Before the current NFL season started, it seemed to be a no-brainer as to who the best and most accomplished team of the decade was.
#3: Indianapolis Colts
The NFL is a “just win, baby” league. So while the Colts are the most consistent, high-scoring and best regular season team of recent times, they have just one Super Bowl title to show for it. The Peyton Manning-led team hasn’t won a single playoff game since beating the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in the 2006-2007 season and has won only seven playoff games in the decade so far. Call the Colts football’s version of the Atlanta Braves, if you will.
What also makes them a somewhat strong contender is that this offensive-mined team has gotten better defensively over the last few years, with Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders –- even if he’s a bit overrated — and Robert Mathis leading the charge. The Colts offense’s ability to take late-game leads and have its defense shut down opposing offenses to seal wins is what made them champions and sent its rival, the New England Patriots, home in the 2006-2007 AFC Championship game. All that said, the Colts finish third on my list due to its low winning percentage in postseason play in the 2000s. Even if the Colts win its second Super Bowl of the decade in February (and thus make me edit this thing), they can finish no higher than second place.
#2: Pittsburgh Steelers
The pluses: Ben Roethlisberger and Steeltown won two Super Bowls in four seasons in the second half of the decade (2005, 2008) and 10 postseason games overall from 2000-2008. The minuses: With average players like Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox and others at quarterback in the first half, the Steelers had little playoff success, including an upset home loss to the Pats in the 2001-2002 AFC Championship game. And it has missed the playoffs outright every three years since 2000 and may do so again in this decade’s final year.
However, Big Ben, ex-Steeler Joey Porter, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and others have led the Steelers to three AFC championship games in the last five seasons, winning two of them en route to two Super Bowls. For that, they are number two on my list.