Top 25 NFL Teams of All-Time

Top 25 NFL Teams of All-Time

When looking at the top teams of all-time, we have seen one undefeated season, monster offensive and defensive stats, and Super Bowl Champions. Some of these teams had huge windows of core players where success was had. The mid-2000s New England Patriots are an example of this, so we can group them together when talking about the 2004 team. Comparing across different eras of football is going to always cause some arguments, but when we break down championship runs and stats, some things can’t be denied. While some teams leaned heavier on one side of the ball over the other, we won’t be weighing them down because of it. Breaking down the first few teams, you could really toss a coin to figure out which one is the best. We also have the 2007 New England Patriots, who nearly made a huge jump in the rankings if they would have closed out the undefeated season. Dive into a wide range of the top teams of all-time, stretching from all eras of the NFL.

1985 Chicago Bears

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
15-1 28.5 12.4 3,076 17 2,761 27 18.13

Chicago BearsWe look at the 1985 Bears as one of the most dominant teams in NFL history. Of course the topic is always going to be the defense who held teams to 12.4 points per game, but the offense was averaging 28.5 points per game. They lost one game, and dominated teams in the postseason. They allowed a total of ten points in three postseason games, and dropped 46 points on the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Walter Payton and Jim McMahon were the icons on the offensive side. Richard Dent and Otis Wilson had 27 combined sacks on the defensive side.

1972 Miami Dolphins

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-0 27.5 12.2 2,076 17 2,960 26 14.26

Miami DolphinsThere is a reason the 1972 Miami Dolphins pop champagne every year. They are the only undefeated NFL team in history. They probably are not the greatest team ever, as the 1973 team might have been. Either way we look at this core of Dolphins years as some of the best in history. Miami averaged 27 points per game, allowing just 12. Looking toward the postseason they had close games in each outing, as opponents were within a single score. Mercury Morris and Larry Csonka both rushed for over 1,000 yards, and totaled 18 rushing touchdowns.

1991 Washington Redskins

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 30.3 14 3,692 30 2,049 21 18.36

Washington RedskinsThe 1991 Washington Redskins will go down as one of the best of all-time. They averaged 30.3 points per game, and the defense allowed just 14 per game. Joe Gibbs is a Hall of Fame head coach who led this era of Washington football. They ran through Atlanta and Detroit in the NFC rounds, and won by 13 in the Super Bowl against Buffalo. Mark Rypien threw for 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns, while Gary Clark, Earnest Byner, and Art Monk were the stars on offense. This was one of the most complete teams of the early 90s and late 80s.

1984 San Francisco 49ers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
15-1 29.7 14.2 3,901 32 2,465 21 16.73

San Francisco 49ersSan Francisco was a very close loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers from possibly going undefeated. Bill Walsh’s 49ers destroyed teams, averaging 29.7 points per game, and allowing 14.2 points per game. You also had the 1989 team in this conversation as well. The 49ers were a dynasty during this time period, and the talent coming through was truly special. Joe Montana was showing his worth, and the transition into the Steve Young and Jerry Rice years was something every team dreamed of. You can take your pick of 49ers teams from this era, but the 1984 team was tremendous.

2007 New England Patriots

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
16-0 36.8 17.1 4,731 50 1,849 17 19.69

New England PatriotsIf we are ranking teams solely based off offense, the 2007 Patriots are probably at the top of the list. They were basically one play away from being the second undefeated team in history, but the Giants took them down. New England averaged 36.8 points per game, and you know Bill Belichick wasn’t going to let the defense slack off, as they allowed just 17.1 points per game. Tom Brady had a career year with 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns. Randy Moss had a 23 receiving touchdowns, and 1,493 receiving yards. Wes Welker also surpassed 100 receptions and 1,000 yards.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
12-2 26.6 11.6 2,254 21 2,633 22 18.92

Pittsburgh SteelersOnce again we could take our pick from these Steelers teams, as the Steel Curtain era was another dominant dynasty in NFL history. They held teams to 11.6 points per game, and while the defense was the focal point, they were 5th in the league in points per game. While I m ay not be a Terry Bradshaw guy, for the era he did what he had to do. Franco Harris was a beast with over 1,400 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. Lynn Swann also hauled in 11 receiving touchdowns. The Steelers were setup with this core on both sides.

1998 Minnesota Vikings

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
15-1 34.8 18.5 4,328 41 1,936 17 17.4

Minnesota VikingsThe Vikings have had some major superstars come through their franchise, and the franchise has also gone through some postseason horrors. This was another year. The Vikings dominated the league offensively, averaging 34.8 points per game. Randall Cunningham was towards the end of his career, throwing 34 touchdowns. Cris Carter was 33 years old, but had another 1,000 yard season with 12 touchdowns. Randy Moss broke in the league 17 touchdowns and 1,313 yards. In addition to the passing game, they had Robert Smith rush for over 1,100 yards. Minnesota had a crushing loss against the Falcons ending their season short after 15 wins.

1996 Green Bay Packers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
13-3 28.5 13.1 3,697 39 1,838 9 20.54

Green Bay PackersBrett Favre was in his prime, Reggie White was on his way out, and Mike Holmgren figured this group out. Green Bay led the league in points per game allowed and points per game. Favre had a tame year in terms of interceptions, and threw for 39 touchdowns. Keith Jackson and Antonio Freeman were the main pass-catching options combining for 19 of those 39 touchdowns. White led the team in sacks, and was a part of a very good Green Bay defense. The Packers scored 30+ points in all three postseason games, and beat three very good teams from that season.

1973 Miami Dolphins

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
12-2 24.5 10.7 1,582 17 2,521 16 17.58

Miami DolphinsAs mentioned above you could really argue this was a better team than the 1972 Dolphins. The defense allowed just 10.7 points per game, and the offense scored 24.5 points per game. They lost two games, but ran through the postseason, holding teams to a total of 32 points. Bob Greise played the entire season, but it was more of the running game that carried them. Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris both carried the workload. Don Shula will of course be recognized as one of the legendary coaches, and this era cemented him into Hall of Fame.

1989 San Francisco 49ers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 27.6 15.8 4,302 35 1,966 14 13.86

San Francisco 49ersThe 49ers were no under George Seifert, who was passed a tremendous team. This 49ers team dominated every game, and especially in the postseason. San Francisco scored 41, 30, and 55 points during their Super Bowl run, and held each team to under 14 points. Joe Montana had another strong year, although Steve Young was lurking behind him. Jerry Rice and John Taylor both had a phenomenal season, going for a total of 27 touchdowns and over 2,400 receiving yards. On the defensive side Ronnie Lott headlined with another Pro Bowl selection.

1998 Denver Broncos

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 31.3 19.3 3,624 32 2,468 26 14.71

Denver BroncosDenver has had some good teams throughout their franchise history, and the 1998 Denver team was extremely talented on both sides of the ball. Of course we think of John Elway, but Terrell Davis had the career year. He rushed for 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns. The receiving core of Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, and Shannon Sharpe all posted strong seasons. The Denver defense struggled against the pass, but were a very effective run defense allowing 3.6 yards per attempt and just eight touchdowns. The Broncos ran through he postseason, holding teams under 20 points per game.

1966 Green Bay Packers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
12-2 23.9 11.6 2,602 18 1,673 18 14.66

Green Bay PackersVince Lombardi’s Packers had a very strong core for numerous years, but the 1966 team was unreal. They ended up taking on a Cowboys team in the championship, beating them 34-27. They went on and beat the Chiefs 35-10 in the Super Bowl. This defense allowed just 11.6 points per game, and scored 23.9 points per game. Bart Starr was the Hall of Fame quarterback that led Green Bay, but the defense had numerous Pro Bowl names. The Packers would also go on and win next season, locking down the 1967 Super Bowl as well.

1971 Dallas Cowboys

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
11-3 29 15.9 2,786 22 2,249 25 18.36

Dallas CowboysTom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys were in the midst of their prime, and while they lost in the 1970 Super Bowl, they came back in 1971 for some vengeance. Dallas’ run defense allowed just 3.2 yards per attempt, and also led the league in takeaways. Duane Thomas rushed for 11 touchdowns, and was alongside Roger Staubach who had a 104.8 passer rating. Defensively they had Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Cornell Green, and Bob Lilly who all found their way to the Pro Bowl. This defense allowed 15.9 points per game, and when the offense was averaging nearly 30 per game, you had a world class team.

1994 San Francisco 49ers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
13-3 31.6 18.5 4,163 37 1,897 23 19.62

San Francisco 49ersGeorge Seifert had another Super Bowl under his belt, and this time it was with Steve Young. The Joe Montana year was over, and Steve Young came in during a flawless transition of power under center. Young threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns. Young was also an excellent running quarterback and had seven rushing touchdowns. His partner in crime Jerry Rice had another Pro Bowl season, logging nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns. Merton Hanks, Tim McDonald, and Deion Sanders led the league in interceptions, and allowed the third fewest passing touchdowns. This 49ers teams cored 44, 38, and 49 in the playoffs.

1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 22.3 12.2 2,699 28 2,297 16 12.21

Pittsburgh SteelersThe 1978 Steelers were a part of an iconic Super Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys. They went onto win 35-31 in a classic. The Steelers defense was already one of the best of this decade, and this year, they allowed just 12.2 points per game. I am not a big Terry Bradshaw fan, but his 28 touchdowns certainly helped, even though he tossed 20 picks as well. Franco Harris led the way among running backs, but the defense was the real winner. Joe Greene, Jack Ham, and Donnie Shell were all Pro Bowlers, or future Hall of Famers.

2004 New England Patriots

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 27.3 16.3 2,588 29 2,134 15 13.71

New England PatriotsThis Patriots core would go on and win the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004, and 2005. A lot of these would come on the leg of Adam Vinatieri. The offense averaged 27.3 points per game, and this defense was better than the teams that won more recent Super Bowls. Tom Brady had another Pro Bowl season, but Corey Dillon had a career year at age 30. He rushed for 1,635 yards and 12 touchdowns. Names like Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, and Willie McGinest all patrolled this excellent defense, which dominated a Colts team in the divisional round, and limited offenses all season long.

2001 St. Louis Rams

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 31.4 17.1 4,663 37 2,027 20 17.14

Los Angeles RamsThe St. Louis Rams were looking to win their second Super Bowl within a few seasons. They went 14-2 on the regular season, and this time Mike Martz was the head coach. It was another powerful year for the offense, averaging 31.4 points per game. Kurt Warner hit 4,830 passing yards, and 36 touchdowns. Marshall Faulk put together yet another 2000+ all-purpose yard season, and the emergence of Torry Holt also came about. Holt and Issac Bruce both surpassed 1,000 yards, and combined for 13 touchdowns. The Rams lost to the Patriots who went on to win three Super Bowls within the next five years.

1969 Minnesota Vikings

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
12-2 27.1 9.5 2,246 24 1,850 15 21.17

Minnesota VikingsThe postseason heartbreaks for Minnesota started in 1969, and still continues to this day. the Vikings were first in both points for and points against, going 12-2 on the season. They beat a very good Rams and Browns team, only to lose to the Chiefs who had one of the best defenses in history that season. Gene Washington was a standout WR from this team, catching nine touchdowns on 39 receptions. This defense really made this team elite, forcing 42 turnovers, and ranked first against the pass, and second against the run.

1977 Dallas Cowboys

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
12-2 24.6 15.1 2,443 18 2,369 21 12.92

Dallas CowboysThe Cowboys were still rolling strong in the 70s, and 1977 was another Super Bowl win for them. They lost just two games all season, and were averaging 24.6 points per game on offense. There were a lot of good defenses this season, but Dallas allowed just 15.1 points per game. Tony Dorsett was just 23 this year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Robert Newhouse also had over 700 rushing yards. Both rushed for over 4.0 yards per carry, making them one of the best backfields that season. This was Staubach’s second Super Bowl, and he was on his way out.

1992 Dallas Cowboys

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
13-3 25.6 15.2 3,485 23 2,121 20 15.15

Dallas CowboysJimmy Johnson was coming off a strong career at Miami, and was looking to get Dallas right back in the championship mix. The Cowboys went 13-3, averaging 25.6 points per game, and allowing just 15.2. Troy Aikman was the start quarterback at the time, but Emmitt Smith’s 18 rushing touchdowns and 1,713 yards was the real show of the season. Michael Irvin put together one his many Pro Bowl seasons, going for nearly 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. Dallas ran through the playoffs, and beat the Bills in the Super Bowl 52-17.

1986 New York Giants

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 23.2 14.8 3,133 22 2,245 18 10.21

New York GiantsAlongside one of the better teams of all-time, the Giants coaching staff consisted of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. The Giants went 14-2, and allowed just 23 points in their postseason run when they beat Denver in the Super Bowl. This Giants defense will go down as one of the best in history, allowing 14.8 points per game, forcing 43 turnovers. Phil Simms was the quarterback, and the hype around some of these names always baffles me. It was a running back and defensive era with some elite quarterbacks sprinkled in. Joe Morris was the RB at the time, rushing fo over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. Lawrence Taylor was also the rock on the defensive side.

1976 Oakland Raiders

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
13-1 25 16.9 2,905 33 2,285 14 11.08

Oakland RaidersJohn Madden’s Oakland Raiders went 13-1 in 1976, scoring 25 points per game, and allowing 16.9 on the defensive side. The offense had the best passing game in the league, as Ken Stabler threw 27 touchdowns. Cliff Branch and Dave Casper combined for 22 receiving touchdowns. Oakland’s team was more about offense than defense in comparison to some of the other teams in this decade, as they were mediocre against the pass and run. Oakland lost one game to New England in Week 4, and then ran the table from there on out eventually beating New England again in the Divisional Round.

1979 Pittsburgh Steelers

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
12-4 26 16.4 3,655 26 2,603 25 17.67

Pittsburgh SteelersThe 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers were one of four Super Bowl winning teams within the last five years. This was a dynasty for the ages, and just another year defensively where they dominated. They allowed 16.4 points per game, and forced over 40 turnovers. Terry Bradshaw was under center again, but it was another big year for Franco Harris and newcomer Sidney Thornton. John Stallworth was the notable name in the passing game, catching eight touchdowns. The defensive core stayed the same throughout the years, which will be talked about any time we look back at defense in NFL history.

1999 St. Louis Rams

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
13-3 32.9 15.1 4,353 42 2,059 13 22.92

Los Angeles RamsThe Rams were looking to start their dynasty, and the Dick Vermeil ad Mike Martz offense was one of the best of all-time. St. Louis averaged 32.9 points per game, and had a very good defense allowing just 15.1 points per game. The rams lost three games all season including a game against the Titans whom they beat in the Super Bowl. Kurt Warner eclipsed 40 touchdowns and 4,000 yards. Marshall Faulk also went over 2,000 all-purpose yards. Issac Bruce was the established wideout, as Torry Holt was just 23 at the time. You also had guys like Ricky Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakim who were secondary options.

2009 Indianapolis Colts

REC PTS/G OPP PTS/G Pass YDS Pass TD Rush YDS Rush TD Avg. MOV
14-2 26.0 19.2 4,515 34 1,294 16 10.22

Indianpolis ColtsThe Colts had some excellent teams with Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Marvin Harrison. The one year the postseason disappointment didn’t come was 2006 when they beat the Bears in the Super Bowl. The 2009 team was arguably better though, starting the season 14-0. They finished 14-2, but went onto lose in the Super Bowl to the Saints. Peyton Manning had many career seasons, and while Harrison was gone, Wayne and Dallas Clark combined for 20 touchdowns. Defense was always suspect, but they were top ten in points per game that season. Indianapolis put together offensive juggernaut performances year in and year out, so lumping that group together seems to be where I am headed.

  
Jason Guilbault has been writing and podcasting in the fantasy sports world for over five years. You can find his work at Daily Fantasy Cafe. He is an avid Tottenham fan, and follows the Boston sports teams. When he isn’t diving into stats, he is enjoying the outdoors or down at the local brewery.

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