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Saturday, January 20, 2007
Updated: January 24, 6:18 PM ET
The Ultimate Super Rankings

Page 2

The rankings: No. 80 to No. 61 | No. 60 to No. 41 | No. 40 to No. 21 | No. 20 to No. 1

20. 1997 DENVER BRONCOS     12-4 (4-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
472 29.5 287 17.9 +185 1 of 30 1 of 30 7 of 30 5 of 30 .494 4-3 111-72
Super Bowl: Beat Green Bay 31-24     Coach: Mike Shanahan
Key players: QB John Elway (3,635 yards, 27 TD), RB Terrell Davis (1,750 yards), WR Rod Smith, TE Shannon Sharpe, C Tom Nalen, DE Neil Smith, LB Bill Romanowski, DB Tyrone Braxton

After 13 consecutive NFC victories in the Super Bowl, oddsmakers made Denver an 11½-point underdog. Little did they understand how much the emergence of Terrell Davis would help John Elway. The balanced Broncos ranked No. 1 in the NFL in points and offensive yardage, and its defense allowed the fifth-fewest yards in the league. One knock on this team is that it didn't win its division, despite having the second-best record in the AFC. But Denver toppled AFC West champion Kansas City in a divisional playoff game en route to its long-awaited first Super Bowl title.

19. 1978 DALLAS COWBOYS     12-4 (2-1)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
384 24.0 208 13.0 +176 1 of 28 2 of 28 3 of 28 2 of 28 .504 6-4 86-55
Super Bowl: Lost to Pittsburgh 35-31     Coach: Tom Landry
Key players: QB Roger Staubach (3,190 yards, 25 TD), RB Tony Dorsett (1,325 yards), WR Tony Hill, WR Drew Pearson, TE Billy Joe Dupree, DT Randy White, DE Harvey Martin

Our highest-ranked losing team checks in ahead of 22 Super Bowl winners, and a good case could be made to rate it even higher. The Cowboys ranked No. 1 in points scored and No. 3 in fewest points allowed, and they narrowly lost to one of the greatest teams in NFL history in the Super Bowl. They boasted a star-studded roster which included nine players named to the Pro Bowl and four future Hall of Famers. Tony Dorsett rushed for his second-highest yardage total, and Roger Staubach compiled his second-highest total for touchdown passes. Jackie Smith's third-quarter drop in the end zone led to Dallas settling for a field goal. What if …?

18. 1976 OAKLAND RAIDERS     13-1 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
350 25.0 237 16.9 +113 4 of 28 2 of 28 12 of 28 18 of 28 .469 5-1 80-42
Super Bowl: Beat Minnesota 32-14     Coach: John Madden
Key players: QB Ken Stabler (2,737 yards, 27 TD), RB Mark van Eeghen (1,012 yards), WR Cliff Branch, WR Fred Biletnikoff, TE Dave Casper, OT Art Shell, OG Gene Upshaw, LB Phil Villapiano

Not to bash on the legend of John Madden and his only Super Bowl champ, but this team wasn't quite as good as its 13-1 record indicates. True, the offense was a devastating mix of the long ball (Cliff Branch averaged over 24 yards on 46 catches) and grind-it-out running attack, but the defense had holes (18th in the NFL in yards allowed) and just one Pro Bowler. A less-than-impressive 113-point scoring differential means the Raiders pulled out a lot of squeakers – they won five games by four points or less – and their biggest win was 49-16 over the 0-14 expansion Bucs. An impressive Super Bowl win keeps them up high, but great teams win blowouts, not close games.

17. 1993 DALLAS COWBOYS     12-4 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
376 23.5 229 14.3 +147 2 of 28 4 of 28 2 of 28 7 of 28 .500 8-2 95-51
Super Bowl: Beat Buffalo 30-13     Coach: Jimmy Johnson
Key players: QB Troy Aikman (3,100 yards, 15 TD), RB Emmitt Smith (1,486 yards), WR Michael Irvin (1,330 yards), OT Erik Williams, OG Nate Newton, DT Russell Maryland, LB Ken Norton

The '70s Steelers have their own wing at Canton, but it's hard to argue that the early '90s Cowboys aren't the most talented team of all time, with the devastating Aikman-Smith-Irvin trio working behind a dominant offensive line (three of the team's 11 Pro Bowlers). The Cowboys got off on the wrong foot, losing their first two games during Emmitt Smith's holdout, but rebounded to lose just twice more. Despite the holdout, Smith gained 1,900 yards from scrimmage and Troy Aikman recorded the highest passer rating of his career (99.0). All three of their postseason victories were by double figures, including wins over a young Brett Favre and the Steve Young-led Niners in the NFC title game.

16. 1979 PITTSBURGH STEELERS     12-4 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
416 26.0 262 16.4 +154 1 of 28 1 of 28 5 of 28 2 of 28 .527 7-3 92-46
Super Bowl: Beat Los Angeles Rams 31-19     Coach: Chuck Noll
Key players: QB Terry Bradshaw (3,724 yards, 26 TD), RB Franco Harris (1,186 yards), WR John Stallworth, WR Lynn Swann, C Mike Webster, DT Joe Greene, LB Jack Lambert, LB Jack Ham

How powerful was the last great Steel Curtain team? They were so good they dominated despite 25 interceptions by Terry Bradshaw (plus one more by a backup QB) and an amazing 26 lost fumbles. They were so powerful they still led the NFL in points and yards gained against a difficult schedule. They were so dominant that despite that league-leading total of 52 turnovers, they still ranked fifth in points allowed. However, the Steelers lose style points for 34-10 and 35-7 losses in the regular season and for letting a 9-7 opponent take the lead into the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Oh, and what if that Mike Renfro call hadn't been botched in the AFC Championship Game against the Oilers?

15. 1971 DALLAS COWBOYS     11-3 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
406 29.0 222 15.9 +184 1 of 26 1 of 26 7 of 26 3 of 26 .416 2-1 58-18
Super Bowl: Beat Miami 24-3     Coach: Tom Landry
Key players: QB Roger Staubach (1,882 yards, 104.8 QB rating), QB Craig Morton (1,131 yards), RB Duane Thomas, OT Rayfield Wright, LB Chuck Howley, DT Bob Lilly, CB Mel Renfro

The Cowboys and coach Tom Landry finally shook the "Next Year's Champions" tag with a roster that included eight future Hall of Famers. Roger Staubach compiled a career-best passer rating, and the Cowboys won their last seven regular-season games after Landry made Staubach the unquestioned starter over Craig Morton. The receiving game included two Hall of Famers, Lance Alworth and Mike Ditka, and an Olympic gold medal sprinter, Bob Hayes. Dallas boasted the three-headed monster of Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison at running back. The defense got stingier as the season wore on, allowing an average of six points in three postseason games and holding Miami to 185 yards in the Super Bowl.

14. 1999 ST. LOUIS RAMS     13-3 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
526 32.9 242 15.1 +284 1 of 31 1 of 31 4 of 31 6 of 31 .430 3-2 83-59
Super Bowl: Beat Tennessee 23-16     Coach: Dick Vermeil
Key players: QB Kurt Warner (4,353 yards, 41 TD), RB Marshall Faulk (2,429 total yards), WR Isaac Bruce, WR Torry Holt, OT Orlando Pace, DE Kevin Carter, DE Grant Wistrom, CB Todd Lyght

Unheralded Kurt Warner stepped in for the injured Trent Green and compiled the seventh-highest passer rating in NFL history to win NFL MVP. Presto. The Greatest Show on Turf was born, and the Rams went on to lead the NFL in points and yards gained for three consecutive seasons. Marshall Faulk had 1,381 rushing yards and 1,048 receiving yards. Isaac Bruce, Az Hakim and rookie Torry Holt combined for more than 2,600 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. St. Louis' defense allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league, but it ranked a dubious 24th in passing yards allowed (in part because teams had to pass in playing from behind). The knock on this team was its easy schedule. It went 3-2 against teams .500 or better, and they played two close postseason games.

13. 1975 PITTSBURGH STEELERS     12-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
373 26.6 162 11.6 +211 5 of 26 7 of 26 2 of 26 4 of 26 .469 4-2 65-37
Super Bowl: Beat Dallas 21-17     Coach: Chuck Noll
Key players: QB Terry Bradshaw (2,055 yards, 18 TD), RB Franco Harris, WR Lynn Swann, DT Joe Greene, DE L.C. Greenwood, LB Jack Lambert, LB Jack Ham, CB Mel Blount, S Glen Edwards

The Terrible Towel was born in '75 as the Steelers established a dynasty. Terry Bradshaw had the highest passer rating of his career, and Franco Harris established a career high with 1,246 rushing yards. The Steelers won 11 consecutive games at one point, until losing the regular-season finale after clinching home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs. Speaking of the number 11, that's how many Pittsburgh players were selected to the Pro Bowl – half the team's starters. The Steelers held their opponents to 10 points or fewer 10 times in 17 total games. Both Pittsburgh losses came against teams with winning records. In other words: believe the legend.

12. 1998 DENVER BRONCOS     14-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
501 31.3 309 19.3 +192 2 of 30 3 of 30 8 of 30 11 of 30 .535 7-2 95-32
Super Bowl: Beat Atlanta 34-19     Coach: Mike Shanahan
Key players: QB John Elway (2,806 yards, 22 TD), RB Terrell Davis (2,008 yards, 23 TD), WR Rod Smith (1,222 yards), WR Ed McCaffrey, TE Shannon Sharpe, C Tom Nalen, S Steve Atwater

John Elway compiled the best passer rating of his career, and Terrell Davis became the only NFL player to rush for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in the same season. Add two 1,000-yard receivers and a Pro Bowl tight end, and you've got a recipe for an offense that averaged more than 30 points in the regular season and postseason. Both of Denver's losses came after it had already clinched home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs with a 13-0 start. The Broncos became the first AFC team to win consecutive Super Bowls in 19 years.

11. 1994 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS     13-3 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
505 31.6 296 18.5 +209 1 of 28 2 of 28 6 of 28 8 of 28 .473 4-2 131-69
Super Bowl: Beat San Diego 49-26     Coach: George Seifert
Key players: QB Steve Young (3,969 yards, 35 TD), WR Jerry Rice (112 rec, 1,499 yards), RB Ricky Watters, TE Brent Jones, OG Jesse Sapolu, DT Dana Stubblefield, CB Deion Sanders

If God came to us and said, "You have to coach a game against evil Cyborgs. The survival of mankind is at stake. You have to pick one quarterback from one year of his career. Who do you pick?" We'll take Steve Young, 1994. His stats look made up (70 percent completion, 35 TDs, 10 INTs, 8.6 yards per attempt, 112.8 QB rating, 7 rushing TDs, 6 TD passes in the Super Bowl). Behind Young, this team could not be stopped: Over its final 13 games (including the playoffs), it scored more than 40 six times and less than 30 just twice, and one of those was the season finale – which the Niners lost – when Young and Jerry Rice were benched after the first quarter. Alas, this team has one huge scar: a 40-8 loss to the Eagles in Week 5. It's enough to slide them down. Of course, maybe we made a mistake.

10. 1991 WASHINGTON REDSKINS     14-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
485 30.3 224 14.0 +261 1 of 28 4 of 28 2 of 28 3 of 28 .504 8-2 102-41
Super Bowl: Beat Buffalo 37-24     Coach: Joe Gibbs
Key players: QB Mark Rypien (3,564, 28 TD), RB Earnest Byner (1,048 yards), WR Gary Clark
(70 rec, 1,340 yards), WR Art Monk, OT Jim Lachey, OG Mark Schlereth, CB Darrell Green

If you're a Redskins fan, we know you're angry. And know what? You may be right. There is a case that this isn't just the greatest Redskins team ever, but the greatest of any team. Their point differential (+261) is tied for second-best since the 16-game schedule began. They lost two games by a combined five points, and one of those came in the final game. They dominated the playoffs. They recorded 50 sacks and allowed just nine. They played a tough schedule. But two things prevent a higher ranking: While Washington ran the ball a lot, it wasn't a great running team (just 18th in average yards per carry). And while Mark Rypien didn't have exactly a fluke season, he certainly had a career year. And we're having a little trouble getting past ranking a team with Rypien higher than 10th.

9. 2004 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS     14-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
437 27.3 260 16.3 +177 4 of 32 7 of 32 2 of 32 9 of 32 .492 9-1 85-51
Super Bowl: Beat Philadelphia 24-21     Coach: Bill Belichick
Key players: QB Tom Brady (3,692, 28 TD), RB Corey Dillon (1,635 yards), WR Deion Branch, WR David Givens, DE Richard Seymour, LB Willie McGinest, LB Tedy Bruschi, S Rodney Harrison

Critics have been reluctant to call this Pats team an all-time great champ. It has been maligned for its lack of star power and questioned for not crushing opponents on a regular basis. But there is no denying its accomplishments. The Pats won 31 of 33 games at one point. The stats are strong on both sides of the ball, the two losses were on the road to 15-1 Pittsburgh and by one point to Miami, and they were 9-1 against .500 or better teams. But most impressive is a great playoff run: 20-3 over a 12-4 Colts team that had scored 522 points; 41-27 over those one-loss Steelers; and 24-21 over a 13-3 Eagles team (and Philly scored late to make it close). Tom Brady is more than a "clutch" QB: he's a great QB (28 TD, 14 INT). Throw in a dash of Belichick, and this underrated team jumps into our top 10.

8. 1986 NEW YORK GIANTS     14-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
371 23.2 236 14.8 +135 8 of 28 10 of 28 2 of 28 2 of 28 .475 6-1 105-23
Super Bowl: Beat Denver 39-20     Coach: Bill Parcells
Key players: QB Phil Simms (3,487 yards, 21 TD), RB Joe Morris (1,749 total yards, 15 TD), TE Mark Bavaro (1,001 yards), DE Leonard Marshall, NT Jim Burt, LB Lawrence Taylor, LB Harry Carson

For those of you who think we have this team ranked too high, we offer five words: Lawrence Taylor in his prime. Taylor, who "changed the way defense is played," according to John Madden, recorded a career-high 20½ sacks and was named NFL MVP. The Giants' closest playoff victory was 17 points, in a shutout over the Redskins. Offensively, Phil Simms didn't have a good season statistically, throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes. But Simms played well on the biggest stage, setting a Super Bowl record by completing 88 percent of his passes. Joe Morris topped the 1,300-yard mark in rushing for the second consecutive season, and Mark Bavaro went for career highs in catches and receiving yards. We'll spare you the hyperbole about brainpower, but don't forget Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick were on the same staff here.

7. 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS     14-0 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
385 27.5 171 12.2 +214 1 of 26 1 of 26 1 of 26 1 of 26 .367 5-0 55-38
Super Bowl: Beat Washington 14-7     Coach: Don Shula
Key players: QB Bob Griese (638 yards), QB Earl Morrall (1,360 yards), RB Larry Csonka, RB Mercury Morris, WR Paul Warfield, OG Larry Little, LB Nick Buoniconti, S Jake Scott

What in the name of Garo Yepremian is going on here? How can the only NFL champion with a perfect record be ranked this far down on the totem pole of NFL greatness? Yes, we realize that the Dolphins are the only Super Bowl team to boast the league's top-ranked offense and defense, based on both points and yards. We're also well aware that Miami had nine Pro Bowlers and six future Hall of Famers. However, the Dolphins played the easiest schedule of all 80 Super Bowl participants, and their passing game was ordinary. All three of Miami's postseason games were decided by seven points or fewer. We have no choice: Undefeated … and No. 7.

6. 1996 GREEN BAY PACKERS     13-3 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
456 28.5 210 13.1 +246 1 of 30 5 of 30 1 of 30 1 of 30 .508 5-3 100-48
Super Bowl: Beat New England 35-21     Coach: Mike Holmgren
Key players: QB Brett Favre (3,899 yards, 39 TD), RB Edgar Bennett, WR Antonio Freeman, TE Keith Jackson, C Frank Winters, DE Reggie White, DE Sean Jones, S LeRoy Butler, S Eugene Robinson

The '96 Packers are one of two postmerger Super Bowl participants to lead the NFL in points scored while allowing the fewest points. Reggie White anchored a defense that also allowed the fewest yards in the league, had more than twice as many interceptions (26) as touchdown passes allowed (12) and limited opponents to a league-best 5.41 yards per passing attempt. All three of the Packers' losses came on the road, and its closest postseason game was 14 points. Surprisingly, Green Bay had neither a 1,000-yard rusher nor a 1,000-yard receiver. But it did have Brett Favre in his prime and five players who gained more than 500 yards from scrimmage. Favre, who won the MVP award, threw touchdown passes to nine different receivers. Not to be overlooked was Desmond Howard, who broke the NFL single-season record for punt-return yardage and was named Super Bowl MVP.

5. 1984 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS     15-1 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
475 29.7 227 14.2 +248 2 of 28 2 of 28 1 of 28 10 of 28 .457 5-1 82-26
Super Bowl: Beat Miami 38-16     Coach: Bill Walsh
Key players: QB Joe Montana (3,630, 28 TD), RB Wendell Tyler (1,262 yards), RB Roger Craig (1,324 total yards), WR Dwight Clark, OG Randy Cross, LB Keena Turner, CB Ronnie Lott

Like the Bears the following season, this team came up one victory shy of a perfect season en route to its Super Bowl championship. Unlike the Bears, the 49ers' defeat was by a mere field goal, and San Francisco went on to manhandle a dominant offense in the Super Bowl. Joe Montana was entering his prime and enjoyed the first of three seasons with a passer rating higher than 100. Montana's top four passing targets combined for 204 receptions and 23 touchdowns. Wendell Tyler had the best rushing season of his career. The Niners had 10 players named to the Pro Bowl, five on each side of the ball – including all four members of the secondary. This team also had a wealth of veteran talent with the likes of Gary Johnson, Jack Reynolds and Russ Francis. So why isn't this team ranked even higher? Largely because it wasn't even the best team in 49ers history, as San Francisco would add Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Brent Jones and Steve Young in subsequent seasons.

4. 1992 DALLAS COWBOYS     13-3 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
409 25.6 243 15.2 +166 2 of 28 4 of 28 5 of 28 1 of 28 .426 4-2 116-47
Super Bowl: Beat Buffalo 52-17     Coach: Jimmy Johnson
Key players: QB Troy Aikman (3,445 yards, 23 TD), RB Emmitt Smith (1,713 yards), WR Michael Irvin (1,396 yards), TE Jay Novacek, OG Nate Newton, C Mark Stepnoski, LB Ken Norton

The Cowboys returned to glory in a big way, forcing a Super Bowl-record nine turnovers in one of the big game's biggest blowouts. This team boasted the NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, behind arguably the league's best-ever offensive line. Dallas played defense, too, allowing the fewest yards in the league. Smith proved his 1991 breakout season was no fluke by topping 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Troy Aikman threw for career highs in yardage and touchdowns. The only knock against this team is its soft schedule, which is the sixth-easiest of any Super Bowl participant since the AFL-NFL merger. Although this team didn't have the best record in the NFC, it toppled another powerhouse, 14-2 San Francisco, in the NFC Championship Game. The Super Bowl rout served as the culmination of the rebuilding project of Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.

3. 1978 PITTSBURGH STEELERS     14-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
356 22.3 195 12.2 +161 5 of 28 8 of 28 1 of 28 3 of 28 .449 7-2 102-46
Super Bowl: Beat Dallas 35-31     Coach: Chuck Noll
Key players: QB Terry Bradshaw (2,961 yards, 28 TD), RB Franco Harris, WR John Stallworth, WR Lynn Swann, C Mike Webster, DT Joe Greene, LB Jack Lambert, LB Jack Ham, CB Mel Blount

This season would represent the zenith of a dynasty that captured four Super Bowl championships in six years. Pittsburgh ultimately would send nine players and its head coach to the Hall of Fame. Most of them were in their prime as the Steelers blasted their way through the defending AFC champion Broncos and the upstart Oilers in the playoffs. Pittsburgh then became the first franchise to win three Super Bowls, by defeating an excellent Cowboys team. Pittsburgh's two losses were by a total of 10 points, and both defeats came against playoff qualifiers. Terry Bradshaw led the AFC in passer rating, averaging nearly eight yards per attempt with a career high in touchdown passes. Workhorse Franco Harris led the AFC in rushing attempts. Since rule changes opened up the passing game in 1978, only the 2000 Ravens allowed fewer points during the regular season than this edition of the Steelers. In a secondary that boasted Pro Bowlers Mel Blount and Donnie Shell, former quarterback Tony Dungy led the team with six interceptions.

2. 1985 CHICAGO BEARS     15-1 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
456 28.5 198 12.4 +258 2 of 28 7 of 28 1 of 28 1 of 28 .473 7-1 91-10
Super Bowl: Beat New England 46-10     Coach: Mike Ditka
Key players: QB Jim McMahon (2,392 yards, 15 TD), RB Walter Payton (1,551 yards), OT Jimbo Covert, DE Richard Dent, DT Dan Hampton, LB Mike Singletary, LB Otis Wilson, S Dave Duerson

Da Bears were great. But not quite The Greatest. Chicago won its first championship in 22 years behind one of the most fearsome defenses in NFL history. It was a defining season for one of the game's finest players, Walter Payton. A rookie defensive lineman from Clemson, William Perry, became a cult hero by scoring three touchdowns in the regular season and another in the Super Bowl. Richard Dent helped anchor the vaunted "46" defense with a league-high 17 sacks and went on to win Super Bowl MVP honors. A powerful rushing attack built around Payton mitigated a passing attack that recorded as many interceptions as touchdown passes. Payton was also the team's runaway leader in receptions, and he recorded 2,000 yards from scrimmage for the third consecutive season. The Bears won 14 games by double digits, including three dominant postseason performances. Chicago overcame the distraction of season-long holdouts by Todd Bell and Al Harris, both defensive starters in 1984, inserting Dave Duerson and Wilber Marshall into their spots. The Bears had nine players named to the Pro Bowl and certainly never lacked confidence, supposedly filming the video for "Super Bowl Shuffle" the day after the team's only loss of the season. And if you want to know why they're only No. 2, click here for a full explanation of our methodology.

1. 1989 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS     14-2 (3-0)       
Pts Avg Pts
All.
Avg Diff. Rank
Pts
Rank
Yards
Rank
Pts All.
Rank
Yds All.
Opp.
W-L
.500+ Post.
Score
442 27.6 253 15.8 +189 1 of 28 1 of 28 3 of 28 4 of 28 .457 7-2 126-26
Super Bowl: Beat Denver 55-10     Coach: George Seifert
Key players: QB Joe Montana (3,521 yards, 26 TD), RB Roger Craig (1,527 total yards), WR Jerry Rice (1,483 yards, 17 TD), WR John Taylor, OG Guy McIntyre, LB Charles Haley, S Ronnie Lott

What, you want to bet against Joe Montana and Jerry Rice? This team gets our nod due to its excellence on both sides of the ball, mind-boggling statistics and perhaps the most dominant postseason run in NFL history. This team gave us Montana, Rice, Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley in their primes. It also boasted the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history, scoring 55 points against the NFL's best scoring defense.

VIDEO EXTRA
Roger Craig speaks about playing for the 1989 San Francisco 49ers ESPN Video

This team had a future Hall of Famer, Steve Young, as its backup quarterback. Montana recorded the third-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history – more than 20 points higher than the No. 2 mark that season. Rice was unstoppable, as he and John Taylor teamed for 142 receptions, 2,560 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Former defensive coordinator George Seifert seemed to push all the right buttons in his first season at the helm, following Bill Walsh's retirement. His offensive coordinator was Mike Holmgren, who would go on to guide three Super Bowl participants as head coach. San Francisco won 13 games by double digits, including playoff scores of 41-13, 30-3 and 55-10. The 49ers also went 8-0 on the road. Their two losses came by a total of five points, and both of those opponents won at least 10 games. To date, only three members of this team are enshrined in the Hall of Fame, which speaks to the value of a tremendous supporting cast that included Brent Jones, Tom Rathman, Jesse Sapolu, Michael Carter, Pierce Holt, Kevin Fagan, Keena Turner, Eric Wright, Tim McKyer, Matt Millen and Bill Romanowski.

STATISTICAL KEY: Pts: points scored; Pts: Points allowed; Avg.: Average; Diff.: Point differential; Rank Pts.: League ranking in points scored; Rank Yards: League ranking in yards gained; Rank Pts. All.: League ranking in points allowed; Rank Yds All.: League ranking in yards allowed; Opp. W-L: Combined winning percentage of opponents (includes games played against featured team); .500 +: Record against teams with record of .500 or better; Post. Score: Cumulative score in postseason games. Note: All statistics are regular season only.

 

Rankings by Kevin Jackson, Thomas Neumann and David Schoenfield. Capsules by Thomas Neumann and David Schoenfield. Statistical sources include "The ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia," espn.com, pro-football-reference.com, databasefootball.com, superbowl.com, profootballhof.com and Eddie Epstein's "Dominance: The Best Seasons of Pro Football's Greatest Teams."