10 Best Super Bowl Teams of All-Time
If the Carolina Panthers beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, they’ll have a legitimate claim as one of the best teams ever to win the Lombardi Trophy. We’ve made a list of the 10 best Super Bowl teams of the last 50 years. Find out if your favorite championship squad made the cut:
with the key additions like future Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Howie Long and Mike Haynes. The Raiders 38-9 rout of the defending-champion Redskins not only allowed them to claim greatness, but it knocked Washington further down the list of all-time great teams. Los Angeles finished 15-4, avenging three of those four losses in the playoffs.
The NFL didn’t name its Super Bowl trophy after Vince Lombardi without reason: the Green Bay Packers were a dynasty before there ever was a Super Bowl. Though the franchise had better teams than the one that won Super Bowl I over the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, Lombardi still had quarterback Bart Starr, linebacker Ray Nitschke and defensive back Herb Adderley on this squad. The Pack finished 14-2 on the season. They repeated as champs the next year for good measure, too.
After a long history of losing in Super Bowls, the Denver Broncos and quarterback John Elway became the first AFC team to win back-to-back championships since the Steelers of the late 1970s. The 1999 Broncos were even better than the 1998 version that beat Brett Favre and the defending-champion Packers. Behind Elway, tight end Shannon Sharpe, a Pro Bowl-studded offensive line and a solid defense, Denver cruised to a 13-0 regular-season record before stumbling down the stretch. They made up for it by rolling through the postseason and the Super Bowl, where they beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19. They finished 17-2 on the season.
Until it becomes routine for teams to finish an NFL season undefeated, the 1972 Miami Dolphins will always make the list of best-ever Super Bowl champions. Other Super Bowl-winning teams can boast more Hall of Famers, a better margin of victory and a greater strength of schedule, but Don Shula’s charges are the only NFL team in the Super Bowl era to run the gridiron gauntlet without a loss. Led by smart quarterback Bob Griese, game-breaking running backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris and the No-Name Defense, Miami beat the Washington Redskins, 14-7, to finish a perfect 17-0. They repeated as champs in 1973, too.
It’s hard to imagine a team with Trent Dilfer at quarterback being considered among the NFL’s best-ever, but the 2000 Baltimore Ravens didn’t need Dilfer to win games because their Ray Lewis-led defense was simply awesome. Perhaps the greatest defense in NFL history, Baltimore allowed the fewest points of any team in the Super Bowl era. They routed the Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV, with New York’s only score coming on a kick-off return for a touchdown by Ron Dixon. The Ravens finished 16-4.
With six Super Bowl appearances and four championships in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era alone, the New England Patriots might have a case for best franchise of the Super Bowl era. The 2004 team beat an impressive Philadelphia Eagles squad, 24-21, in Super Bowl XXXIX to become repeat Super Bowl champions; they’re still the last to do it. Truth: Despite Brady, Belichick and a stout defense, these Pats probably weren’t as good as the undefeated team that was upset by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, but this list is winners-only. New England finished 17-2 and won its third Super Bowl in four years.
The 1984-93 Chicago Bears were victims of bad timing. While head coach Mike Ditka’s team was good enough to dominate the NFL for one season (1985) — and the NFC Central for nearly a decade — the presence of other great teams like the 49ers, Giants and Redskins prevented them from becoming a dynasty. Coordinator Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense was fortified with superstars like future Hall of Famers Mike Singletary, Richard Dent and Dan Hampton. Peerless running back Walter Payton and underrated quarterback Jim McMahon led the offense. The Bears hammered the New England Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX. They finished 18-1 while winning the franchise’s only Lombardi Trophy.
‘America’s Team’ has had many great squads in the franchise’s illustrious history, but the 1992 Dallas Cowboys were the most talented and best of the bunch. In claiming their spot on the list of best Super Bowl teams of all-time, the Jimmy Johnson-coached ’92 Cowboys can boast wins over the still-great 49ers in the NFC title game and over the three-time AFC champion-Bills in the Super Bowl. Led by game MVP Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin, Dallas posted a 52-17 rout that was the exclamation point on a stellar season. ‘Them Cowboys’ finished 16-3 and started a dynasty that won three Super Bowls in four years.
No Super Bowl champion was more dominant in the postseason than the 1989 San Francisco 49ers, who demolished opponents by a combined score of 126-26, including a 55-10 lashing of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. Led by Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, and guided by rookie head coach George Seifert (not Bill Walsh), the ’89 Niners repeated as champs and won the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl in nine years. They finished 17-2, with the two losses by a combined margin of just five points.
Fifty years into the Super Bowl era, no NFL franchise has as many championships as the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the organization has maintained its greatness over decades, no single team was better than the 1978 squad that won the franchise’s third Lombardi Trophy. Head coach Chuck Noll had nine future Pro Football Hall of Famers on his roster including quarterback Terry Bradshaw, wide receiver Lynn Swann and a defense led by linebacker Jack Lambert, defensive end Joe Greene and cornerback Mel Blount. Pittsburgh defeated defending-champion-Dallas, 35-31, in Super Bowl XII and won their third of four Super Bowls in six years. The Steelers finished 17-2 with the losses by a combined 10 points. Until a team can win three consecutive Super Bowls or four in five years, the 'Steel Curtain' reigns as the best Super Bowl team ever.