Any team that wins a Super Bowl will be etched in history forever. Having said that, the league has certainly seen its fair share of powerhouses who dominated the league from start to finish. And others that got hot at the right time and shocked the world.
NCSharp put together the five best and worst Super Bowl winners based on the combination of criteria and the eye test.
5 best Super Bowl teams
The five best Super Bowl teams finished as the league’s No. 1 seed and steamrolled through the schedule, including the playoffs.
All of these teams had multiple Pro Bowlers, All-Pros and Hall of Fame players scattered across the roster. Teams with the high point differentials in the playoffs were also included.
5. 1989 San Francisco 49ers
The 1989 49ers featured one of the best quarterback rooms of all-time. Joe Montana helped lead the 49ers to his fourth Super Bowl, as Steve Young filled an important role as the backup. Montana posted an 11-2 record that season, with Young winning all three of his starts, too.
Both Montana and Young had weapons all over the field, including the best receiver of all time, Jerry Rice. The offense also featured Pro Bowlers such as running back Roger Craig, receiver John Taylor and left guard Guy McIntyre.
The 49ers bludgeoned teams in the playoffs, sporting a point differential of +100 in the three wins, capped off with a 55-10 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. The 49ers had four Hall of Famers, including Montana, Young, Rice, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley.
4. 1993 Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys owned the 1990s, and 1993 may have been the franchise’s best team. The Cowboys were loaded on the offense, featuring Hall of Famers such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Eight of the 11 starters on offense were named to the Pro Bowl. Smith and left tackle Erik Williams also received All-Pro honors.
The defense featured three Pro Bowlers, including Haley, who won two Super Bowls with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys finished the playoffs with a +44 playoff differential, which included a 30-13 defeat of the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII.
3. 1985 Chicago Bears
The 1985 Bears may have been the most feared team of all time. Mike Ditka’s squad finished 15-1 and had one of best defenses ever, headed by Buddy Ryan. The defense featured six Pro Bowlers, three All-Pros and three Hall of Famers. It allowed a league-fewest of 12.4 points per game.
The Bears’ vaunted defense turned it up a notch in the playoffs, pitching two shutouts in the NFC Divisional and Conference Championship rounds. They rolled past the Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX, finishing the postseason with a +81 point differential.
The 1985 Bears featured a total of five Hall of Famers.
2. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers
The 1978 Steelers might be the best team ever, especially on paper. En route to a 14-2 regular season, this Steelers team featured 10 Hall of Famers, with five on each side of the ball. Those included:
- QB Terry Bradshaw
- RB Franco Harris
- WR Lynn Swann
- WR John Stallworth
- C Mike Webster
- DT Joe Greene
- LB Jack Ham
- LB Jack Lambert
- SS Donnie Shell
- CB Mel Blount
This was the third of four Super Bowls this core of players won in Pittsburgh. The Steelers rolled their first two opponents, before beating the Cowboys, 35-31, in Super Bowl XIII. The Steelers finished with a +56 point differential in the postseason.
1. 1972 Miami Dolphins
The 1972 Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season. The Dolphins finished the regular season 14-0, and won all three playoff games, culminating in a 14-7 triumph over Washington in Super Bowl VII.
The Dolphins had 10 Pro Bowl and All-Pro players on the roster, headlined by Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka.
The NFL’s winningest coach, Don Shula, orchestrated the perfect season for the Dolphins.
5 Worst Super Bowl teams
None of the teams below entered the postseason with much chance to win the Super Bowl. However, peaking at the right time is all these teams needed. These squads are measured based on regular season wins, seed and a postseason berth the year before and after.
5. 2010 Green Bay Packers
The 2010 Packers had a young Aaron Rodgers. But this Green Bay team squeaked into the playoffs with 10 wins as the NFC’s last seed.
The improbable run featured all road games, which included wins in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago. The Packers finished the job with a 31-25 win over the Steelers.
4. 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite winning 11 games, the 2005 Steelers also finished as the sixth seed in a stacked AFC. A second-year Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers past the Bengals, Colts, Broncos and top-seeded Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, 21-10.
The Steelers became the first six seed to win the Super Bowl. They ended up missing the postseason in 2006.
3. 2012 Baltimore Ravens
The 2012 Ravens limped into the postseason, losing four of their last five regular season games. Then, Joe Flacco became elite.
Flacco threw for 1,140 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in four playoff games, which ended with a 34-21 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
The Ravens finished 10-6 in the regular season and did not make the playoffs in 2013.
2. 1980 Oakland Raiders
Decades ago, it seemed like a daunting task for a team to win four games to hoist the Lombardi trophy. In the NFL’s third year with six playoff teams, the 1980 Raiders became the first team to do the impossible.
Head coach Tom Flores and quarterback Jim Plunkett led the Raiders past the Oilers, Browns and Chargers in the AFC. Oakland beat Philadelphia, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV.
The Raiders won 11 games and did not make the playoffs the season before or after this improbable run.
1. 2011 New York Giants
Despite winning the NFC East, the 2011 Giants won the Super Bowl with the fewest number of wins ever. Since they won a weak division, the Giants finished with the No. 4 seed at 9-7.
The Giants won a home game against the Falcons before knocking off the top two seeds in the NFC, the Packers and 49ers, respectively, on the road. The Giants would then upset the Patriots for the second time in five seasons, beating them 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI.
Eli Manning notched his second Super Bowl trophy, sporting a 117-117 record in 16 seasons in New York.
The Giants didn’t make the playoffs the previous two years or the next four years after this run. They made the playoffs again in 2016, the year after Manning retired.
The best teams to win the Super Bowl were weighted on the number of Pro Bowlers, All Pros and Hall of Fame players on each roster. Since every team selected was the No. 1 seed, point differential in the playoffs was taken into consideration, too.
The worst teams to win the Super Bowl had a long path to do so. Each team was a No. 4 seed or lower, which means it had to travel on the road for multiple games. The number of wins also weighed heavily in the rankings, along with the playoff status from the year before and after the magical Super Bowl run.
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