The Ultimate Ranking: Top 15 Greatest NFL Teams of All Time
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If you are a National Football League (NFL) fan, you might have a question: Who are the greatest NFL teams of all time? There will always be disagreement about what is the best in NFL history.
There is no fair or sensible way to compare NFL football teams from many decades. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that the 2018 Arizona Cardinals, who were the worst team in the league before Kyler Murray got there, would make the 1920 Akron Pros look like weekend warriors if they were on the same field.
So, because the game and players have changed over time, the modern game was given more weight and thought. For example, you’ll notice that all 53 Super Bowl champions are on the list, but many of the NFL and NBA champions AFLs before 1966 were not.
Metrics like titles won, victories, point differentials, and so on, which are similar across generations, were used. Still, there was also a lot of room for opinion and art in the end analysis. Still, let’s look Top 15 Greatest NFL Teams of All Time.
Top 15 Greatest NFL Teams of All Time
As we delve into the rankings and explore the stories behind each team, we pay homage to these football juggernauts that have shaped the NFL landscape. Read below as we relive the glory days and celebrate the greatest NFL teams’ enduring legacies.
1. 1985 Bears (Won Super Bowl XX)
The toughest debate was whether the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 1984 San Francisco 49ers were the greatest NFL teams ever. The Bears scored 32.4% more points than average and gave up 42.5% less. The 49ers, on the other hand, had a score of 73.1% in this area, but their score was a bit more skewed toward offensive dominance (40%) than defensive dominance (33.1%).
The Bears’ defense also caused 54 mistakes and let the other team score only 12.4 points per game. There were three first-team All-Pros and five Pro Bowlers on that defense. Overall, five first-team All-Pros and nine Pro Bowlers came from the team. But the 1985 Bears beat the 1984 49ers because they played better teams. The 49ers’ SOS was -2.75, while the Bears’ was -0.19. They were doing the Super Bowl Shuffle, and Walter Payton was trying to get his fifth and last All-Pro pick by doing two things at once.
2. The 1984 49ers (Won Super Bowl XIX)
The 1984 49ers didn’t have the same energy as the 1985 Bears, and given their history with that Chicago team, they might not owe them anything. It’s also hard to pick out one of the great Bill Walsh-Joe Montana San Francisco teams that ruled in the 1980s. This group was different, though.
The Niners were the first team to win 15 regular-season games by an average of nearly 17 points. Chicago did the same thing a year later, but the Niners and Bears are still the only teams to finish 18-1 and win rings. Before beating Marino’s best Dolphins team 38-16 in the Super Bowl, the 49ers beat the Giants and Bears in the NFC playoffs by a total score of 44-10.
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3. 1962 Packers (Won NFL title)
“The 1962 Packers” started the season by winning four games by a total score of 109-14. Then they got famous. In 14 regular-season games, the Packers caused 50 turnovers. Every game, they ran for 175.7 yards. They won by scores of 49-0 twice. In one of these games, they had more yards than the Eagles (628 to 54).
These are the best of the best Packers teams: Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor (pictured), Jim Ringo, Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderly, and the rest at the top of their games. They were the defending winners going into the 1962 season. On Thanksgiving, they were beaten by the Lions, whose defense was full of future Hall of Famers. They defended their title against the Giants with a 16-7 win at Yankee Stadium.
4. 1989 49ers (Won Super Bowl XXIV)
After winning the Super Bowl 55–10, there was no doubt that the 1989 San Francisco 49ers would be remembered as one of the greatest NFL teams of all time. With that Super Bowl win, the 49ers finished playoffs, beating their three opponents by 126 points to 26. The 49ers went 14-2 during the regular season, so these games were meant to be against the best teams.
With help from fellow Pro Bowlers Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, and John Taylor, Joe Montana had one of the best seasons of any quarterback ever. During the regular season, San Francisco’s two losses were by five points, while 10 of their 14 wins were by at least ten points. They were so good that few teams could keep up with them. This is why they deserve to be called one of the best.
5. 1972 Dolphins (Won Super Bowl VII)
Yes, the 1972 Dolphins are still the only team to win a Super Bowl without losing a game (17-0), and no one can argue against “perfection.” But it is also a vague statement. All three of Miami’s playoff games were won by 17 points. He also took advantage of the fact that only two of the teams he played during the regular season had good records (both averaged 8-6). This isn’t meant to take away from the Dolphins and their “Defense Without a Name,” which includes Don Shula, the NFL coach with the most wins.
But context is important, and it seems like a sacrifice to put the 1972 Dolphins ahead of teams from the 1970s like Pittsburgh, Dallas, and even Oakland, not to mention teams already on this list. Definitely a special group, but not the most special.
6. 1991 Redskins (Won Super Bowl XXVI)
Fans rarely talk about the 1991 Redskins when they talk about the greatest NFL teams of all time. But when Football Outsiders or other experts dig deep into the stats, they always come up near the top.
The 1991 Redskins, during the regular season, were 14-2 and beat their opponents by 261 points. In the playoffs, they won all three games by an average of more than 20 points. The only Washington team to win a Super Bowl when there wasn’t a strike, these underrated ‘Skins’ would have gone all the way most years. They scored more than 40 points five times and shut out three teams. This was a great mix, including the special teams and Brian Mitchell.
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7. 1994 49ers (Won Super Bowl XXIX)
In the 1980s, San Francisco had some great teams, and some of that spilled over into the 1990s. The 1994 San Francisco 49ers were among the greatest NFL teams ever.
With Steve Young as quarterback, they were the only Niners team to score more than 500 points in a normal season. After stopping the Cowboys from winning three straight, they beat the Chargers in the Super Bowl. Young threw a game-record six touchdown passes, and Jerry Rice and Ricky Watters scored three times. Don’t forget that Deion Sanders was the defensive player of the year on the other side of the ball.
8. 1975 Steelers (Won Super Bowl X)
The 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers were an example of a team that got better in the second half of back-to-back titles. The Steelers went 12-2 in 1975 and sent 11 players to the Pro Bowl. The year before, they had won the Super Bowl. Nine of these victories were by more than a touchdown.
Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, and other all-time greats played on the defense, which held eight of the 12 opponents to 10 points or less. The Steelers only let the other team score 37 points in the playoffs. Even though the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl were settled by less than a touchdown, the fact that the 1975 Steelers went 15-2 and won the Super Bowl puts them in an elite group.
9. 1999 Rams (Won Super Bowl XXXIV)
The 1999 Rams scored 58% more points than the league average, making them one of the greatest NFL teams ever. Still, they had the best schedule of any top team (-5.88), which helped. But you can only play the person in front of you.
Even though there had been more complex passing attacks before, “Best Show on Turf” was, in some ways, the first to show how the game is played today. With QB Kurt Warner, RB Marshall Faulk, and WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, it did look like a “Madden” game came to life. On average, St. Louis won its 13 regular-season games by nearly 23 points.
Only once, in the NFC title game against Tampa Bay, did the Rams score less than 20 points, and 13 times they scored more than 30 points. And Warner’s rise from being a completely unknown MVP to a league star and then to the Hall of Fame is the perfect example of a “poor boy makes good” story.
10. 1996 Packers (Won Super Bowl XXXI)
Only three people from the 1996 Packers team went to the Pro Bowl. That means it was a team effort, even though Brett Favre was the leader and won his second MVP award in a row. Few teams had a chance of stopping the Green Bay Packers in 1996.
In eight of their 16 regular-season games, they won by more than 20 points. In 10 of those games, they scored at least 28 points. Even though they lost a few games on the road during the regular season, the Packers showed their strength in the playoffs. They won all three games by at least 14 points, including the Super Bowl, by a score of 35-21, which cemented their reputation as one of the best Packers teams ever.
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11. 1973 Dolphins (Won Super Bowl VIII)
As was already said, you could make a good case that this team was better than the 1972 Dolphins. The offense got 24.5 points per game, while the defense only gave up 10.7 points. They lost two games, but in the playoffs, they held teams to 32 points while running away with the games. Bob Greise played the whole season, but the running game helped them win. Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris were both responsible for a lot of work. Don Shula will always be known as a great coach, and this period cemented his place in the Hall of Fame.
12. Seahawks 2013 (Won Super Bowl XLVIII)
Even though the Seahawks 2013 are ranked 12th, I think they are the best single-season team of the 21st century. Patriots fans will probably disagree, pointing out that Seattle lost the Super Bowl the next year to New England, but most people would probably say that Pete Carroll gave the Pats that title.
More importantly, the “Legion of Boom” and the rest of the team beat Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl, even though Denver had the best offense in league history. This happened two weeks after the Broncos beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Given what the LOB has done in this age, giving up 172 passing yards per game in 2013, it will be interesting to see how history judges him.
13. 1978 Steelers (Won Super Bowl XIII)
The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers were the greatest team in the long and interesting history of the team. The Steelers went 14-2 in the first year that the regular season went from 14 to 16 games. The Steel Curtain Defense kept eight of the Steelers’ 16 opponents to 10 points or less. This made it easy for the Steelers to look like they were the best team. The Steelers were able to win close games and nine games by at least 10 points.
On their way to the Super Bowl, they won two playoff games by a total score of 67–15, which might be even more important. In the end, the Steelers beat back a late comeback by the Cowboys to win their third of four Super Bowls in six years. This makes this team one of the greatest NFL teams of all time.
14. 1998 Broncos (Won Super Bowl XXXIII)
One year after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, the 1998 Broncos were the greatest football team in what would be John Elway’s last season. With a 13-0 start to the season and RB Terrell Davis on his way to 2,008 running yards and the MVP trophy, their title defense was shaping up to be legendary. Denver fans were happy to see QB John Elway leave as the Super Bowl MVP, and they probably let out a sigh of relief when the Broncos were matched up against Atlanta instead of Minnesota on Super Sunday.
15. 1966 Packers (Won Super Bowl I)
The first team to win the Super Bowl has to be on the list of the greatest teams ever. Vince Lombardi’s 1966 Green Bay Packers went 12-2 during the season, beat the Cowboys to win the NFL title, and beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
They weren’t very good at being offensive. But the Packers only gave up more than 21 points in two of their 16 games. That was enough for Bart Starr to win the MVP award in the one season he did so.
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