The NFL is the most popular sports league in the USA. It is currently comprised of 32 teams, with 16 teams in each conference; the AFC and NFC respectively. Each team has a unique and rich history, with some franchises winning multiple championships, and others never ever making it to the biggest game of the year. Even for the teams that have been starved for a championship during their history, they’ve experienced magical moments, amazing players, and a great story. Fans have a special place in their hearts for their favorite franchise’s best team of all time. These squads made a mark on the NFL in some way, and left their fans with lifelong memories. This article is an attempt to pay homage to each franchise's’ best team.
This list will only be examining the last 50 years, also referred to as the Super Bowl era. My apologies to the legendary Cleveland Browns teams that existed back in the 40s, but a cutoff was needed. There is also a need to take some stats with a grain of salt due to how much football has evolved since the first Super Bowl half a century ago. it'd be unfair to consider how much some teams throw and score in the current era, so this list won’t just look at which team scored the most points in franchise history. Instead, you’ll see point differential mentioned often, which is how many more points a team scored compared to how many points they had scored against them. It’s not a perfect stat, but it helps illustrate how dominant a team really was that season.
It’s also important to note that while the Super Bowl counts for a lot, it isn’t the end all, be all. Football is a fickle sport and the variance of the sport is only compounded because it uses a one-game playoff system, which means a few bad bounces can ruin a team’s championship aspirations. Without further ado, please enjoy every current NFL franchise's best team they’ve ever had.
32 Arizona Cardinals: 2015-2016 Team
Last year, the Arizona Cardinals set the league on fire, averaging a franchise best 30.6 points per game. Their offense was dynamic, with Carson Palmer turning into a viable MVP candidate, and Larry Fitzgerald proving that time doesn’t affect him the same way it does everyone else. The league also fell in love with hyper-athletic defensive back Tyrann Mathieu that year, who added to the teams success. The Cardinals would win 13 games, their best record in the Super Bowl era. Sadly, injuries (ACL for Mathieu and finger for Palmer) would derail them in the postseason and they would fall in the NFC Championship game.
Another team for consideration that I’m sure people will think when reading this, is the 2007 Cardinals. That team streaked through the playoffs, riding Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald to the end of the season. That Cardinals team finished with an abysmally +1 differential through the regular season. They won nine games, and if it wasn’t for the iconic playoff run, no one would remember this team.
31 Atlanta Falcons: 1998-1999 Team
A team defined by its running back, the 1998 Atlanta Falcons were a legitimate title contender during an era chalk full of big time players. The team won a franchise-best 14 games, and had a very potent offense, scoring 27.6 points per game. This team also finished with a franchise’s best point differential of +153. This team would fall short of winning the championship, but did pull off a giant upset before the Super Bowl, when they stunned the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings.
The team’s best player was Jamal Anderson, a 5’ 11” running back that rushed for 1,846 yards after leading the league in carries with 410; he also chipped in 14 touchdowns and 319 receiving yards. He would be named to the All-Pro team after his outstanding season and would lead a memorable Falcons team to the Super Bowl.
30 Baltimore Ravens: 2000-2001 Team
Things were rough for the Baltimore Ravens when they first opened up shop in Maryland. They wouldn’t have a winning season for their first four seasons. Luckily for their fans, when they did finally get over that hump and posted a winning season, they were able to ride the success all the way to the championship. The 2000-2001 Ravens had an identity: defense. It was embodied by their all-world linebacker Ray Lewis.
It’s hard to describe how frightening that team’s defense was, but here are some numbers to try. They would only go on to allow 10.3 points per game (first in the league) and 247.9 yards per game, good for second in the league. Over the playoffs, the defense allowed a total of 20 points across four games, good for an eye dropping five points per game. The Ravens’ defense carried the team and dragged Trent Dilfer to a Super Bowl championship. Think about that for a second. Trent Dilfer, a QB who had a career passer rating of 70.2, won a Super Bowl ring with this defense. If that doesn’t prove how amazing this defense is, nothing will.
29 Buffalo Bills: 1990-1991 Team
Honestly, with this franchise, you’d be able to pick any of the teams that made it to the Super Bowl during that brutal four-year stretch in the early 90s and be able to defend why they were better than the others. In the end, I’m opting to go with the team that started the cycle of sadness, the 1990-1991 team. It was the first Bills team to make the Super Bowl and they had a franchise-best +165 point differential. They were clearly the best team in the NFL, leading the league in wins with 13, and having a more than 40-point lead in point differential to the team that came in second.
This team was extremely well balanced, finishing with the number one scoring offense and sixth-ranked scoring defense. They were led by the Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Smith, who finished the season with 101 tackles, four forced fumbles, and 19 sacks. They also had All-Pro running back Thurman Thomas, a monster running back that scored 11 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 1,300 yards. This team raced to the Super Bowl, winning its first two playoff games by a combined score of 95-37 before a heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants after missing a field goal by inches.
28 Carolina Panthers: 2015-2016 Team
The 2015 Panthers ripped off 14 straight wins to start the season. They were good, ending the regular season 15-1, being led by league MVP Cam Newton and highly effective offense. The Panthers would average an NFL-best 31.3 points per game during the 2015-2016 season. Carolina posted an NFL leading and franchise-best point differential +192. The team was stacked with talent, having ten players that were selected to the Pro Bowl. None of those players actually participated in the All-Star game however, because the team was busy preparing for the championship. The Panthers would be entered as heavy favorites to win it all, but would be eventually defeated by Von Miller and the Denver Broncos.
The team had an old school feel to it. They ran the ball a lot, averaging 142.6 rushing yards a game on an average of 32.9 attempts per game. They also thrived on defense, using a deep front seven to harass offenses. The defense was led by Luke Kuechly, an instinctual middle linebacker that is shaping up to be a generational talent.
27 Chicago Bears: The 1985-1986 Team
Led by what many consider the greatest defense in NFL history, the 1985-1986 Chicago Bears are a timeless team. They are still revered by Chicago fans, who look back fondly on that team as the definitive Bears club. They went 15-1 before claiming the cities only Super Bowl Championship that year, and led the league in scoring defense, holding opponents to an average 12.4points per game and only allowing 258.4 yards per game. The defense would end up leading the league in five other categories: rushing yards and touchdowns, first downs, interceptions, and takeaways.
Even more amazing was this team’s postseason, where they surrendered a total of ten points over three games; it is the least amount of points ever given by a playoff team that played three games. They didn’t actually allow a team to score until the Super Bowl when they had all ten of their post season points allowed. They won their playoff games by a combined score of 91-10. They defined dominance and are far and away the best team in the franchise's history.
26 Cincinnati Bengals: 1988-1989 Team
The best team in Cincinnati Bengals' history came tantalizing close to winning a championship, but saw it yanked away from them by legendary quarterback Joe Montana. The 1988-1989 team was quite good that year, leading the league in point differential with a +119. The offense was the team’s calling card, as they would score a league-leading 28 points per game. Their best player was their QB, Boomer Esiason, would be named the league MVP after throwing for 28 touchdowns and more than 3,500 passing yards.The team made it all way to the Super Bowl and seemed poised to win the game. All they needed to do was stop Joe Montana from driving 92 yards to win the game. Sadly, fate was against them because Montana did just that, connecting with Jerry Rice for a go-ahead touchdown and winning the game 20-16. It was a disappointing end result for the best team in Bengals history.
25 Cleveland Browns: 1986-1987 Team
When you think of sad franchises in professional sports, it’s hard to not immediately think of the Cleveland Browns. Still, despite all the struggle and heartbreak that Cleveland fans have endured, there have been some good Browns teams during the Super Bowl era. Just look at the 1986-1987 Browns, who won 12 games and made it all the way to the Conference Championship. By winning a playoff game that year, the Browns won their first post season game since the Super Bowl was created. Sadly, the ‘87 season would end in the most Browns way possible, with John Elway leading the Broncos down the field to win the game on what is now known as the “The Drive.”
The team was led by quarterback Bernie Kosar, who threw for more than 3,800 yards and 17 touchdowns. The team was very balanced, ranking sixth in scoring offense and 11th in scoring defense.
24 Dallas Cowboys: 1992-1993 Team
Kicking off their mini-dynasty, the 1992-1993 Dallas Cowboys won the first the first of three Super Bowls in a span of four. Coached by Jimmy Johnson, this Dallas team won 13 games before upsetting a fantastic San Francisco team in the Conference Championship. They would seal the deal by routing the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. The team was loaded with hall of fame talent, with the most obvious example being the all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith. Smith was exquisite this year, rushing for more than 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns. The team also sported future hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. The team wasn’t a slouch on defense either, evident by its fifth ranked scoring defense.
23 Denver Broncos: 2013-2014 Team
While this team didn’t the Super Bowl, they were absolutely amazing. The 2013-2014 Broncos were arguably the greatest offense ever seen in modern era of the NFL. They would set multiple records, including most points ever scored and total touchdowns as a team. Peyton Manning, who would win league MVP, set an NFL record for touchdown passes after tossing 55 of them and also threw for another 5,477 yards. The team also had a franchise-best point differential of +207.
The defense was lacking, finishing 22nd in the league in scoring, but even still, the offense on this team was earth shattering. Sadly, Manning and the offense didn’t have the storybook ending many envisioned. The Seattle Seahawks proved to be a perfect foil for everything the team did so well and led to a rout in Super Bowl XLVIII. Don’t let the final game leave a sour taste in your mouth as this team was great.
22 Detroit Lions 1991-1992 Team
The franchise many consider the worst in NFL history, the Lions have never even made it the Super Bowl. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad, as the Lions have been blessed to root for two of the game’s most transcendent stars; Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders. Both of these men would play with the best incarnation of Lion’s teams, but Sanders’ 1991-1992 team has the edge. His Lions team scored more points (21.2 points per game vs. 20.1 points per game) and had a better point differential (+44 vs. +39), which is even more impressive when you how much higher scoring was in Johnson’s era.
Some quick notes on Sanders’ 1991 team and his season. He rushed for otherworldly 103.2 yards per game and finished with 17 all-purpose touchdowns. That accounts to 102 points scored, which is around 30 percent of the team’s total points scored for the season. To say that he put the team on his back might actually be an understatement. He led the league in total touchdowns, beating Jerry Rice by three touchdowns. He was amazing that year and it’s shame he never had a better team around him.
21 Green Bay Packers: 1996-1997 Team
Probably the most storied franchise in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers had quite a few options. In the end, the 1996-1997 Super Bowl Champions seemed like the worthiest team. This team was far and away the best in the NFL that year, finishing with a league-high point differential of +246; it was 97 points better than the next closest team. The team romped through the playoffs, winning the Super Bowl by a score of 35-21.
The team’s best player, quarterback Brett Favre, was stellar all season long. He would win MVP honors after throwing for 39 touchdowns and nearly 3,900 yards. The team as a whole was stellar, leading the league in scoring offense after averaging 28.5 points per game, and leading the league in scoring defense after only allowing an average of 13.1 points per game.
20 Houston Texans: 2012-2013 Team
The NFL’s youngest franchise, the Houston Texans began playing in the NFL as an expansion team in 2003. They didn’t exactly hit the ground running though, and they wouldn’t have a winning season until 2009. Even though they only have two playoff wins under their franchise belt, they’ve had some quality teams, the best coming in 2012. This Gary Kubiak-led team won a franchise-best 12 games and would win their wild card game.Offensively, the team wasn’t flashy, leaning on Pro-Bowl running back Arian Foster. He would rush for more than 1,400 yards and score 17 all-purpose touchdowns. Defensively, they were anchored by defensive end/human terminator JJ Watt and his league leading 20.5 sacks. The team would finish with a franchise best 26 points per game. Ultimately, they would be done in when their quarterback, Matt Schaub, was injured and they had to play TJ Yates in the playoffs.
19 Indianapolis Colts: 2009-2010 Team
Point differential has been used in this column a lot. But when trying to rank the Indianapolis Colts and their glory days with Peyton Manning, you need to be careful. Peak Manning is going to score a lot of points and win double digit games. Sadly, the Colts never seemed interested in giving Manning a good defense to close the deal. From 2002 to 2010, when the Colts won ten games or more every season, the defense gave up nearly 300 points every year. Manning’s offense was killer at that time, but the defense ruined his point differential, and would often rear its ugly head in the playoffs.
The best team of all of this era came in 2009 when the team tied a franchise record by winning 14 games. It didn’t have that great of a point differential, it was only +109. Still, this was probably one of Manning’s best seasons. He won the MVP after throwing for 33 touchdowns and 4,500 yards. The team made a memorable playoff run before falling to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. The difference between each Manning team is minimal because as long as he was healthy they’d be good, but this one was quite good and probably his best.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars: 1999-2000 Team
For a franchise that is often mocked for its failures, the Jacksonville Jaguars have had a few really good teams. Their best team came in the 1999-2000 season, five seasons after the team had been created. That team still holds the franchise record for wins with a 14-2 record and a point differential +179. The team also made the Conference Championship game, which is tied for the deepest postseason run in franchise history.
That team was led by its defense, which allowed teams to score an average of 13.6 points per game, tops in the league. Its best defensive player was probably their thumping linebacker, Kevin Hardy. He would lead the team in tackles with 74 and was named to the All-Pro team. Offensively, the team was led by Jimmy Smith, who led the team in receptions and yards.
17 Kansas City Chiefs: 1969-1970 Team
The Kansas City Chiefs won the fourth Super Bowl in football history in 1970. Fans that remember the 1969-1970 team must have really fond memories because it was the best team that the franchise has ever had. That team played 47 years ago and played in the American Football League (the AFC/NFC were still years away) and was led by their defense. They allowed 12.6 point per game, which was the best in the AFL. They also had the best point differential in the AFL, with a +182.
The team was stacked with talent, as there was a total of seven future hall of players on the team. The majority of those players could be found on the defensive side of the ball, which boasted five future hall of famers. The Chiefs also had Len Dawson, a future hall of fame quarterback leading the offense. He threw for nine touchdowns and 1,323 across nine games.
16 Los Angeles Rams: 1999-2000 Team
Often referred to as the “Greatest Show on Turf,” this era of Los Angeles Rams teams was special to watch. The best version of the team came in the 1999-2000 season, when the team won 13 games, the Super Bowl, and led the NFL in points scored (526) and point differential (+284). They are often considered one of the greatest collections of talents.
They were led by their league MVP quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw for a league-leading 4353 yards and 41 touchdowns. Still, the team was far from just Warner. He was handing the ball off to Marshall Faulk, who led running backs that year in yards from scrimmage with 2,429. He would be awarded Offensive Player of the Year. The team also sported peak Terry Holt and Isaac Bruce, two of the best wide receivers in the league. Finally, the offense also had Orlando Pace, one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. To say this team was stacked is selling it short.
15 Miami Dolphins: 1972-1973 Team
Owners of the only undefeated season in the Super Bowl era, the 1972-1973 Miami Dolphins hold a special place in both their fans hearts and the NFL’s heart. The Dolphins had a point differential of +214, best in the league. This team had the best scoring offense and the best scoring defense in the NFL that season. They did this scoring 27.5 points per game and allowing their opponents to score 12.2 points per game
On offense, the team relied on their dominant run game. The team rushed for 2960 yards, more than 400 yards than the second best rushing offense that year. That ground attack was led by Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris. The two of them combined to run for 2,117 yards at an impressive clip of 5.3 yards per carry. Neither really outshined the other; it might be the most successful running back by committee in NFL history.
14 Minnesota Vikings: 1998-1999 Team
Led by their overpowering offense, the 1998-1999 Minnesota Vikings rolled to a franchise best record of 15 and 1. The offense scored a franchise-best 34.8 points per game. This helped this team sport a point differential of +260, the best in franchise history. Sadly, the team would lose in the conference championship to the Atlanta Falcons because of a missed field goal that many consider one of the saddest moments in sports history (unless you’re a Falcons fan).
Offensively, the team was led by its two all-pros, Randall Cunningham and Randy Moss. Cunningham led the league in passer rating at 106. He tossed 34 touchdowns and 3,704 yards. The majority of those passes were going to offensive rookie of the year, Randy Moss. Moss’s rookie campaign was one of the best in NFL history. He would catch 17 touchdowns (most in the NFL) and 1,313 yards (third in the league). It’s little wonder that this team blew out teams on a regular basis.
13 New England Patriots: 2007-2008 Team
I know that this team didn’t win the Super Bowl and they’ve become some kind of black mark on the Patriots' dynasty. That is absolutely ridiculous. This team was a goliath that marched through the NFL, only to be stopped when injuries and mediocre offensive line play caught up to them in the final game. They scored an NFL record 589 points and posted the best Super Bowl era point differential of +315.
The players on the team were also record breaking, with Tom Brady throwing for a then-record 50 touchdown passes. Nearly half of those went to all-pro wide receiver Randy Moss, who set his own NFL record by hauling in 23 touchdown passes. The team oozed talent, with five all-pro players. They became the closest team in NFL history to matching the Dolphins perfect season, winning the first 18 games of the season before losing in the Super Bowl. The loss hurts their spot in history , but it doesn’t change the fact that this team would be favored against any other New England team.
12 New Orleans Saints: 2009-2010 team
This team that had been associated with failure and disappointment, but everything changed when the New Orleans Saints landed highly touted free agent Drew Brees. They paired with head coach Sean Payton and entered an unrivaled golden era in franchise history. The best season was 2009, when the Saints started off by rattling 13 straight wins before winning the franchise’s only Super Bowl.
The calling card of the team was offense. They led the league in scoring, averaging 31.9 points per game. They also sported the top point differential in the NFL, with a +169. Drew Brees was the team’s best player, leading the league in completion percentage, touchdown passes, and passer rating. The next closest offense by scoring to the Saints this year was the Vikings, who scored 40 points less than the Saints.
11 New York Giants: 1986-1987 Team
The 1986-1987 New York Giants are a special team to countless Giants fans around the country. It’s easily the best team in franchise history since the start of the Super Bowl era. The team won a franchise-best 14 games and had the franchise’s best point differential (+135) in the Super Bowl era. Many expected an epic NFC Championship between the Giants and the defending Super Bowl champions, the Chicago Bears. Unfortunately, the Bears failed to hold up their end of the bargain and were upset by Washington. The Giants didn’t fall short of their expectations, as they went on to win the championship.
The player most often associated with this team is Lawrence Taylor. The original “LT,” Taylor was an absolute monster this season. He led the league in sacks after tallying 20.5 and would be awarded the league MVP, becoming only the second defensive player to ever win the award. Many consider Taylor as the greatest defensive player ever, and after he obliterated everyone in 1986, it’s hard to argue with them.
10 New York Jets: 1968-1969 Team
Due to the constant mockery that the New York Jets receive, it’s sometimes easy to forget that they have won a championship. The 1968 Jets were the first AFL team to ever win the Super Bowl, upsetting the Baltimore Colts 16-7 after their star quarterback, Joe Namath, guaranteed that his underdog Jets would beat Johnny Unitas's vaunted Colts. The team won 11 games, tied for second best in franchise history, and sported a point differential of +139, also the second-best in franchise history. The team above them, the 1998 Jets, did warrant consideration for this spot. It’s hard not to reward Broadway Joe and his team for winning the championship when the teams were so close in important stats.
Namath was the team’s best player He would throw for 3,147 yards and 15 touchdowns and would be named to the All-Pro team after the season. The team was very well balanced, scoring nearly 30 points a game and only allowing opponents to score 20 points a game.
9 Oakland Raiders: 1976-1977 Team
One of the more iconic franchises in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders have had periods of great success and periods where they were a punchline. One of their greatest eras came when John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach, ran the team. His most famous team was the 1976 team, which won a franchise-best 13 games and the team’s first Super Bowl. The team would only finish with one loss after the playoffs, going 16-1 (the NFL regular season was only 14 games back then).
The team was very talented, sporting six Pro Bowl players and three all-pros. One of the team’s best players was its quarterback, Ken Stabler. He would throw for 2,737 yards and 27 touchdowns, which led to the best passer rating in the league at 103.4. Most of his touchdowns went to his All-Pro wide receiver Cliff Branch, who hauled in 12 touchdowns and 1,111 yards.
8 Philadelphia Eagles: 2004-2005 Team
A common joke with the Philadelphia Eagles is that they’ve never won a Super Bowl. While that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been close. They came painfully close to winning a championship during the 2004-2005 season. That team, led by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, would win a franchise best 13 games. They would ultimately fall short of their ultimate goal when they loss an instant classic game to the burgeoning dynasty in the northeast, the New England Patriots, 24-21.
This team leaned on its defense, which finished second that season in scoring after limiting opponents to 16.3 points per game. They had a potent offensive trifecta as well, with McNabb, Brian Westbrook at running back, and All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens. Each was solid, but Owens was the best of the three, leading the team in touchdown receptions with 14.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers: 1975-1976 Team
When you win six Super Bowls, you have quite a few all-time teams from which to choose. In the end, the 1975-1976 Pittsburgh Steelers just barely edged some of the others. This team was probably one of the most well-rounded of the “Steel Curtain” era teams. They had the second-best scoring defense, holding teams to 11.6 points per game. On offense, they scored 26.6 points per game, good enough for fifth in the league. They rode this balance a franchise-best point differential of +211 and a championship.
This team was stacked to the gills with talent, evident by the 12 Pro Bowlers and 3 All-Pro players in the starting lineup. The majority of the talent was on the defense, which sported future Hall of Famers like Joe Greene and Jack Ham. The offense wasn’t lacking in Hall of Fame talent either, featuring Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Lynn Swann.
6 San Diego Chargers: The 2006-2007 Team
Easily one of the most offensively talented team in recent memories, the 2006 Chargers lit up scoreboards. They had the best offense in the league by a mile, averaging 30.8 points per game, four points per game more than the next closest team. Leading the charge was the eventual league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, who scored an NFL-record 28 rushing touchdowns. The offensive firepower played a key role in their league-best point differential of +189 and franchise best 14-2 season.
The team would fall short of their ultimate goal, losing their first playoff game to the Patriots. While the ending of the season was bitter, it doesn’t diminish how good this team was. They had five all-pro players: Ladainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Shawne Merriman, Lorenzo Neal, and Jamal Williams. Tomlinson and Gates will most likely be first ballot Hall of Famers, and are both Chargers legends.
5 San Francisco 49ers: 1984-1985 Team
Tied for the most Super Bowl trophies in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers are one of the NFL’s premier franchises. It’s no surprise that they have quite a few teams from which to choose, but the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest is the 1984-1985 team. This team went a franchise-best 15-1 en route to winning the championship. It also sports a point differential of p+248.
The team was stellar on both sides of the ball, leading the league in scoring defense after limiting teams to 14.2 points per game and finishing second in scoring offense, averaging 29.7 points per game. The team had 10 Pro Bowl players, which is a testament to their talent. The most famous of the group is probably future Hall of Famer Joe Montana. He had a fantastic season, throwing for 3,630 yards and 28 touchdowns.
4 Seattle Seahawks: 2013-2014 Team
Following a very promising playoff run in 2012, the 2013 Seahawks were pegged by many as Super Bowl favorite heading into the season. They fulfilled everyone’s expectations, winning 13 games, home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and winning their first ever championship after dismantling one of the greatest offenses in NFL history in the title game.
The team prided itself on its defense and ability to generate turnovers. It led the league in scoring defense, only surrendering 14.4 points per game and had a turnover margin of +20. Russell Wilson was still growing as a passer, but the team had a brutally efficient offense using Marshawn Lynch to grind teams into dust. They averaged 136.8 rushing yards per game, good for fifth in the league. Their +186 point differential wasn’t the best in the league, as that honor belonged to Denver’s record-setting offense. Denver seemed like the best team for the majority of the season, making them a popular pick to defeat Seattle in the Super Bowl. The opposite happened, with Seattle crushing Denver by a score of 43 to 8. It was the perfect exclamation point for the greatest team in franchise history.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2002-2003 Team
This is a franchise that had often been ridiculed for its lack of success, but everything changed when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to hire Jon Gruden. Prior to hiring Gruden, the Bucs had been a competitive team, but weren’t exactly Super Bowl contenders. Enter Gruden, who took a talented defensive nucleus and turned them into champions in 2002.
The defense, headlined by three all-pros -- Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, and Warren Sapp -- suffocated their opposition, leading the league in scoring defense with an average of 12.3 points per game. They sported an impressive point differential of +150, which is even more impressive when you consider the offense was rather pedestrian, ranking 15th in the league in points scored. The Bucs would crush the Oakland Raiders and league MVP Rich Gannon as the claimed their only title in franchise history, which has given them a special place in their fan’s hearts.
2 Tennessee Titans: 1999-2000 Team
A team that will be remembered for infamy, the 1999-2000 Tennessee Titans were inches away from winning their first Super Bowl. Down seven with few precious seconds left, Steve McNair deftly drove his team down the field. He got them down to the 10-yard line, where he completed a pass to Kevin Dyson, who was tackled one yard short of the end zone and ended the game.
Despite the gut-wrenching loss, the 1999-2000 Tennessee Titans were a very good team. They won a franchise-best 13 games before making that Super Bowl run. On offense, the team leaned on Pro Bowl running back Eddie George. In that season, George rushed for 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns. Disappointing loss or not, this team was the best in the Titans relatively short NFL existence.
1 Washington Redskins: 1991-1992 Team
Though this team has struggled to find it’s footing in the last decade or so, fans in the D.C. area probably still remember the 1991-1992 Washington team. The team won a franchise-best 14 games before marching onto a Super Bowl victory. This team also holds the best point differential in franchise history after posting an impressive +261. They achieved these lofty accomplishments because they were balanced, ranking first in scoring offense after averaging 30.3 points per game and second in scoring defense as they only allowed opponents to score 14 points per game.
The team was talented, having eight Pro Bowlers and 2 All-Pro players. They were balanced on offense, finishing with the seventh-ranked passing offense and fifth-ranked rushing offense. Their Pro Bowl quarterback Mark Rypien led the team. He threw for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns.