The 10 Best NFL Teams That Didn’t Win a Super Bowl Title

When it comes to the National Football League, several teams have wound up in a sad situation. To date, there has been only one perfect season in NFL history, and it came at the hands of the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Several teams have come dangerously close to perfection, but the Dolphins’ accomplishment remains an unduplicated feat. So we decided to take a look at the 10 best NFL teams that failed to win a Super Bowl title (in no particular order). Here’s what we came up with.

1. 2007 New England Patriots

Tom Brady falls to the ground after taking a hit.

Tom Brady and the 2007 New England Patriots came within minutes of winning Super Bowl XLII and completing a perfect season. | Harry How/Getty Images

Season record: 16-0

The 2007 Patriots were so good throughout the regular season and AFC Playoffs that they entered Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants as 12-point favorites. As it turns out, they were one or two key plays and a couple of minutes away from finishing the season with a perfect 19-0 record.

Instead, they lost to the Giants by a score of 17-14, in a game that will go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. This team featured eight All-Pro players; the 2007 league MVP, quarterback Tom Brady; a wide receiver, Randy Moss, who turned in arguably the greatest single season by a wideout in NFL history; and they posted 12 wins by 10 points or more.

2. 1998 Minnesota Vikings

Season record: 15-1

The 1998 Vikings were an absolute juggernaut on the offensive side of the ball, scoring 556 points during the regular season, which was a league record at the time. They also beat their opponents by an average of 16.2 points per game, and like the 2007 Patriots, they won 12 games by 10 points or more.

Their headlining players involved their starting quarterback, Randall Cunningham, who played the best football of his career in 1998; wide receiver Randy Moss, who exploded onto the NFL scene catching 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns in his rookie season; and defensive end John Randle, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In the end, the 1998 Vikings lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game in large part due to a missed 38-yard field goal (see the above video) by Gary Anderson. He’d been a perfect 35-for-35 on field goal attempts during the regular season.

3. 2015 Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton kneels on the field as he realizes that he lost Super Bowl 50.

The Denver Broncos pounded Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Season record: 15-1

The 2015 Panthers were one of the most confident, dominant teams the NFL has ever seen. Their offense was paced by quarterback Cam Newton, who won the NFL MVP award and played with a swagger that was unlike anything the league has ever seen.

Their defense, led by linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman — both finished in the top four of voting for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award — kept them in pretty much every game they played. This team was one or two key plays from going into the NFC Playoffs with a perfect 16-0 regular season record — they fell to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 — but that likely would have still been all for naught.

The Panthers, despite being widely viewed as the best team in the league, got thoroughly dominated by the Denver Broncos and their historically great defense in Super Bowl 50.

4. 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger high fives his teammate.

Ben Roethlisberger went 13-0 as a starter during his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. | Harry How/Getty Images

Season record: 15-1

Behind a rookie quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers came out of nowhere to emerge as an NFL powerhouse in 2004. With that being said, the 2004 Steelers team was vastly different than the Steelers teams we know today. The 2004 team was led by a dominating defense, rather than the high-powered offense they have since become known for.

Roethlisberger was the definition of a game-managing — not elite — quarterback, and defensive stars Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, James Farrior, and Aaron Smith were all in the prime of their careers. This team entered the AFC Playoffs with a 15-1 record, and won their divisional round game before falling to the New England Patriots (who went on to win Super Bowl XXXIX) in the AFC Championship Game.

5. 2011 Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers gestures to his teammates.

Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a 15-1 regular-season record that ended without a Super Bowl title in 2011. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Season record: 15-1

In 2011, one year after they went on a surprising run to win the Super Bowl XLV title, the Packers completely domintated their competition… until the postseason came around. This team was undoubtedly carried by their offense.

Their best player, Aaron Rodgers, turned in one of the greatest single seasons by a quarterback in NFL history en route to winning the 2011 MVP award. Through 13 games, he had his team in an excellent position to make a run at completing a perfect season.

The Packers eventually lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15, but the team still went into the NFC Playoffs with a 15-1 record. In one of the most disappointing losses in franchise history, The Pack fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the divisional round of the Playoffs.

6. 1996 Denver Broncos

Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos scrambles with the ball.

Terrell Davis and the Denver Broncos were upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs in 1996. | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Season record: 13-3

The 1996 Broncos are one of the most disappointing teams in NFL history. After dominating their competition for most of the season, Denver earned the No. 1 seed for the AFC Playoffs, but their time in the postseason proved to be extremely short-lived.

Despite being heavily favored, they were upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round of the playoffs, and their hopes of winning the first Super Bowl title in franchise history were quickly dashed. Fortunately the Broncos came back even stronger a year later and went on to win two-straight Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998.

This team featured three Hall of Famers — quarterback John Elway, tight end Shannon Sharpe, and offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman — and a host of other Pro Bowlers such as running back Terrell Davis, safety Steve Atwater, linebacker Bill Romanowski, and defensive end Alfred Williams.

7. 1986 Chicago Bears

Season record: 14-2

In 1985, the Bears had one of the greatest teams, and arguably the single greatest defense, that the NFL has ever seen. For most of the season it looked like they were going to have an equally dominant season in 1986, but as history would have it, things just didn’t work out as planned.

Their defense was again outstanding, but quarterback Jim McMahon wasn’t the same player he was during their Super Bowl season. The Bears were eventually knocked off in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs. The team that many felt was a budding dynasty would never be the same.

8. 1983 Washington Redskins

Season record: 14-2

The 1982 Redskins were Super Bowl champions, but many people believe that their 1983 team, who fell to the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII, was actually the better squad. The 1983 group posted a 14-2 regular season record, they beat their opponents by an average of 13.1 points per game, they won 11 games by 10 points or more, and they posted a stunning turnover margin of +43.

While they may have laid an egg against the Raiders in the Super Bowl, this team, which featured the likes of Joe Theismann, Art Monk, John Riggins, and Darrell Green, will forever be remembered as one of the greatest non-championship teams in NFL history.

9. 2001 St. Louis Rams

Kurt Warner addresses the media after losing the Super Bowl.

Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams came up short in Super Bowl XXXVI. | Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Season record: 14-2

The 2001 Rams were the final version of “the greatest show on turf.” Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, and wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, they owned one of the best offenses the league has ever seen, but in the end, they came up just short of repeating as Super Bowl champs.

Warner won the NFL MVP in 2001, which was the team’s third-straight season of having a player win the award; the 2001 season was also the Rams’ third-consecutive season of scoring 500 or more points during the regular season. While the Rams’ potential dynasty died with their 20-17 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, that day also signified the beginning of the ongoing Patriots’ dynasty.

10. 1990 Buffalo Bills

Season record: 13-3

The Bills’ run to four-straight Super Bowl appearances in the early ’90s has been well documented. We believe that their first team to make the Super Bowl — the 1990 squad – is the best of the bunch.

The team featured four future Hall of Famers in their prime — quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, wide receiver Andre Reed, and defensive end Bruce Smith — and rolled through the AFC before losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV.

This loss came after Scott Norwood’s potential game-winning 47-yard field goal attempt (with eight seconds remaining in the game) barely missed wide to the right. If you want to re-live the kick, watch the short video clip above.

Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.