The NFL has come a long way since its dawn. However, just a handful of teams have been able to write their names in history books, often led by some legendary players that paved their way to the Hall of Fame.
There have been many teams over the years that have achieved great success, but not many go down as some of the greatest teams. Bill Belichick, Don Shula, Joe Montana, Kurt Warner, Mike Ditka, and Vince Lombardi are just some of the names that you will find on this list and, in some cases, more than once.
So, without further introduction, just sit back and enjoy as we present to you the top 30 best teams in NFL history.
30. Minnesota Vikings - 1998
It’s been a while since the Minnesota Vikings have been one of the league’s top teams. However, they were a bit of an offensive juggernaut during the 1998 season, as they featured a rookie Randy Moss opposite Cris Carter. Those two paired with Randall Cunningham and Robert Smith helped them score an NFL-record 551 points.
The Vikings hung on to a 15-1 record in the regular season but lost in the NFC Championship game vs. the Atlanta Falcons. That was the first time we had a glimpse of Moss’ greatness, as he finished the season with 1,313 yards and 17 touchdown receptions.
29. Baltimore Colts - 1968
Long before the Peyton Manning era, the Colts were Johnny Unitas’ team. They were coming off a heartbreaking season when they were left out of the playoffs after losing a tie-breaker with the Rams, and you knew they were on a mission since the start of the campaign. That’s why they finished off the year with an impressive 13-1 record. However, Unitas got hurt in the final game of the preseason.
So, Don Shula and his Colts turned to Earl Morrall. They beat the Vikings 24-14 in the Western Conference Championship and then dominated the Browns 34-0 to make it to the Super Bowl. However, Joe Namath and the New York Jets were just too much to handle without a fully-healthy Unitas. What could’ve been!
28. Chicago Bears - 1942
The 1942 Chicago Bears are just one of those teams that are perfect throughout the regular season and then underperform when it matters the most. As a matter of fact, they were once considered the most dominating team ever, but they ended up losing the NFL Championship game after an immaculate 11-0 regular season.
The Bears outscored their opponents 376-84 throughout the regular season thanks to their historically great defense. They even shut down 4 of their rivals, including a 42-0 beatdown. Still, the Washington Redskins were able to get the best of them in the ultimate stage by beating them 6-14.
27. New England Patriots - 2007
The 2007 New England Patriots were so close to the glory that, up to this day, we can’t still figure out how they didn’t finish that perfect season the way everybody expected it. They won their 16 regular-season games, then beat the Jaguars and Chargers in the playoffs and were on the verge of becoming the second team to win all games of the season.
That’s until Eli Manning and the New York Giants said otherwise. The Giants overcame Brady’s historical 50-touchdown season, shut down Randy Moss (who was also coming off a record 23 touchdown season), and put together one of the most iconic wins in sports history with David Tyree’s historical helmet catch.
26. Kansas City Chiefs - 2019
It’s still pretty early to tell but it feels like the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs will go down as one of the greatest teams ever once it’s all said and done. They started the season 1-3 and finished with a 12-4 record, were able to hang on in playoff contention even with Patrick Mahomes sidelined with an injury, and orchestrated some of the most impressive comebacks this game has ever seen.
The Chiefs have arguably the most explosive offense ever, scoring 51, 35, and 31 points in the postseason. Also, their defensive adjustments to put the ball on Mahomes’ hands and give them an opportunity to always come up on top are also worth noticing. They put Madden kind of numbers week after week.
25. Indianapolis Colts - 2006
Peyton Manning had a lot of success during the regular season and the Indianapolis Colts were perennial contenders. However, it wasn’t until 2006 when he was finally able to go the distance and win his first Super Bowl, even though they had one of the leakiest defenses in the league during the season.
With legends of the likes of Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis, the Colts were finally able to beat the New England Patriots and put together one of the most memorable playoffs runs ever. They ended up with a 12-4 record, won the wild card game, and beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
24. New England Patriots - 2004
Of all the great Patriots’ teams, the 2004 Patriots are definitely special. They had the most balanced offense in the league, Tom Brady as the best quarterback in the league (go figure), and a young, hungry defense that was just getting started. After winning 2 rings in 3 seasons, Bill Belichick and the Pats pretty much owned the league.
Brady threw for 3,692 yards and 28 touchdown passes, with Corey Dillon completely dominating on the ground. They set the record for most straight regular-season wins (18) and consecutive regular-season and playoff victories (21) coming from the prior campaign. They finished with a 14-2 record and won their final ring of the 2000s by beating the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
23. Dallas Cowboys - 1971
Tom Landry will go down as one of the greatest masterminds of this sport and the 1971 Dallas Cowboys are a prime example of why. Back in the day, the Cowboys didn’t only have the most explosive offense in the league with Roger Staubach under center but they also featured a suffocating defense that allowed just 222 points.
The Cowboys were entering their 12th season in the league with stars of the caliber of Forrest Gregg, John Niland, Ralph Neely, and even Rayfield Wright. Together, they led the team to an 11-3 record and their first-ever Super Bowl championship by dominating the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI.
22. Seattle Seahawks - 2013
The 2013 Seattle Seahawks were a team that just didn’t fit their time. Still, they made their own rules, changed the way the game was being played at the time and made everybody else dance at their pace. With a dual-threat master like Russell Wilson under center with Marshawn Lynch rounding up the backfield, they were definitely on to something.
Add one of the greatest secondary defenses in the history of the game and you’re in for a treat. They were just incredibly dominant and that gave Wilson a lot of freedom to work his magic as a runner or a playmaker. They finished with a 13-3 record and then completely demolished Peyton Manning and the Broncos 43-8 in the Super Bowl.
21. New York Giants - 1986
Things weren’t exactly pretty when the 1986 New York Giants hit the gridiron. However, they did whatever it took to finish on top of their rivals, both metaphorically and literally speaking. Led by Lawrence Taylor and Leonard Marshall, the Giants had one of the strongest, toughest, most physical defenses to ever be seen in football.
This team didn’t have much going on for themselves in the offensive end, but Phil Simms always found a way to deliver when it mattered the most. However, with these kinds of assassins in their defensive unit, he barely even needed to do anything at all. They - literally - demolished Joe Montana and the 49ers with a 49-3 in the Divisional Playoffs, then shut down the Redskins 17-0, and finally beat the John Elway’s Broncos in Super Bowl XXI with a 39-20 score.
20. Cleveland Browns - 1950
Most young football fans may not remember but there was a time when the Cleveland Browns were actually the best team in the league. As a matter of fact, they were almost unbeatable in the AAFC during the 40s, but perhaps their greatest team came in the 1950 season when they made their debut in the NFL.
Otto Graham was always a step ahead of the defense. The Browns had elite coaching and an almost flawless system that just had never been seen in the league before. They managed to win 10 games and lost just 2. Then, head coach Paul Brown led them to their 5th straight championship (the prior 4 from the AAFC era) by beating the Rams and they set the bar for the rest of the league in terms of tactics.
19. Green Bay Packers - 1966
Well, there’s a reason why the Super Bowl trophy’s called Vince Lombardi. Back in the day, the Packers were led by the best tactician in the world. He, paired with Bart Starr, put together the most unstoppable offense in the NFL during the 1966 season. Opponents just didn’t stand a chance against their full-throttle offense.
The Packers put together blowout after blowout en route to a 12-2 record. They crushed the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship game and then won the first Super Bowl ever by knocking out the Kansas City Chiefs in a dominant fashion (35-10).
18. Denver Broncos - 1998
The 1998 Denver Broncos did just fine despite John Elway’s injury, mostly thanks to Terrell Davis’ outstanding season of 2,008 yards rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, but you also have to give Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak a lot of credit for the way they set the new standard for the new offenses in the NFL.
Led by their two-headed offensive monster, the Broncos were finally able to get past their postseason recent struggles the prior campaign, but they truly took a step forward in 1998, hanging on to a 14-2 record by destroying the Dolphins (38-3), beating the Jets (23-10), and finishing the job in Super Bowl XXXIII by defeating the Atlanta Falcons (34-19) to give John Elway his second ring in as many seasons.
17. Oakland Raiders - 1976
The 1976 Oakland Raiders are - literally - one of the most unbeatable teams of all time. I mean, they got off to a 3-0 record, lost to the Patriots, and then never looked back by finishing the season with 13 wins and 1 loss, taking that streak to the playoffs by getting back at New England, crushing the Steelers, and then humiliating the Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI.
Cliff Branch, Dave Casper, and Fred Biletnikoff were tailor-made for their vertical offense and made Ken Stebler look quite good for most of the season. However, their defense was what made them stand out from the rest of the pack. They were trying to hurt you and you better believe they would never stop until they finished the job.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers - 1979
They say second parts are never as good as the original. They must have never heard about the 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers then. With a team full of savvy veterans coming off a Super Bowl championship, they finished 12 straight games from the previous campaign by jumping to an early 4-0 record.
Opposing players had nightmares about their dominating, tough defense, which only got stronger with time. The Steelers ended up the season with a 12-4 record, beat the Dolphins 34-14 in the Divisional Round, got the AFC Championship by beating the Oilers 23-13, and then finished the job with a 31-19 triumph vs. the Rams.
15. New England Patriots - 2016
Bill Belichick is perhaps the greatest head coach in the history of the game. That and the fact that they had some guy named Tom Brady under center were two of the biggest reasons why you could never count the New England Patriots out, not even if they were trailing by 25 points late in the third quarter.
These guys were just too mentally tough. They went 3-1 without Brady, who was out suspended for the ‘Deflategate’ scandal. Finished up the season with a 14-2 record, crushed the Texans, demolished the Steelers, and then put together the most epic comeback in Super Bowl history. The NFL poked the bear and made Tom Terrific mad and everybody else paid for it.
14. Dallas Cowboys - 1977
The Dallas Cowboys really took a step forward during the 1977 season. They already had an elite defense (which surrounded just 212 points, by the way) and a great quarterback on Roger Staubach, but everything changed when they took Tony Dorsett with the 2nd overall pick, as he brought a fresh pair of legs that could break through tackles like a knife through butter.
Tom Landry’s team got a 12-2 record in the regular season thanks to his balanced offense and pesky defense led by Randy White and Harvey Martin, two of the most feared headhunters this game has ever seen. They crushed the Bears (37-7), Vikings (23-6), and Broncos (27-10) en route to their second Super Bowl ring.
13. Philadelphia Eagles - 1949
The 1949 Philadelphia Eagles were coming off a championship season and they didn’t take their foot off the gas whatsoever. With a team full of war veterans, you know they were never going to give up on any single snap and didn’t take failure lightly. That’s why they dominated the league from start to finish.
With an impressive 11-1 regular-season record, the Eagles were just too tough to be stopped. Also, they had a suffocating, physical defense that made Tommy Thompson’s work quite easier by completely shutting down their rivals.
12. Green Bay Packers - 1996
That Packers team was lead by two of the best players in their respective positions at the time: Brett Favre and Reggie White. Favre led the offense and would win three consecutive MVP titles between 1995 and 1997. On defense, White was a nightmare for opposing teams and is considered by many as the greatest defensive end in NFL history.
That season, the team finished with a 13-3 record, scored an average of 17.3 points a game in the playoffs, and would go on to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI to win their first championship since 1967.
11. St. Louis Rams - 1999
The team nicknamed "The Greatest Show On Turf" for its explosive offense was seen as one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl that season. However, all hope looked to go out the window when starting quarterback, Trent Green, went down with a season-ending injury and was replaced by relatively unknown Kurt Warner. Warner would prove the doubters wrong and with the help of Pro Bowl running back, Marshall Faulk, lead the Rams to a 13-3 record and the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance since 1980.
Super Bowl XXXIV was a game out of a Hollywood story. After taking a 16-0 lead, the Titans fought back to tie the game with less than three minutes remaining only for Kurt Warner to respond on the next drive with a 73-yard touchdown throw to Isaac Bruce to take back the lead at 23-16. With seconds remaining, Rams defender, Mike Jones, came up with a game-ending tackle to stop Titans receiver, Kevin Dyson, on the one-yard line to help the Rams win their first championship in franchise history.
10. Dallas Cowboys - 1992
The 1992 Dallas Cowboys were just unfair. We’re talking about a team led by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin plus an elite offensive line that pretty much bullied opposing linebackers. If that wasn’t enough, they featured a shutdown defensive unit that made it just too easy for Jimmy Johnson’s boys.
America’s team was at their best during the season, jumping to a 13-3 record before crushing the Eagles 34-10 in the Divisional Round, then beating the 49ers (30-20) and finally pulling off one of the most impressive Super Bowl performances ever by dominating the Buffalo Bills 52-17. They were just too good.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers - 1975
As we've seen thus far, the Steelers had the best defensive line in the league in the 70s. The team won four Super Bowls in six years during that era thanks in large part to their defense, but it is the Super Bowl X winning Steelers team that is one of the most remembered.
The Steelers may have been known for their defense, which included Joe Green and Jack Lambert, but their offense was also one of the league's best, lead by quarterback Terry Bradshaw and wide receiver Lynn Swann. That team finished the regular season with a 12-2 record and defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in the Super Bowl.
8. San Francisco 49ers - 1994
That 49ers team had Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball. It had Defensive Player of the Year, Deion Sanders, and quarterback Steve Young, who was instrumental in the offense scoring more than 500 points in the regular season. Though a two-time league MVP, Young had not been able to win a Super Bowl with the 49ers as a starting quarterback since taking over for Joe Montana, who had won four Super Bowls with San Francisco.
Steve Young would finally get the monkey off his back that season leading the 49ers to Super Bowl XXIX where they defeated the San Diego Chargers 49-26. In that game, Young threw a Super Bowl-record six touchdown passes, breaking the previous record of five set by Joe Montana, and would be named the game's MVP.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers - 1978
The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers put together one of the greatest defenses in the history of football. Not so long after the league enforced rules to prevent the ‘Steel Curtain Defense’ from dominating, the Steelers’ offense broke out to provide more balance to a team that was already almost perfect. Ironically, the rules changed helped them more than slow them down.
With Chuck Noll pulling the strings of the team and Terry Bradshaw doing wonders in the pocket, the Steelers worked their way to a 14-2 record and became the first franchise to win at least 3 Super Bowls. They’ll go down as the greatest team in Steelers’ history, but as we mentioned before, they didn’t even stop there, as they kept on dominating for many more years.
6. Washington Redskins - 1991
With coach Joe Gibbs in charge and an offense that included quarterback Mark Rypien and 1,000-yard receivers Gary Clark and Art Monk, they finished the regular season with a 14-2 and beat their opponents in the playoffs by an average of 20 points on their way to Super Bowl XXVI.
In the Super Bowl, they defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-24 where Mark Rypien threw for 292 yards, two touchdowns, and was named Super Bowl MVP thanks to that career-defining performance.
5. Miami Dolphins - 1972
The only team to go an entire NFL season undefeated. Their wins were not always high scoring, but they did what they had to do to win. So why are they only number five on this list? Not to take credit away from this great team, but there were fewer regular-season games played during that time and they only beat two teams with winning records.
Regardless, that Dolphins team was a well oiled machine lead by Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula. They finished the season by beating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XII 14-7 and capping off a perfect 17-0 record.
4. San Francisco 49ers - 1989
A team with one of the most polarizing offenses in NFL history. With legendary head coach Bill Walsh, in charge and Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice leading the offense, the 49ers finished the regular season with a 14-2 record.
In the playoffs, they defeated their opponents by a combined score of 126-26. Including a 55-10 thrashing of John Elway's Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, which would be the biggest defeat and most points scored in a Super Bowl.
3. Green Bay Packers - 1962
Lead by Hall of Fame head coach, Vince Lombardi, his team would finish the regular season with a 13-1 record and reached the championship game where they would play the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium. The day both teams were set to face off, the weather was so cold that the television crews that were covering the game began to light bonfires.
Despite the Giants having the home advantage, the Packers were not intimidated and defeated the Giants in their own city. That team would later see 11 players be named to the NFL Hall of Fame.
2. San Francisco 49ers - 1984
With Bill Walsh as head coach and Joe Montana at quarterback, the sky was the limit for this 49ers team. They finished the regular season with a 15-1 record and defeated their postseason rivals by a combined score of 82-26.
In Super Bowl XIX, Montana threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns to beat Dan Marino's Miami Dolphins 38-16. The 49ers would win their second championship and complete the franchise's greatest season in their history.
1. Chicago Bears - 1985
Topping off our list is the Super Bowl XX champions Chicago Bears. One of the few teams in NFL history that was known for having two iconic coaches on their staff: Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan. Mike Ditka was the head coach and Buddy Ryan the defensive coordinator. They went 15-1 in the regular season and defeated their postseason opponents by a combined scored of 90-10.
On the field, they had star running back Walter Payton and quarterback Jim McMahon leading the offense, but it was Buddy Ryan's polarizing defense that took all the accolades as they reached the Super Bowl where they thrashed the New England Patriots 46-10. After the game, both Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan were carried off the field by the players.