In a new special series, I’ll be ranking each major professional sports franchise (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, etc.) in each of the states with at least two teams.
The teams will be ranked by the amount of success they’ve had in their current market, not accounting for previous locations of the franchise. However, if the team played in a different league but still played in its current home state, those records will contribute to the rankings.
Any playoff or tournament appearances, wild card berths, division titles, conference/league titles, major championships, and the franchise’s single-season wins/points records are accounted for, as well as the overall success of the team and certain eras of its history.
Next up is the state of Georgia, home of the NBA’s Hawks, NFL’s Falcons, MLB’s Braves, WNBA’s Dream, and MLS side Atlanta United.
No. 5 — Falcons (est. 1966)
- 14 playoff appearances
- 6 division titles (4 NFC South, 2 NFC West)
- 2 NFC titles
- Franchise-best record – 14-2 in 1998
Atlanta’s NFL franchise for over 50 years, consistent winning has been hard to come by for the Falcons.
It took 13 years for the Falcons to first reach the playoffs (1978) before winning the NFC West title in 1980. After a playoff appearance in 1982, Atlanta didn’t reach the postseason again until the early ’90s (1991).
The Falcons first won the NFC and reached the Super Bowl in 1998 before Michael Vick led the team to the playoffs twice in a three-year span from 2002-04.
The most successful era in team history came with Matt Ryan at quarterback from 2008-21. During Ryan’s tenure, the Falcons reached the playoffs six times in 10 seasons from 2008-17, winning three NFC South titles and returning to the Super Bowl as NFC champions in 2016.
NFL: Atlanta Falcons QB Matt ‘Matty Ice’ Ryan named 2016 MVP
No. 4 — Dream (est. 2008)
- 8 playoff appearances
- 3 Eastern Conference titles
- Franchise-best record – 23-11 in 2018
While they have missed the playoffs each of the last four seasons, the Dream have qualified for the postseason for half of the team’s existence.
It took just three years for the Dream to reach the WNBA Finals (2010), which they followed up with two more appearances in the next three seasons (2011, 2013).
Most recently, Atlanta last made the playoffs in 2018 while setting the single-season franchise wins record (23).
No. 3 — Hawks (est. 1946, relocated 1968)
- 35 playoff appearances
- 6 division titles (3 Central, 2 Southeast, 1969-70 Western)
- Franchise-best record – 60-22 in 2014-15
Playing in St. Louis before moving to Atlanta in 1968, the Hawks have a history of being a solid team, but one that can never quite get over the hump to win a title.
The Hawks made the playoffs during their first five years in the Peach State, winning the Western Division during the 1969-70 season.
After four seasons without playoff basketball, the Hawks reached the playoffs again during the 1977-78 campaign, starting a run of 18 postseason appearances in the next 22 seasons. While Atlanta won three division titles during the run, they were never able to make it past the conference semifinals.
Following the 1998-99 season, the Hawks went through an eight-season playoff drought, not making the postseason until 2007-08. That playoff berth set off a run of 10 straight through the 2016-17 campaign, thanks to the contributions of all-stars Al Horford, Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Korver. The run was highlighted by a memorable 2014-15 season, where the Hawks won a franchise record 60 games, the Southeast Division, and reached the conference finals for the first time in the Atlanta era.
The Hawks are now led by dynamic guard Trae Young and have reached the playoffs the last two seasons while winning the Southeast Division and making a return to the conference finals during the 2020-21 campaign.
No. 2 — Atlanta United (est. 2017)
- 4 playoff appearances
- 3 CONCACAF Champions League berths
- 2018 Eastern Conference title
- 2018 MLS Cup champions
- 2019 U.S. Open Cup champions
- 2019 Campeones Cup champions
In just its sixth year of existence, Atlanta United has left its mark in Georgia sports history.
After reaching the playoffs during the club’s inaugural campaign, United ran all the way through the postseason in 2018, winning the MLS Cup in just two years.
A return to the playoffs followed in 2019, as did a first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League. Atlanta United added two more pieces of silverware during the season, winning the Campeones Cup and the U.S. Open Cup titles.
After missing the postseason for the first time in 2020, Atlanta returned to both the playoffs and the CCL in 2021.
No. 1 — Braves (est. 1871, relocated 1966)
- 2 NL Wild Card berths
- 21 division titles (16 NL East, 5 NL West)
- 6 NL pennants
- 2 World Series championships
Moving to Atlanta from Milwaukee in 1966, it took just four seasons for the Braves to first reach the postseason in 1969.
After only making the playoffs once during the next two decades (1981), Atlanta returned to the postseason in 1991. Winning the NL pennant, the Braves fell in seven games against Minnesota in what is considered the greatest World Series of all time.
They didn’t stop there though, returning to the World Series in 1992 and winning a third-straight NL West title in 1993 after acquiring pitcher Greg Maddux before a strike ended the 1994 season early.
The Braves returned with a vengeance in 1995, winning the franchise’s first World Series title since 1957 by defeating the Cleveland Indians. Atlanta added 10 more consecutive NL East titles until 2005, adding NL pennants during the 1996 and 1999 seasons. The era was highlighted by stars such as Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and manager Bobby Cox.
After an unusual four-year postseason absence, Atlanta returned to the playoffs via a wild card berth in 2010. After an off year, the Braves reached the playoffs again in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Another four-year drought followed before the Braves – led by Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and rookie sensation Ronald Acuña Jr. – won the NL East title in 2018.
Winning division titles in 2019 and 2020, the Braves finally put it all together in 2021. After claiming the NL East with just 88 wins, Atlanta rode Freeman and postseason heroes Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler to series wins over the Brewers and Dodgers to win the NL pennant. The Braves then clinched the 2021 World Series championship with a six-game series victory over the Houston Astros to end a 26-year title drought.
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2021 World Series: Atlanta Braves Beat Houston Astros, Win First Title In 26 years