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The 12 NFL Teams to Have Never Won a Super Bowl




Teams to have never won a Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the NFL’s holy grail. It is the FIFA World Cup final, NRL Grand Final and World Series rolled into one. The NFL’s world championship game usually attracts a domestic TV audience above 100 million and gets broadcast in over 130 countries. The game is one of the marquee events on the global sports calendar. Winning a Superbowl elevates teams into a new stratosphere. The Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are all legendary, world-renowned clubs that have tasted a ton of Super Bowl success.

Over the last 55 years, the Super Bowl has given head to new dynasties, legendary careers and great moments. However, for all of the success, many teams are yet to taste Superbowl success. Out of the 32 NFL teams, there are 12 teams to have never won a Superbowl. For a league that champions parity, that is a high number of teams to have never won a Super Bowl. It’s time to take a look at the infamous 12 franchises.


The 12 teams without a Super Bowl win

Arizona Cardinals

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Super Bowl 43 to the Pittsburgh Steelers (2008/09 season)

Despite their long and transient existence, the Arizona Cardinals are a team to have never won a Super Bowl. The football team played second-fiddle behind the baseball side St. Louis Cardinals. The ‘Red Birds’ came to life in 1898; they helped found the NFL in 1920 as the Chicago Cardinals. The Cards struggled to attain success in the shadow of the Bears; by the 1960s, the Cardinals moved to St. Louis. Despite spending 27 years in Gateway City, the team never grabbed the affection of the St. Louis faithful.

After nearly three decades, the Cardinals’ nomadic life sent them further west into the Arizona desert. Since 1987, Arizona has been home to the Cardinals franchise. In that time, the Cardinals have won the NFC West title on three occasions. Arizona’s most successful season was the 2008-09 season, as they managed to win the NFC and play in their first Super Bowl. They would narrowly lose out to a Santonio Holmes-inspired Pittsburgh Steeler team. The sole appearance is still the only one on Arizona’s CV.

Super Bowl 43 - The closest the Arizona Cardinals have come to winning.

Super Bowl 43 – The closest the Arizona Cardinals have come to winning.

Atlanta Falcons

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Super Bowls in 1998 and 2016 seasons

The Falcons are one of the bigger teams to have never won a Super Bowl. The ‘Dirty Birds’ first trip to the big game came in the 1998-99 season. Sadly, on that particular Sunday, John Elway’s perfect ending spoiled Atlanta’s search for Super Bowl glory.

The organisation came to life as an expansion team in 1965 and, despite their early difficulties, they have become one of the more successful teams to have never won a Super Bowl. Atlanta returned to the Super Bowl in the 2016-17 season. That year, the Falcons thrilled everyone with a high-octane offence that powered them to the NFC Championship. Quarterback Matt Ryan scooped up the MVP award the night before the game. Atlanta bossed the New England Patriots for three quarters as they flew into a 28-3 lead. Unfortunately, a fourth-quarter collapse allied with an absurd Tom Brady-driven comeback snatched victory away from Atlanta. The Patriots would win their fifth Super Bowl championship while Atlanta’s drought continued most devastatingly.


Buffalo Bills

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost four consecutive Super Bowls in 1990,91,92,93 seasons

On the topic of teams to suffer devastating Super Bowl defeats, the Buffalo Bills are another team to have not won a Super Bowl. The Bills are a team located in a small town in Western New York. Their fanbase is one of the most passionate, most enthusiastic groups in all of sport.

In the early 90s, Buffalo, with Marv Levy as head coach, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas on the field, Buffalo rampaged to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The most gut-wrenching of those defeats was the first one to their tri-state rival New York Giants. Buffalo had a field goal to win the game. Instead, kicker Scott Norwood missed the kick. Buffalo would lose the game by one point as the words ‘wide right’ got etched into the nightmares of Buffalo fans.

The Bills would return to the Super Bowl in the following three years; the team got outclassed in all three games as they would lose to Washington and Dallas, respectively. Buffalo’s defeats became so infamous that they developed a documentary on the Four Falls of Buffalo. Their defeat to the Cowboys in 1994 remains their last Super Bowl appearance.


Carolina Panthers

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Super Bowls in the 2003 and 2015 seasons

The Carolina Panthers only came to life in 1995. Therefore, it is understandable that they are yet to win a Superbowl. However, in a short time frame, Carolina has played in two Super Bowls. Superstar wideout Steve Smith fuelled their run to the Super Bowl in 2003-04. Carolina would narrowly lose to the Patriots as Tom Brady, and Adam Vinatieri combined to snatch the victory.

Carolina would return in the 2015-16 season. The Panthers enjoyed a phenomenal 15-1 season with Cam Newton playing at an MVP level. The quarterback and his team arrived at Super Bowl 50 as the overwhelming favourites. Carolina’s party got crashed by a ferocious Denver Bronco’s defence that repelled Carolina’s offence. That appearance was Carolina’s most recent in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50

Cincinnati Bengals

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Super Bowls during the 1981 and 1988 seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals are a team with a rich history. The team got founded by legendary head coach Paul Brown in 1966. The Bengals have played in the Super Bowl on two different occasions. Both times they were bested by the San Francisco 49ers, who got coached by Paul Brown’s protege Bill Walsh. The Bengals haven’t come close to reaching the Super Bowl since 1988-89. The Cincinnati faithful will hope that homegrown quarterback Joe Burrow can end their wait for championship glory.


Cleveland Browns

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Conference Championship Games in 1986,87,89 seasons

The Cleveland Browns are one of the oldest, most famous names in the sport. The Browns play in football country; Ohio is the birthplace of the game. It is where the Hall of Fame takes place; the state lives for the game. In the Super Bowl era, the Browns have never played in the championship game. Their history is one of the hard-luck stories, bad decisions and the downright bizarre. The closest Cleveland came to building a Super Bowl team was in the early 90s. Young coach Bill Belichick was building a formidable club on and off the field. Then, in a dramatic, NFL-shattering move, owner Art Modell decided to move the team to Baltimore.

While fan protests stopped him from taking the Browns away from Cleveland, the NFL allowed him to start a new club in Baltimore. Modell took the staff that Belichick had assembled, and he took the Ravens to a Super Bowl win in 2000-01. The Browns re-entered the NFL in 1999; sadly, their tale has been one plagued with misery. The Browns became the second team in history to lose every game in a single season; in two years, the team won one game out of 32. Last year, Cleveland made the playoffs and nearly eliminated the Kansas City Chiefs. With a young squad and charismatic head coach, good times are on the horizon in Cleveland.


Detroit Lions

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Conference Championship Game during the 1991 season

Another team to have never won a Super Bowl is the Detroit Lions. The team from the Motor City possesses another sordid history full of miserable seasons. The Lions were the first team in history to go 0-16; they’ve never particularly come close to playing in a Super Bowl. Their closest chance resulted in a 41-10 blowout loss to the Washington Redskins during the 1991 season.


Houston Texans

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Conference Divisional Round Games during the 2011,12,16,19 seasons 

The Houston Texans made their NFL debut in 2002, becoming the youngest franchise in the NFL. Like the Lions, the Texans have never played in a Super Bowl. However, unlike the Detroit Lions, Houston have won playoff games in the recent past. The Texans will hope that the promise shown in the early phases of their history will translate into Superbowl success.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Conference Championship Games during the 1996,99 and 2017 seasons 

Founded in 1993, the Jaguars are also yet to break their Super Bowl duck. They’ve played in a handful of Championship games in their relatively short history, the most recent one when a Tom Brady comeback dashed their hopes of participating in the big game. With generational quarterback Trevor Lawrence now playing in Florida, the Jags may feel that there is a strong chance of reaching the Super Bowl.


Los Angeles Chargers

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Super Bowl 29 (1994/95 season) *when playing under the San Diego Chargers 

The LA Chargers, in their modern iteration, have never played in a Super Bowl. Their barren Super Bowl run has continued since 2017. Conversely, the San Diego Chargers played in one Super Bowl in the 1994-95 season. On that night, the Chargers would lose to the San Francisco 49ers. In the subsequent years, the Chargers thrilled fans, but they’ve become the glorious losers of the NFL. If there is a way to lose a game, the Chargers will find it. Moving cities hasn’t changed their fortunes yet, although they possess a young quarterback destined for greatness in the way of Justin Herbert.


Minnesota Vikings

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost four Super Bowls during the 1969, 1973, 74, 76 seasons 

The Minnesota Vikings might be one of the best teams to have not won a Super Bowl. The 1960 expansion team quickly became a contender in the NFL as they made three Super Bowl trips in four years in the early 70s. Minnesota hasn’t gone back to the Super Bowl since their third defeat in 1976-77. The Vikings did experience some near misses in the recent past. The 2009-10 season saw Minnesota travel to New Orleans in the NFC Championship game. The Vikes would fall short in overtime as the Saints used home advantage to crawl over the line.

Minnesota would lose all three Super Bowl games as their ferocious ‘Purple People Eaters’ defence came up short as Minnesota lost to the Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders. Minnesota also lost out to the Eagles in 2017-18. That particular game stopped the Vikings fairytale playoff run as they attempted to become the first team to play a home Super Bowl. Minnesota is a perennial contender; they are always knocking on the door. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, the Super Bowl door seems frozen, despite their efforts.


Tennessee Titans

Closest they have come to a Super Bowl – Lost Super Bowl 34 when playing the St. Louis Rams (1999/2000 season)

Of all the teams on this list, no one came as close as the Tennessee Titans did. The Super Bowl at the end of the 1999-2000 season pitted the Titans against the St Louis Rams. The Titans required a miracle to get to the Super Bowl. Once they got there, Tennessee battled to keep up with the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’. The game was a nervy affair as it came down to the final play. There were six seconds left on the clock; Tennessee had one play to score and win the Super Bowl. Steve Mcnair threw the ball to Dyson on a quick slant pattern, the goal-line beckoned, until Mike Jones tackled Dyson on the one-yard line. The tackle finished the game and gave the Superbowl to the Rams.

Tennessee would make the playoffs in consecutive seasons in the early 2000s. The latter half of the decade saw the team slump; they were never a contender. A resurgence under Mike Vrabel helped the team reach the AFC Championship in the 2019-20 season. For the time being, one yard short still haunts fans of the Titans.


We hope you enjoyed the article ‘The 12 NFL Teams to Have Never Won a Super Bowl.’ Which team on this list do you think can break their Super Bowl drought first? Let us know!


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