Do you like articles that talk about how great the Pittsburgh Steelers are from a historical perspective? I assume you do, so I have one for you, and it helps put into perspective just how good the organization has been since the league has been codified into the form that we recognize today.
For many good reasons, a lot of the history of the NFL is spoken of in terms of “the merger”, that referencing, of course, the agreement between the NFL and the AFL to merge into one league in 1970, and using that as the starting point for the ‘modern era’ of the game.
At the time, the National Football League was a 16-team league with one conference of four divisions. The American Football League held just eight teams, though they added two by the time the merger officially occurred.
It is with a 26-team league participating in 14-game schedules with two conferences divided into three divisions that the modern era of the NFL is said to have begun with the 1970 season. And the Steelers have been the dominant force since then.
I have already written about how the Steelers have more division titles and trips to the playoffs than any other team in the league. They have more Super Bowls, and nobody has won more playoff games or been to more Super Bowls than Pittsburgh has.
But on a game-to-game basis, over the course of the past 47 seasons, nobody can claim to have the sort of consistency of winning that the Steelers have had, spanning a lineage of just three coaches in that 47-year (actually 48-year) span.
From the merger all the way through Sunday’s games, the Steelers are the only team that has an overall winning percentage of at least .600. In fact, they have a significantly better record than even the next-best team. The Steelers 444 wins versus 282 losses and 2 ties nets them a winning percentage of .611. the Broncos, with a 426-296-6 record, have a winning percentage of .589, more than .2 percentage points fewer.
Only 14 franchises have retained a winning record over that span, and the Steelers and Broncos are the only franchises who were a part of the original NFL-AFL merger that has fewer than 300 losses. Only seven—the Steelers, Broncos, Cowboys, Dolphins, Patriots, Vikings, and 49ers—have won at least 400 games.
In case you were wondering, the Baltimore Ravens hold an overall 181-154-1 record, and their winning percentage of .540 is the eighth-best since the merger. Of course, they have only been in the league for 21 of the past 47 seasons.
I was unable to find a source on post-merger records that was both reliable and up to date, so I compiled the following chart myself, using historical logs from Pro Football Reference. Saying that, this may be the only reliable post-merger record on the net, though if you see any obvious errors in here, please let me know. Also, I made it sortable, so have at it. You can see that only three teams have as many wins as the Lions have losses, and yet two teams have a worse winning percentage. Fun stuff.