Picking the best team ever for all 32 NFL franchises

Can Peyton get it done against Panthers' defense? (2:02)

Louis Riddick and Cris Carter share their thoughts on how the Broncos' offense will need to help QB Peyton Manning out, in particular WR Demaryius Thomas, in order for them to have success against the Panthers' defense in the Super Bowl. (2:02)

NFL Nation reporters choose every franchise's best team ever, from the no-brainers, such as the 1985 Bears and the 2000 Ravens, to the tough decisions, such as the 1975 Steelers and the 1993 Cowboys. View all 32 below, sorted by conference and division:


Buffalo Bills
Best team: 1990

It's a close call between the 1990 Bills and 1991 Bills, who posted the franchise's only 13-win seasons, as well as the Bills' 1964 AFL championship team. I'll give the edge to the 1990 team because it came closer to winning a Super Bowl than the 1991 team, narrowly losing to the Giants when Scott Norwood missed a field goal in the final seconds. In addition to holding the franchise record for full-season point differential (plus-165), the 1990 Bills sent 10 players to the Pro Bowl and had eight future Hall of Famers associated with the team: Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, James Lofton, Bruce Smith, Marv Levy, Bill Polian and Ralph Wilson. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins
Best team: 1972

The 1972 Dolphins are a no-brainer. Not only is this the best Dolphins team, a strong case can be made that this is the greatest NFL team ever. The '72 Dolphins were filled with Hall of Famers such as Larry Csonka, Nick Buoniconti, Bob Griese, Paul Warfield and coach Don Shula. However, the biggest feather in their cap is that they remain the only group in NFL history to go through the regular season and playoffs undefeated. Many teams have tried, and several have come close, but no team has matched this feat for four decades and counting. -- James Walker

New England Patriots
Best team: 2007

The 2007 Patriots didn't close the undefeated deal in Super Bowl XLII, and if they did, they probably would have been viewed as the greatest team in NFL history. That team was a helmet-catch away from history. So when I considered the '07 team against the '04 team, which was the last to repeat as Super Bowl champs, I still leaned toward '07. If Super Bowl rings were the clincher, it would have been '04. But that collection of talent in '07, and the way it came together as a team, was just at a completely different level from everyone else for such a long stretch that year. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets
Best team: 1968

No contest: It's the 1968 Jets, the only team in franchise history to reach the Super Bowl. Their stunning win over the Colts was historic on many levels. It wasn't a fluke, though: The Jets were a truly great team, recording the largest point differential per game in team history: plus-139 for 14 games. The '68 Jets included Hall of Famers Joe Namath, Don Maynard and coach Weeb Ewbank, plus a defense that led the AFL in fewest yards allowed. Their 11-3 record remains the best winning percentage in Jets history. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens
Best team: 2000

The 2000 Super Bowl champions didn't just beat teams. They bullied them. Baltimore won its last 11 games that season, doing so by an average margin of 18 points. The Ravens set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season and then gave up just one touchdown in four playoff games. When looking at the Ravens' 20-year history, the 2012 Super Bowl champions were the most dramatic team. The 2000 one was clearly the most dominant. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals
Best team: 1988

The 1988 Bengals had the perfect answer to a strike-affected, 4-11 record in 1987. Since the '88 Bengals were one dramatic Joe Montana two-minute drill away from actually winning Super Bowl XXIII, we'll tab them the greatest team in franchise history. A very strong case could be made that the 1981 team was really Cincinnati's best. Just like the team that came seven years later, the '81 Bengals were one possession from beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Had this past postseason gone significantly better, the 2015 Bengals, who like the '81 and '88 teams were 12-4 in the regular season, could have made a compelling case. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns
Best team: 1950

It's tempting to go with 1948, but that team played in the All-America Football Conference. The Browns' last championship team, in 1964, is in the discussion, but this vote goes to the 1950 Browns. In their first year in the NFL, they were not supposed to win a game. But Paul Brown's team started the season by defeating the defending champion and ended with a Lou Groza field goal in the last minute to win the championship. That team had seven future Hall of Famers, including Brown, Otto Graham and Marion Motley. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers
Best team: 1975

The Steelers have several candidates, but the 1975 season shines brightest among the franchise's six Super Bowl winners. This team was loaded with Hall of Famers, winning a second straight Super Bowl and framing a 1970s dynasty the game hadn't seen before. The Steelers could beat you with Terry Bradshaw's arm or Franco Harris' legs. Eight of 14 regular-season opponents scored 10 points or fewer on what became the Steel Curtain defense. In three playoff games, opposing offenses averaged 12.3 points against the Steelers. Lynn Swann had his breakout in the Super Bowl. Harris was at his best all year. Everything fell into place in this season. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans
Best team: 2011

It's easy with a team this young. The 2011 Texans were the best team in franchise history. They won the division and made the franchise's first playoff appearance. They allowed only 17.4 points per game and 285.7 yards per game, both of which ranked in the top four in the league. Offensively, quarterback Matt Schaub was at his peak until a foot injury in Week 10, and the Texans' running game was strong with the double punch of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Backup quarterback T.J. Yates led the Texans into the playoffs, and they won a game with the help of J.J. Watt's first pick-six. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts
Best team: 2005

You would think the 2006 Super Bowl team would be the Colts' best. That team was very good, but you have to go back a year to get the best team. The 2005 Colts steamrolled through the regular season, going 14-2. Peyton Manning and the offense outscored their opponents by 192 points, finishing second in points per game and third in total offense, and the defense was second in points allowed. The only thing missing that season was a Super Bowl title. Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers upset the Colts 21-18 in the playoffs. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars
Best team: 1999

The 1999 Jaguars went 14-2 during the regular season and embarrassed the Dolphins 62-7 in the playoffs in what would be the last game for quarterback Dan Marino and coach Jimmy Johnson. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith caught 116 passes for 1,636 yards, both single-season franchise records that still stand, and running backs Fred Taylor and James Stewart combined for 1,663 yards and 19 TDs. The Titans handed the Jaguars all three of their losses: twice during the regular season and in Jacksonville in the AFC title game. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans
Best team: 2000

While the 1999 Titans went to the Super Bowl, it was actually the 2000 team that was the best. The Titans upgraded to Randall Godfrey at middle linebacker and a heathier Steve McNair played in all 16 games. The team's point differential jumped from 68 in the Super Bowl season to 155. But the group flopped in the playoffs, losing in horrific fashion to the Ravens. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos
Best team: 1998

The Broncos repeated as Super Bowl champions that season after opening at 13-0 before finishing the regular season 14-2. Running back Terrell Davis won the league's MVP award with 2,008 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, and quarterback John Elway won the Super Bowl XXXIII MVP award. The lineup included two Hall of Famers in Elway and tight end Shannon Sharpe, and the Broncos scored at least 30 points in 10 regular-season games and won each of their three postseason games by a double-digit margin. Elway retired shortly after the Super Bowl win. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs
Best team: 1969

The Chiefs finished in second place in the Western Division in the AFL's final season but won a pair of playoff games on the road and then dominated the Vikings in the Super Bowl. They've chased this kind of success ever since, but with meager results: four playoff wins, one AFC Championship Game and zero appearances in the Super Bowl. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders
Best team: 1983

This was a tough one: the 1983 Super Bowl champs, who thumped defending champion Washington in Super Bowl XVIII, or the 1976 champs, who won 13 straight and finished the year 16-1 after pummeling the Vikings in Super Bowl XI, 32-14? I went to the source and asked Cliff Branch, one of only six players to be on all three Raiders title teams. While he initially went with 1976, he agreed that the difference was the 1983 team's postseason domination: a 38-10 win over the Steelers, 30-14 over the Seahawks and 38-9 over Washington. Plus, Branch noted, Al Davis himself once said the 1983 team was the best in franchise history. Well then, that settles it. -- Paul Gutierrez

San Diego Chargers
Best team: 1994

The 1963 Chargers won an AFL title, and the 2006 Chargers (14-2) had a better record, but fell way short of expectations. So we'll go with the only San Diego team to play in a Super Bowl. Junior Seau led one of the top defenses in the NFL, and quarterback Stan Humphries and running back Natrone Means carried the offense, leading the Chargers to an improbable Super Bowl run. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys
Best team: 1993

With five Super Bowl titles, it's difficult to pick the best Cowboys team, but the 1993 team stands above the rest, with the 1977 team coming in a close second. The '93 Cowboys lost their first two games without Emmitt Smith but went 12-2 the rest of the way and beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII. That team had four Hall of Famers in Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Charles Haley and a Ring of Honor member in Darren Woodson, plus an offensive line that had three Pro Bowlers. The '77 Cowboys had Hall of Famers in Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett and Randy White, plus Ring of Honor members Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris and franchise staples such as Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin, Jethro Pugh, Charlie Waters and John Fitzgerald. What separated the teams? The '93 Cowboys had an average margin of victory of 15.3 points, compared with 12.9 points for the '77 Cowboys. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants
Best team: 1986

Only one Giants team has ever won 14 games, and it was the 1986 team, which finished second in the league in defense and delivered the franchise's first Super Bowl title. This was Lawrence Taylor's MVP season, a year in which he led the league with 20½ sacks. No defensive player has won the award since. Led by a dominant defense, the '86 Giants won their first two playoff games by a combined score of 66-3 and knocked off the Broncos in the Super Bowl behind Phil Simms' record-setting passing performance. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles
Best team: 1960

The 1960 Eagles went 10-2 and defeated Vince Lombardi and the Packers for the NFL title, the franchise's last championship. It was a team that had two Hall of Famers at quarterback, Norm Van Brocklin and Sonny Jurgensen. Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald was catching passes, and the great Chuck Bednarik was still playing both ways. In the Super Bowl era, the 2004 Eagles, who went 13-3 and lost in the Super Bowl, get the nod. But the 1960 team is still the standard. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins
Best team: 1991

The Redskins had three teams under Joe Gibbs that won a Super Bowl and a fourth, the 1983 team, that might have earned this distinction had it won a title. Of the three that did win, the 1991 team jumps out in a big way for its wire-to-wire dominance. The Redskins that year won their first 11 games en route to a 14-2 regular-season record, with seven wins by 20 or more points. They led the NFL in points scored and were second in fewest points allowed. They never trailed in the postseason, capping the season with a 37-24 win over Buffalo in the Super Bowl. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears
Best team: 1985

This is a no-brainer. The 1985 Bears rank as one of the greatest NFL teams ever. Led by future Hall of Famers Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Ditka, plus other enigmatic personalities such as Jim McMahon, Steve "Mongo" McMichael, William "Refrigerator" Perry, Otis Wilson, Buddy Ryan and Willie Gault, the '85 Bears lit the football world on fire. Behind arguably the best defense in league history, the Bears went 18-1 and decimated the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. To this day, the 1985 Bears are treated like royalty in Chicago. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions
Best team: 1957

The 1957 team was Detroit's last to win an NFL championship. The team had seven eventual Hall of Famers: Bobby Layne, Jack Christiansen, Joe Schmidt, Yale Lary, Frank Gatski, John Henry Johnson and Lou Creekmur. Seven Detroit players made the Pro Bowl that season. The other team to come close would be the 1991 Lions. Led by Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Chris Spielman and Jerry Ball, the '91 Lions have the franchise's lone playoff win in the Super Bowl era and the best regular-season record ever at 12-4. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers
Best team: 1962

Ten Hall of Famers played on Vince Lombardi's 1962 championship team, which went 13-1 and led the NFL in points scored and fewest points allowed. Led by Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo, Willie Wood and Henry Jordan, the team capped the 1962 season with a 16-7 win over the Giants for the NFL championship. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings
Best team: 1969

There's a case to be made for the 1998 and 1975 teams, but the 1969 Vikings might have been more dominant than either of them. Minnesota's first Super Bowl entrant, the 1969 team is the only one in Vikings history to lead the NFL in scoring offense and defense; since it was the year before the merger, it should be noted the Vikings scored more points and allowed fewer than any team in the AFL too. They forced 42 turnovers for the year and entered Super Bowl IV as 13-point favorites before losing to the Chiefs. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons
Best team: 1998

The 1998 Falcons went 14-2 and rode the momentum of the regular season all the way to a Super Bowl XXXIII berth, where they lost to the Broncos 34-19. The Falcons were 8-0 at home and had a league-best 53 touchdowns. Six Falcons made the Pro Bowl: Chris Chandler, Jamal Anderson, Ray Buchanan, Eugene Robinson, Jessie Tuggle and Bob Whitfield. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers
Best team: 2015

Look no further than the 2015 Panthers. They had the best record in the NFL during the regular season at 15-1 and now are in the Super Bowl. They led the league in scoring at 31.2 points per game and finished sixth in total defense. They have the likely league MVP in quarterback Cam Newton and one of the best defensive players in Luke Kuechly. The only team that comes close is the 2003 team, which lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl on a last-second field goal. Had that team won, with the final chapter of this year's team not written, I might have been swayed to pick '03. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints
Best team: 2009

The 2009 Saints won the franchise's only Super Bowl championship, making this a pretty easy choice, though I did briefly consider the 2011 team, which had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NFL history. The Saints went 13-3 both years. What made the Saints so great in 2009 was their balance. They had the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL but also had a defense that ranked second in the league with 39 takeaways, plus eight more in the postseason. Fittingly, the Super Bowl win over the Colts included a bold call by coach Sean Payton, a surprise onside kick after halftime; a masterful fourth-quarter TD drive by quarterback Drew Brees, who went 8-for-8 to eight receivers, including the 2-point conversion; and cornerback Tracy Porter's game-clinching 74-yard interception return for a touchdown against Peyton Manning. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best team: 2002

The 2002 Bucs went 12-4 and demolished their three playoff opponents by a combined 69 points, including a 48-21 victory over Oakland in the Super Bowl. The Bucs' defense allowed opponents just 12.3 points per game in the regular season, intercepted 31 passes and recorded 43 sacks. The defense featured two Hall of Famers: Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. -- Mike DiRocco


Arizona Cardinals
Best team: 2015

Popular belief would say that the 2008 Cardinals, who went to the Super Bowl, are the franchise's best team, and it's a valid argument. But this year's team was better. It set franchise records for wins, going 13-3, and for points in a season. And the team featured a quarterback, Carson Palmer, who had the best season of his career and a wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, who set a career high for catches in a season. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams
Best team: 1999

This is a close call, but when in doubt, it's best to err on the side of a Lombardi trophy. That's why the 1999 Rams are the narrow choice over the 2001 Rams. The 1999 season saw the birth of the "Greatest Show on Turf," one of the most exciting and prolific offenses in NFL history. Featuring the likes of Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, London Fletcher and Kevin Carter, that team went from 4-12 the previous year to 13-3 and a win in Super Bowl XXXIV. It wasn't just that this team was great or that it revolutionized offense in the NFL, it's that it came from virtually nowhere to reach the top in the span of one year. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers
Best team: 1989

Yes, a strong case could be made for the 1984 team that went 18-1 and blew out the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX, its lone loss a 20-17 home setback to the Steelers. But I'm going with the 1989 Niners, who lost two home games by a combined five points, one to a team they would face in the NFC title game. The '89 team dominated the postseason, defeating the Vikings, Rams and Broncos by a combined 126-26, including a 55-10 demolition of Denver in Super Bowl XXIV. With Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley at the height of their powers, I'd argue that the 1989 Niners, who won back-to-back titles, are the best team in NFL history. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks
Best team: 2013

The 2013 Seahawks jumped all over Peyton Manning and the Broncos in a memorable 43-8 victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. They finished 13-3 in the regular season, outscoring opponents by a total of 186 points. The defense was one of the best in recent memory, while Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch led the offense. The core of this team is still intact, and the Seahawks will look to compete for another Super Bowl title in the years ahead. -- Sheil Kapadia