Monday, March 9, 2015

Best Second-place Teams of All-Time, Part I

by T. J. Troup

Years ago, in Steve Sabol's, office, he and I discussed the best second-place teams of all-time. Sabol believed the 1962 Detroit Lions and the 1967 Baltimore Colts topped the list. Since my opinion was asked; I quickly responded that the 1948 Chicago Bears should also be included.

Thus the following:  What team had the best record over  a 52-game span without winning a playoff game? The Bears for most of 1947 in the 1951 season, won 41 and lost just 11. Since this would be Clyde "Bulldog" Turner's birthday, let's celebrate in Navy blue and burnt orange and take a closer look and evaluate using stats this team and why they won.

Bulldog Turner, Chicago Bears. Colorization by John Turney
A powerful offensive line opened many a hole for the backfield-by-committee approach for Chicago. They averaged 193 rushing yards a game when they won, and 129 yards when they lost. In the eleven defeats opponents averaged 139 yards rushing a game, but a paltry 101 rushing yards against the stalwart Bear defense in the forty-one victories.

The NFL Passer Rating is a tool that can be used to evaluate a pass offense, and the Bears were efficient with a 67.9 passer rating in the 41 wins, but struggled under the league average with a mark of 47.5 in the eleven losses. Opponent passers missed the mark often as their passer rating was just 47.6 in the forty-one Bear victories (the Chicago secondary pilfered at least one pass in 40 of the 41 wins). In the eleven wins opponent passers averaged an impressive 7.87 yards per pass, and threw more touchdowns than interceptions, which lead to an impressive (for the era) passer rating of 76.5.

Note: This is the first of a three part series, with two more teams to add to the list later this Spring.

1950 Rams versus Bears, Colorization: John Turney


  1. I've always been partial to the 62 Lions, what a D Hall of Famers all over the place.

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  3. All three are pretty similar, in that their only losses were to the other 'best' teams. Though '48 Bears and '67 Colts are more similar and thus I put them ahead of the '62 Lions (just as a team I'd like '62 Lions more if they didn't trade for Plum, though who knows how their season would have went then? ... but I like Morrall and Glass) ...

    If you go with simplicity in ranking them, it took the Colts the longest to lose (single season) and they only lost once.

    Though the '48 Bears argument is good in that their only losses were to the two teams that played for the Championship, plus they beat the Cardinals and really, they literally threw the game away against them in the season finale.

    I'd say of the three the '48 Bears were the closest to being the clear best team in their division.

  4. No surprise that Steve would pick the Colts ...