The Green Bay Packers have won 13 NFL championships in the franchise’s illustrious history, but that leaves almost 90 editions of the team that did not win a title. Of those, which was the best team to come up short of the ultimate goal?
This week, Acme Packing Company came up with several options for that honor. Here are our seven picks for the best Packers teams to not win a championship.
Regular-season record: 12-4
Lost to Seattle in NFC Championship Game this team’s final game was lost forever to history
Oh, that 2014 team. Aaron Rodgers’ second MVP season saw the Packers lead the NFL in scoring and they had a very good ground game with Eddie Lacy to complement the aerial attack. Remember when the Packers started 1-2 with losses in Seattle and Detroit? Didn’t think so. The Packers just won seven of their last eight (though they would have had home-field in the playoffs if not for a weird loss to Buffalo in week 15).
The defense was hardly stellar, however, finishing 13th in scoring. And that checks out — it was a good, but not a great unit, and often did its job with the benefit of big plays. But what could have been, if not for Rodgers’ thigh injury in Tampa Bay late in the season limiting him, or if any one of a million things went right instead of wrong in the final few minutes of the season.
Regular season record: 15-1
Playoff Result: Lost to New York Giants in Divisional playoffs
While the 2014 team at least had a good defense, the 2011 team didn’t; it was the epitome of the “outscore your opponent” philosophy. Coming off a Super Bowl XLV win, Aaron Rodgers and his stellar receiving corps were on fire, with Jordy Nelson continuing his breakout and Jermichael Finley actually playing a full season. Adding in an explosive rookie in Randall Cobb only made things better, and the two-headed tandem of Ryan Grant and James Starks in the backfield was effective, if not exceptional.
But that defense. The 19th-place points ranking was aided strongly by a #1 position in takeaways; the team ended up setting a league record for most yards allowed, giving up more yardage than the offense gained over the regular season. If the offense were to stall out at all, there was little room for error, and four turnovers (three lost fumbles and a pick) against the Giants proved that.
Regular season record: 13-3
Playoff Result: Lost to New York Giants in NFC Championship Game
Brett Favre’s final pass in a Packers uniform will be the indelible image of this team, but it was a really good, balanced squad that finished as the NFC’s second seed. Mike McCarthy, in his second year as head coach, reined in Favre for the most part, while Charles Woodson and Aaron Kampman provided the star power on defense.
The Packers lost to the top-seeded Cowboys in the regular season, but oddly got swept by the 7-9 Bears — including an abysmal 35-7 drubbing in week 16 on the backs of two blocked punts, two Favre picks, and two turnovers on downs. Of course, the Packers had a chance to go play the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl until the Giants — who Green Bay had beaten 35-13 in the Meadowlands in week two — pulled off a 23-20 overtime win.
Regular season record: 13-3
Playoff Result: Lost to Philadelphia Eagles in NFC Divisional playoff
The 2003 team was so much fun. Perhaps the best offensive line in recent memory paved the way for Ahman Green to pick up almost 1,900 yards on the ground. Favre and the passing game were a bit weird though; no receiver reached 750 yards (Javon Walker, with a late-season breakout, came closest at 716). The team turned the ball over a whopping 32 times, however, including five games with at least three giveaways.
Meanwhile, the defense was opportunistic, but overall was just okay. Al Harris’ pick-six off Matt Hasselbeck in the Wild Card round will remain a legendary memory, but the next week saw the Packers lose thanks to 4th and 26 and a gut-wrenching Favre interception in overtime, four years before it would happen again.
Regular season record: 13-3
Playoff Result: Lost to Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII
The second of two straight 13-3 teams with Super Bowl appearances, the Packers didn’t finish #1 in the league in scoring offense and defense like they did the year before, but going 2 and 5 is still a great performance. The Packers even exorcised their demons against the Dallas Cowboys, finally getting to play them in Lambeau Field and running over, around and through them for a 45-17 win in week 13.
Two 1,000-yard receivers, a 1,400-yard running back, and another double-digit sack season from Reggie White showed the star power this team had. But they just couldn’t hold off a sneaky-good Denver team in the big game.
Regular season record: 11-5
Playoff Result: Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Championship Game
The first modern-era team on the list, this was arguably Brett Favre’s finest of his MVP seasons. He put up the best passer rating and the biggest passing yardage total of his Packers career in 1995, with Robert Brooks posting almost 1,500 receiving yards with 13 touchdowns. The team didn’t have a great running game — Edgar Bennett had 1,067 yards on a whopping 316 carries — but the unit still finished sixth in points and seventh in yards, while posting a first-place ranking in fewest giveaways.
The defense kept teams off the board, largely with a strong run defense. Reggie White’s 12 sacks led the team, with bookend Sean Jones posting nine more. It was a solid, deep team that just needed a little bit more playoff seasoning before their breakthrough in 1996.
Regular season record: 10-1
Playoff Result: Lost to Chicago Bears in NFC Divisional playoff
Against teams not named the Bears, the ‘41 Packers were 9-0. However, they split the season series against Chicago — losing 25-17 in Green Bay early and winning in Chicago 16-14 five weeks later — to set up a divisional tiebreaker game. The Bears won that one handily, but the Packers were every bit a title contender.
They finished second in the NFL in points scored and allowed. They led the league in fewest turnovers with 24 and in takeaways with 48 (that’s right, a +24 turnover margin). Back Cecil Isbell was an All-Pro, as was Don Hutson, who led the NFL (as usual) with 58 receptions, 738 yards, and 10 touchdowns. But those pesky Bears shut him down in the playoffs, as he caught just one pass for 19 yards. Still, this was a truly great team, probably the one Lambeau team that deserves includion on this list.
This week, we posted the question of which of these teams was the best to our FanPulse readers. Here’s how the voting broke down:
Now give us your vote below.
Which was the best Packers team to not win a title?
This poll is closed