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Ranking the Top 10 Greatest NFL Teams of All Time

Who are the greatest teams in NFL history? We're ranking the top 10, from the 1992 Dallas Cowboys to the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Determining the greatest NFL teams of all time is no easy task.

With nearly 60 years of league history since the 1967 NFL-AFL merger and more than a century since the NFL’s debut 1922 campaign, plenty of clubs could lay claim to the title of the best-ever team.

Who are the top teams in NFL history? We’re breaking down the top 10, beginning with a club that represented the start of a dynasty.

The Top 10 Teams in NFL History

10) 1992 Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys’ triplets were just beginning their reign in 1992 when they won the first of three Super Bowls over four years. Troy Aikman tossed a career-high 23 touchdowns, while Emmitt Smith led the NFL in rushing yards (1,713) and total TDs (19).

Dallas’ offense was outstanding, but Jimmy Johnson’s club also boasted a robust defensive roster. The Cowboys gave up the fewest yards and first downs in the league and ranked second in points allowed. Defensive ends Jim Jeffcoat and Tony Tolbert each finished with 8.5+ sacks.

Dallas sailed through the playoffs after winning the NFC East with a 13-3 regular season record. They scored 30+ points against the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs before destroying the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII.

9) 1989 San Francisco 49ers

The 1989 49ers’ roster was essentially a Hall of Fame induction class. Quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, wide receiver Jerry Rice, running back Roger Craig, and safety Ronnie Lott were part of a San Francisco depth chart that led the NFL in scoring and ranked third in points allowed.

While the 49ers had won the Super Bowl the previous year, they’d only gone 10-6 during the regular season. The 1989 Niners were far more dominant, posting a 14-2 record before putting up one of the more authoritative playoff runs in recent memory.

None of San Francisco’s postseason games were close. Bill Walsh and Co. beat the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams by a combined 55 points before managing a 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

8) 1999 St. Louis Rams

“The Greatest Show on Turf” remains one of the NFL’s best team nicknames, an incredibly fitting moniker for the explosive 1999 Rams.

St. Louis scored 58% more points than the league average in 1999. Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce put up 526 points, 83 more than second-place Washington. That 83-point delta matched the gap between No. 2 Washington and the No. 10 Green Bay Packers.

Warner cemented his legacy in his first year as a starting QB, kicking off one of the NFL’s most improbable careers. Two years removed from bagging groceries and slinging footballs for the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League, Warner hoisted the Lombardi Trophy while winning NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors.

7) 1962 Green Bay Packers

The Packers won their second consecutive NFL title and eighth overall championship in 1962, taking down the New York Giants in the title tilt after going 13-1 during the regular season.

Bart Starr led the league in passing, while fullback Jim Taylor won MVP after pacing the NFL with 1,474 yards on the ground.

But Green Bay’s true strength was on defense, where the team boasted five future Hall of  Famers: defensive linemen Willie Davis and Henry Jordan, linebacker Ray Nitschke, cornerback Herb Adderley, and safety Willie Wood.

The Packers allowed only 10.3 points per game, Nitschke grabbed Super Bowl MVP, and Wood led the NFL with nine interceptions.

6) 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers ran circles around the rest of the NFL in the mid-to-late 1970s, winning four Super Bowls in six years while creating one of the league’s genuine dynasties. Choosing between various iterations of this Pittsburgh roster is challenging, but the 1978 Steelers club is our selection to represent this imperial era of Black and Gold football.

Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” defensive line — comprised of “Mean” Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White — remains one of the NFL’s best all-time units. Meanwhile, Steelers CB Mel Blount’s physical play was so effective that the league was forced to change its downfield contact rules.

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw won MVP after posting the best season of his career, and Pittsburgh finished 14-2 in the regular season. After posting 23+ point playoff victories over the Denver Broncos and Houston Oilers, the Steelers held on for a 35-31 win against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.

5) 1991 Washington

While Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls with Washington after the 1982 and 1987 seasons, the now-Commanders were in a bit of a rut in 1991. They’d missed the playoffs altogether in 1988 and 1989 before a first-round exit in 1990.

But the 1991 club got things back on track, solidifying Gibbs’ future Hall of Fame berth. Washington rostered two All-Pros (OT Jim Lachey and CB Darrell Green) and six Pro Bowlers, including QB Mark Rypien, RB Earnest Byner, and WR Gary Clark.

Of course, we can’t forget “The Hogs,” the Commanders’ top-tier offensive line that cleared the way for the team’s offensive production in the eighties and nineties. Center Jeff Bostic, left guard Russ Grimm, right guard Mark May, and left tackle Joe Jacoby stuck together for all three of Gibbs’ Super Bowl-winning clubs.

Washington went 14-2 in the regular season, with its two losses coming by a combined five points. The ’91 Commanders, the NFL’s best team of the past 30 years by DVOA, stormed through the playoffs, beating the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, and Bills en route to a Super Bowl XXVI victory.

4) 1984 San Francisco 49ers

The 1984 49ers were oh-so-close to going undefeated during the regular season. They became the first NFL team to win 15 games after the league transitioned to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

San Francisco’s only defeat was a three-point loss to the Steelers in Week 7. Montana drove the Niners down the field as the clock expired, but kicker Ray Wersching missed a 37-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

Montana won the league and Super Bowl MVP awards in 1984, while the 49ers sent 10 players to the Pro Bowl.

3) 1985 Chicago Bears

How’s this for a commanding playoff run? The 1985 Bears shut out the Giants and Rams in the first two rounds of the postseason before authoring a Super Bowl-shuffling 46-10 win over the Patriots.

Mike Ditka’s squad finished seven games ahead of the Packers in the NFC Central. Chicago went 15-1 during the regular season while allowing just 198 total points, good for 12.4 per game.

Ditka won Coach of the Year, and LB Mike Singletary earned Defensive Player of the Year. Both men eventually entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame alongside fellow 1985 Bears like RB Walter Payton, DT Dan Hampton, DE Richard Dent, and OT Jim Covert.

2) 2007 New England Patriots

The 2007 New England Patriots are the only team on our list that failed to win a Super Bowl. However, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of the ’07 Pats were so dominant that they’re not only among the greatest teams of all time, but ranked second overall.

New England was rarely tested while becoming the first team to go undefeated since the NFL switched to a 16-game regular season.

No team has ever posted a better point differential (+315) than the 2007 Patriots. All but four of their regular-season victories came by more than one score.

Brady won his first MVP award after setting the league on fire with a then-record 50 touchdown passes. Offseason trade acquisition Randy Moss set an NFL record of his own, hauling in 23 TD catches for a mark that still stands.

But when it mattered most, New England scored just 14 points while being upset by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

1) 1972 Miami Dolphins

The undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins sit atop our list of the greatest NFL teams of all time. Miami led the league in points scored and points allowed while managing the only undefeated, Super Bowl-winning campaign in NFL history.

The amazing thing about the undefeated Dolphins is they did it mostly with backup quarterback Earl Morrall at the helm. Morrall replaced starter Bob Griese after he broke his ankle in Week 5 and went on to win first-team All-Pro honors.

Head coach Don Shula re-inserted Griese during Miami’s Round 2 playoff game against the Steelers, replacing Morrall at halftime. The Dolphins held on for a 21-17 win over Pittsburgh before upsetting Washington to win Super Bowl VII.

No team has matched Miami’s perfect season. Until that changes, the 1972 Dolphins will remain the greatest team in NFL history.