Ranking Every Super Bowl Champion

Where the 2018 New England Patriots fall on this list depends on a few key factors

Earlier this year, I compiled a ranking of every college football national champion over the last 50 years. I have attempted the same with every team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

 

It goes without saying that the college and pro levels are quite different so I used a slightly different set of criteria for this one. This could cause a bit of ire, but I asked the following questions in developing this ranking.

 

  1. What was their won/loss record?
  2. What was their playoff seed, i.e. did they win their division and did they win home-field advantage in the postseason?
  3. How did they rank in scoring defense and offense (I placed a higher emphasis on defense)?
  4. What was the strength of their division?
  5. How dominant were they in the playoffs?
  6. How many Pro Bowlers and first-team All-Pros did they have?

 

Regardless of their placement on this list, all of these teams rose to the occasion on the NFL's biggest stage and deserve our respect. Think of this as revisiting the NFL's best. Now let's begin.

 

53. 2011 New York Giants

Finished: Beat New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI

Regular Season Record: 9-7

Playoff Seed: No. 4

Scoring Offense Rank: 9th

Scoring Defense Rank: 25th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 2

Division Rivals: Philadelphia Eagles (8-8), Dallas Cowboys (8-8), Washington Redskins (5-11) 

New York became the first 9-7 team to win a Super Bowl thanks to dramatic upsets of Green Bay, San Francisco, and New England. The Giants are also the only team on this list who gave up more points than they scored over the course of a season. 

 

52. 1970 Baltimore Colts

Finished: Beat Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V

Regular Season Record: 11-2-1

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 6th

Scoring Defense Rank: 7th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 3

Division Rivals: Miami Dolphins (10-4), New York Jets (4-10), Buffalo Bills (3-10-1), Boston Patriots (2-12)

Baltimore dispatched Cincinnati and Oakland to return to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years. There, the Colts won the sloppiest Super Bowl ever played to exorcise some of their demons from losing to the New York Jets two years earlier.

 

51. 2012 Baltimore Ravens

Finished: Beat San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII

Regular Season Record: 10-6

Playoff Seed: No. 4

Scoring Offense Rank: 10th

Scoring Defense Rank: 12th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 5

Division Rivals: Cincinnati Bengals (10-6), Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8), Cleveland Browns (5-11)

The Ravens' former owner and founder, Art Modell, died in September 2012. Then shortly before the playoffs, Ray Lewis announced that he was retiring at the end of the season so they were full of emotion going into the postseason. That fire translated into exceptional play (especially by QB Joe Flacco) and a Super Bowl win.

 

50. 1967 Green Bay Packers

Finished: Beat Oakland Raiders 33-14 in Super Bowl II

Regular Season Record: 9-4-1

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 9th

Scoring Defense Rank: 3rd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 9

Division Rivals: Chicago Bears (7-6-1), Detroit Lions (5-7-2), Minnesota Vikings (3-8-3) 

The Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams handily and then won the “Ice Bowl” against the Dallas Cowboys to win their third straight NFL title. They then flew to sunny Miami, whipped the Oakland Raiders, and carried Vince Lombardi off the field for his final game as Green Bay’s head coach.

 

49. 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers

Finished: Beat Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL

Regular Season Record: 11-5

Playoff Seed: No. 6

Scoring Offense Rank: 9th

Scoring Defense Rank: 3rd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Cincinnati Bengals (11-5), Baltimore Ravens (6-10), Cleveland Browns (6-10)

The Steelers opened Wild Card Weekend by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 31-17 on the road. The next week, they shocked the top-seeded Colts 21-18 and then beat the Denver Broncos to advance to Super Bowl XL and face the Seattle Seahawks. Pittsburgh won 21-10 and head coach Bill Cowher and running back Jerome Bettis were able to retire as Super Bowl champions. The 2005 Steelers were the first team to win a Super Bowl as a No. 6 seed.

 

48. 2010 Green Bay Packers

Finished: Beat Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV

Regular Season Record: 10-6

Playoff Seed: No. 6

Scoring Offense Rank: 10th

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Chicago Bears (11-5), Detroit Lions (6-10) Minnesota Vikings (6-10)

The second No. 6-seed to win a Super Bowl was the 2010 Packers, who seemed to be at their zenith entering the playoffs. Green Bay never trailed during the second half of their postseason games, beating the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and Chicago Bears. In Super Bowl XLV, the Packers faced the Steelers and MVP Aaron Rodgers threw for 304 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions as his team won 31-25.

 

47. 2001 New England Patriots

Finished: Beat St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI

Regular Season Record: 11-5

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 6th

Scoring Defense Rank: 6th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 4

Division Rivals: Miami Dolphins (11-5), New York Jets (10-6), Indianapolis Colts (6-10), Buffalo Bills (3-13)

What seemed like a Cinderella season was actually the official launch of the Belichick/Brady era. Tom Brady relieved an injured Drew Bledsoe in the second game of the season and has been the Patriots' starting quarterback ever since. Thanks in part to the “Tuck Rule,” New England advanced to Super Bowl XXXVI and beat “The Greatest Show on Turf” in one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.

 

46. 1988 San Francisco 49ers

Finished: Beat Cincinnati Bengals 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII

Regular Season Record: 10-6

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 7th

Scoring Defense Rank: 8th   

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Los Angeles Rams (10-6), New Orleans Saints (10-6), Atlanta Falcons (5-11) 

San Francisco was 6-5 going into a "Monday Night Football" matchup with Washington, but blew the Redskins out and won four of its last five games. By the playoffs, the 49ers were playing their best football and easily made their third Super Bowl and then won it, thanks to one of the most memorable late-game drives of all time.

 

45. 1982 Washington Redskins

Finished: Beat Miami Dolphins 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII

Regular Season Record: 8-1

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 12th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 5

Division Rivals: N/A (Because of the strike-shortened season, the playoffs were restructured with the top eight teams from each conference playing in a “Super Bowl Tournament”)

The Redskins were the top team at the end of the hot mess of the strike-shortened regular season. And at the end of the 16-team “Super Bowl Tournament,” they were the best team in the NFL thanks in part to 610 rushing yards from John Riggins over those postseason four games.

 

44. 2018 New England Patriots

Finished: Beat Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII

Regular Season Record: 11-5

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 4th

Scoring Defense Rank: 7th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 2

Division Rivals: Miami Dolphins (7-9), Buffalo Bills (6-10), New York Jets (4-12)

New England became the second franchise in this history of professional sports to win 10 straight divisional titles (the other is the Atlanta Braves). The Patriots then toppled their AFC playoff competition and beat the Rams in their stingiest performance of the season.

 

43. 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers

Finished: Beat Minnesota Vikings 16-6 in Super Bowl IX

Regular Season Record: 10-3-1

Playoff Seed: No. 3

Scoring Offense Rank: 6th

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Houston Oilers (7-7), Cincinnati Bengals (7-7), Cleveland Browns (4-10)

Pittsburgh’s dynasty was still coming into its own, but by the end of the season, Terry Bradshaw was the starting quarterback and the defense had fully matured. The Steel Curtain was the foundation of the Steelers’ three playoff wins and the franchise’s first title.

 

42. 1980 Oakland Raiders

Finished: Beat Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV

Regular Season Record: 11-5

Playoff Seed: No. 4

Scoring Offense Rank: 7th

Scoring Defense Rank: 10th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 5

Division Rivals: San Diego Chargers (11-5), Kansas City Chiefs (8-8), Denver Broncos (8-8), Seattle Seahawks (4-12)

Starting quarterback Dan Pastorini broke his leg in the fifth game of the season and Jim Plunkett took over and led the team to a wild-card berth out of the AFC West. The Raiders then beat Houston at home, Cleveland on the road in the dramatic “Red Right 88” game, and then overwhelmed division champ San Diego early and held on to win the AFC title. In the Super Bowl, Oakland dominated Philadelphia to become the first wild-card team to win the Lombardi Trophy.  

 

41. 2006 Indianapolis Colts

Finished: Beat Chicago Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 3

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 23rd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 3

Division Rivals: Tennessee Titans (8-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8), Houston Texans (6-10)

After years of futility, the Colts finally put together a Super Bowl run. They played gutsy defense against Kansas City and Baltimore and then won a shootout with New England in one of the most exciting AFC Championship games ever played. Peyton Manning’s first title culminated with a win in the only Super Bowl ever played in the rain.

 

40. 1997 Denver Broncos

Finished: Beat Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 4

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 6th 

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 5

Division Rivals: Kansas City Chiefs (13-3), Seattle Seahawks (8-8), Oakland Raiders (4-12), San Diego Chargers (4-12) 

The Broncos lost the AFC West by one game, but were perfect in the playoffs. Their run culminated in an epic upset of Green Bay, giving quarterback John Elway his first Super Bowl win in four tries.

 

39. 1987 Washington Redskins

Finished: Beat Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII

Regular Season Record: 11-4

Playoff Seed: No. 3

Scoring Offense Rank: 4th

Scoring Defense Rank: 6th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Dallas Cowboys (7-8), St. Louis Cardinals (7-8), Philadelphia Eagles (7-8), New York Giants (6-9)

In the strike-shortened season, Washington went 8-4 with its regular roster and 3-0 with replacement players. But in the playoffs, head coach Joe Gibbs chose to start Doug Williams over Jay Schroeder in a move that went down as one of the best in NFL history.

 

38. 2015 Denver Broncos

Finished: Beat Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl L

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 19th

Scoring Defense Rank: 4th   

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 4

Division Rivals: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5), Oakland Raiders (7-9), San Diego Chargers (4-12) 

Sporting the top-ranked defense in the league during the regular season, this unit saved its best for last. In three playoff games, the Broncos allowed just four offensive touchdowns while forcing seven turnovers and picking up 14 sacks. League MVP Cam Newton and the rest of the Carolina Panthers’ offense found out just how good Von Miller and company were in the Super Bowl.

 

37. 2007 New York Giants

Finished: Beat New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII

Regular Season Record: 10-6

Playoff Seed: No. 5

Scoring Offense Rank: 14th

Scoring Defense Rank: 17th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 1

Division Rivals: Dallas Cowboys (13-3), Washington Redskins (9-7), Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)

The scrappy Giants went 10-6 in the brutal NFC East and entered the playoffs as the No. 5 seed. They advanced to the NFC Championship Game thanks to road wins at Tampa Bay and Dallas. New York then beat the top-seeded Packers in overtime in below-freezing conditions at Lambeau Field to earn their shot at the 18-0 New England Patriots. The Giants used their fierce pass rush and one of the greatest catches in NFL history to beat the Patriots 17-14 and score the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.

 

36. 1971 Dallas Cowboys

Finished: Beat Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI

Regular Season Record: 11-3

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 7th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 8

Division Rivals: Washington Redskins (9-4-1), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7-1), St. Louis Cardinals (4-9-1), New York Giants (4-10)

The Cowboys had a quarterback controversy between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton during its first seven games and went 4-3. Then head coach Tom Landry went with Staubach permanently and the Cowboys won their last 10 games to take home the first title to the Big D in four tries.

 

35. 1983 Los Angeles Raiders

Finished: Beat Washington Redskins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII

Regular Season Record: 11-5

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 3rd

Scoring Defense Rank: 13th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 8

Division Rivals: Seattle Seahawks (9-7), Denver Broncos (9-7), San Diego Chargers (6-10), Kansas City Chiefs (6-10)

With both Seattle and Denver earning wild-card spots, the Raiders won the toughest conference in the league. They then torched their playoff competition, including a 38-9 beatdown of the defending champion Redskins in the Super Bowl.

 

34. 1995 Dallas Cowboys

Finished: Beat Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 3rd

Scoring Defense Rank: 3rd  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Philadelphia Eagles (10-6), Washington Redskins (6-10), New York Giants (5-11), Phoenix Cardinals (4-12)

Under head coach Barry Switzer, Dallas became the first team to win three Super Bowls in four years. Then, the dynasty collapsed under its own weight.

 

33. 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers

Finished: Beat Los Angeles Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 5th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Houston Oilers (11-5), Cleveland Browns (9-7), Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)

The Steelers aired it out on their way to winning their second straight and fourth Super Bowl in six years. Pittsburgh also earned the designation of “Titletown” since the Pirates had won the World Series three months earlier.

 

32. 2009 New Orleans Saints

Finished: Beat Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 20th   

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 7

Division Rivals: Atlanta Falcons (9-7), Carolina Panthers (8-8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)

The Saints became the first NFC team since the AFL/NFL merger to start the season 13-0. They then outgunned three top-flight quarterbacks (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning) to bring the first championship home to The Big Easy.

 

31.2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Finished: Beat Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 18th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 7

Division Rivals: Atlanta Falcons (9-6-1), New Orleans Saints (9-7), Carolina Panthers (7-9)

After three straight playoff losses, the Bucs traded for Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, who immediately beefed up the offense. The additional firepower matched a defense that led the league in yards allowed per game and set the record for most interceptions (40) in a season by a Super Bowl-winning team. The outcome was that one of the league’s longest-suffering franchises finally became a champion.

 

30. 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers

Finished: Beat Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 20th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 3

Division Rivals: Baltimore Ravens (11-5), Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1), Cleveland Browns (4-12)

Pittsburgh’s defense led the league in yards and points allowed at just 13.9 per game. A 99-yard interception returned for a touchdown by James Harrison (right before halftime) in Super Bowl XLIII proved to be the difference in the Steelers’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

 

29. 2000 Baltimore Ravens

Finished: Beat New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 4

Scoring Offense Rank: 14th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 11

Division Rivals: Tennessee Titans (13-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7), Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9), Cincinnati Bengals (4-12), Cleveland Browns (3-13)

No wild-card team is as revered as the 2000 Ravens. Sporting one of the best defenses in NFL history, Baltimore shut out four of its regular-season opponents on its way to a 12-4 record. In the playoffs, they beat the Broncos, Titans, Raiders and Giants, allowing an average of fewer than six points per game. The only defense more dominant was the ’85 Bears.

 

28.1981 San Francisco 49ers

Finished: Beat Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 7th

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 5

Division Rivals: Atlanta Falcons (7-9), Los Angeles Rams (6-10), New Orleans Saints (4-12)

The 49ers went from 6-10 the year before to Super Bowl champs thanks to a revolutionary offense, a newly fortified defense, “The Catch,” and the greatest goal-line stand in Super Bowl history.

 

27. 1977 Dallas Cowboys

Finished: Beat Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII

Regular Season Record: 12-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 8th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Washington Redskins (9-5), St. Louis Cardinals (7-7), Philadelphia Eagles (5-9), New York Giants (5-9)

The last team to win in the 14-game season and the pre-“Mel Blount Rule Era” did so in dominant fashion. The Cowboys beat all three of their playoff opponents by at least 17 points en route to Dallas’ second Super Bowl win.

 

26.1976 Oakland Raiders

Finished: Beat Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI

Regular Season Record: 13-1

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 4th

Scoring Defense Rank: 12th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 7

Division Rivals: Denver Broncos (9-5), San Diego Chargers (6-8), Kansas City Chiefs (5-9), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14)

After losing three straight AFC Championship games, the Raiders beat the Steelers to make the Super Bowl. They then dominated the Vikings to bring home Oakland’s first Lombardi Trophy.

 

25. 1994 San Francisco 49ers

Finished: Beat San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 6th  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: New Orleans Saints (7-9), Atlanta Falcons (7-9), Los Angeles Rams (4-12) 

The first Super Bowl champion to play under a salary cap used some creativity to sign a number of veteran free agents, including Rickey Jackson, Ken Norton Jr., and Deion Sanders. It took five games for this team to gel, but once it did, the 49ers dominated the league and won their then-unprecedented fifth Lombardi Trophy.

 

24. 1968 New York Jets

Finished: Beat Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III

Regular Season Record: 11-3

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 4th

AFL All-Stars or 1st Team All-Pro: 11

Division Rivals: N/A (Only the top two teams played for the AFL title until 1969) 

The Jets beat the Oakland Raiders for their first and only AFL Championship, and unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Joe Namath made good on his guarantee that New York would upset Baltimore. The guarantee is what is remembered. What is forgotten is just how great this team really was.

 

23. 1990 New York Giants

Finished: Beat Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 15th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 8

Division Rivals: Philadelphia Eagles (10-6), Washington Redskins (10-6), Dallas Cowboys (7-9), Phoenix Cardinals (5-11)

The 1990 Giants are perhaps the gutsiest team on this list. After losing quarterback Phil Simms late in the season, backup Jeff Hostetler led New York through the playoffs, beating the two-time defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park in the NFC title game. In the Super Bowl, New York’s defense and ball-control offense was enough to edge Buffalo’s no-huddle attack to take home their second title.

 

22. 1993 Dallas Cowboys

Finished: Beat Buffalo Bills 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 11

Division Rivals: New York Giants (11-5), Philadelphia Eagles (8-8), Phoenix Cardinals (7-9), Washington Redskins (4-12)

Dallas started the season 0-2 while running back Emmitt Smith sat out over a contract dispute. The Cowboys signed him before Week 3 and went on to win their second straight Super Bowl. If they signed him sooner, they’d probably be higher on this list.

 

21. 1973 Miami Dolphins

Finished: Beat Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII

Regular Season Record: 12-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 5th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 12

Division Rivals: Buffalo Bills (9-5), New England Patriots (5-9), New York Jets (4-10), Baltimore Colts (4-10)

The Dolphins 18-game win streak was snapped in the second week of the season, but they only lost once more. In the playoffs, they beat all three of their opponents by at least 17 points to win Miami’s second straight Super Bowl.

 

20. 1999 St. Louis Rams

Finished: Beat Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 4th    

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Carolina Panthers (8-8), Atlanta Falcons (5-11), San Francisco 49ers (4-12), New Orleans Saints (3-13)

Having acquired a number of offensive weapons in the offseason, St. Louis went from 4-12 to Super Bowl champs thanks to its “Greatest Show on Turf” offense. The Rams also became the first team that played its home games indoors to win a Lombardi Trophy.

 

19. 1969 Kansas City Chiefs

Finished: Beat Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV

Regular Season Record: 11-3

Playoff Seed: No. 3

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st  

AFL All-Stars or 1st Team All-Pro: 11

Division Rivals: Oakland Raiders (12-1-1), San Diego Chargers (8-6), Denver Broncos (5-8-1), Cincinnati Bengals (4-9-1)

For its final playoffs, the AFL expanded to allow the top two teams in each division into the postseason. The Chiefs were second in their division to the Raiders, but made the most of it, beating the defending champ New York Jets at Shea Stadium and then toppling Oakland for the last AFL title. Their subsequent win against Minnesota proved the Jets’ win the year before was no fluke and that the AFL had caught up with the NFL.

 

18. 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers

Finished: Beat Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl X

Regular Season Record: 12-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 5th

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 11

Division Rivals: Cincinnati Bengals (11-3), Houston Oilers (10-4), Cleveland Browns (3-11)

The Steelers did not mess around with their pursuit of a second straight title, holding opponents to 11.6 points a game and scoring more than any other team in franchise history. They overcame eight turnovers to beat Oakland in the AFC Championship and beat Dallas in the most exciting Super Bowl ever played up to that point.

 

17. 2017 Philadelphia Eagles

Finished: Beat New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII

Record: 13-3

Playoff Side: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 3rd

Scoring Defense Rank: 4th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 7

Division Rivals: Dallas Cowboys (9-7), Washington Redskins (7-9), New York Giants (3-13)

After losing quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL in Week 14, Philadelphia entered the playoffs as an underdog despite being the top seed. However, backup Nick Foles took control and led the Eagles to their first championship since 1960.

 

16. 2014 New England Patriots

Finished: Beat Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 4th

Scoring Defense Rank: 8th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 4

Division Rivals: Buffalo Bills (9-7), Miami Dolphins (8-8), New York Jets (4-12) 

The 2014 Patriots got home-field advantage in a very even AFC, and they beat the defending champion Seahawks in the Super Bowl, in thrilling fashion no less.

 

15. 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Finished: Beat Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLIV

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 8th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st    

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: San Francisco 49ers (12-4), Arizona Cardinals (10-6), Los Angeles Rams (7-9)

The Legion of Boom and the rest of the Seahawks' defense led the league in points and yards allowed as well as takeaways. And, of course, this defense completely shut down Peyton Manning — who was having the best season of his career — and Denver’s record-setting offense in Super Bowl XLVIII.

 

14. 2004 New England Patriots

Finished: Beat Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 4th

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 5

Division Rivals: New York Jets (10-6), Buffalo Bills (9-7), Miami Dolphins (4-12) 

New England rolled through another 14-2 season and overcame a brash Philadelphia team to win its third Super Bowl in four years.

 

13. 1998 Denver Broncos

Finished: Beat Atlanta Falcons 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 8th  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Oakland Raiders (8-8), Seattle Seahawks (8-8), Kansas City Chiefs (7-9), San Diego Chargers (5-11) 

Denver started 13-0 before losing its first game. The Broncos then manhandled their playoff competition to win their second straight Super Bowl.

 

12. 1992 Dallas Cowboys

Finished: Beat Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 2

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 5th

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 6

Division Rivals: Philadelphia Eagles (11-5), Washington Redskins (9-7), New York Giants (6-10), Phoenix Cardinals (4-12)

The Cowboys went from 1-15 to Super Bowl champs in a span of four seasons, thanks to head coach Jimmy Johnson’s eye for talent and the Herschel Walker trade. Powered by a defense ranked first in total yards, Dallas upset San Francisco in the NFC Championship and then blew out Buffalo in the Super Bowl.

 

11. 1986 New York Giants

Finished: Beat Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 8th

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 8

Division Rivals: Washington Redskins (12-4), Dallas Cowboys (7-9), Philadelphia Eagles (5-10-1), St. Louis Cardinals (4-11-1)

Led by league MVP Lawrence Taylor, the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew” demolished San Francisco and Washington in the postseason, and then dominated Denver in the second half to win the Giants' first title since 1956. They also made the Gatorade Shower mainstream.

 

10. 2003 New England Patriots

Finished: Beat Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 12th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 4

Division Rivals: Miami Dolphins (10-6), Buffalo Bills (6-10), New York Jets (6-10)

On Sept. 28, 2003, New England lost to the Washington Redskins 20-17. The Patriots did not lose again until Oct. 31, 2004. Along the way, they beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl.

 

9. 1996 Green Bay Packers

Finished: Beat New England Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI

Regular Season Record: 13-3

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 4

Division Rivals: Minnesota Vikings (9-7), Chicago Bears (7-9), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10), Detroit Lions (5-11)

Everyone remembers the emergence of Brett Favre, but it's also important to remember that the Packers set an NFL record for fewest touchdowns allowed in a 16-game season with 19. They also became the first team to lead the league in scoring offense and defense since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

 

8. 1989 San Francisco 49ers

Finished: Beat Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 3rd    

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 7

Division Rivals: Los Angeles Rams (11-5), New Orleans Saints (9-7), Atlanta Falcons (3-13) 

The 49ers' West Coast Offense was at its apex with Joe Montana setting a then-record with his 112.4 passer rating. San Francisco lost its only two regular-season games by a total of five points and then blew out its playoff competition by a combined score of 126-26 to win their second straight Super Bowl.

 

7. 2016 New England Patriots

Finished: Beat Atlanta Falcons 34-28 (OT) in Super Bowl LI

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 3rd

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 3

Division Rivals: Miami Dolphins (10-6), Buffalo Bills (7-9), New York Jets (5-11)

Even with Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, New England sported the third-ranked scoring offense, along with the top-scoring defense. The 2016 Patriots also had their mettle tested by the Falcons on the biggest stage and orchestrated the greatest comeback in NFL history, overcoming a record 25-point deficit to win the first-ever Super Bowl to go into overtime.

 

6. 1966 Green Bay Packers

Finished: Beat Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I

Regular Season Record: 12-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 4th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 11

Division Rivals: N/A (Only the top two teams played for the NFL title before 1967)

The defending champion Packers won their division by three games and then beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship game to win their fourth title in six seasons. Then they showed the NFL’s dominance by blowing out the AFL's Chiefs in the first Super Bowl.

 

5. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

Finished: Beat Dallas Cowboys 35-31 in Super Bowl XIII

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 5th

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Houston Oilers (10-6), Cleveland Browns (8-8), Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)

The best Pittsburgh team of the '70s dynasty lost their only two games by a combined total of seven points. The Steelers then cruised through the playoffs and won a shootout with Dallas to win their third Super Bowl.

 

4. 1991 Washington Redskins

Finished: Beat Buffalo Bills 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI

Regular Season Record: 14-2

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 2nd

 Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 7

Division Rivals: Dallas Cowboys (11-5), Philadelphia Eagles (10-6), New York Giants (8-8), St. Louis Cardinals (4-12),

Football Outsiders, which analyzes NFL statistics, ranks this team as the greatest Super Bowl team of all time. I don’t have them that high, but man these Redskins were dominant, losing their two games by a total of five points.

 

3. 1972 Miami Dolphins

Finished: Beat Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII

Regular Season Record: 14-0

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 1st

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: New York Jets (7-7), Baltimore Colts (5-9), Buffalo Bills (4-9-1), New England Patriots (3-11)

The only team on this list to go undefeated actually had to play the AFC Championship game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh because of the league rules at the time. No matter. The Dolphins won as they did all their other games. The only two teams higher on this list won more games because they had the opportunity to play a 16-game regular season schedule.

 

2. 1985 Chicago Bears

Finished: Beat New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX

Regular Season Record: 15-1

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Green Bay Packers (8-8), Minnesota Vikings (7-9), Detroit Lions (7-9), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) 

Mythical status aside, the ’85 Bears won their division by seven games and were the top seed in the NFC by four. In the playoffs, they shut out their first two opponents and the only touchdown they gave up in the postseason was to the Patriots in garbage time of Super Bowl XX.

 

1. 1984 San Francisco 49ers

Finished: Beat Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX

Regular Season Record: 15-1

Playoff Seed: No. 1

Scoring Offense Rank: 2nd

Scoring Defense Rank: 1st  

Pro Bowlers or 1st Team All-Pro: 10

Division Rivals: Los Angeles Rams (10-6), New Orleans Saints (7-9), Atlanta Falcons (4-12) 

I have San Francisco higher than Chicago because their one loss was closer than the Bears’ and the 49ers’ Super Bowl competition was tougher. San Francisco’s only blemish was a 20-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC Central and played for the conference title. In addition to becoming the first team to ever go 15-1 in the regular season, these 49ers dominated their playoff opponents, including Dan Marino and a Miami Dolphins team that had scored more than 500 points that season.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

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