Top 10 Snakebitten Franchises

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Back in the day when I lived with my parents and thus got to take advantage of their expensive cable package, I loved watching NFL Network’s Top 10 show, and one of my favorite episodes was on the most snakebitten franchises. Maybe I liked it because the Chiefs made the list and before Mahomes it was rare to see entire segments on national television about the Chiefs.

But unfortunately that episode is now long out of date (as you can tell by how broken the page that link goes to is), being made back in 2010. And while NFL Films posted it on their YouTube channel relatively recently, it’s not as enjoyable now that so much has happened.

Since it’s the offseason, I figured I’d take matters into my own hands and give the list a fresh coat of paint. I tried to use the same standards they did (i.e. “snakebitten” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad”), but just update the list to account for the past 13 seasons.

10. Eagles
2010 Rank: 4

It may be weird for the Eagles, who aren’t that far removed from a Super Bowl win, to make the list. But the original included the Saints who had literally won the Super Bowl the year before, so I feel that a Super Bowl victory shouldn’t automatically eliminate them from the list.

While it obviously does drop them significantly, Super Bowl 57 mitigates it somewhat. For them to get so close with Reid so many times, only to watch him win multiple Super Bowls with another team, is salt in the wound. That salt is extra painful considering that one of those victories was over the Eagles. If it wasn’t for Nick Foles The Eagles would probably have made the top 3.

9. Oilers/Titans
2010 Rank: 5

The Titans are a team that is technically snakebitten, as they’ve made just one Super Bowl that they lost, but there doesn’t seem anything particularly memorable about them. In fact, I’d argue that they’re one of the most forgettable franchises in the league. Seriously, what is noteworthy about them? Derrick Henry? The time they upset Baltimore in the playoffs?

That’s why I dropped them a bit in the list. They haven’t experienced any of those painful events recently. Sure they’ve lost in the playoffs, but not in a painful soul-crushing way.

8. Bills
2010 Rank: 10

The Bills get a boost due to the disappointment of the Josh Allen era. After years of wandering in the quarterback wasteland, they finally got a guy who looks capable of leading a team to the Super Bowl. Instead they have mostly fallen short of expectations, especially last year as they were overwhelming Super Bowl favorites most of the year but didn’t even make it past the divisional round.

With their best shot at a Super Bowl wasted, it looks like it’s only more pain ahead for Bills fans.

7. Jets
2010 Rank: 8

Since 2010 the Jets have been too bad to be painful. Watching your team suck isn’t quite the same as watching them get close but fall just short.

However, they do get pain points for watching Belichick, who was their coach for one day, continue to win Super Bowls with their division rival. Before this program he had won 3 Super Bowls, and since then he won another 3. For a team whose Super Bowl drought is quickly approaching Social Security age, it’s extra painful to look at what could have been.

6. Lions
2010 Rank: 7

The Curse of Bobby Layne has come and gone, as it was supposed to end in 2008, but they have yet to make it even close to the Super Bowl. Since the Super Bowl was invented in 1966, Detroit has won just a single playoff game. That’s right, the Chiefs have won more Super Bowls in the last 4 years than the Lions have won playoff games in the past 57.

Since the original ranking they drafted Mathew Stafford, and he led them to modest success, including 3 more playoff losses. But what adds to the snakebite is that they trade him away and he immediately wins a Super Bowl with his new team.

They’re going to be a popular dark horse team going into 2023, but it’s hard to argue that they haven’t been snakebitten.

5. Saints
2010 Rank: 6

I don’t know if I agree with ranking the Saints as high as they did coming off a fresh Super Bowl victory. In fact it’s still recent enough that I don’t know if I would have included them.

But since they set the precedent, there’s nothing that’s happened since the original that would change their ranking. In fact, they spent the last several years with Brees falling in the playoffs in spectacular ways. They failed to reach the Super Bowl because of one of the most egregious non-calls I have ever seen. It was so bad that the NFL changed the rules to allow pass interference to be reviewed. But that made the next playoff loss even more ironically painful, as they fell once again in the playoffs on a controversial non-call on pass interference. With the new rule it could have been reviewed, but the officials decided not to and the rule was eliminated.

4. Bengals
2010 Rank: 3

You could argue that they deserve to maintain their top 3 ranking since they’ve been a contender for two years now and have lost painfully close games both times. The window isn’t shut like the Bills, but it’s getting close.

But they remain highly ranked thanks to one of the most painful playoff losses in NFL history. Not only did they loses to the hated division rival Steelers, they had what was seemingly a sure victory after a Roethlisberger interception. But on the very next play the Bengals gave the ball right back, and a couple plays later two 15 yard personal fouls took what was a desperation drive into an easy field goal to give the Steelers an improbable victory.

If they ranked 3rd before, it’s hard to drop them too much after that. But I think you’ll agree that the team who jumped them is very deserving.

3. Falcons
2010 Rank: Not Ranked

You know in college football when an unranked team gets an incredibly impressive victory and suddenly find themselves skyrocketing up the rankings when they didn’t even make the list before?

That’s the Falcons, except of instead of one great victory they suffered what may be the single most painful losses in NFL history. This one game is such a spectacular failure that a mere three numbers and a hyphen and the entire world knows what you’re talking about.


Those 4 characters will forever haunt Falcons fans. And for a franchise that doesn’t have any Super Bowl titles to comfort them when those terrifying digits appear, you could make an argument that they should have the top spot.

2. Vikings
2010 Rank: 2

The Vikings, like the Bills, are 0-4 in Super Bowls. But honestly that was so long in the past that it shouldn’t weigh too heavily in present day rankings.

Instead I kept them at second place because of one of my all time favorite records. The Vikings have more playoff losses, 31, than any other team. They were first to 30 when they lost to the 49ers in 2019, and they managed to add one more last postseason by being one of the few 13 win teams to lose in the Wildcard round.

To have 31 losses means you have made the playoffs 31 times and each and every time failed to win a Super Bowl. The Steelers have the 2nd most playoff losses at 30, yet they have 6 Lombardi Trophies to show for it. Minnesota has been one of the most consistently good teams in the Super Bowl era, so their history of having expectations but falling short is extensive.

To put it into perspective, before the most recent playoff expansion there were 12 playoff teams. Just by chance you should expect to win the Super Bowl once every 12 times you make the playoffs. To get that 1/12 chance 31 times and come up empty every single time only has a 7% chance of happening by chance. That’s how snakebitten they are.

1. Browns
2010 Rank: 1

The Browns got the top spot in the original list, and their pain has only continued. They’ve been mostly just bad, but they got a punch in the gut when they finally thought they got their franchise quarterback in Mayfield, including one offseason of off the chart hype, only to discover he actually sucked just like all the others.

To me what makes the Browns extra snakebitten is the move. The last time they saw their team before they moved away they had Bill Belichick as coach. It wasn’t just the franchise that was snatched away, it was a team that was coached by a guy who’d go on to win 6 Super Bowls. Add on the 2 that the old Browns (now Ravens) have won, and that’s 8 Super Bowls that had that extra little gut punch to Browns fans. Almost once every 3 years on average since they lost their team they had to watch either their former team or their former coach win the Super Bowl, while their new team seems to be permanently stuck in reverse.

Oh yeah, they also had a winless season since the original show aired. So that’s fun.

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03/02/2023 4:41 pm

How are the Chargers not on this list? Every single year, injuries take them out of contention.

03/01/2023 4:27 pm

I’ve said in the past, and still think it: There is nothing worse in NFL Fandom than to be a Vikings fan.
Four trips to the SB, no trophies.
Years and years of middling mediocrity. Never bad enough to get a really good pick, never good enough to think you might actually make it back to the SB.
And on the rare chance that you DO get it all going your way, like say going 15-1, you blow it in spectacular fashion.
At least the Chiefs, when times were hard, had the decency to be REALLY bad and not get hopes up.

Reply to  NovaChiefs
03/01/2023 10:09 pm

The Kansas City Chiefs have made the playoffs 8 seasons in a row, which is the longest currently active streak in the NFL. During this streak the Chiefs won 2 Super Bowls.

# of seasons making the playoffs by team,five%20of%20those%20championship%20games.

03/01/2023 12:21 pm

that Chiefs Red pick’em’up twuck in the Featured Image: mmmmmmmmmmm I want one (Tony, can you send that, please, filled with Kettle Corn? would be ever so much appreciated!)

Big Chief
03/01/2023 11:31 am

I think the Chargers take the Eagles spot on this list. For one thing, they haven’t won a SB title, and had one year where they had the rare distinction of having the #1 offense AND #1 defense, and still didn’t get the SB thanks to a ridiculous fumble after getting a game sealing interception. And “Chargering” has become a nationally known term, not just an AFC West thing.

Big Chief
Reply to  Tony Sommer
03/01/2023 12:25 pm

The Cardinals aren’t snakebit, just dysfunctional. Their issues aren’t some recent thing, it’s their entire existence. This is an original NFL franchise that has ONE championship ever (and one disputed one from 1925). They have the longest current franchise championship drought in any US Sport. So snakebit isn’t the right category for them.

Reply to  Big Chief
03/01/2023 5:21 pm

maybe the “Atrocious” category …

03/01/2023 11:23 am

Broncos with:

  • Russell Wilson (I meant herschel walker) trade.
  • Also, signing HC (sean payton) – dude left Saints because he KILLED saints salary cap & never brought in a QB for Drew Brees to work with
  • Keeping John Elway on staff — he sux balls in front office
  • Keeping their BOZO gm Payton on staff
  • Hiring Joseph Lombardi as OC

Raiders with:

  • hiring Josh McDaniels – he sux balls | sux balls when he was broncos HC

Chargers with:

  • keeping their HC
  • and thinking new OC Kellen Moore will help out

All great for Chiefs to continue to DOMINATE – afc west

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