January 31, 2013

The Greatest Super Bowl Teams By Decade

By - Tim Swift

Super Bowl week is now upon us, so I decided to take a look at the best Super Bowl champions by decade. If the team was a dynasty it helped in the selection process, but it wasn't a requirement. However, regular season dominance was a must, though.

Here's the list. Let the debate begin.

1960s: '66 Green Bay Packers

Photo by: James Flores
This was a pretty easy call with the Pack already dominating the first half of the 60s with 3 championships. Led by regular season and Super Bowl MVP Bart Starr, Green Bay went 12-2 in the first year of the Super Bowl. The Packers were tops in the league in defense, giving up just 11.6 points per contest. There were Hall of Famers at QB, RB, OL, DE, LB, and CB for one of the all-time dominating teams in league history. Green Bay became the gold standard for the NFL and introduced some of the ways that football is still being played today.

Worth Mentioning: '69 Kansas City Chiefs

1970s: '78 Pittsburgh Steelers

The obvious answer here would be the '72 Dolphins with the only undefeated season ever, but I honestly feel they are one of the more overrated Super Bowl champions of all-time. Yeah, I said it. I don't think they would have held up against this version of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Entering the 1978 season, the Steelers had already won a pair of championships in 1974 and 1975, but the 1978 club can make an argument for the best ever. This version of the Steelers was led by the defense that boasted four Hall of Famers and gave up only 12.1 points per game. The offense had also shifted from a traditional ground attack with Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier to more of a big play passing attack. Terry Bradshaw threw for a career-high 28 touchdowns and probably had the best game of his career in Super Bowl XIII where he threw for 4 scores and 317 yards in the 35-31 win over the Cowboys.

Worth Mentioning: '72 Miami Dolphins, '75 Pittsburgh Steelers, '76 Oakland Raiders

1980s: '89 San Francisco 49ers

Okay, I can already hear the rumble from Chicago Bear fans about this pick, but I'm going with the 49ers. You can make an argument for either the '85 Bears or the '89 49ers, but I feel the personalities on that Chicago team made them larger than life and a bit overrated in my eyes. The final of the 49ers title teams of the 1980s was led by MVP Joe Montana, who completed an absurd 70% of his passes, and the WR tandem of Jerry Rice and John Taylor, who combined for 27 TDs and over 2,500 yards receiving. The defense was often ignored, but led by Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, they only gave up 15.8 points per contest. The 49ers playoff run was one of the most impressive ever, as they outscored their opponents 126-26, ending with the 55-10 blowout of the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

Worth Mentioning: '85 Chicago Bears, '84 San Francisco 49ers

1990s: '98 Denver Broncos

This decade was by far the toughest to decide. Could have gone with one of the outstanding Cowboy teams that won 3 titles in 4 years, or the very underrated 1991 Washington Redskin team that went 14-2. But I decided to go with the '98 Denver team that also went 14-2. The Broncos started out 13-0 and won 9 of those games by double-figures, and outside of their two late season losses to the Dolphins and Giants, they were rarely challenged that season. Terrell Davis and John Elway paced the offense, with Davis having one of the greatest seasons by a running back of all-time, rushing for 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns. The defense was led by Pro Bowlers Steve Atwater and Bill Romanowski. There might have been more popular teams during the 90s, but the 1998 Broncos should get credit for being one of the best teams ever.

Worth Mentioning: '93 Dallas Cowboys, '91 Washington Redskins

2000s: '04 New England Patriots

This team was the final of the 3 Super Bowl champions, knocking off the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. Corey Dillon was the unsung hero of this team, having a dominant year on the ground with over 1,600 yards and 13 total touchdowns. Tom Brady and his 28 TD passes led a balanced passing attack that saw ten different guys reach the end zone through the air. The defense with no true stars only gave up 16.2 points per game. During the playoffs, the Pats disposed of their two biggest rivals, the Colts and Steelers, by 17 and 14 points respectively, before holding off Philadelphia in the Super Bowl.

Worth Mentioning: '03 New England Patriots


  1. I liked the 49er team of the 80's, but that 85 Bears team was one of the best ever. Your 90's pick is also questionable IMO.

  2. I like your '89 Niners picks. The Bears are the trendy pick, but I'm not sure they're an obvious pick. Your '90's pick is one I would have overlooked, but looking back, I like it. It was unfortunate that the Vikings (15-1) didn't win the NFC. That was the Superbowl we all should've been watching. The dirty birds were fun to watch, but they couldn't hang with those Broncos, and I think we all knew that.

  3. A few of these are certainly debatable, but I actually agree with all your picks. I also agree that the 90's was the hardest call, but I give the slightest of edges to that Broncos team over the 91 Redskins.

  4. The '89 49ers team wasn't even the best 49er team of the 80's. The '84 team was better.

    1. That would be a minority opinion. I think the '89 squad with Rice and Taylor was the best team of the decade, edging the Bears. I'd even take the '83 Raiders over the '84 Niners.

  5. Nice picks. I think the 78 Steelers are the best team of all time.

  6. It doesn't matter which of those two 49er teams from the 80s you pick, because both of them could have beat the '85 Bears.

  7. I commend you for not picking any of the Dallas teams for the 1990's.