Pro sports is a way of life in Philadelphia. Sure, that can be said about every major city in the United States. And yet, Philly is unique.
For starters, the sheer size of it matters a great deal. They have the fifth-biggest sports TV market in the country, trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Along with Dallas, these are considered the five flagship markets.
Philadelphia’s case is further boosted by the legalization of sports betting in Pennsylvania. That is an organic way to drive popularity, and it is in the minority of major markets who allow it. Not even the coronavirus pandemic could slow the interest in the casino and sports industries.
Most importantly, though, Philadelphia houses major franchises across all of North America’s four main sports: The Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), Philadelphia 76ers (basketball) and Philadelphia Eagles (NFL). This in itself creates a hugely engaged fanbase.
But how well positioned are these franchises for the immediate future? Put another way, which Philadelphia sports squad is most likely to win their next championship first?
We’re so glad you asked. And we’ve ranked all four options.
4. Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
In all honesty, the Phillies are not Philadelphia’s worst pro sports team. That honor belongs to the Eagles at this point, as they begin their rebuilding process.
But making the playoffs in Major League Baseball is ridiculously difficult, and the Phillies’ job is made harder by their division. The NL East includes both the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves—two of MLB’s top-10 World Series contenders.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have a ton of young up-and-comers. They’re in this weird spot where many of their position players are between 27 and their early 30s. It could be a while before they’re a World Series threat again.
On the bright side, at least they have Bryce Harper.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)
The immediate future for the Eagles is murkier than ever after they traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. Teams need elite QBs to establish themselves as a Super Bowl force in the NFL. That position is now the Eagles’ most unsettled.
Indeed, they have Jalen Hurts to take the reins under center. But they don’t know enough about his NFL capabilities to declare him the face of the future. They might even trade up in the 2021 NFL draft to select a quarterback.
Until that position is resolved, the Eagles have a case to be ranked last among this quartet. We’re electing against it solely because the NFC East division remains incredibly weak, which at least gives the Eagles a feasible path to the playoffs every year.
2. Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Despite their defensive struggles during the 2021 season, the Flyers remain a top-10 NHL team by most metrics and virtual shoo-ins for a playoff spot. Getting to the postseason is half the battle in hockey, a sport in which best-of-seven upsets run rampant.
Still, the Flyers need to see more from their youngster between the posts, Carter Hart, if they want to contend for the No. 1 spot on this list. The 22-year-old has struggled in recent weeks, posting a save percentage well south of 90.
Not all of that is on him. The Flyers need to do a better job of limiting wide-open attempts closer to the net. But either way you slice it, the number of goals they’re allowing is a little troubling.
1. Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
Few people could have predicted the Sixers ranking here a half-decade ago. They were the authors of the NBA’s most aggressive tank, and their two primary cornerstones, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, were neither portraits of good health nor good fits beside one another.
Both the health and fit issues endure to this day. But Embiid and Simmons have developed into Defensive Player of the Year candidates. And Embiid specifically might be the favorite to win MVP this season.
Anytime you can partner two superstars with a reasonable amount of depth, you’re in great shape. The Sixers have a trade or two they need to make on the margins, but they are the only sports team out of Philly we consider a real threat to win a title this calendar year.