized professional football started in America in around 1919. Is it true you are too lazy to put together an all-encompassing analysis, rather than just the past 30 years which will give you the results you desire, that the Cowboys and 49ers are the center of ESPN's football universe?
Thomas Neumann (5:09 PM)
It's true, I'm too lazy. Actually, pro football then didn't resemble the current NFL in any shape in 1919. Backing it up to 1970 put enough teams at a disadvantage. Expansion teams, such as the Jags, Panthers, Bucs, Seahawks, etc. deserve to be part of the discussion.
Crispus (Kellogg, KY)
A great piece and great to see you back better than ever! In your opinion, do you think that huge post-season upsets, like the Giants defeat of the previously unbeaten Patriots do equally as much good for a franchise as a deflating post season loss harms one?
Thomas Neumann (5:11 PM)
Thanks . . . a good question. My gut says that bad losses have a longer shelf life than big wins. Just mention the name Scott Norwood to a Bills fan, and you'll see what I mean.
Brett Favre (Jersey)
I am not the best QB of all-time, I may not even be top 10...the passing game evolved so much since the days of Roger and Terry....don't get fooled by the stats...i have a million dollar arm with a 5 cent head....i'm in the top 15
Thomas Neumann (5:12 PM)
. . . and you have a beautiful, late model lawn tractor.
Todd (Pittsburgh PA)
Thomas, will you revise this ranking after the Steelers beat the Boys in the Super Bowl this year?
Thomas Neumann (5:14 PM)
That would certainly turn the tide in this discussion. Seems like the Steelers have a tougher path in the AFC than Dallas does in the NFC, though.
Bruno (Newburyport, MA)
Not sure I agree with the Coaching Turnover stat. Why not give points for having the AP Coach of the Year... rather than losing points, a good team gets extra point for going say from Dick Nolan to Bill Walsh (SF) or Ray Rhodes to Andy Reid (PHI) whereas teams that stick with the same bum don't get rewarded.
Thomas Neumann (5:16 PM)
AP Coach of the Year almost certainly wins playoff games and possibly a Super Bowl. That's where the points are. A coaching change represents instability and often a team at rock bottom.
Brian Sipe (Cleveland)
Come to Cleveland so I can spiral a football right down your hot-dog munching throat! Cleveland rocks! The rest of America and sniff my knuckle!
Thomas Neumann (5:18 PM)
Bingo. Us San Diego State alums have to stick together.
It probably doesn't show up in your points system but how much weight should the 49ers being a perfect 5-0 in Super Bowls carry?
Thomas Neumann (5:19 PM)
I would say 5-3 in Super Bowls is better than 5-0, because that's eight conference titles compared to five. I tried to make the study reflect that.
Emmitt Smith once said in a Playboy interview that Phoenix had the best looking women of any city he ever played in. At least we have that going for us.
Thomas Neumann (5:20 PM)
And Emmitt is on the No. 1 team . . . so he must know something.
Where would the Pats have rated pre 1996? Bottom 5?
Thomas Neumann (5:23 PM)
Most likely, yes. Since 1970, New England is 91-37 (.711) under Belichick and 212-244 (.465) under all other coaches.
Shawn (Dallas, TX)
Nice Job! although how can the Vikings be higher than the hated Patriots and the Packers? I mean yes they are more consistent but they just couldn't ever get the job done like NE and GB.
Thomas Neumann (5:24 PM)
Would it be easier to be a Pats or Pack fan overall, knowing you've already won a title? Yes. But year in and year out, the Vikes have been far more consistent.
Goyzilla, Minneapolis MN
Would you be willing to do this same list but start it from 1990, and see how it comes out?
Thomas Neumann (5:26 PM)
I think I need some time to catch my breath after this one . . . seems like the Pats and Cowboys would be vying for the top spot.
Matt C. (Biloxi, MS)
You mention the Steelers and the fact that the Cowboys have 4 more 12 win seasons BUT the Steelers have a better winning percentage. This tells me the Cowboys have had far more crippling seasons and the Steelers have been far more consistent. Great is one thing, but horrible is another. 1-15? Certainly not the Steelers.
Thomas Neumann (5:28 PM)
Indeed. That's why the Cowboys were docked for their two seasons of four or fewer wins. They still rated higher, though. The Steelers, by the way, are the ONLY team in the NFL without a season of four or fewer wins since 1970. Amazing.
Andy (West Lafayette, IN)
The Chicago Bears should be number one for having so many badasses on their teams. And by badasses, I mean - Ditka.
Thomas Neumann (5:29 PM)
Ditka won his only Super Bowl as a player with . . . the Cowboys!
Mark (Exton, PA)
Why was Denver's Super Bowl victory not a crushing defeat for Green Bay. Green Bay was favored by 12 points and every expert said that Denver would not be able to run on that defense.
Thomas Neumann (5:30 PM)
True. It just missed the cut.
How about a category for #1 seeds? Being the top regular season team in your conference is much more prestigious than a MNF appearance and it allows for the (many) years where an entire conference had no 12-4 team.
Thomas Neumann (5:31 PM)
Thought about it, but it doesn't mean anything without the victories. For the most part, that would be doubling up the points.
You have the Browns at the bottom of the list, but during the 70s and 80s the Brownies were a good franchise with solid teams and extremely loyal fans. While the fans have disappeared, the wins for, but only for the last seven or eight years. What gives?
Thomas Neumann (5:33 PM)
The fans -- and Cleveland has some of the most loyal in the league -- don't factor in here. Consider this: In 12 seasons, the Ravens have as many playoff wins and more first team All-Pros than the Browns do in 35 seasons since the merger. Ouch. Thank you, Art Modell.
Samuel Ashtray , PA
How come you didnt use Hall of Famers as a category? That seems to be more accurate than mnf appearances.
Thomas Neumann (5:34 PM)
That basically ignores the past decade, though. A player has to be retired for five years to be considered, and probably has to play 10 years to be worthy . . . now we're all the way back to 1993.
Kevin (Carlisle, PA)
How can you say there is little subjectivity in these ratings when you created arbitrary figures to represent each category. Is a Superbowl win really worth 5 playoff wins or 50 MNF games? No, it is not. I do not mind the rankings, but subjective it clearly is.
Thomas Neumann (5:36 PM)
Point taken . . . but I truly believe -- after bouncing the formula off several esteemed colleagues -- that it's pretty accurate. You might disagree over 1 vs. 2 or 10 vs. 11 . . . but don't you think it's pretty much on the money?
Joe B, Saucier MS
Can you clear the Ravens-Browns thing up a bit? I was wondering why you mentioned the Browns over the past 35+ years. Uhm, they haven't been around that long. Shouldn't that info go to the Ravens?
Thomas Neumann (5:38 PM)
Just going by what the NFL decided on this one. The Ravens left the official history, nickname and colors behind in Cleveland. As far as the record book is concerned, the Ravens were an expansion team.
I can't argue with the top couple teams, but the Vikings ranked over the Bears is just silly.
Thomas Neumann (5:41 PM)
The Vikes have 43 more wins (regular season) than the Bears since 1970. They have 14 more first team All-Pros, and they outnumber Chicago 16-8 in playoff wins (not including SBs).
Kevin (Carlisle, PA)
I will not quibble with the points assigned to each category. It looks to be a fairly interesting system. I just had to comment about objective ranking system. I blame Bill Cowher for retiring, thereby placing the Steelers at No. 2.
Thomas Neumann (5:43 PM)
I hadn't thought about that. Still the Steelers dominate the coaching changes category. No team that's been around since 1970 is even close.
Glenn (Oyster Bay, NY)
Wait the steelers have a tougher time then the cowboys??? Look at divison first? then top teams this year... who do the steelers have Cin. Cle. come on
Thomas Neumann (5:43 PM)
Excellent point. The AFC in the '70s was probably a lot more top-heavy than the NFC. But you can only play the teams that are on the schedule, right?
Hi Tom! Great job with your analysis! I am going to study it later on tonight. I am a huge Jets fan who lives and grew up in Philly. Don't you feel that there 2004 infamous field-goal playoff loss to Pitt should be included in one of the top 25 playoff losses since 1970? Thanks! GO JETS! AL TOON WAS THE MAN! Andrew
Thomas Neumann (5:45 PM)
Yes. Al Toon was the man. . . . I look at it like this: a crushing defeat should be one that everyone remembers -- not just fans of that team. I'm not sure that passes muster for that test.
Thomas Neumann (5:46 PM)
Thanks to everybody who wrote in . . . even if it was just to make a Seinfeld or Billy Corgan reference. My apologies if I didn't get to your question. Take care, TN