Which are the 10 or 11 relevant teams?

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Saints coach Sean Payton said over the weekend that the NFL has only 10 or 11 relevant teams at any given time. If he’s right (and he is), the challenge becomes identifying the 10 or 11 relevant teams.

It’s easy to peg six or seven of them. It’s harder to identify the last few, at the exclusion of others that are close to being in the group of relevant teams.

My own list consists of these no-brainer franchises: Chiefs, 49ers, Patriots, Ravens, Seahawks, Saints, Eagles, Steelers, Packers. That’s only nine; the last spot or two could go to the Rams, Cowboys, Buccaneers (as long as Tom Brady is there), or Vikings, or the Bills, Colts, Texans, or Titans.

If it’s that hard to identify teams No. 10 and 11, maybe there are, for now, only nine relevant teams. Regardless, even though the league wants fans and media to think that every team has a chance to make the playoffs and that every playoff team has a chance to win the Super Bowl, folks inside the league regard roughly a third of the teams as legitimate threats to make it happen.

So which are your 10 or 11 teams? List them in the comments.

69 responses to “Which are the 10 or 11 relevant teams?

  1. If you’re talking relevant going forward as to who can make the Super Bowl, I don’t think the Patriots make that list. “Relevant” being defined as having a legitimate shot to win the SB. Patriots may be interesting with their new look, but they’re not relevant under this definition.

  2. Every team is relevant, besides maybe the Lions. Its the NFL. You will get smoked if you dont take your opponent seriously

  3. Seems the first thing to determine is the definition of “relevant”. Is every playoff team relevant? Every year we hear the well-deserved criticism of one or more playoff team being unworthy. So again, what makes a team relevant, and on the other side, irrelevant?

  4. This is hilarious! Packers are only there because the refs and league make it so. They haven’t been anything at all the last few years, let alone relevant. If it weren’t for blatantly obvious bias officiating they’d be the bottom of the league, year in and year out.

  5. The Steelers! —- Only if Big Ben is back! Who can forget the sweet, sweet, 3 points he scorched the Patriots with in his only full game last season!

  6. Bucs relevant, Pats not until proven otherwise. Pats roster is a disaster and Bill’s first pick was the least impactful position of the starting 22. Reputation is not the same as relevance.

  7. In the NFC, I’ll go:

    San Francisco
    New Orleans
    Green Bay
    Philadelphia

    Seattle
    Atlanta

    In the AFC:

    Kansas City
    Tennessee
    Baltimore
    Buffalo

    Denver
    Cleveland

    Legitimate SB contenders:

    San Francisco
    New Orleans
    Kansas City
    Philadelphia

    I can see Seattle beating any one of those teams, but I can’t see them beating 2 or 3 of the NFC teams in one playoff season.

    I think the AFC is wide open, with KC having a slightly better chance than any of the others.

  8. Your first nine, Florio, plus the Buccaneers and Bills. Close call, though. Colts most likely to surprise.

  9. I think Sean Payton believes the Vikings are “Relevant Team #1” as they seem to have the Saints number each year….

  10. This quote actually comes first from Bill Walsh via Mike Lombardi. Bill would always say we’re really only competing against a few teams every year. Those with good organizational stability and good culture. Whether it’s 9 teams or 11 teams the actual number is kinda irrelevant. The point is don’t get all excited over what appears to be excellent short term personnel moves by teams with a long history of organizational dysfunction.

  11. Yes, there are only 10 or 11 relevant teams but the fun part is you don’t know who they are before the season starts. Every year, half the playoff teams don’t make the playoffs again. Anyone can name last year’s playoff teams and maybe make a guess as to one or two teams that might jump out or fall out. There are a few teams you can dismiss, but not many.

    Best bets to jump up to relevance this year:

    Arizona
    Tampa Bay
    Dallas
    Miami
    Cleveland
    Indianapolis
    Denver

    Best bets to disappoint compared to last year:

    Philadelphia
    Green Bay
    New Orleans
    New England
    Houston

    Should be a fun season!

  12. Until the teams named in this article, blow their opportunities to win 10+ games and make the playoffs, you can’t just dismiss them now. For example, the Patriots and what they have done over the last 20 years, should keep them on the list for now.

    An off season of player moves doesn’t qualify for dismissal from the list. It is what you do with those moves that make or break you.

    I think the list is spot on. The order may be a bit misleading however. But they all belong in the top 10 for sure.

  13. LMAO at the salty mountain of hate now saying Pats without Brady are irrelevant, when for the past 19 years they’ve all been daily assuring us Brady was just 2yd-per-throw system QB.

  14. Every year we have a few “surprise” teams. Look no further than SF last year. So much depends on who stays healthiest.

  15. The reason it’s so hard to find the last couple of teams is that there’s always those two or three that put it together in a year; the Titans and Bills come to mind. Who will that be this year? Cleveland? Denver? Miami? Chargers? Colts?
    Besides that, every team is only one play away from becoming irrelevant. Are the Chiefs or Packers or Seahawks relevant if Mahomes, Rogers or Wilson get hurt?
    It may be true that there are only so many truly competitive teams each year, but who they are will vary throughout the year.

  16. Eagles pats Steelers are not locks anymore.

    A new surprise team pops up every year like the rams bears jags etc. But can they sustain the success is what they are talking about here. It’s really only a great quarterback or great coaching/front office that can make that happen.

  17. kingbags says:
    April 29, 2020 at 10:57 am
    This quote actually comes first from Bill Walsh via Mike Lombardi. Bill would always say we’re really only competing against a few teams every year. Those with good organizational stability and good culture
    ************************************************************************************************************************************
    Wow, that definition changes things…good organizational stability and culture. To me, that only leaves Florio’s 1st nine…Chiefs, 49ers, Patriots, Ravens, Seahawks, Saints, Eagles, Steelers, Packers. Love or hate any of those teams, I think they all pass the test. After that…I’m skeptical of anyone else…especially the Cowboys and Texans (Good God, the Texans!).

  18. If “relevant” means “intriguing,” then you can include the Patriots (what happens post-Tom) and maybe even the Bengals (how does Burrow do in the NFL).

    If “relevant” means “SB contention,” then the Titans trump most of that list.

  19. Only relevant teams are the ones that contend for a title year in and year out.
    Only a few teams qualify.

  20. I don’t know, the Titans seemed pretty relevant last year to me when they shut down the Patriots and Ravens on the road to the AFCC. It’s Any Given Sunday for a reason.

  21. Tier 1: Chiefs, Ravens, 49ers, Saints
    Tier 2: Seahawks, Packers, Bills, Titans, Vikings, Bucs, Patriots

    Closest Miss: Eagles

    Sleepers: Cardinals, Browns

    Most Likely to Fall: 49ers (super bowl loser hangover is real), Patriots (I don’t think they should be in the top 11, but I can’t leave BB out), Bills (just because they are the Bills), Bucs (this could all go terribly wrong), Packers (let’s see how AR responds to the draft), Seahawks (O-Line looks worse and you haven’t fixed the damn pass rush)

  22. 2 issues with your list. 1st, I think GB took themselves out of play because of a poor draft that did little to actually improve the team and if you don’t improve you fall back. And as others mentioned, I don’t see the Pats as relevant with the QBs they have.

    I think TB improved enough even without TB to TB. Did excellent in the draft. And the Bills will win the East so you have to account for them

  23. Bears have to be on the list, just because their fanbase is more wider and further reaching than most. So in that sense, whatever they are doing is relevant, even if they suck. Basically the same thing as Cubs.

  24. I think the quote was originally from Bill Parcells, which was basically: “there are 1/3 of the teams that have it figured out, 1/3 trying to figure it out and 1/3 that will never figure it out”

  25. streetyson says:
    April 29, 2020 at 11:16 am
    LMAO at the salty mountain of hate now saying Pats without Brady are irrelevant, when for the past 19 years they’ve all been daily assuring us Brady was just 2yd-per-throw system QB.
    /////////
    I think it’s more interesting how the Patriots fans are trying to convince themselves nothing will change. Also, nobody except lunatics have dissed Brady. He is overwhelmingly recognized as the best QB to ever play the game.

  26. 49ers
    Ravens
    Saints
    Chiefs
    Seahawks
    Titans
    Bills
    Bucs
    Cowboys
    Packers
    Cardinals

    Something like this

  27. I’m baffled as to why so many of you are putting the Eagles and Browns on any list. The Eagles might as well have won the SB 10 years ago. Last year, they only got into the playoffs because of the Cowboys complete ineptitude.

  28. Patriots
    Steelers
    Ravens
    Chiefs
    Eagles
    Cowboys
    Vikings
    Packers
    Saints
    Niners
    Seahawks

    Last ones in: Steelers…appear to be in decline, but have been so steady for so long they get a pass, Eagles…a lot of age on that roster but have at least followed up the ring with 2 straight playoff appearances

    Near Misses: Bucs (I have to see it on the field first), Texans (should be relevant but BOB seems intent on destroying that franchise)

    Bullish on moving forward: Miami and Arizona

  29. skmad2014 says:
    April 29, 2020 at 10:43 am
    If you’re talking relevant going forward as to who can make the Super Bowl, I don’t think the Patriots make that list. “Relevant” being defined as having a legitimate shot to win the SB. Patriots may be interesting with their new look, but they’re not relevant under this definition.

    70 23 Rate This

    ————————–

    Why is that?

    Best D in the league, best STs in the league, only to get even better, a better QB than the last 2 regular seasons is highly likely (based on Brady’s attitude alone), the best GM and Coach in NFL history, a top notch OL, arguably the best in football as it stands, very good RBs 1-4, and what appears to be really strong 2019 and 2020 drafts.

    Throw in veteran continuity of the base of players on both sides of the ball, likely health since it’s an even season (Pats have injury issues in odd seasons), and the all important fact this coaching staff, or the bulk of it, has been through a Lockout in 2011, so they know how to manage no OTAs or a camp.

    Teams that have staffs that managed the 2011 Lockout well, will do well here as well.

    The only difference is Brady vs Stidham. But, Stidham got important 1st team reps last year and looked fantastic, so BB is already ahead of schedule.

    Numerous teams who have new staffs, new QBs, or a lot of new players are in deep crap.

    LOL

  30. Clara drafting top 3 most of the time then flashing every 7 years puts them OFF any list that includes relevance. They are 1-12 in their last 13 games against the Seahawks.

  31. Eagles, Vikings, Steelers, Rams, Browns, Texans, Patriots, Broncos are bubble teams that I could see replacing any of my bottom few.

  32. As a fan of the most successful franchise in NFL history, it’s an honor to see the 13 time World Champion Green Bay Packers once again included among the select group of elite teams contending for the Lombardi trophy.

  33. h0metownzero says:
    April 29, 2020 at 12:09 pm
    As a fan of the most successful franchise in NFL history, it’s an honor to see the 13 time World Champion Green Bay Packers once again included among the select group of elite teams contending for the Lombardi trophy.

    0 3 Rate This

    ———————

    Is this a league with 4 teams in it or 32?

  34. I just laughed reading these comments. Hard not to be relevant when half the posts are about a team not being relevant.

  35. How are the eagles and the saints no brainiers and the Vikings are a maybe? The Vikings beat them both last year and one was in the playoffs! Doesn’t make sense to me.

  36. kingbags says:
    April 29, 2020 at 10:57 am
    This quote actually comes first from Bill Walsh via Mike Lombardi. Bill would always say we’re really only competing against a few teams every year. Those with good organizational stability and good culture. Whether it’s 9 teams or 11 teams the actual number is kinda irrelevant. The point is don’t get all excited over what appears to be excellent short term personnel moves by teams with a long history of organizational dysfunction.

    62 2 Rate This

    ———————–

    Gridiron Genius is one of the better football books in recent memory. I had the same analysis on the Pats in the 2011/2012 era when BB asked him for his thoughts and then I realized it all stemmed from Brady wanting to be in the shotgun and to throw 50 times a game, over and over and over, standing in the same spot like a statue. Then, BB signed Develin, Brady got under Center more, managed the game better and NE started winning SBs again.

    This goes back years and Brady getting toys and wanting to chase stats. No more. No more.

    I always knew Lombardi was somehow closely connected to BB 10 years ago, even still, because Lombardi would be on NFL Network dropping hints about things, and then we’d see the official announcement of a player signed or traded for within 48 hours by BB.

    Great book, though.

  37. One clue that your team isn’t “relevant”.

    Belichick’s dog, Nike, got more press than your team did the day after the draft.

  38. So last year would you have had the 49ers on this list? Ya know after having the second pick in the draft and on their way to the super bowl? I disagree with the premise.

  39. The league as a whole is getting better. Some years, there are only this many teams who are “set” at QB. QB play has been a major problem over the years for the bottom half to 2/3 of the league.

    That’s really changing w/ the influx of excellent young QB’s to enter the league over the past few years, as well as vets who are proven maintaining a high level of play as their careers wind down. It makes for a more exciting league.

    I don’t disagree w/ the premise of the article, but I’d disagree that it’s something which can be determined right now. Both conferences are so in flux, with traditional powers starting to slide and teams that have struggled starting to get their acts together.

  40. How could the Rams be a relevant team this year? They weren’t really decent last year and lost 50% of their starters this offseason with no young/cheap players on the roster? Past that, Goff looks like a 1 year wonder

  41. The definition of relevant is probably if you asked a person who doesn’t have all the football knowledge in the world, which would be recent superbowl contenders

  42. Peckers are a total and complete clown show who actually managed to regress in the draft. The only reasons they were even mediocre last year was due to repulsively obvious and blatant biased reffing, coupled with a cake schedule.

    At best, this is a 5-11 team for the next two seasons, after which they divorce from Rodgers.

  43. I think you have to include the Vikings. They beat the Saints in the playoffs, and haven’t lost to the Eagles since getting whupped by them in the NFCCG in 2017.

  44. “How could the Rams be a relevant team this year?”

    It’s the NFC West. All four teams have won the division within the last five years.

  45. nknielsen says:
    April 29, 2020 at 10:51 am
    Are the Patriots a no-brainer relevant team without a proven QB?

    ——

    Yes.

  46. spiralynth says:
    April 29, 2020 at 1:16 pm
    Peckers are a total and complete clown show who actually managed to regress in the draft. The only reasons they were even mediocre last year was due to repulsively obvious and blatant biased reffing, coupled with a cake schedule.

    At best, this is a 5-11 team for the next two seasons, after which they divorce from Rodgers.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    At the start of the season the Packers had the 14th ranked strength of schedule. At the end of the season it was 11th. They ranked 7th in penalties differential. Neither is cause for alarm. Haters have been predicting the demise of the Packers every season since 1992.

    Good luck with that.

  47. tylawspick6 says:
    April 29, 2020 at 12:00 pm
    skmad2014 says:
    April 29, 2020 at 10:43 am
    If you’re talking relevant going forward as to who can make the Super Bowl, I don’t think the Patriots make that list. “Relevant” being defined as having a legitimate shot to win the SB. Patriots may be interesting with their new look, but they’re not relevant under this definition.

    70 23 Rate This

    ————————–

    Why is that?

    Best D in the league, best STs in the league, only to get even better, a better QB than the last 2 regular seasons is highly likely (based on Brady’s attitude alone), the best GM and Coach in NFL history, a top notch OL, arguably the best in football as it stands, very good RBs 1-4, and what appears to be really strong 2019 and 2020 drafts.

    Throw in veteran continuity of the base of players on both sides of the ball, likely health since it’s an even season (Pats have injury issues in odd seasons), and the all important fact this coaching staff, or the bulk of it, has been through a Lockout in 2011, so they know how to manage no OTAs or a camp.

    Teams that have staffs that managed the 2011 Lockout well, will do well here as well.

    The only difference is Brady vs Stidham. But, Stidham got important 1st team reps last year and looked fantastic, so BB is already ahead of schedule.

    Numerous teams who have new staffs, new QBs, or a lot of new players are in deep crap.

    LOL
    —————————–
    Sorry Ty, but the best defense in the league currently resides in B’more

  48. Relevancy comes and goes, fans have short memories, and today’s hero is tomorrow’s garbage.

  49. Isn’t this really just another way of you listing the teams you LIKE or you THINK are the best?
    How is a team that proceeded to the Divisional round in the playoffs not “relevant” but a team that couldn’t make the playoffs in the lousiest division is?

  50. The Dallas Cowboys have won a grand total of 4 playoff games since 1996. How exactly does that make them relevant on any measurable level?

  51. Chiefs, Niners,Ravens, Packers, Titans, Bills, Vikings, Seahawks, Steelers, Bucs

  52. Wow, the 49ers are the 2nd team on the list. They weren’t even on the list last year. I’m thinking this year’s surprise team will be the Las Vegas Raiders. Their defense is much improved. They could easily win 10-12 games.

  53. Wherever they land in the “relevant” rankings, the Tampa Bay Bucs will have a much different look and attitude. With all the talent upgrades and the outstanding coaching staff it would be a huge mistake to under estimate them based on last season’s performance. Not to mention the added incentive to play in a Super Bowl in their own home stadium! GO BUCS!

  54. As a Seahawk fan I am keeping an eye on Arizona…

    I am more worried about Kyler Murray progressing and becoming the next Russell Wilson than I am worried about Jimmy Garoppolo becoming anything special. He’s just not. That team won by beating up other teams and tough defense.

    Az though? Watch out… If they get their front office together and consistent they will be a problem for a while… And I hate saying that.

    Seattle almost swept SF last year with Marshawn Lynch playing running back in week 17…to STAY relevant San Francisco is going to have to do it for a couple years in a row.

  55. His comment is fluid. Teams can become relevant through the course of a season. Teams can lose relevance. You could probably make 10, 11 up of bubble teams. I’d give it to the Bills and Titans for now based off of last year’s performances.

  56. Not a fan of either team but it is so crazy some of you listing the Browns as relevent. The Steelers are clearly the better team and have a hall of fame quarterback making his last run. The browns will be LUCKY to go 2-4 in their own division. Their only saving grace is getting to play against the perenially inconsistent AFC west and perenially underachieving NFC east.

  57. Titans weren;t relevant at the beginning of last year…now they are…somehtnig like that will happen again.

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