Each NFL franchise’s greatest group of the Tremendous Bowl period: Defending AFC champion Bengals crack all-time listing

Each NFL franchise has one group that set the usual for excellence. And whereas some franchises have been extra lucky than others, every franchise can level to at the very least one group from its previous that stood out from the remaining. Even the Browns, a group that has by no means appeared in a Tremendous Bowl, can level to a group from its semi-recent previous that may function the instance for future groups to observe. 

With the beginning of the 2022 season simply across the nook, we determined to call every franchise’s greatest group for the reason that begin of the Tremendous Bowl period. To create this listing, we appeared on the following standards when making our alternatives. 

  • Common margin of victory through the common season 
  • Offensive and defensive rankings, particularly because it pertains to scoring
  • Energy of the opposition 
  • Expertise on the roster 
  • How far the group superior within the postseason 

Utilizing this standards, we have been in a position to establish every franchise’s best group for the reason that begin of the 1966 season. Whereas many readers will agree with our alternatives, we all know that some will object to at the very least considered one of our picks, which is definitely positive. Who would not like an excellent sports activities debate, in spite of everything?

With out additional ado, let’s get began. 

A Tremendous Bowl-winning group shall be denoted with (*) 

  • 12-8 general report
  • Gained franchise’s solely NFC championship 
  • Featured the third-ranked scoring offense through the common season 

Regardless of a late-season swoon that noticed them lose 4 video games in a five-game span, the Cardinals gained the AFC West earlier than happening a roll through the NFC playoffs. In three consecutive weeks, Arizona defeated Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia to say the NFC championship. The Cardinals’ high-scoring offense, led by quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, scored over 30 factors in every of their first three playoff video games. 

Fitzgerald loved one of many best postseason performances in NFL historical past through the ’08 postseason, catching 30 passes for 546 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 127-yard, two-touchdown efficiency nearly led the Cardinals to a Super Bowl upset over the Steelers, who gained the sport following Ben Roethlisberger’s last-minute, game-winning drive. 

  • 16-3 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first NFC championship 
  • Boasted the league’s fourth-ranked offense and protection through the common season 

The 2016 Falcons have been far more aggressive of their Tremendous Bowl look (holding a 28-3 lead earlier than squandering it in opposition to the Patriots), however the ’98 Falcons have been, statically talking, a superior group. That season, Atlanta went 14-2 through the common season earlier than defeating Steve Younger and the 49ers within the divisional spherical of the playoffs. The Falcons then defeated the 15-1 Vikings in one of the greatest upsets in NFL postseason history. Atlanta was unable to duplicate that success in Tremendous Bowl XXXIII, nevertheless, because the Falcons have been run over by the defending champion Broncos, 34-19. 

The ’98 Falcons, nicknamed the “Soiled Birds” through the common season, have been led by Professional Bowlers Chris Chandler, Jamal Anderson, Bob Whitfield, Jessie Tuggle, Ray Buchanan, and Eugene Robinson. Anderson, the group’s lone All-Professional that season, rushed for 1,846 yards and 14 touchdowns through the common season. The Falcons’ offense additionally included two 1,000-yard receivers in Tony Martin and Terance Mathis. 

  • 16-4 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl title
  • Allowed 10.3 factors per recreation, the fewest in NFL historical past throughout a 16-game season 

The Ravens’ 2012 championship group could have been a extra balanced unit, however the utter dominance of Baltimore’s 2000 protection provides them the nod because the franchise’s best group. That season, Baltimore’s protection, led by Ray Lewis and Corridor of Fame security Rod Woodson, recorded 4 shutouts through the common season earlier than permitting a complete of 23 factors in 4 postseason video games. In Tremendous Bowl XXXV, the Ravens’ protection shut out the Giants’ offense whereas holding New York to simply 152 whole yards. 

Baltimore’s 2000 squad additionally featured the league’s greatest returner in Jermaine Lewis, whose 84-yard kickoff return for a rating in Tremendous Bowl XXXV ended any hope of a Giants comeback. The Ravens’ offense featured a punishing operating recreation, led by Jamal Lewis and Priest Holmes. Baltimore’s offense additionally included Corridor of Fame tight finish Shannon Sharpe, whose 96-yard rating spearheaded the Ravens’ 16-3 win over Oakland within the AFC Championship Recreation. 

  • 15-4 general report 
  • Gained franchise’s first AFC title
  • Completed first within the NFL in scoring and sixth in scoring protection 

Buffalo’s first of 4 AFC championship groups was its greatest. A group that boasted 5 future Corridor of Fame gamers, the Payments gained 13 video games through the common season earlier than scoring a mixed 95 factors of their first two playoff video games. The Payments have been unable to duplicate that stage of success in Super Bowl XXV, nevertheless, because the Giants’ ball management offense — together with a missed 47-yard subject aim — allowed New York to flee with a 20-19 victory. 

The Payments’ greatest gamers that season included quarterback Jim Kelly, operating again Thurman Thomas (whose 135 dashing yards in Tremendous Bowl XXV stays probably the most dashing yards by a dropping participant in Tremendous Bowl historical past), receivers Andre Reed and James Lofton, defensive finish Bruce Smith, linebackers Darryl Talley, Cornelius Bennett and Shane Conlan, and particular groups ace Steve Tasker. The ’90s Payments stay the one group to seem in 4 consecutive Tremendous Bowls. 

  • 17-2 general report
  • Featured league MVP Cam Newton
  • Completed first within the NFL in scoring and sixth in scoring protection 

The seventh group in NFL historical past to win at the very least 15 common season video games, the 2015 Panthers‘ common margin of victory was a dozen factors through the 2015 season. Carolina carried its common season momentum into the NFL playoffs, dethroning the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks within the divisional spherical earlier than routing the Cardinals within the convention championship recreation. The Panthers’ dream season got here to a crashing halt in Tremendous Bowl 50, as Von Miller’s 2.5 sacks and two pressured fumbles helped the Broncos come away with a 24-10 victory. 

Carolina’s gifted roster that season included league MVP Cam Newton, who that 12 months turned the primary participant in league historical past to throw 35 touchdowns and run for 10 touchdowns in the identical season. Together with Newton, the Panthers’ roster additionally included fellow Professional Bowlers in operating again Jonathan Stewart, fullback Mike Tolbert, tight finish Greg Olsen, heart Ryan Kalil, proper guard Trai Turner, defensive sort out Kawann Brief, linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and cornerback Josh Norman. 

  • 18-1 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl title
  • Completed second within the NFL in factors scored and first in fewest factors allowed 

The Bears’ dominant “46” protection is the very first thing that normally involves thoughts when reflecting again on the ’85 Bears, and for good purpose. That unit, led by defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, boasted three Corridor of Famers in linebacker Mike Singletary and defensive ends Richard Dent and Dan Hampton. The unit additionally included fellow Professional Bowlers in defensive sort out Steve McMichael, linebacker Otis Wilson and security Dave Duerson. Collectively, the 46 protection recorded 4 shutouts earlier than manhandling the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, 46-10

Whereas their protection was traditionally dominant, the Bears’ offense that season was a particular unit, too. Spearheaded by Corridor of Fame operating again Walter Payton, Chicago’s offense — a unit that additionally included quarterback Jim McMahon, Corridor of Fame left sort out Jimbo Covert and perennial Professional Bowl heart Jay Hilgenberg — scored at the very least 20 factors in all however two of their video games. And whereas he principally served as a decoy throughout Tremendous Bowl XX, Payton was something however that through the common season, as he rushed for 1,551 yards and 9 touchdowns whereas averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He additionally caught 49 passes for 483 yards and two scores whereas serving to the Bears grow to be the second group in league historical past to win 15 common season video games. 

  • Gained franchise’s third AFC title
  • Defeated top-seeded Titans and defending two-time AFC champion Chiefs in playoffs 

Led by Joe Burrow, the Bengals went from a 4-11-1 outfit in 2020 to AFC champions in 2021. The NFL’s Comeback Participant of the Yr, Burrow led the NFL in completion share through the common season. He took full benefit of arguably the league’s greatest receiving trio, led by Offensive Rookie of the Yr Ja’Marr Chase. Late within the common season, the Bengals’ offense put 41 and 34 factors in opposition to the Ravens and Chiefs in consecutive video games en path to clinching the AFC North division crown. 

Cincinnati’s protection additionally performed an important position within the group’s AFC championship run. Led by cross rusher Trey Hendrickson, linebacker Sam Hubbard and security Jessie Bates III, the unit got here up with game-clinching performs in every of the Bengals’ playoff victories. Hubbard’s interception in opposition to the Titans arrange Evan McPherson’s game-winning subject aim to propel Cincinnati to the AFC Championship Recreation. In time beyond regulation per week later, security Vonn Bell’s interception of Patrick Mahomes arrange McPherson’s second game-winning kick in as many weeks whereas punching the Bengals’ ticket to Tremendous Bowl LVI. 

Cleveland Browns: 1987 

  • 11-6 general report
  • Completed third within the NFL in scoring and second in factors allowed 

Whereas many Browns followers would argue that the ’86 group was higher, the ’87 Browns had a a lot better margin of victory (10.1 to five factors) in addition to top-five items on either side of the ball. A 12 months after falling brief in opposition to John Elway and the Broncos within the AFC title recreation, the Browns almost left Denver with a win within the ’87 AFC title recreation earlier than operating again Ernest Byner fumbled just short of the end zone. That is as shut because the Browns have come to representing the AFC within the Tremendous Bowl. 

Cleveland’s ’87 group was loaded with expertise. The offense included Corridor of Fame tight finish Ozzie Newsome together with Professional Bowlers in quarterback Bernie Kosar, fullback Kevin Mack, Byner (who loved a 14-year profession that included a Tremendous Bowl win with Washington in 1991), receiver Webster Slaughter and Professional Bowl proper sort out Cody Risien. Cleveland’s protection featured 4 Professional Bowlers in nostril sort out Bob Golic, linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive backs Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon. Cleveland’s expertise that season lifted it to a 38-21 playoff victory over the Colts. Kosar accomplished 20-of-31 passes with three touchdowns, whereas Byner out-rushed Colts Corridor of Fame operating again Eric Dickerson, 122-50. 

  • 16-3 general report
  • Featured the Corridor of Fame offensive trio of Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin
  • Completed second within the NFL in scoring and fifth in scoring protection 

A robust case could be made for the ’71 Cowboys, a group that featured eight Corridor of Fame gamers. The ’71 Cowboys, a group that went 10-0 with Corridor of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach beneath heart, gained the franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl after routing Don Shula’s Dolphins (a group that will win the subsequent two Tremendous Bowls) in Tremendous Bowl VI, 24-3. However nearly as good as that Cowboys group was, it is unimaginable to go in opposition to the ’92 Cowboys, a group that additionally featured of a slew of Corridor of Fame expertise. 

Led by their Corridor of Fame offensive trio of quarterback Troy Aikman, operating again Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin, Dallas averaged almost 39 factors per recreation through the ’92 playoffs. In Super Bowl XXVII, the Cowboys scored 52 factors behind a spectacular exhibiting from Aikman, who threw 4 touchdowns whereas finishing 70% of his passes. The Payments’ explosive offense was held in verify by a dominant Cowboys’ protection that featured Corridor of Fame cross rusher Charles Haley, linebacker Ken Norton Jr. and security Darren Woodson. The ’92 Cowboys’ best second could have taken place within the NFC title recreation, after they defeated Steve Younger, Jerry Rice and the remainder of the 49ers at Candlestick Park. 

Denver Broncos: 1998*

  • 17-2 general report
  • Featured Corridor of Fame offensive trio of John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe
  • Outscored their three playoff opponents 95-34 

A 12 months after successful the franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl, the ’98 Broncos gained their first 13 video games and completed the common season with a 14-2 report. Denver’s common season was highlighted by Corridor of Fame operating again Terrell Davis, who won league MVP honors after dashing for two,008 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns. Receivers Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith every recorded 1,000-yard seasons, whereas Corridor of Fame tight finish Shannon Sharpe’s 10 landing catches tied Smith for the league lead. Denver’s underrated protection, led by Corridor of Fame security Steve Atwater, allowed simply 13 whole factors within the Broncos’ playoff wins over the Dolphins and Jets. 

In Tremendous Bowl XXXIII, with the Falcons’ protection geared as much as cease Davis, the Broncos as an alternative showcased the abilities of quarterback John Elway, who threw for 336 yards whereas scoring two touchdowns in his ultimate NFL recreation. The Broncos, by advantage of their 34-19 win over the Falcons, turned the sixth franchise to win back-to-back Tremendous Bowls. 

  • 13-4 general report
  • Gained the franchise’s first playoff recreation since 1957
  • Featured Corridor of Fame operating again Barry Sanders 

Just one Lions group — the ’91 squad — has gained a postseason recreation for the reason that franchise gained their final championship in 1957. The engine behind the ’91 group was Corridor of Fame operating again Barry Sanders (1,548 yards, 16 touchdowns through the common season), whose 47-yard touchdown run capped off the Lions’ 38-6 win over the Cowboys (the group that will win the subsequent two Tremendous Bowls) within the divisional spherical of the NFC playoffs. The Lions’ protection — a unit that included three Professional Bowlers in nostril sort out Jerry Ball, linebacker Chris Spielman (126 tackles, three pressured fumbles and three fumble recoveries) and security Benny Blades — pressured 4 Cowboys turnovers whereas holding Dallas to 16 first downs and 276 whole yards. 

Together with Sanders, the Lions’ offense featured perennial Professional Bowl left sort out Lomas Brown together with the receiving trio of Brett Perriman, Willie Inexperienced and Robert Clark. The Lions additionally had Professional Bowl returner Mel Grey, who averaged 15.4 yards per punt return. 

  • 16-3 general report
  • Featured league MVP Brett Favre
  • Boasted the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and protection through the common season 

The ’66 Packers, the primary Tremendous Bowl champions, have been an superior group with a slew of Corridor of Fame gamers. However they weren’t as dominant as the ’96 Packers, a group that gained 14 video games by at the very least 10 factors. The truth is, of their ultimate eight video games of the ’96 season (all wins), the Packers’ margin of victory was a whopping 21.1 factors. Within the playoffs, Inexperienced Bay outscored the opposition 100-48. The Packers capped off their dominant season by defeating the Patriots in Tremendous Bowl XXXI, 35-21. The star of the sport was return specialist Desmond Howard, whose 99-yard kickoff return for a landing helped clinch Inexperienced Bay’s first championship in 29 years. 

Together with league MVP Brett Favre, the Packers’ ’96 roster included Corridor of Fame cross rusher Reggie White, who recorded three sacks through the second half of Tremendous Bowl XXXI. Inexperienced Bay’s roster additionally included Professional Bowl security LeRoy Butler, defensive sort out Gilbert Brown, Professional Bowl heart Frank Winters, operating backs Dorsey Levens and Edgar Bennett, and receivers Antonio Freeman, Robert Brooks and Andre Rison. In Tremendous Bowl XXXI, Rison’s 54-yard landing catch gave the Packers an early lead, whereas Freeman’s 81-yard landing catch (on the time, the longest landing reception in Tremendous Bowl historical past) gave Inexperienced Bay the lead for good. 

  • 13-5 general report
  • Completed top-10 within the NFL in scoring and scoring protection
  • Featured Defensive Participant of the Yr J.J. Watt

A 12 months after successful the franchise’s first playoff recreation, the 2012 Texans gained a franchise report 12 common season video games earlier than defeating the Bengals within the wild card spherical. Houston was led by J.J. Watt, who gained Defensive Participant of the Yr that season after recording a league excessive 20.5 sacks. The Texans’ roster featured seven different Professional Bowlers in receiver Andre Johnson (112 catches, 1,598 yards), operating again Arian Foster (1,424 dashing yards, 15 touchdowns), quarterback Matt Schaub, tight finish Owen Daniels, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, heart Chris Myers, left guard Wade Smith, and left sort out Duane Brown. Johnson, a seven-time Professional Bowl, shall be eligible for the Corridor of Fame in 2022. 

Indianapolis Colts: 2006*

  • 16-4 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl since shifting from Baltimore to Indianapolis
  • Featured Corridor of Fame skills of QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison 

After six disappointing playoff exits, Peyton Manning’s Colts lastly obtained over the hump in 2006, defeating the Bears 29-17 in Tremendous Bowl XLI. It wasn’t simple, nevertheless, as Indianapolis needed to win 4 playoff video games that included its dramatic, come-from-behind win over the Patriots within the AFC Championship Recreation. The Colts additionally wanted 5 Adam Vinatieri subject targets to beat the top-seeded Ravens within the divisional spherical. 

Together with Manning, the ’06 Colts featured Corridor of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison (1,366 yards, 12 touchdowns), Professional Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne (1,310 yards, 9 touchdowns), operating again Joseph Addai (1,406 all-purpose yards, eight touchdowns), tight finish Dallas Clark, defensive finish Dwight Freeney, linebackers Cato June and Gary Brackett, and security Bob Sanders, who the next 12 months can be tabbed because the NFL’s Defensive Participant of the Yr. The ’06 Colts have been led by coach Tony Dungy, who was inducted into the Corridor of Fame in 2016. 

  • 15-3 general report 
  • Featured the NFL’s top-ranked scoring protection and sixth-ranked scoring offense 
  • Misplaced to just one group (thrice): the Tennessee Titans 

The ’99 Jaguars had some competitors because the franchise’s greatest group. The ’96 squad, after a 4-7 begin, gained seven straight video games that included a shocking playoff victory over the Broncos. The ’17 Jaguars, a group that featured the second-ranked scoring protection and fifth-ranked scoring offense, upset the favored Steelers within the playoffs earlier than falling simply brief in opposition to the Patriots within the AFC title recreation. 

However the ’99 Jaguars obtained the nod based mostly on their franchise-record 14-win common season. The truth is, the one group Jacksonville misplaced to in 1999 was the Titans, who defeated them twice through the common season earlier than defeating Jacksonville once more within the AFC title recreation. The Jaguars’ playoff loss got here after they throttled within the Dolphins — 62-7 — in what can be the ultimate recreation of Dan Marino’s Corridor of Fame profession. 

The ’99 Jaguars featured quarterback Mark Brunell, operating again Fred Taylor and receiver Jimmy Smith (1,636 reaching yards), who’re the franchise’s all-time profession passing, dashing and receiving leaders. Together with Brunell and Smith’ the ’99 Jaguars included 5 different Professional Bowlers in offensive tackles Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy, defensive finish Tony Brackens (12 sacks, two interceptions, two pressured fumbles), linebacker Kevin Hardy (10.5 sacks) and free security Carnell Lake. 

  • 15-4 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl since AFL-NFL merger 
  • First group in NFL historical past to beat three double-digit deficits within the playoffs

After a 7-4 begin, the Chiefs gained their ultimate 9 video games that included a 31-20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Patrick Mahomes, the league’s MVP the earlier season, turned the primary participant in league historical past to win a league and Tremendous Bowl MVP earlier than his twenty fifth birthday. And whereas Mahomes was a significant purpose for his or her first championship in 50 years, the Chiefs have been hardly a one-man present. Together with Mahomes, the Chiefs’ 2019 roster featured 5 different Professional Bowlers in receiver Tyreek Hill, tight finish Travis Kelce (97 catches, 1,229 yards), defensive linemen Chris Jones and Frank Clark, and security Tyrann Mathieu. 

Whereas the ’19 Chiefs gained the title because the franchise’s greatest group, a tip of the cap goes out to the ’69 Chiefs, the second and ultimate AFL group to win the Tremendous Bowl. The ’69 Chiefs featured eight Corridor of Famers in coach Hank Stram, quarterback Len Dawson, defensive tackles Curly Culp and Buck Buchanan, linebackers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier and security Johnny Robinson. 

San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers: 2007

  • Total report: 13-6
  • Featured the fifth-ranked scoring offense and fifth-ranked scoring protection 
  • Upset the defending champion Colts within the divisional spherical of the playoffs

With respect to the ’94 Chargers — the one Chargers group to truly make it to the Tremendous Bowl — the ’07 group was extra gifted and confronted stiffer competitors. The ’07 group, led by Corridor of Fame operating again LaDainian Tomlinson (1,949 all-purpose yards, 18 touchdowns) and two future Corridor of Famers in quarterback Philip Rivers and tight finish Antonio Gates, captured the AFC West division title earlier than defeating the Titans within the opening spherical of the playoffs. Within the divisional spherical, the Chargers upset Peyton Manning and the remainder of the defending champion Colts, 28-24. 

Regardless of taking part in a lot of the recreation with out Tomlinson, and with Rivers playing through a torn ACL injury, the Chargers gave the then-undefeated Patriots the whole lot they might deal with within the AFC title recreation. The truth is, had the Chargers had a wholesome Tomlinson within the backfield, it’s totally doubtless that the Chargers, not the Giants, would have been the group that ended the Patriots’ goals of an undefeated season. 

St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams: 1999*

  • Total report: 16-3 
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl title 
  • Featured the league’s top-scoring offense and fourth-ranked scoring protection 

Spearheaded by their “Biggest Present on Turf” offense, the Rams scored 526 factors through the ’99 common season. Kurt Warner gained league and Tremendous Bowl MVP honors, whereas Marshall Faulk turned the second participant ever to eclipse 1,000 yards dashing and receiving. Isaac Bruce, a member of the 2020 Corridor of Fame induction class, led the Rams in landing receptions. His 73-yard touchdown catch gave St. Louis the lead late in Tremendous Bowl XXXIV. 

The ’99 Rams’ protection, a vastly underrated unit, included All-Professional defensive finish Kevin Carter (17 sacks), Professional Bowler cornerback Todd Lyght (six interceptions), proper sort out D’Marco Farr (8.5 sacks, 4 pressured fumbles) and linebackers London Fletcher and Mike Jones. Jones’ last-second tackle on Kevin Dyson secured the Rams’ first Tremendous Bowl win. 

Miami Dolphins: 1972*

  • Total report: 17-0
  • The one NFL group to go undefeated for a whole season 
  • Featured the league’s top-ranked scoring offense and protection 

How dominant have been the ’72 Dolphins? Miami scored greater than double the variety of factors (385) as its protection allowed (171) through the common season. Whereas their “No Title” protection has rightfully gone down as arguably the best unit in league historical past, the Dolphins’ offense was fairly nice, too. Miami’s offense featured operating backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, the primary pair of teammates to every run for over 1,000 yards in the identical season. Together with Csonka and quarterback Bob Griese, the Dolphins’ offense featured two different Corridor of Famers in receiver Paul Warfield and proper guard Larry Little. 

Tremendous Bowl VII served as showcase for Miami’s dominant protection, led by recreation MVP Jack Scott, whose two interceptions helped the Dolphins defeat Washington, 14-7. Manny Fernandez recorded 17 tackles, whereas Corridor of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti additionally got here up with a key interception. 

Minnesota Vikings: 1998

  • Total report: 16-2
  • Featured the highest-scoring offense (on the time) in NFL historical past
  • Posted a 16.3 common margin of victory

With respect to Bud Grant’s 4 Tremendous Bowl groups, the ’98 Vikings are the most dominant team in franchise history. They’re additionally arguably the best NFL group that did not attain the Tremendous Bowl. Led by Corridor of Fame receivers Randy Moss (that 12 months’s Offensive Rookie of the Yr) and Cris Carter, All-Professional quarterback Randall Cunningham, Corridor of Fame defensive finish John Randle, and an offensive line that featured three Professional Bowlers, the Vikings misplaced one recreation (27-24 to the Buccaneers in Week 9) through the common season. Minnesota, which scored a then-NFL report 556 factors through the common season, ran away from the Cardinals within the divisional spherical earlier than internet hosting the Falcons within the NFC title recreation. 

Regardless of leaping out to a 20-7 lead, the Vikings by no means absolutely distanced themselves from the Falcons, who pulled to inside a landing of Minnesota late within the fourth quarter. And after a missed subject aim by Gary Anderson (who made every of his first 39 makes an attempt that season), the Falcons tied the rating with lower than a minute left. Atlanta, after forcing two Vikings punts, gained the sport in time beyond regulation. The Falcons have been finally dismantled in Tremendous Bowl XXXIII, whereas the Vikings proceed to seek for their subsequent journey to the massive recreation. 

New England Patriots: 2016*

  • Total report: 17-2
  • Featured the top-ranked scoring protection and third-best scoring offense
  • Overcame a 28-3 deficit to win Tremendous Bowl LI 

It got here right down to the Patriots’ ’04 and ’16 squads as their greatest group. However the nod finally went to the group that overcame the biggest deficit — 28-3 — in Tremendous Bowl historical past. However the ’16 Patriots must be remembered for extra than simply their epic comeback. This New England group completed third within the league in scoring and first in scoring protection. They went 3-1 with out Tom Brady beneath heart at the beginning of the season. And when Brady got here again, New England misplaced only one extra recreation whereas successful 11 video games by double figures. They defeated the Texans and Steelers by a mixed rating of 70-33 earlier than scoring 31 unanswered factors in opposition to Atlanta within the Tremendous Bowl. 

Together with Brady, the Patriots’ offense featured a 1,000-yard operating again (LeGarrette Blount), a 1,000-yard receiver (Julian Edelman) and a deadly tight finish mixture in Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski, who mixed to catch 80 passes for 1,241 yards and 10 touchdowns. On protection, the Patriots have been led by Professional Bowlers Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty together with linebackers Jamie Collins and Rob Ninkovich and cornerback Malcolm Butler. 

  • 16-3 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl title
  • Outscored opponents 107-59 within the postseason 

Led by future Corridor of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints roared out to a 13-0 begin earlier than coasting to the NFC South division title. Within the playoffs, the Saints routed the defending NFC champion Cardinals earlier than outlasting Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the remainder of the Vikings within the NFC title recreation. In Tremendous Bowl XLIV, the Saints overcame a 10-0 deficit to defeat Peyton Manning and the Colts, 31-17. Brees earned MVP honors after going 32-of-39 for 288 yards with two touchdowns and nil interceptions. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush mixed to amass 148 yards and a landing on 24 whole touches in opposition to the Colts, whereas Marques Colston led the Saints in receiving. 

Whereas the Saints’ offense featured 4 Professional Bowlers in Brees, heart Johnathan Goodwin, proper guard Jahri Evans and proper sort out Jon Stinchcomb, their offense boasted three extra Professional Bowlers in center linebacker Jonathan Vilma and safeties Roman Harper and Darren Sharper. 

New York Giants: 1986*

  • 17-2 general report
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl
  • Outscored opponents 105-23 within the postseason 

After dropping their season-opener in Dallas, the Giants would lose only one extra recreation throughout the remainder of the ’86 season. Within the playoffs, the Giants walloped Joe Montana and the 49ers, 49-3, earlier than shutting out Washington within the NFC Championship Recreation. In Tremendous Bowl XXI, New York trailed 10-9 at intermission earlier than outscoring the Broncos 30-10 within the second half en path to a 39-20 victory. Recreation MVP Phil Simms enjoyed an historic outing, finishing a report 88% of his cross makes an attempt for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He accomplished all 10 of his makes an attempt within the second half whereas throwing landing passes to Mark Bavaro and Phil McConkey. 

The Giants’ dominant protection, a unit that included 4 Professional Bowlers in defensive ends Jim Burt, Leonard Marshall, Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor (that 12 months’s Defensive Participant of the Yr) intercepted John Elway thrice. New York’s protection additionally got here up with a pivotal goal-line stand through the first half that included Taylor’s essential sort out of Elway simply wanting the aim line. The Broncos additionally had no solutions because it associated to stopping Giants linebacker Carl Banks, who recorded 10 tackles that included 4 behind the road of scrimmage. 

New York Jets: 1968*

  • 13-3 general report 
  • Defeated the defending AFL champion Raiders in league title recreation
  • Upset the NFL champion Colts in Tremendous Bowl III 

After a 7-3 begin, Weeb Ewbank’s Jets would win their ultimate six video games that included spectacular postseason victories over the Raiders and Colts. A 17.5 level underdog getting into Tremendous Bowl III, the Jets’ protection pressured 5 turnovers that included three interceptions of Colts quarterback Earl Morrall, the NFL’s MVP that season. The Jets’ protection, a unit that included 4 Professional Bowlers in defensive ends Gary Philbin and Verlon Biggs, sort out John Elliott and linebacker Al Atkinson, additionally recorded an interception off of Corridor of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, who relieved Morrall within the third quarter. Randy Beverly recorded two of the Jets’ 4 interceptions, whereas Johnny Pattern, who led the Jets with seven picks through the common season, additionally got here up with an interception. 

Joe Namath, who boldly assured victory through the week of the sport, accomplished 17 passes in opposition to the Colts’ formidable protection. Namath had a subject day throwing to George Sauer, who caught eight passes for 133 yards. Namath, who did not throw a single cross within the fourth quarter, relied closely on his operating recreation, led by Matt Snell, who gashed the Colts to the tune of 121 yards and a rating on 30 carries. New York’s 16-7 win, the AFL’s first victory over the NFL, is taken into account the best upset in professional soccer historical past. 

Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders: 1976*

  • 16-1 general report 
  • Dethroned the defending two-time champion Steelers in AFC title recreation
  • Gained franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl 

After dropping in three of the earlier 4 AFC title video games, John Madden’s Raiders lastly broke by means of in 1976, defeating the rival Steelers within the AFC Championship Recreation earlier than routing the Vikings in Tremendous Bowl XI, 32-14. Oakland’s offense was loaded with star energy. It featured 5 future Corridor of Fame gamers in quarterback Ken Stabler, receiver Fred Biletnikoff, tight finish Dave Caster and offensive linemen Artwork Shell and Gene Upshaw. Cliff Department, the group’s main receiver that season, is arguably the very best participant in NFL historical past who has but to obtain his gold jacket. 

The Raiders’ intimidating protection featured a pair of future Corridor of Famers in linebacker Ted Hendricks and cornerback Willie Brown, whose 75-yard pick-six put the exclamation level on the Raiders’ Tremendous Bowl win. Oakland’s protection additionally featured Professional Bowl linebacker Phil Villapiano, cornerback Skip “Dr. Dying” Thomas, and safeties George Atkinson and Jack “The Murderer” Tatum. 

  • 16-3 general report
  • Had 10.2-point common margin of victory 
  • Gained the Tremendous Bowl with a backup quarterback 

The Eagles already had arguably the NFL’s greatest roster earlier than they traded a 2018 mid-round choose to accumulate Professional Bowl operating again Jay Ajayi halfway by means of the ’17 season. Ajayi was the proper complement for fellow operating backs LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement, because the Eagles boasted the league’s third-best dashing assault through the common season. Philadelphia’s sturdy operating recreation enabled it to beat the lack of MVP candidate Carson Wentz, who suffered a season-ending damage 13 weeks into the season. 

Wentz’s alternative, Nick Foles, would get pleasure from a Cinderella story that included an MVP efficiency in Tremendous Bowl LII. Within the highest scoring Tremendous Bowl ever, Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns whereas main the Eagles to a 41-33 win over the Patriots. Foles acquired stellar safety from heart Jason Kelce, proper guard Brandon Brooks and proper sort out Lane Johnson, who every acquired Professional Bowl recognition. Philadelphia’s protection, a unit that completed fourth in factors allowed through the common season, featured defensive sort out Fletcher Cox, defensive finish Brandon Graham, and free security Malcolm Jenkins. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: 1978*

  • 17-2 general report
  • Featured league MVP Terry Bradshaw in addition to the NFL’s top-ranked protection
  • Defeated the earlier two AFC Tremendous Bowl contributors through the playoffs 

There is a long-running debate in Pittsburgh between the ’75 and ’78 Steelers. Whereas the ’75 Steelers loved a bigger common margin of victory (15 factors to 10.1 factors), the ’78 Steelers had a way more polished Bradshaw, who gained league and Tremendous Bowl MVP honors. Bradshaw was flanked on the offensive facet of the ball by fellow Corridor of Famers in heart Mike Webster, operating again Franco Harris and receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Harris’ 22-yard landing run gave the Steelers a double-digit lead over the Cowboys late in Super Bowl XIII, whereas Swann’s 18-yard scoring catch moments later gave Pittsburgh an insurmountable lead. Stallworth’s two first-half touchdowns helped propel Pittsburgh to a 21-14 halftime lead. Bradshaw’s 318 yards and 4 landing passes have been each Tremendous Bowl data. 

Whereas Pittsburgh’s offense had blossomed right into a machine by ’78, its protection was simply as dominant because it had been earlier within the decade. Main the NFL’s top-ranked protection in ’78 was two-time NFL Defensive Participant of the Joe Greene together with fellow Corridor of Famers Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount and Donnie Shell. L.C. Greenwood, among the finest Steelers not at the moment in Canton, earned his fifth of six Professional Bowl alternatives that season. 

San Francisco 49ers: 1989*

  • Total report: 17-2 
  • Outscored their playoff opponents 126-26
  • House owners of the biggest margin of victory in Tremendous Bowl historical past 

This was the toughest choice on the listing. San Francisco has two all-time nice groups within the ’89 and ’84 squads. The ’84 49ers, the second of Invoice Walsh’s three Tremendous Bowl championship groups, have been the primary group in league historical past to win 15 common season video games. Within the playoffs, they defeated the subsequent two Tremendous Bowl champions (the Giants and Bears) earlier than humbling Dan Marino and the Dolphins’ prolific offense in Tremendous Bowl XIX. 

As nice because the ’84 49ers have been, they have been edged out by the ’89 group, a group that had Jerry Rice, who was drafted a number of months after San Francisco’s Tremendous Bowl win over Miami. Rice was on the peak of his powers in 1989, catching three landing passes in the 49ers’ 55-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. Rice was half of arguably the best quarterback receiving duo in NFL historical past. The opposite half, quarterback Joe Montana, gained his first of two league MVP honors that season. He additionally gained his third Tremendous Bowl MVP award after torching the Broncos for a then Tremendous Bowl report 5 landing passes. 

Whereas the 49ers’ offense — a unit that additionally included operating again Roger Craig, receiver John Taylor and Professional Bowl left guard Man McIntyre — was elite, San Francisco’s protection was additionally a dominant unit. Led by Corridor of Famers Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley, the 49ers’ protection held 12 opponents to 16 factors or much less. 

Seattle Seahawks: 2013*

  • Total report: 16-3
  • Featured the NFL’s top-ranked scoring protection
  • Manhandled the league’s most prolific offense in Tremendous Bowl XLVII 

Matched up in opposition to some of the statistically dominant offenses in NFL historical past, the Seahawks’ “Legion of Increase” protection held Peyton Manning and the Broncos to just eight points. The Seahawks’ offense put collectively 5 scoring drives whereas serving to Seattle seize its first-ever Tremendous Bowl title. 

The Seahawks’ protection, a unit that allowed a mean of 14.4 factors per recreation through the common season, was anchored by cornerback Richard Sherman, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Seattle’s offense featured three Professional Bowlers in quarterback Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch (1,257 yards, 12 touchdowns) and heart Max Unger. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2020*

  • 15-5 general report
  • Featured the NFL’s third-ranked offense and eighth-ranked protection 
  • Defeated quarterbacks Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes  

The 2002 Buccaneers will all the time maintain a particular place within the hearts of Tampa Bay followers because the franchise’s first title group. However the 2020 Buccaneers have been a extra balanced group who put collectively some of the dominant performances in Tremendous Bowl historical past. The ’20 Buccaneers additionally had the “GOAT,” quarterback Tom Brady, who gained a report seventh Tremendous Bowl and fifth Tremendous Bowl MVP. 

After a sluggish begin, Tampa Bay gained its ultimate eight video games. Within the playoffs, they despatched Drew Brees into retirement earlier than defeating league MVP Aaron Rodgers in his personal yard. In Tremendous Bowl LV, the Buccaneers’ typically missed protection — led by linebackers Devin White, Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David, defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, and defensive backs Antoine Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead and Carlton Davis — held Patrick Mahomes and the remainder of the Chiefs’ mighty offense to simply 9 factors. Brady did his half, tossing three landing passes — two to tight finish Rob Gronkowski — earlier than halftime. Leonard Fournette, proving {that a} profitable operating recreation nonetheless issues within the NFL, primarily put the sport on ice together with his 27-yard landing run halfway by means of the third quarter. 

Tennessee Titans: 1999

  • Total report: 16-4 
  • Gained franchise’s first AFC title
  • Gained all three video games in opposition to the Jaguars, who have been 15-0 in opposition to the remainder of the NFL 

After three consecutive 8-8 seasons, Tennessee lastly broke by means of in 1999, its first season because the Titans. Tennessee acquired a significant shot within the arm from cross rusher Javon Kearse, whose 14.5 sacks helped him win Defensive Rookie of the Yr. However regardless of the Titans’ 13-3 common season, they entered the playoffs as a wild card group, and wanted a “Music City Miracle” to defeat the Payments within the wild card spherical. The Titans took off from there, although, upsetting the second-seeded Colts within the divisional spherical earlier than defeating the top-seeded Jaguars for a 3rd time within the AFC title recreation. 

Trailing 16-0 in Tremendous Bowl XXXIV, the Titans, led by the mixed brilliance of Steve McNair and Eddie George, battled again to tie the rating with 2:12 left. However after the Rams rapidly regained the lead, McNair’s ultimate cross of the sport, a slant to Kevin Dyson, noticed Dyson get tackled a yard shy of the tip zone. Whereas they did not grow to be the franchise’s first world champion, the ’99 Titans stay its greatest group thus far. 

Washington Commanders: 1991*

Total report: 14-2 

  • Scored twice as many factors (485) than they allowed (224)
  • Featured the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and second-ranked scoring protection 
  • Outscored their playoff opponents 102-41

Washington’s ’91 squad is likely one of the most underrated groups of the Tremendous Bowl period. Joe Gibbs’ third Tremendous Bowl title group breezed by means of the common season, dropping simply two video games by a mixed 5 factors. Within the playoffs, Washington ran by means of the Falcons (24-7) and Lions (41-10) earlier than coasting to a 37-24 win over the Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. Quarterback Mark Rypien (291 yards, two touchdowns) took house the sport’s MVP award. He had excessive success throwing the ball to receivers Gary Clark and Artwork Monk, who mixed to catch 14 passes for 227 yards and a landing in opposition to the Payments’ formidable protection. Rypien acquired sturdy safety from a gifted offensive line that included left sort out Jim Lachey, heart Jeff Bostic, proper guard Mark Schlareth and proper sort out Joe Jacoby. 

Talking of protection, Washington’s unit, led by defensive ends Charles Mann and Fred Stokes together with defensive again Darrell Inexperienced and Brad Edwards, pressured 5 Buffalo turnovers that included 4 picks of Payments quarterback Jim Kelly. Washington’s protection additionally held Thurman Thomas, the league’s MVP that season, to simply 13 yards on 10 carries. 

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