Sunday’s game is not just a big one for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2016 season. It is a big game for the history of the franchise. It will be the 1154th game in team history, dating back to 1933, according to Pro Football Reference. And they will be entering this game standing at 599 wins.
The Ravens will be giving the Steelers their first opportunity to secure their 600th win in franchise history, which would certainly be a glorious Christmas present on top of winning the AFC North. It would be a very merry Christmas indeed if they prove to be victorious in just a few short days.
Should the Steelers prove to be victorious, they would become just the fourth franchise in NFL history to reach the 600-win mark, and the first team that was not formed in the 1920s. You can probably safely guess the only three teams to have more wins in their history: the Bears, formed in 1920; the Packers, formed in 1921; and the Giants, formed in 1925.
Now, all three of those teams actually have a fairly significant lead in terms of total wins, with a better overall winning percentage as well. The Bears have the most wins in NFL history with 744, with the Packers not far being them with 728. The Giants, meanwhile, are approaching the 700-mark themselves, with 683 total wins over their history.
The Steelers’ winning percentage is actually just .528 over the course of their more than 75-year history, which ranks them just 13th all-time—or 12th, if you disregard expansion teams from the 1990s and beyond, if that is your prerogative. The Ravens have the eighth-best winning percentage in NFL history, though they only have 181 total wins.
Of course, the Steelers, for much of their history, were not a good team at all, more or less right up until they acquired Chuck Noll in 1969. From that point forward, they became a winning franchise. Since the NFL-AFL merger, Pittsburgh has been easily the best team in the league, posting a 442-282-2 record in that span.
Since Noll took over, the Steelers have won 443 games from 1969 to the present day under Noll—with 193 wins—then Bill Cowher—with 149 wins—and finally, Mike Tomlin—who has 101 wins and counting. Tomlin’s .639 winning percentage is the best of the three.
A victory on Sunday would give the Steelers 10 wins on the season, and would guarantee that the Ravens could only win nine games at most, which would, in turn, guarantee that they will win the AFC North, and host a playoff game.
But a victory on Sunday will also coincide with a monumental landmark in the team’s history, reaching a plateau of success that only three other teams have been able to accomplish. And considering that almost 74 percent of that success has happened since 1970 makes it all the more remarkable.