AFC West 2003-2011: Worst Division In The NFL

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Members of the New York Giants pose with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The main determinations of success in the NFL are usually either Super Bowl appearances and wins or strong regular season records. Unfortunately for the AFC West they have been lacking in all of the above since 2003.

College football realignment over the previous few years has brought about a somewhat new or maybe just enhanced phenomenon where fans not only stand up and support their individual school but the conference they reside in as well. Somehow if a school in your conference wins the national title this in turn allows you to brag even if your school was beaten down like a Savannah State squad by the champion.

If you expand this line of thinking to the professional football ranks, there is not much bragging that can be done locally considering the lack of success experienced lately by the AFC West .

If an AFC West team does not reach the big game this coming February, it will have been exactly a decade since a representative came from the division. During this same span of time, every other division in the NFL has had at least one team qualify for the Super Bowl. The only division along with the AFC West to not have had a Super Bowl winning team in that time frame is the NFC West, who has at least had two teams appear, but not win the title. In a slight slap in the face of the AFC West, one of those teams, the Seattle Seahawks, is a former AFC West squad that shifted to the NFC back in 2001.

The Oakland Raiders were the last team from the AFC West to play in a Super Bowl all the way back in 2003. Unfortunately for Raider fans they were whipped badly in that game by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their former head coach Jon Gruden, by a final score of 48-21.

The last AFC West squad to win the Super Bowl was the Denver Broncos all the way back in 1999. To remember just how long ago this was, you need to look no further than who the starting quarterbacks were in the division that season.

The Raiders were trotting out Jeff George while the Seahawks and Chiefs were starting Warren Moon and Rich Gannon respectively. Out in San Diego the Chargers were being led by Craig Whelihan and rookie Ryan Leaf and the Broncos were still being led by their current general manager John Elway.

It would seem that the oddsmakers in Las Vegas are expecting another year of Super Bowl futility from the division in 2012. Currently the Denver Broncos rank as the eighth most likely team to win the Super Bowl at odds of 16/1 while the Chargers are the second most likely in the division at odds of 25/1. The Chiefs come in as the 19th most likely to win the Super Bowl at odds of 50/1 with the Raiders bringing up the rear as they are tied in 25th place with odds of 75/1.

So while wins or appearances in the Super Bowl are not the only indicator of a team's or divisions success the regular season win totals since the start of the 2003 season do not help strengthen the AFC West's case either.

As can be seen below, the AFC West finishes up next to last in total wins over the course of the previous nine seasons of play. Only the NFC West has been worse overall in the regular season during this span but as mentioned previously they have placed two teams in the Super Bowl so it's your call on which division has been worse.

In addition the AFC West was oh so close to having the team with the worst overall record in the Raiders with a combined record of 45-99. Only the Lions saved them from this fate but it took a historic 0-16 record in 2008, followed up by a 2-14 record in 2009 to vault the Raiders ahead of them.

Now this horrible stretch of football does not mean that there is no hope moving forward. The Chiefs have put together a formidable young roster that looks to possibly be a quarterback upgrade away from competing for titles. The Broncos and Chargers both have franchise quarterbacks under center which will allow them to have at least a fighting chance for the next few years and the Raiders figure to improve now that they are under a new more stable leadership.

Hopefully for fans of the AFC West, history will not repeat itself.

Division Wins Losses Ties

AFC South 307 269

NFC East 304 271 1

AFC East 303 273

AFC North 298 277 1

NFC South 293 283

NFC North 280 296

AFC West 276 300

NFC West 242 334

AFC EAST

W

L

T

New England Patriots

114

30

0

New York Jets

71

73

0

Miami Dolphins

61

83

0

Buffalo Bills

57

87

0

AFC NORTH

W

L

T

Pittsburgh Steelers

95

49

0

Baltimore Ravens

87

57

0

Cincinnati Bengals

69

74

1

Cleveland Browns

47

97

0

AFC SOUTH

W

L

T

Indianapolis Colts

101

43

0

Tennessee Titans

75

69

0

Jacksonville Jaguars

70

74

0

Houston Texans

61

83

0

AFC WEST

W

L

T

San Diego Chargers

88

56

0

Denver Broncos

77

67

0

Kansas City Chiefs

66

78

0

Oakland Raiders

45

99

0

NFC EAST

W

L

T

Philadelphia Eagles

87

56

1

Dallas Cowboys

81

63

0

New York Giants

78

66

0

Washington Redskins

58

86

0

NFC NORTH

W

L

T

Green Bay Packers

87

57

0

Chicago Bears

78

66

0

Minnesota Vikings

71

73

0

Detroit Lions

44

100

0

NFC SOUTH

W

L

T

New Orleans Saints

81

63

0

Atlanta Falcons

78

66

0

Carolina Panthers

72

72

0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

62

82

0

NFC WEST

W

L

T

Seattle Seahawks

74

70

0

Arizona Cardinals

60

84

0

San Francisco 49ers

59

85

0

St. Louis Rams

49

95

0

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