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Title droughts

Teams waiting the longest for Super Bowls

The Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night won their first NBA title in 50 years. That’s a long dry spell, but there are currently 10 NFL teams that have been waiting even longer for a championship.

I poked around with this some earlier, looking at years that cities have had to wait for championships. But that focused on markets rather than franchises (New York, for example, has multiple teams in all of the major sports). And it looked at the distances between titles. There are team, of course, which have simply never won any titles. They would be very happy to have won a title in either 1971 or 2021.

So let me take a moment to set the record straight for current dry spells in the NFL.

There are 10 teams that have currently gone 50 years without winning an NFL title.

In the chart below, six of the teams have never won an NFL title at all. For the four that won one way back when, the year you see isn’t their last championship year but the following season. That is, Arizona (as the Chicago Cardinals) won the NFL title in 1947. So Kyler Murray is directing the team that currently has the longest run of futility.

The Detroit Lions won in 1957. The Browns won their last championship in 1964. And the Jets won Super Bowl III following the 1968 season.

The Browns are listed at 56 years, but that arguably could instead be 53 (Cleveland didn’t even have a team in the 1996-1998 seasons).

There are three original AFL teams listed at 55 years – Bills, Chargers, Titans. For them, their streaks show NFL work only. All won AFL championships. Buffalo won AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 – the last two seasons before the start of Super Bowls. The Chargers won the AFL title in 1963, while the Titans (as the Houston Oilers) won the AFL championships in 1960 and 1961. If we’re including AFL work, the Bills would stay at 55 years, the Chargers would move up to 57 and the Titans would move to 59.

Two other long NFL streaks recently ended. The Eagles won the Super Bowl following the 2017 season; their first title since 1960. And Kansas City won the Super Bowls following the 1969 and 2019 seasons. Those are the only other runs lasting 50 years.

1948Arizona Cardinals73
1958Detroit Lions63
1961Minnesota Vikings60
1965Cleveland Browns56
1966Atlanta Falcons55
1966Buffalo Bills55
1966Los Angeles Chargers55
1966Tennessee Titans55
1968Cincinnati Bengals53
1969New York Jets53

—Ian Allan

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