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August 07, 2023

Ranking the best NFL team names

Which NFL franchise has the best team name? We rank all 32.

Eagles NFL
Jalen-Hurts-Black-Uniforms-Jersey-Giants-Eagles Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts before an Eagles-Giants game in 2021.

After last week's Hall of Fame Game, we're days away from the 2023 NFL preseason kicking off in earnest. Before the Eagles begin their pursuit of Lombardi Trophy, I want to have some fun with the world of football. The NFL is the most tense of all the American sports leagues, so maybe taking it easy for a second before people go wild in the months to come is fitting. 

I'm going to rank the best team names in the sport. This is not a list of the best, most talented teams overall. It's just a ranking of how cool a given franchise's name is, how it speaks to the region, its history, whether it's iconic and, simply, its appeal. As this week goes on, I will be ranking the best logos and best uniforms, too.

Anyway, let's get after it. I will give a quick take after each name...

1. Raiders

Effortlessly cool. 

2. 49ers

As evident by these top-two choices, the Bay Area got this stuff right. 

3. Steelers

One of the sport's most famed franchises that has strong cultural ties to the working class of Western Pennsylvania. I am on board with Philadelphians hating everything related to Pittsburgh, but I can't help but respect this. 

4. Buccaneers 

These pirate-themed names are just badass. I can't explain it. You understand it though. 

5. Eagles

The Eagles are named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's National Industrial Recovery Act, which had an eagle as its mascot. They're the real America's Team. Sorry, Dallas!

6. Ravens

A fantastic nod to Edgar Allan Poe's most famous tale, but I maintain that Poe is way more of a Philly guy than a Baltimore guy. 

7. Packers

The former Acme Packing Company owned the Packers and gave them their namesake. It's a unique name, one completely tied to the earliest roots of professional football. 

8. Chargers

An intense, abstract name that also includes a great nickname with the "Bolts."

9. Seahawks

"Seahawks" is a perfect fit for the Pacific Northwest. 

10. Browns

A team named after a guy shouldn't work this well, but it does, even for an organization as eternally hopelessly as Cleveland. 

11. Broncos

It conjures up visions of a band of horses about to stampede your ass.

12. Bills

"Buffalo Bills" rolls off the tongue and has me ready to jump through a table. 

13. Bears

The Bears are the oldest of old-school teams. They are the lone team from the NFL's founding to still reside in its original city. If the Bears were actually consistently good at some point in the last four decades, they might have a more iconic shine that could've leapt them up on this list. They will rank highly when it comes to logos and uniforms. 

14. Vikings

A name with strong regional ties is always a good call. The viking horn they blast at Minnesota home games, however, is horrendous. 

15. Bengals

The best of the "big cat" team names. 

16. Patriots

It works given the historical significance of Massachusetts and the New England region as a whole. 

17. Giants 

It's fine. 

18. Rams

Also fine. It reminds of George Costanza's patented "Not showing off. Not falling behind" statement. 

19. Lions

"The Lions? Like the animal? From the circus? They were playing a game? I'm just trying to understand here."

20. Jets

It's hilarious that a team named the "Jets" might have the worst aerial offense of any NFL franchise ever. 

21. Jaguars

The 1995 expansion teams in Jacksonville and Carolina both had underwhelming names. Jaguars > Panthers though. That sounds more fearsome. 

22. Falcons

This makes for a great 2A high school football team name. An NFL squad though? Nope. 

23. Dolphins

Who's intimidated by this?

24. Cardinals

The Cardinals were formerly in St. Louis. For decades, there was a St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and a St. Louis Cardinals football team. Weird. The franchise should've changed its name upon its move out West to rid themselves of those dorky vibes. 

25. Texans

The team is based in Texas? Great, thanks. We're already aware. 

26. Saints

Just leaving this here!

27. Cowboys


28. Titans

Nothing says Greek mythology like honky-tonk bars and annoying country music in Nashville! 

29. Panthers

Uniforms were maximalist in the '90s, but why were the expansion team names from that era so blasé?

30. Colts

This makes no sense for Indiana because it was meant for Baltimore and the city's Preakness Stakes horse race.

31. Chiefs

Kind of bad!

32. Commanders

It's a "Madden NFL 06" computer-generated name. It'll end up lasting just two years before Joshua Harris and Washington's new ownership group changes it again next season. Four names in under a decade? What a disaster organization. Maybe they'll opt for something that's less akin to an Arena Football League name. 

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