In celebration of its 125th anniversary, Sporting News will be settling the score on The Great Sports Debates. This month, the publication puts to rest the argument of the greatest NFL teams of all time, asking an All-Star panel of current and former players, coaches and executives to cast their votes. The 17-0 1972 Miami Dolphins came out on top. Leading the league in total offense (359.7 ypg), scoring offense (27.5 ppg), total defense (235.5 ypg) and scoring defense (12.2 ppg), Coach Don Shula’s ’72 Dolphins are the only team in league history to achieve a perfect season.
Coach Shula says about that perfect season, “Nobody had ever done that before our ’72 team, and no one has done it since. That puts us in a special category, and we’re proud of that. We’d been beaten in the Super Bowl the year before, and that was my motivation for the ’72 team. We didn’t ever want to feel that way again. When you get to the Super Bowl, the two teams are treated the same. When the game is over, all the losing team gets is a token interview outside the locker room with one camera. So just getting there again wasn’t our objective.”
Led by Joe Montana’s prolific offense and a defense that allowed the fewest points in the league, the Super Bowl-winning 1984 San Francisco 49ers made the list at No. 2. The 1985 Chicago Bears, who rode Buddy Ryan’s dominant 46 defense to a Super Bowl 20 title, are No. 3. With nine Hall of Famers, one-quarter of the 1978 AFC Pro Bowl roster and the regular season and Super Bowl MVP, Terry Bradshaw, the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers come in at No. 4. Rounding out the top five is Coach Vince Lombardi’s dominant NFL champion 1962 Green Bay Packers. The 1958 Baltimore Colts, 1992 Dallas Cowboys, 2004 New England Patriots, 1977 Dallas Cowboys and 1976 Oakland Raiders make the list at six through 10, respectively.
The January 17 issue of Sporting News features Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan on the cover and is available on newsstands now. It also includes a conversation with members of the 1985 Bears, NFL year-end awards and a college football wrap-up. In the February 14 issue, a panel of 43 experts, including 33 Hall of Famers, picks the best NHL teams of all time. For more information about the Sporting News 125th Anniversary please visit www.sportingnews.com/125.
Ten Greatest NFL Teams of All Time
1. 1972 Miami Dolphins
2. 1984 San Francisco 49ers
3. 1985 Chicago Bears
4. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers
5. 1962 Green Bay Packers
6. 1958 Baltimore Colts
7. 1992 Dallas Cowboys
8. 2004 New England Patriots
9. 1977 Dallas Cowboys
10. 1976 Oakland Raiders