Yesterday, we released articles naming the most overrated player in the history of each NFL franchise. People weren’t happy about it, so we decided to turn around and named the most underrated player in the history of each team! This is the NFC edition!
The Most Underrated Player in the History of Each NFL Team: AFC Edition
The Baltimore Ravens- Jamal Lewis
This is where I get on my soap box. Terrell Davis is getting into the Hall of Fame because he had a 2,000 yard season that helped his team win a Super Bowl. That’s fine, I get that. But uh, where’s the bust for Jamal Lewis? It’s true that he only played for nine seasons, but in one of those seasons, he had 2,000 yards… and he helped his team win the Super Bowl a couple of years before. And he didn’t have what Denver had, he had Trent Dilfer. Trent. Dilfer.
The Pittsburgh Steelers- Hines Ward
Remember Hines Ward? Because many people seem to have forgotten him. He played during a time when the passing game was exploding. He was an afterthought when the likes of Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and others were tearing the NFL apart. However, Ward is Pittsburgh’s all-time leader in every receiving category and he helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls. He was a staple of the Bill Cowher Steelers, and someone that deserves more credit that he gets.
The Cleveland Browns- Joe Thomas
This might seem ridiculous, but it’s absolutely true. Joe Thomas might be one of the most respected players in the NFL, coming in as a rookie, playing at an All-Pro level, for a decade without missing a game. He’s never sniffed the playoffs but he’s been an absolute monster for the Browns. He’s the best offensive lineman I’ve ever seen, and no matter how much respect he gets, it’s not enough.
The Cincinnati Bengals- Ken Anderson
Duh. I mean, really, Ken Anderson is “the” underrated quarterback. He’s probably the best quarterback that isn’t in the Hall of Fame, and his numbers back that up. There are 19 quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame that threw for less yards than Anderson and 15 with fewer passing touchdowns. It’s almost as if being coached by Bill Walsh is held against him, which just isn’t fair as he’s easily the best quarterback in franchise history.
The Indianapolis Colts- Jeff Saturday
Jeff Saturday deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s almost impossible for centers to get into Canton, but it’ll be a shame if Saturday doesn’t get a bust before too long. Undersized, Saturday was undrafted coming out of college. Instead of withering away into free agency, he became one of the best pass-blocking centers in recent memory. He and Peyton Manning formed a duo that was arguably more iconic than the one he shared with Marvin Harrison. Without Jeff Saturday, we may not have Peyton Manning. I mean, we probably would, but hey.
The Tennessee Titans- Eddie George
Eddie George, like Jamal Lewis and the next player on this list, suffer from being overshadowed by the explosion of the passing game. George had arguably the best five-year run in the history of running backs, earning at least 1,294 yards in each season, highlighted by the 2000 season, where he had 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was a beast, and it’s a shame that he’s remembered for giving up a pick to Ray Lewis in the playoffs.
The Jacksonville Jaguars- Fred Taylor
See? I wasn’t lying. Fred Taylor was an absolute beast. He was a big back, but he could still run a 4.4 40 yard dash. He was a monster for the Jaguars, even though his numbers didn’t always back it up. When he eventually teamed up with Maurice Jones-Drew, the duo dominated the NFL, including a game against the Colts where the duo rushed for 375 yards. 375 yards is a big passing game, but on the ground? It’s hard to believe the Colts won the Super Bowl that year.
The Houston Texans- Arian Foster
The problem with picking the most underrated player in Texans history is that they’re so young. They haven’t had as many players yet, and it’s hard to pick the best underrated guy without cheating and saying Andre Johnson or J.J. Watt. So I decided to go with Arian Foster. Do you remember how great Arian Foster was? He was undrafted, but he absolutely wrecked the league with the Texans. If he had been able to stay healthy, he probably could’ve been one of the all-time greats.
The New England Patriots- Ty Law
Ty Law was Peyton Manning’s worst nightmare. This guy made a career off of picking off perfect Peyton. But he played a huge role for the New England Patriots during the beginning of their heyday. Believe it or not, Tom Brady wasn’t always the greatest of all-time, at the beginning, he did need some help from the defense.
The New York Jets- Mark Gastineau
Mark Gastineau is one of those guys that history has completely forgotten. He is New York’s all-time leading sacker, and that’s even with the first three years of his career occurring before they recorded quarterback takedowns. History has forgotten the pass rusher, even though he was part of a pass rush called the New York Sack Exchange. Just awesome.
The Buffalo Bills- Aaron Schobel
Unless you’re a fan of the Buffalo Bills, you’ve probably never heard of Aaron Schobel. He was a reliably consistent pass rusher, even when the team was absolutely garbage. Only Bruce Smith, who holds all the sack records, has brought the quarterback down more in a Bills jersey, and he didn’t even need a $100,000,000 contract to do so.
The Miami Dolphins- Zach Thomas
Zach Thomas is just another one of those guys that was overshadowed by better linebackers and a good supporting cast. A lot of people remember the likes of Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher from this time period, but Zach Thomas was a very good, very reliable linebacker for a decade. His teammate, Jason Taylor got all the credit, but Thomas is a guy that should be remembered as well.
The Oakland Raiders- Cliff Branch
Let’s just name a few of the receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with fewer touchdown catches than Cliff Branch, shall we? Michael Irvin, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, and Charlie Joiner. Cliff Branch defined speed kills, but he’s still absent from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What a joke. If only he made a flash catch in a big game, right Swann?
The Kansas City Chiefs- The ’69 Defense
Is this cheating? Perhaps. This list is about players, and I picked an entire squad. I could’ve picked offensive lineman, Brian Waters, that helped pave the way for overrated rushers like Priest Holmes or Larry Johnson, but instead I decided to give props to a legendary defense that we’ve forgotten about. They suffocated opposing offenses with a defense that featured five future hall of famers. It’s a shame that stats are still relatively new or we might be talking about how they’re better than the 85 bears.
The Los Angeles Chargers- Philip Rivers
Come on, really? Philip Rivers is still playing, and if anything, he’s overrated. Right? Actually wrong. Rivers has consistently been one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, even when the Chargers haven’t been one of the NFL’s best teams. Rivers has thrown for 4,000 yards in eight of the last nine seasons, and has five seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes.
The Denver Broncos- John Elway
God help me, I’m talking about how underrated John Elway is. Phew. But it’s true. In fact, it’s only because everyone says that he’s overrated that he’s underrated. I called Archie Manning overrated because he failed to make a big impact with little help around him, but that’s exactly what Elway did at first. Eventually he got the help he deserved and the Donkey- I mean Broncos won two Super Bowls.
So? What do you think? Did we miss anyone? Are a few of these guys actually overrated? Let us know in the comment section below! That was the AFC version of the underrated list. Be sure to check out the NFC version of the list as well.