The Best NFL Team (post-Merger)

The best NFL team since the Merger era (1970)? While fans will argue over the answer, here is a list of worth candidates.

The Best NFL Team

  • Many consider the 1972 Miami Dolphins the greatest NFL team since 1970, if not all-time. Led by head coach Don Shula and quarterback Bob Griese, Miami completed a perfect 17-0 season, winning Super Bowl 7. The ‘72 Dolphins are known for their strong defense (lowest points allowed) and dominant offense (most points scored). Also famous for its “No-name Defense” and the first backfield to feature two 1,000 rushers (Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris).
  • The 1985 Chicago Bears (15-1) is another team often mentioned among the greatest of all time. Buddy Ryan’s innovative “46 Defense” allowed the Bears’ to set a then-NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season. Consequently, their 46-10 victory in Super Bowl XX is one of the most dominant performances in the game’s history.
  • The 1989 San Francisco 49ers (14-2), led by head coach Bill Walsh and quarterback Joe Montana, won Super Bowl 24 with a 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. Running Walsh’s West Coast scheme to perfection, the Montana-led offense was virtually unstoppable. 
  • The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers (14-2) had a powerful defense known as the “Steel Curtain,” one of the best in the league. Opponents so feared the defense that the league implemented rule changes to make offenses more competitive. Additionally, the team had a powerful running game led by Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier and a feared passing attack featuring QB Terry Bradshaw, WRs Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth. 
  • The 2007 New England Patriots put together a perfect (16-0) regular season. Quarterback Tom Brady had a historic season, throwing for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns, notably to favored receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Overall, the 2007 Patriots could claim the title of “the best team ever,” except for their 17-14 loss in Super Bowl 42 to the New York Giants.


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The Best NFL Team

  • The Triplets led the 1992 Dallas Cowboys (13-3): quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin. The team also had a strong defense led by players like Charles Haley, Ken Norton Jr., and Jim Jeffcoat. Additionally, Jimmy Johnson directed the team, considered one of the best coaches of his era.
  • The 1996 Green Bay Packers (13-3) won Super Bowl 31 over the New England Patriots. Quarterback Brett Favre, who won the NFL MVP award that season, led the offense. They had a solid running game with Edgar Bennett and good receivers like Antonio Freeman, Robert Brooks, and Mark Chmura. The team also had a powerful defense led by the iconic Reggie White, LeRoy Butler, and Sean Jones.
  • The 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-2) outscored their opponents by an average of 20.5 points per game. They also had one of the best defenses in the league, allowing the fewest points per game. Future Hall of Famers QB Terry Bradshaw, RB Franco Harris, and DL Joe Greene were among the team’s leaders.
  • The 1976 Oakland Raiders (13-1) outscored their opponents by an average of 15.6 points per game. Quarterback Ken Stabler and wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff led their potent offense. Their defense was among the best and most intimidating in the league, allowing the fewest yards per game. In addition, they had a great coaching staff led by the iconic John Madden.
  • The 1990 New York Giants (13-3) featured a strong defense led by LB Lawrence Taylor and an efficient offense led by quarterback Phil Simms and RB Ottis Anderson. The team had a strong coaching staff led by Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, and was known for its physical style of play. The Giants defeated the Bills in Super Bowl XXV, 20-19.

Wrapping Up

This list is subjective; we have considered other teams as some of the best in the NFL since 1970 but settled on the list above. Do you agree?

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