Reaching 57 Super Bowls played wasn’t what the founders of the game likely envisioned. The league will celebrate another chapter in the storied game’s history when the NFL hosts Super Bowl LVII this winter at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. But if you’re looking for a good Super Bowl bet, the news shows that not every franchise has been able to bathe in the glory of being on the big stage.
Here’s a look at the four teams that have never made it to the big dance and the closest calls they’ve had since the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Lions, founded in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1929 as the Spartans, relocated to Detroit in 1934. Detroit was a reasonably successful team in the pre-merger days. The Lions won four NFL championships — in 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957 — and were generally regarded as a tough team to play against.
However, since the AFL and NFL merged, the Lions don’t have much to hang their hats on. Detroit has only made the playoffs 12 times since 1970 and won only one playoff game. The Lions played the then-Washington Redskins in their only NFC Championship game in 1991 but were soundly defeated 41-10.
Detroit has yet to win a playoff game since pounding the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 in 1991. The Lions went 12-4 that season under Waynes Fontes. Since then, Detroit has struggled to find a signal caller to have success with them. One of the Lions’ first-round picks at the position, quarterback Matthew Stafford would lead the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl championship.
The Browns were one of the most successful franchises from 1946 until the mid-1960s. Cleveland won four All-American Football Conference championships before moving to the NFL and winning four more titles in the 1950s. The Browns remained one of the league’s most competitive teams during the 1970s and ’80s.
Cleveland almost represented the NFL in Super Bowl IV but lost in the NFL championship game. In the 1980s, the Browns had a stretch where they went to the AFC championship game three times in four years but were turned away by the Broncos.
The 1990s were rough for Cleveland. The city lost the team in 1995 when owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. The Brown came back into the league as an expansion in 1999. Cleveland has been a mess since, only making the playoffs twice.
The Jaguars came into the league as an expansion team in 1995 and have wild swings in their quality. Jacksonville has had seasons where it was among the best teams in the league. Those years have been sandwiched around seasons of pure ineptitude.
Jacksonville has made the AFC Championship three times, including a heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in 2017. The Jaguars’ best team was in 1991. Jacksonville went 14-2 and reached the AFC championship game before losing to the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans handed Jacksonville all three of their losses that season. The Jaguars are once again rebuilding with young quarterback Trevor Lawrence and hope he can take them deep into the playoffs and, of course,, be part of the odds to win the super bowl.
The Texans entered the league as an expansion team in 2002. It would take Houston nine seasons to make the playoffs for the first time. The Texans had success between 2011 and 2019, winning their division six times to make the playoffs. However, Houston’s playoff experience has been tough, to say the least.
The Texans have yet to pay in an AFC Championship. Houston seemed to be on the verge of going to the AFC title game in 2019, which was the Texans’ last playoff trip. The Texans jumped to a 21-0 first-quarter lead on Kansas City. Super Bowl betting was great for the Texans fans that year.
However, Houston melted down in the first half. The Texans would give up 28 points in the second quarter, and Houston would eventually pull away for a 51-31 blowout win.