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Moving Out? Are Detroit Lions 21st Franchise to Finally Win Super Bowl?

There are 12 NFL franchises, more than a third of the league, that have never won a Super Bowl title. The Detroit Lions are hoping to change that in the next few weeks. They're one of 12, and the Tennessee Titans are in that group, too. Here's the full list of Super Bowl champions, and those on the outside still looking in. Who breaks through first? I rank them Nos. 1-12.
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NASHVILLE — The Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans are neighbors in one of the NFL's least desirable subdivisions. They are two of 12 teams that have never won a Super Bowl title.

The Lions, who play in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, are trying to change that. The Titans, well, they seem to be a long way off after finishing 6-11 and firing coach Mike Vrabel after a second-straight losing season. They are in rebuild mode, with a new coach in Brian Callahan.

Aside from being one of 12 that's never won a Super Bowl, the Lions are one of four franchises that has never even played in the game through the first 57 years. The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are the others. 

That's a sad, run-down cul-de-sac there. 

So with the lead-up to Sunday's conference championship games and then Super Bowl LVIII in two weeks in Las Vegas, it got me thinking. Of those 12 teams without a shiny Lombardi, who gets their first one — well, you know, first?

You'd think the Lions would top my list, with the recency bias, but they don't. They're a touchdown underdog to San Francisco this weekend, and would probably be the same in Vegas against either the Baltimore Ravens or defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Even in the final four, they are a longshot to win a title right now. They're a good team that's turned it around nicely under Dan Campbell.

Here is the list of all-time Super Bowl champions since the game started in 1967, and the list of 12 teams who still haven't hoisted a trophy:

Six Super Bowl titles (2)

  • New England Patriots: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, 2019.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 2006, 2009.

Five Super Bowl titles (2)

  • Dallas Cowboys: 1972, 1978, 1993, 1994, 1996.
  • San Francisco 49ers: 1982, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1995.

Four Super Bowl titles (2)

  • Green Bay Packers: 1967, 1968, 1997, 2011. 
  • New York Giants: 1987, 1991, 2008, 2012. 

Three Super Bowl titles (4)

  • Denver Broncos: 1998, 1999, 2016.  
  • Kansas City Chiefs: 1970, 2020, 2023.
  • Las Vegas Raiders: 1977, 1981, 1984.
  • Washington Redskins: 1983, 1988, 1992.

Two Super Bowl titles (5)

  • Baltimore Ravens: 2001, 2013.
  • Indianapolis Colts: 1971, 2007.
  • Los Angeles Rams: 2000, 2022.
  • Miami Dolphins: 1973, 1974.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2003, 2021.

One Super Bowl title (5)

  • Chicago Bears: 1986.
  • New Orleans Saints: 2010.
  • New York Jets: 1969.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: 2018.
  • Seattle Seahawks: 2014.

No Super Bowl titles (8)

  • Buffalo Bills: 0-4
  • Minnesota Vikings: 0-4
  • Cincinnati Bengals: 0-3
  • Atlanta Falcons: 0-2
  • Carolina Panthers: 0-2
  • Arizona Cardinals: 0-1
  • Los Angeles Chargers: 0-1
  • Tennessee Titans: 0-1

Never played in Super Bowl (4)

  • Cleveland Browns: Have lost three AFC championship games.
  • Detroit Lions: Have lost one NFC championship game, play San Francisco in NFC championship game on Sunday.
  • Houston Texans: Have never played in AFC championship game. 
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: Have lost three AFC championship games.

Brings back a lot of great memories, right? We've had two defectors in the past decade, with the Seattle Seahawks leaving the neighborhood in 2014 and the Philadelphia Eagles doing the same in 2018 with their first-ever Super Bowl titles.

So who's next? The Lions, Browns and Texans all made the playoffs this year, and only the Lions are still standing.

Here's my rankings from No. 1 through No. 12, with a quick sentence or two to explain my reasoning.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals almost won a Super Bowl two years ago, and quarterback Joe Burrow is fearless. Injuries derailed their season this year, but they are very capable of bouncing back quickly. Burrow is the one guy that can beat Patrick Mahomes, and I won't a bit surprised if they are title contenders again very soon.   
  2. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen is a very good quarterback, top-5 in the league in my book. The Bills are cursed, of course, and have been for 30-plus years. But he's certainly good enough to get it done one of these days. 
  3. Detroit Lions: Since they have a chance right now, I'll put them at No. 3. For the first time in three decades, they are playoff relevant in 2023 and Jared Goff can make some plays. They have to pull off two major upsets to win this year, but it can be done. There's some Motown Magic going on this year.
  4. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud was the best rookie in the league this year, and the Texans went from three wins to 10 — and an AFC South title — in one quick year. They are a team on the rise for sure, especially in a winnable division.
  5. Cleveland Browns: Any time you have a No. 1-ranked defense, you're a threat. This playoff loss to the Texans was humbling, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're aggressive in the offseason to acquire a few more pieces. Tough division though.
  6. Los Angeles Chargers: As I've said before, when you have a quarterback, you have a chance. The Chargers have one of the best in Justin Herbert, and if they add Jim Harbaugh as the coach, they can turn the corner quickly. 
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars were trending upward in 2022, and even won a playoff game with Trevor Lawrence at quarterback. They staggered down the stretch this year, though, but still don't seem too far away to me. Make two or three good moves, and they could be back in the playoffs in 2024. 
  8. Tennessee Titans: New coach Brian Callahan inherits a team with Will Levis at quarterback, and I like his potential, but there's still plenty more to learn about his game. They have a ton of cap space, but a lot of holes too. They finished dead last in the AFC South by a bunch this season, and have a lot of catching up to do with their division rivals.
  9. Atlanta Falcons: There's some talent on this team, but they still have massive quarterback issues. Who they hire as a head coach might change this ranking a bit, and trading for a QB would too. For now, I don't see a playoff run any time soon. 
  10. Minnesota Vikings: There are so many unknowns with the Vikings right now. Do they finally move on from Kirk Cousins? Do they have enough talent to contend with the Packers and Lions in the NFC North, or even the Bears? Not feeling it at all.
  11. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals were expected to be the league's worst team in 2023, and their 4-13 record was only better than Carolina. Kyler Murray can be exciting, but this is a roster still devoid on talent. Still a long way off from being competitive.
  12. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are very clearly the worst team in the NFL right now, and there are no quick fixes in sight. They finished 2-15 this year, but don't have the No. 1 pick they earned because they traded it last year to Chicago to draft quarterback Bryce Young. They're a mess, from top to bottom.