The Super Bowl has been around for a long time now, but which teams have appeared the most in the big game?
Super Bowl LVII (57) takes place this year on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. We wonder if one of the 10 teams that have appeared in the most Super Bowls, will make a return this year.
If you were born after 1960, it’s probably impossible to remember a time without the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, it’s impressive how much history – heroes, great plays, legendary performances – the game has built over only 56 total contests.
But the NFL is not created equal. Some franchises show up in the Super Bowl over and over, while others would do anything for a single appearance. We take a closer look today at these categories.
Six-Time Super Bowl Champions: New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers
Most modern fans know the Patriots’ story – the team had only two Super Bowl appearances in the first 35 years of the game, both blowout losses.
But starting in 2002 (Super Bowl 36) through 2019 (Super Bowl 53), the Patriots would appear nine times and win the championship on six occasions, cementing the Brady/Belichick era as the NFL’s most fruitful pairing of the Super Bowl era.
The old timers, however, will tell you this doesn’t necessarily make the Patriots the most successful franchise of the era, as the Pittsburgh Steelers ran off four titles in six years in the 1970s, and added two more in the mid/late 2000s to equal the Patriots’ six Super Bowl championships.
We’ll give the Patriots the nod, with their 11 total appearances to the Steelers’ eight. But it’s closer than you might think.
Five-Time Champions: Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers
Up until the past decade, the 49ers had arguably the most impressive Super Bowl record of any franchise.
Sure, five titles leaves them one short of the Patriots and Steelers. But the Niners were a perfect 5-0 in the Super Bowl during the Joe Montana and Steve Young eras.
However, since that time San Francisco has returned to the big stage twice and come away empty. While seven appearances is nothing to sneeze at, the red and gold are 28 years removed from their last championship.
At least they have company in America’s Team, who made the Super Bowl a temporary home for much of the 1970s and the early part of the 1990s. The Cowboys alternated wins and losses before running off three Super Bowls in four years (Super Bowls 27, 28, and 30).
For a while the Cowboys and 49ers led the way with five titles a piece. But three decades of futility allowed the Patriots and Steelers to pass them.
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Four-Time Champions: Green Bay Packers and New York Giants
Green Bay got a nice head start, winning the first two Super Bowls before a 28-year drought ended in Super Bowl 31 in Brett Favre’s only championship. Aaron Rodgers and Mike Holmgren added the franchise’s fourth title at Super Bowl 45 in 2011.
The Packers stand at 4-1 in their Super Bowl history. The only loss came to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 32.
The New York Giants may enjoy the honor for most dramatic Super Bowl victories. Their first win in Super Bowl 21 over Denver was fairly routine, but their next three wins (Super Bowls 25, 42, and 46) all came in the final minute.
Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired in Super Bowl 25, while David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” provided arguably the most famous play in Super Bowl history, upending the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl 42.
Three-Time Champions: Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders
The Denver Broncos win our award for “mixed bag” results. They equal the Cowboys and Steelers and surpass the 49ers with eight total Super Bowl appearances!
But their first four Super Bowls saw the Broncos come away empty, never coming closer than 17 points in any of the four losses.
Denver made up for it in a big way at the end of the 1990s, sending out legendary quarterback John Elway with back-to-back titles in Super Bowls 32 and 33.
Fellow Hall of Famer Peyton Manning came to the Broncos and retired on top in 2016 with a Super Bowl 50 win over the Carolina Panthers.
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The Raiders and Commanders have been away for a while. There have been no appearances for Washington since 1992, or for the Raiders since 2003.
What else do they have in common? No, not just owners who irritate the NFL office! Each team counts three Super Bowl wins among its five appearances.
The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams have each appeared in the big game five times as well, with two wins to each of their credit.
Close But No Cigar: Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings
While several teams have exactly four appearances, we highlight these two franchises who share the ignominious record for Super Bowl appearances without a title.
Poor Minnesota held the record for the ‘almost-dynasty’ for some time. They qualified for four Super Bowls in the 1970s and came away empty each time.
But their place in history was shattered when the Bills improbably made four straight Super Bowls at the start of the 1990s with nary a victory. The losses ranged from cruel (Norwood’s missed field goal meant a one-point loss to the Giants in their first appearance) to the embarrassing (a 52-17 defeat to the Cowboys in Super Bowl 27).
Just Let Us Play!: Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars
We’ve talked about teams that have appeared in the most Super Bowls. So, we’d be remiss not to mention the four franchises to never appear in a Super Bowl.
With less than 30 seasons under their belts, the Jacksonville and Houston absences are somewhat understandable. Although, they’ll want to get to the big game soon to avoid joining their peers in Cleveland and Detroit.
Browns and Lions fans have plenty of reason to hate the very existence of the Super Bowl. In the pre-Super Bowl era, they were among the league’s flagship franchises with four NFL championships apiece.
But Detroit went quiet in 1957, and the Browns followed suit seven years later. The Browns have come tantalizingly close on a few occasions, while the Lions have but one playoff victory to their credit in the past 65 seasons.
Indeed, a Cleveland/Detroit Super Bowl would appear to be the NFL’s “white whale”… but you never know.
Just remember, this time a year ago people were making similar jokes about the Cincinnati Bengals. They went all the way to Super Bowl 56 and came within a field goal of their first championship!
Who Can Break into the Top 10 Teams to Appear in the Super Bowl?
Currently, there are 11 franchises with five or more Super Bowl appearances.
Those with the best chances to crack that threshold and toss the coin in the near future? It’s the easy answer, but it’s the Big 3 in the AFC – the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals!
Strong rosters, successful coaches, and perhaps most importantly in the NFL – young, franchise quarterbacks – link these three AFC stalwarts. If the Bills or Chiefs make it to Glendale, they’ll reach five appearances this year, while the Bengals would move up to four all-time Super Bowl berths.
An NFC favorite? Philadelphia, at three appearances, has been the NFC favorite for much of this season with the league’s deepest roster. If the Eagles can overcome some bad injury luck, they have to be considered the team to beat this year – and they’re set up for years to come thanks to crafty roster management and strong drafting.
Want a sleeper? Jacksonville’s never been to a Super Bowl. But as Buffalo proved in the 1990s, once you get there you tend to enjoy that feeling.
Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and an improving defense carried the Jags into the playoffs as AFC South champions this season. The powers that be in Jacksonville figure to maintain this nucleus for years to come for former Super Bowl champion coach Doug Pederson.
Number of Super Bowl Appearances by NFL Franchise
|TEAM||APPEARANCES||SUPER BOWL TITLES|
|New England Patriots||11||6|
|Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos||8||Steelers: 6|
|San Francisco 49ers||7||5|
|Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins||5||Packers, Giants: 4|
Raiders, Commanders: 3
Rams, Dolphins: 2
|Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings||4||Colts, Chiefs: 2 Bills, Vikings: 0|
|Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals||3||Eagles, Seahawks: 1|
|Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers||2||Ravens, Buccaneers: 2|
Bears: 1 Falcons, Panthers: 0
|New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans||1||Saints, Jets: 1|
Cardinals, Chargers, Titans: 0
|Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars||Never||None|