The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are not only bitter AFC North rivals who regularly duke it out for division supremacy, but they're also two of the most successful franchises in recent NFL history.
Both organizations are considered top notch at every level, and few franchises have earned more respect from their peers over the last two decades. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are considered model organizations, not only in football but across all of professional sports.
Both have been overshadowed by the Patriots' 20-year dynasty, as all other NFL teams have been. But is there a case to be made that the Ravens and Steelers are the second and third-most successful franchises in the league behind only New England?
Let's take a look at how they stack up in a few key categories.
When evaluating the success of NFL franchises, it makes sense to start at the top with Super Bowl rings. This is the ultimate goal of every player and every team, so if you haven't won a single title since 2000, it doesn't make sense to consider your level of success.
The Patriots lead the way here, as they do in most categories, but the Ravens and Steelers show up well too. Those two, along with the Giants, are the only other teams with multiple titles in the last 20 years. That automatically gives them a leg up on the rest of the competition.
And it's fair to wonder how many more championships the Ravens and Steelers might have won if the Patriots hadn't consistently been in their way in the same conference. The Patriots have played in a ridiculous 13 conference championship games, while the Steelers and Ravens are second and third in the AFC at just six and four, respectively.
The Colts, Saints, Packers, Seahawks, Broncos, Eagles, Chiefs and Buccaneers are the other eight teams with one title.
You can't win the Super Bowl if you don't make the postseason, and once you're into January, anything can happen. This makes postseason appearances another strong way to evaluate franchise success.
The Ravens and Steelers have both done well here, though not as well as one might have thought. The two franchises have cannibalized each other in the AFC North each year, which has cost the other a few playoff berths over the years. Still they've both reached January 12 times, tied for the sixth-most in the NFL. And they are the only two division rivals to both have double-digit appearances.
The Seahawks, Eagles, Colts and Packers, each with 13 or 14, are the only other teams - besides the Patriots, who again lead the NFL - ahead of the Ravens and Steelers.
Getting to the postseason is one thing, but each team enters every season with one regular season goal first and foremost - winning their division.
Once more, the Ravens and Steelers have primarily gotten in each others' way, combining for 14 of the AFC North's 18 titles since divisional realignment in 2002 (the Steelers won the final AFC Central title, giving them an extra division championship).
Yet again, the Ravens and Steelers are the only division opponents to both rank so highly on this list, and again, it's fair to wonder how much higher these numbers would be if they weren't facing each other twice a year.
The same group - Packers, Colts, Eagles and Seahawks - rank ahead of the Ravens, in addition to the Saints as well.
Once you're in the postseason, you have to take advantage of the opportunity and actually win games.
The Steelers and Ravens once again tie each other in this category. Not only have they both won exactly 15 games, but they've each lost exactly 10 as well. Their .600 winning percentage is tied for third-best in the NFL among teams with at least 15 postseason games played, behind only the Patriots (unsurprisingly) and the Giants (surprisingly).
The Patriots actually have 30 playoff win, or twice as many as any other NFL franchise, further cementing their dominance at the top.
While postseason performances can be somewhat fluky in small sample sizes, regular-season success is a bigger sign of consistent quality. Both the Ravens and Steelers do well here as well, with Pittsburgh the only non-Patriots team to win at least 200 games from 2000 to 2019, and the Ravens a few slots behind with 190.
The Eagles, Packers and Colts are the three teams separating Baltimore and Pittsburgh in these rankings. And the Seahawks, the other team consistently showing up in these rankings, are a bit further behind at 182.
While it's probably fair to assume guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Terrell Suggs are headed to Canton one day representing the Ravens and Steelers, it doesn't make sense to use Hall of Famers to evaluate a franchise's star power considering so many potential enshrinees from this era aren't yet eligible. Let's us something more concrete - First-Team All-Pro selections.
Not only are Pittsburgh and Baltimore first and second in the NFL in this category, but nobody else is really all that close. Third in the NFL is a tie between the Patriots and Seahawks at 23, followed by the Eagles and Colts at 22 and 20. There's a wide gap before you get to the other upper echelon franchise (Packers) all the way down at nine.
The most important part of team building, and the area in which Baltimore and Pittsburgh most pride themselves, is in the draft. And both franchises have excelled here.
The Ravens have drafted the most Pro Bowl players in the NFL since 2000 with 26, a sign of the scouting eye for Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta. They are followed by the Packers (24), Seahawks (23), Saints (21) and Steelers (20).
Your mileage may vary on how to value each of these categories, but to quantify our rankings we'll calculate the scores for each team in each of these categories. It's clear from the names at the top that not every Super Bowl winner has enjoyed the same level of success, so we'll limit our teams to the Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Packers, Colts, Seahawks, Eagles and Saints.
Each team will be ranked in the seven categories, with first-place receiving eight points, second-place receiving seven, and so on down. And as the standard-bearers for success, the Super Bowl, playoff appearances and regular season wins categories will be weighted more heavily than the others.
1. Patriots - 81 2. Steelers - 66 3. Ravens - 56 4. Packers - 56 5. Colts - 52 6. Eagles - 47 7. Seahawks - 43 8. Saints - 26
No surprise at the top, with the Patriots finishing in a distant first-place in our rankings. And it's not too shocking to see Pittsburgh come in a comfortable second place. The Ravens and Packers are tied for third, followed by the Colts, Eagles and Seahawks, before a wide gap brings the Saints in eighth.
Clearly, the Ravens' and Steelers' consistent, high-quality performances year in and year out are both among the most successful in the NFL this century with only a few teams matching them for the past two decades and now into a third.
These are all terrific franchises, the best the NFL has had to offer since 2000. And based on these categories, it's clear that the Ravens and Steelers have, in fact, been every bit as good as it gets behind the Patriots for 20 years and counting.