Nine days from Super Bowl XLI, we got to thinking, which we don’t do much of.

But when we do, it’s usually about football.

And this time, it was about ranking the top 10 Super Bowl champions of all-time – with one condition. Only one team from each franchise can appear on our list. For example, you’ll notice the omissions of several 49ers, Steelers and Cowboys teams for the sake of diversity.

We each ranked the teams Nos. 1-10 and assigned point totals to each based on where they fell.

Much to Devan’s dismay, the 2004 New England Patriots are nowhere to be found. To Tristan’s shock, the 1996 Green Bay Packers are off the list.

Now to count down:

10. 1999 St. Louis Rams

Along with San Francisco’s Roger Craig in 1985, running back Marshall Faulk was one of two players in league history to surpass 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. He finished with an all-time league record 2,429 yards from scrimmage.

And even Faulk wasn’t this team’s MVP. That would be Cinderella quarterback Kurt Warner, formerly of the Arena Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers. Warner threw for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns with only 13 picks.

The receivers on this team – Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl – came in waves and ran deep crossing routes that made defensive backs’ heads spin. Former Cal Poly receiver Chris Thomas was part of a special teams unit that returned two kicks and one punt for scores.

And as overlooked as the defense was, it was ranked fourth in the league in fewest points allowed, picked off 29 passes and rolled up 57 sacks.

The only reason this team is not higher is because it hardly dominated in the playoffs, getting by with scores of 49-37, 11-6 and 23-16.

9. 1966 Green Bay Packers

The grand daddy of them all, literally. The first team to win the Super Bowl makes the list over their 1996 counterparts. Tristan made a strong case for the Brett Favre-led Packers, which finished first in scoring offense and defense.

In turn, I made the argument for the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick 2004 Patriots. In the end, we decided we had to include a Vince Lombardi team. The Super Bowl trophy is named after him.

Call me old fashioned, but what happened to smash mouth football? Lombardi was as old school as high water pants and white socks and his team mirrored that image. Lombardi’s squad featured nine Hall of Famers if we count the coach.

The offense was hardly exciting, hence the “three yards and a cloud of dust” credo. However, what they lacked in excitement they made up for in efficiency. Quarterback Bart Starr had 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. The backfield featured the Hall of Fame tandem of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung.

The defense was led by linebacker Ray Nitschke and cornerback Herb Adderly. The team was well-coached. After a victory over Dallas in the famous “Ice Bowl,” Lombardi’s Pack crushed the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I.

8. 1972 Miami Dolphins

Everyone knows they are the only team to run the table, but they got a bad rap for winning some close games.


This 17-0 squad won games by scores of 34-13, 23-0, 52-0, 31-10 and 16-0.

It is rarely mentioned as such, but this team boasted the best running game in NFL history. They rushed for 2,960 yards, had two 1,000-yard rushers (Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris) plus a 500-yard rusher (Jim Kiick) to boot.

By the way, Bob Griese and Earl Morrall were at quarterback and Hall of Famer Paul Warfield was at wideout.

7. 1986 New York Giants

Lawrence Taylor piled up 20.5 sacks and led a dominant defense featuring players such as Harry Carson, Leonard Marshall, Carl Banks, Jim Burt, Erik Howard and Pepper Johnson, among others.

Joe Morris rushed for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns to quietly lead the league’s ninth-ranked offense.

Phil Simms was 22 for 25 in the Super Bowl to cap a postseason run that included victories by scores of 49-3, 17-0 and 39-20.

6. 1998 Denver Broncos

Lost in the shuffle of John Elway’s swan song is the fact that the 1998 Broncos are one of the 10 best Super Bowl champions ever.

The team was led by an awesome running game, featuring 2,000-yard rusher Terrell Davis, who was unstoppable all season. “TD” also scored 23 touchdowns behind an offensive line that was absolutely dominant despite being undersized.

While it wasn’t Elway’s best statistical season ever (2,806 yards and 22 touchdowns), he proved to be more than adequate as a leader, capturing MVP honors for his performance in Super Bowl XXXIII. In addition to a potent running attack, the Broncos provided plenty of targets for Elway. Wide receivers Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith both surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. Tight end Shannon Sharpe was also impressive with 10 touchdown grabs.

The defense was a veteran group glued together by free agency. They weren’t the fastest unit, but played smart and together. Steve Atwater had his last great season, earning his final trip to the Pro Bowl.

The Broncos ended the regular season 14-2, sending Elway out on top in a 34-19 pasting of the “Dirty Birds” in the Super Bowl.

5. 1976 Oakland Raiders

They get the nod over the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders because of their multitude of Hall of Famers or players who should be in the Hall of Fame – quarterback Ken Stabler, receivers Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch, tight end Dave Casper, offensive linemen Art Shell, Gene Upshaw and Dave Dalby, defensive lineman Otis Sistrunk, linebackers Phil Villapiano and Ted Hendricks, cornerback Willie Brown, safeties George Atkinson and Jack Tatum and punter Ray Guy, to name a few.

The most notable thing about this team was that it finally dethroned – temporarily, at least – the Pittsburgh Steelers for the championship. They routed the Steelers 24-7 in the AFC title game and then pummeled the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl.

The team’s head coach, Cal Poly alumnus John Madden, was given a ride off the field on the shoulders of his adoring players after the game.

4. 1995 Dallas Cowboys

Many would cite the 1992 team or the two champions from the 1970s. The 1995 team gets the nod in spite of coach Barry Switzer’s presence at the helm.

The team, despite all of its flaws via probation violations and substance abuse, still managed a 12-4 record and a victory over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

The team featured the triplets (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin) in their prime. Aikman was the quintessential leader: calm, cool and error-free. Smith had a monster year behind a mammoth offensive line with 1,773 yards rushing and a since-broken record of 25 touchdowns. In between snorting cocaine off strippers, Irvin managed more than 1,600 yards receiving and hauled in 10 touchdowns.

The primary reason this team is on the list as opposed to the Tom Landry or Jimmy Johnson squads is one man: Deion Sanders. Tristan and I both agree “Prime Time” was the difference maker as a cover corner and return specialist.

Add Sanders to a stellar defense that already had defensive end Charles Haley, defensive tackle Leon Lett and safety Darren Woodson, and you had a dominant unit. Although you wouldn’t let them date your sister, this was an awesome collection of football talent.

3. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

Considered one of the greatest dynasties in sports history, the Steelers captured four Super Bowls in five years. We’ll take the 1978 team because they went 14-2 and beat an excellent Dallas team 35-31 in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. Also, the team featured 10 Hall of Famers, including head coach Chuck Noll.

The Steelers’ dynasty was undoubtedly forged by its “Steel Curtain” defense. The unit featured four Hall of Famers, with one at each level, including Joe Greene at defensive tackle, linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and Mel Blount at cornerback. The group terrorized NFL offenses for the better part of a decade.

The offense wasn’t too shabby either, with Terry Bradshaw, 1,000-yard rusher Franco Harris and the Canton-bound receiver duo of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Center Mike Webster was a standout on an offensive line that continually opened holes for Harris and Rocky Bleir. Combine one of the greatest defenses in football history with a big play offense and you get the No. 3 team on our list.

2. 1985 Chicago Bears

The best defense in league history, a 15-1 record, the Super Bowl Shuffle, Walter Payton finally getting a ring, a 375-pound defensive tackle known as “The Refrigerator” who scored touchdowns out of the backfield, a headband-toting quarterback with a photographic memory, a world-class sprinter at wideout and the snow coming down at Soldier Field.

What’s not to love about this bunch?

They drilled teams by scores like 45-10, 24-3, 44-0, 36-0 and 37-17. That’s just in the regular season.

In the playoffs, they won their first two games by a combined score of 45-0, then beat the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX.

Payton had 2,034 yards from scrimmage and led an underrated offense that finished sixth in the league in yardage and second in scoring.

Defensive end Richard Dent (17 sacks) and middle linebacker Mike Singletary led a defense that picked off 34 passes and made players think twice about going over the middle because of do-everything safety Gary Fencik.

There may never again be a team to dominate so convincingly and revel in doing so in such an entertaining manner.

1. 1989 San Francisco 49ers

This was tough for the both of us, as respective Raiders (Tristan) and Cowboys (Devan) fans. The fact that we unanimously selected this team as the best of all-time is a testament to how great it was.

The first sign you are a good team – Steve Young is your BACKUP quarterback. They get the nod over the 1985 Chicago Bears. Why, you ask? Two words: Jim McMahon.

The first sign you are a great team – Joe Montana is your starting quarterback. Although he missed three games, Montana still threw for 3,521 yards and 26 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Jerry Rice was.well, Jerry Rice. The all-world receiver racked up 1,483 and caught 17 of his 207 total career touchdowns. John Taylor also made the Pro Bowl with 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns as a No. 2 receiver. The running game was solid with fullback Tom Rathman paving the way for running back Roger Craig, who tallied more than 1,500 total yards.

This team’s offense was so good that people forget how good the defense was. The Niners’ defense was third in scoring and was a hard-nosed unit. Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott anchored a play-making secondary, while Bill Romanowski and Matt Millen led the linebackers. Charles Haley constituted a legitimate menace up front with 10.5 sacks.

Only two questions remain about this team. How did they lose two games? Why did they manage only 55 points against the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV?

Are you fired up about Super Bowl history and disagree with our list? Write a letter or post a comment at

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