There have been some amazing National Football League teams to grace the gridiron over the years. So many, in fact, it is a real challenge to narrow a list down to the Top 10.
Many have debated which team over the years is the very best. Some have debated on a variety of reasons: best offense, best defense, best players, or best Super Bowl victory.
As we narrowed down the best NFL teams to ten, some teams that you will not see on this list include the 2007 New England Patriots that were 18-0 until they ended up losing in the Super Bowl, the 1974 Steelers who went 10-3-1 on their way to winning Super Bowl IX, and the 1973 Dolphins who went 12-2 with a Super Bowl XIII victory.
- 1 10 – 1991 Washington Redskins
- 2 9 – 1999 St. Louis Rams
- 3 8 – 1996 Green Bay Packers
- 4 7 – 2016 New England Patriots
- 5 6 – 1998 Denver Broncos
- 6 5 – 1992 Dallas Cowboys
- 7 4 – 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers
- 8 3 – 1989 San Francisco 49ers
- 9 2 – 1972 Miami Dolphins
- 10 1 – 1985 Chicago Bears
- 11 Conclusion
10 – 1991 Washington Redskins
There are a lot of ways to rate a team on how great they are. For the 1991 Washington Redskins, they were great in two main categories: yards allowed per pass attempt on defense and yards gained per pass attempt on offense.
They topped the league in both these categories with the defense only allowing 6 yards on ever pass attempt.
On the other hand, Quarterback Mark Rypien threw over 8 yards per pass attempt. Rypien had some wonderful wide receivers on the team like Art Monk and Gary Clark who each went over 1,000 yards on the season, and running backs Ricky Ervins and Earnest Byner combined for almost 2,000 season yards.
The Redskins dominated their opponents by outscoring them 485-244, even with a challenging schedule. With a regular season record of 14-2, they cruised into the playoff and beat the Falcons and Lions before beating the Buffalo Bills in a close Super Bowl win 37-24.
9 – 1999 St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams of 1999 changed the landscape of offense football in the NFL. The Rams threw the football like no team had ever done in the history of the NFL to that point. During the season, the Rams scored almost 35 points per game. The offense was labelled “The Greatest Show On Turf.”
The man that led the show was Quarterback Kurt Warner. During the season, he threw over 40 touchdowns and had an amazing QB rating of almost 110!
Another fantastic player for the Rams was Marshall Faulk who rushed for over 1,300 yards and had a crazy average of 5.5 yards with every carry. On defense, the Rams were stout and held their opponents to an average of 15 points, which was ranked fourth in the NFL.
In the playoffs, the Rams beat the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and took on the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. The Rams’ defense was put to the test in the Super Bowl and held on for the win with a goal-line stand.
8 – 1996 Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers were a phenomenal team in 1996. They had the best of both worlds on their team: the best defense in the league and the best offense, as well.
The league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Brett Favre, was the field general for this team. He completed about sixty-percent of the passes he threw.
Favre threw for almost 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns. The Packers ripped through the competition and went 13-3 during the regular season. In the playoffs, Green Bay put up 100 points in only three games, and defeated each of their opponents, on average, by 17 points.
The Packers met the Patriots for the Super Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brett Favre showed why he was voted the MVP and helped win their first Super Bowl since the Vince Lombardi days.
7 – 2016 New England Patriots
Ever since the great Tom Brady took the helm in New England with future Hall of Fame coach, Bill Belichick, the Patriots have been a dangerous football team winning a whole lot of Super Bowls.
The 2016 season was no exception. The Patriots started the season off with some rough news. They would be without Brady (for the 1st 4 games) and their great Tight End, Rob Gronkowski (for most of the season).
Still, New England started the season 3-1 while Brady was out. When Brady came back, he played with a vengeance.
The Patriots only lost one more game in the regular season and went 14-2. In the playoffs, the Patriots rolled by beating the Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In Super Bowl 51, the Patriots championship looked bleak. At halftime, the Patriots were losing to the Atlanta Falcons 21-3 and their season looked all but over when the Falcons went up 28-3 with only 2 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter.
But, there was no giving up for the Patriots who rallied to tie the game at the end of regulation and won in overtime 34-28.
It was the greatest Super Bowl comeback in history, making the 2016 New England Patriots one of the best NFL teams of all-time.
6 – 1998 Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos were a darn good team in 1998. The running game was what fueled the team throughout the season. Led by Hall of Fame candidate Terrell Davis, a zone blocking strategy helped him flourish game after game. In turn, the running game also wore out their opponents.
This was a big help for Hall of Famer John Elway, who didn’t have to lead the team with his arm anymore, like he had done in his first three Super Bowl losses in the 1980s. Now, Elway could just manage the game with the great help around him.
The key to Denver’s success in back-to-back Super Bowl wins was all about the running game and a great defense.
Denver’s defense brought back memories of the “Orange Crush” days with talented players like Neil Smith and Steve Atwater. They were an underrated unit that produced great results in the biggest of moments.
5 – 1992 Dallas Cowboys
After the Washington Redskins owned the NFC for most of the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, the Dallas Cowboys jumped onto the scene with great success.
The 1992 Cowboys team was a sight to watch, and they had superstar players like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. These players had a stellar season.
Aikman had the #2 passer rating across the league due to the fact that he had amazing accuracy with his passes.
Smith lead the NFL in rushing yards, and Irving had the 3rd most receiving yards across the league. Along with their fantastic players, the Cowboys had a solid offensive line and a great defense, too.
With a deep defensive line, the team had a lot of options to choose from. Lastly, the Cowboys had great coaching, led by Jimmy Johnson, that produced a Super Bowl victory.
4 – 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers
This Steelers team from 1979 was an amazing one, with 14 Hall of Famers on the roster. “The Steel Curtain” nickname was reverently given to some of the greatest players that ever put on a Pittsburgh uniform. The 1970s were a successful time period for the team.
The Steelers won 4 Super Bowls in the 1970s, and the 1979 team had a great offense and defense combined. The offense was led by the stellar Terry Bradshaw who threw for almost 4,000 yards and over 25 touchdowns.
Pittsburgh’s amazing running back, Franco Harris, led the team in rushing with an astounding 4.4 yards with every carry, along with Sidney Thornton and Rocky Bleier to back Harris on the ground.
With formidable wide receivers, John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, the Pittsburgh Steelers were deadly. During their season, Pittsburgh went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl against the Rams.
3 – 1989 San Francisco 49ers
The most dominate team at the end of the 1980s and one of the greatest NFL teams of all-time is the 1989 San Francisco 49ers.
The quarterback, Joe Montana, played like a man possessed completely over 70 percent of the passes he threw. Also, Montana averaged a whopping 9.5 yards for ever pass he attempted.
This was due to the fact that Montana had some amazing wide receivers by the name of Jerry Rice and John Taylor. The two receivers each went over 1,000 receiving yards during the season and combined for over 2,500 yards of passing offense.
On the ground, the 49ers used Roger Craig effectively enough for a 1,000 yard rushing season. On the defensive side of the ball, the pass defense was elite.
How elite was this team? 4-Time Super Bowl Champion, Terry Bradshaw predicted that the Denver Broncos would be down 55-3 at halftime of the Super Bowl against the 49ers. Bradshaw’s final score wasn’t too far off. The 49ers won Super Bowl XXIV over the Broncos 55-10, making it one of the lopsided Super Bowl margins of all-time.
Even today, Montana is considered to be the best quarterback to ever grace the NFL.
2 – 1972 Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins 1972 team is the only NFL program to go 17-0, by winning out the regular season and the playoffs on their way to the Super Bowl.
This Dolphins team was loaded with talent and greatness. They were directed by head coach Don Shula, and had sensational players like Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, and Mercury Morris to name a few.
Many may debate that the 1972 Miami Dolphins are the greatest team of all-time. As this might be true, the Dolphins played easier teams during the time period. Their opponents’ winning percentage was less than 40%. In the playoffs, the Dolphins were challenged in the AFC Championship game against the Steelers, sneaking by 21-17.
In the Super Bowl, the Dolphins were an underdog against the Washington Redskins, but ultimately won 14-7. The Miami Dolphins did not race through the competition like the #1 team on our list did, but they still ended on top and undefeated.
1 – 1985 Chicago Bears
And the #1 team on our list is the Chicago Bears of 1985. This Bears’ team was a real handful on and off the field. They were quite a cocky team, even recording what they called the “Super Bowl Shuffle” before they won the Super Bowl.
Still, their cockiness never got to their heads and they were the most dominate NFL team of all-time. Quarterback Jim McMahon led the team through the air, while Walter Payton and “The Fridge” dominated on the ground.
The Defense is considered to be the best defense of all-time, but the Super Bowl 50 winning Denver Broncos’ defense might have something to say about that.
Still, the Bears were seemingly impenetrable. Chicago ended their season with only one blemish, going 15-1. Ironically, their only loss came by the hands of the Miami Dolphins (the 1972 Miami Dolphins thank you greatly).
During the regular season, the Bears only allowed 198 points (12.3 points per game) and scored 456 points (28.5 points per game) themselves.
In the playoffs, the Chicago Bears seemed to be even better than in the regular season. They held their first two playoff opponents to 0 points each, winning 21-0, and 24-0 in the NFC Championship Game.
Next, the Bears had a Super Bowl match-up against the New England Patriots. The game was not even close. The Bears blew the Pats out 46-10 for the world championship.
After the game, even Patriot players were impressed. Ron Wooten, a guard for New England, is quoted by saying, “Before the end, it kind of felt like we were the team that the Globetrotters play all the time.” That kind of sums up the great 1985 Chicago Bears.
Ultimately, to make a list adding all the great teams is an extreme challenge, but these NFL teams all fit the bill of having great players, sensational statistics, and a Super Bowl Championship.
Sure, there have been great teams that never won a Super Bowl, but the best players shine in the biggest of stages.
These top 10 teams did just that to be classified as The Best NFL Teams Ever.