NFL division-by-division point differentials for past decade plus

Tom Brady's done pretty well in terms of point differential.
Tom Brady's done pretty well in terms of point differential. (USATSI)

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While digging back through the last decade of data for NFL Draft trade purposes, I happened to tally up the Cleveland Browns ’ point differential since they returned to Cleveland in 1999. It was a stunning negative 1,399.

After tweeting about it, I received a few requests for other teams. So, here we are.

No shocker, but better football teams score more points! I was mostly curious about how teams performed over five-year windows. Specifically, the last five years, the last decade and then the last 15 years.

What follows is a chart of each division and should give a snapshot of each team’s various success over those stretches.

As always, click on the graphs to embiggen.

AFC East

Utter complete dominance by the New England Patriots since Bill Belichick arrived basically (this includes the final -10 year of Pete Carroll’s run). The 10-year number (1,632 points) is incredible: the Patriots averaged a positive 163.2-point differential for a freaking decade.

The New York Jets are so decidedly average aren’t they? Even though they managed two trips to the AFC Championship Game recently, they weren’t dominant by any stretch. It really speaks to a lack of offense more than anything I think.

AFC North

The Browns are not very good: they’ve played 240 football games the last 15 years and lost those by a total of 1,399 points. Getting outscored by 5.83 points per game over a 15-year span? Truly special.

Marvin Lewis doesn’t get much credit for his coaching because of issues involving challenges and his 0-fer playoff record. But look at the turnaround he engineered with the Cincinnati Bengals . They were the laughingstock of the NFL when he took over in 2003. Cincy’s a consistent contender with a strong track record over the last five years now.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh are bastions of consistency and smart team building, although it’s interesting the rivalry favoring the Baltimore Ravens over the last five years after Pittsburgh predominantly dominating.  

AFC South

Look just how TERRIBLE the Jacksonville Jaguars are over the past five years. -633! It’s the worst point differential of any NFL team over the last five years.

You’re probably confused by the Indianapolis Colts -6 point differential considering they went to the playoffs in four of those five years. But they finished 2011 with a negative point differential and in 2010 were an NFL-worst -187.

The Houston Texans -547 is a bit misleading: that final “five years” is actually only two years since Houston became an expansion team in 2002. Those first two years were rough.

AFC West

The Denver Broncos ’ point differential for 2013 (207) was higher than the Broncos’ five-year total point differential (193), and 2012 (192) was just a single point behind. That’s a) how good they’ve been with Peyton Manning and b) how not good they were before.

The Oakland Raiders ’ 10-year -1120 number is really, really impressive. That is an even, exact 7-point loss per game over the past decade.

Marty Schottenheimer’s strong final three years (+133, +106, +189) are the base for San Diego’s big green number. San Diego's really, really succeeded in the point differential department over the past decade and a half.

NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys are almost so perfectly average over the last 15 years -- literally one point above average per year -- it brings joy to my heart.

People forget just how dominant Andy Reid’s run with the Philadelphia Eagles really was. 2012 (-164) was a debacle but it was one of just three seasons with negative point differentials for Reid during his run in Philly.

The New York Giants are a perfect representation of winning a Super Bowl in today’s NFL. They finished a +22 point differential and 10 wins in 2007 and a -6 point differential and 9 wins in 2011.

NFC North

Need further proof having a franchise quarterback is good? Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre helped the Green Bay Packers to their dominant numbers.

If Jim Schwartz should be remembered for anything, it’s pulling the Detroit Lions out of the most horrific tailspin we’ve seen in the NFL in a long time. Detroit didn’t suddenly get “good” but they are competitive. The incline into the 15-year point differential is eye-popping.

NFC South

The dropoff after Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl was/is steep.

Everything about Carolina’s numbers are skewed by a miserable 2010 season (-212), although they didn't post many "dominant" seasons even when good, largely because of being a defense-first team. 

Give Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis (and, duh, Drew Brees ) credit for what they’ve accomplished over the past five years in New Orleans. Were it not for BountyGate, New Orleans would have an even more impressive bump over the past half decade.

Likewise for Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff. People forget just how horrible of shape the Atlanta Falcons were in when they took over. Bobby Petrino bolted midseason (and in the middle of the night) for Arkansas when Michael Vick went away. 

NFC West

The NFC West is the best conference in the NFL … now. In case you forgot, it hasn’t always been that way.

The St. Louis Rams -1,140 is the NFL’s worst for any team over the last 10 years.

The Arizona Cardinals flirted with the worst 15-year point differential. Clearly Kurt Warner’s time there helped them, as does the currently improved roster. From 1999-2003 (before Denny Green got to Arizona), the Cards averaged -160 points per year. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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