Best Teams To Never Win The Super Bowl

By Dave Holcomb
December 10, 2011 12:59 am
1,107 Views 10 Comments
Fans always debate who the best NFL teams are of all-time. Is it the Super Bowl shuffle ’85 Bears? How about Montana’s ’89 49ers? Or the dominate ’78 Steelers? But what about the perfect ’72 Dolphins? Fans will debate for hours, but always forget teams that didn’t win the Super Bowl. Although non-Super Bowl winners shouldn’t be considered for the best team ever, certainly they deserve some recognition.

Here’s a list of the best NFL teams that fell just a little short:

10. 1983 Washington Redskins
Coming off a Super Bowl win in the '82 strike shortened season, the 1983 Redskins looked poised to win back-to-back Super Bowls. After losing the first game of the season against the Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins won 16 of their next 17 games including NFC playoff games. This Joe Gibbs led team finished the regular season 14-2 which is still tied for the franchise record. Washington’s offense lead the NFL that year with an average of 33.8 points scored per game. Quarterback Joe Theismann made his only All-Pro team that year and hall of fame running back John Riggins rushed for 1,347 yards and 24 touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Redskins, they ran into a very tough Los Angeles Raiders team in the Super Bowl who they had already beaten that season. The second time around, the Raiders killed the ‘Skins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII.

9. 1998 Minnesota Vikings
Even though this team didn’t make the Super Bowl, they still deserve to be on this list. Minnesota and Denver both started 7-0 that season. Denver actually won their first 13 games, but then lost two of their last three while Minnesota ended the season at 15-1. Coach Dennis Green and offensive coordinator Brian Billick assembled one of the greatest offenses with quarterback Randall Cunningham, running back Robert Smith and future hall of fame receivers Chris Carter and Randy Moss. The offense scored a record 556 points. All-Pro defensive end John Randle led the Vikings ferocious defense. But at the Metrodome in the NFC Championship, the Atlanta Falcons upset the Super Bowl hopeful Vikings in overtime 30-27. Then, the near perfect Broncos whooped the Falcons 34-19 in Super Bowl XXIII. Fans will always remember that Super Bowl not for what it was, but for what it could have been.

8. 2009 Indianapolis Colts
Much like 1998, the 2009 NFL season saw a team from each conference go undefeated deep into the season with Indianapolis 14-0 and New Orleans 13-0.  In addition to QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis had WRs Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, TE Dallas Clark and RB Joseph Addai. It looked as if the Colts would finish the regular season undefeated, but then mysteriously removed their starters in the second half from a game against the Jets. The Colts would lose that game and the next, but still finished with a team record 14 wins. Ironically, the Colts met the Jets again in the AFC title game where Indianapolis simply outmatched New York and won 31-17. The NFL got its dream Super Bowl of Colts vs. Saints for Super Bowl XLIV, but it was Manning who threw the crucial interception to clinch a Saints victory. Indianapolis has not won 14 games since that loss.

7. 1997 Green Bay Packers
Many fans forget that Green Bay came within one game of becoming only the second NFL team to repeat as back-to-back Super Bowl Champions twice (maybe something they will get this season). Green Bay won 13 games that year and 13 games the previous Super Bowl year. Gun slinging quarterback Brett Favre was in his prime throwing to wide receivers Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman. To help complement Favre’s 3,867 passing yards and 35 touchdowns, running back Dorsey Levens ran for 1,435 yards and seven touchdowns. Also, the defense featured All-Pro safety LeRoy Butler and 13-time Pro Bowl hall of famer Reggie White. The Packers entered Super Bowl XXII as eleven point favorites against John Elway’s Denver Broncos. The game went back and forth, but eventually saw Denver defeated Green Bay 31-24. Instead of the Packers repeat, the Broncos repeated the following year.

6. 1969 Minnesota Vikings
Poor Vikings; they are one of two franchises to go to four Super Bowls and lose them all and their 15-1 ’98 team couldn’t even make the Super Bowl. The average fan probably doesn’t know much about the 1969 Vikings, I mean the Metrodome didn’t even exist yet. Yes, the Vikings at one point played their games outside in the snow and freezing cold. It was one of the biggest home field advantages at the time. Of all of Bud Grant’s teams (Vikings head coach), this one was probably his best. Minnesota finished 12-2 that year and ranked first in points per game with 27.1 and first in points allowed per game with an astonishing 9.5. Quarterback Joe Kapp and hall of fame defensive lineman Alan Page led their respective units.  This was the last season before the NFL-AFL merger and Minnesota ran into a very innovative Hank Stram Chiefs offense in Super Bowl IV. Kansas City defeated Minnesota handedly 24-7.


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By Dave Holcomb
Senior Writer
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Previous Comments (10)

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3 years ago
Great list, a lot of those teams many thought were going to win it all those years. But I think you should've included the 2006 San Diego Chargers. They went 14-2 that year, L.T. was in his prime and set the record for rushing touchdowns with 28. They were also in the top ten for offense and defense that season and lost that playoff game to the Pats on that boneheaded fumble after that interception that gave Brady a second chance.
3 years ago

Thanks for the read. I tried to mostly concentrate on teams that lost in the Super Bowl with the exception of the '98 Vikings. Though the Chargers were great that season.
3 years ago
Hard to argue with any team on this list, but I wonder where the 1978 and/or 1979 Houston Oilers are? Steelers players from that time have said that if it wasn't for them standing in the way, the Oilers would have won at least two Super Bowls.
3 years ago

You make a great point. Earl Campbell was quite good leading the Oilers to some great records. I just didn't include them because they never made the Super Bowl.
3 years ago

understood...and i'm just playing devil's advocate here...but it's kind of hard to make it the super bowl when you have to play the best team in the league in back to back championship games.
3 years ago

Valid point. Houston fans might argue they would have won the 79 AFC Championship game if it wasn't for a controversial call. Though I believe the Steelers still would have won.
3 years ago
Nice list. I might add the 2005 Colts and the 2010 Patriots. Pittsburgh beat the Colts like 21-18 in the divisional round but the 05 Colts might have been better than the 06 Super Bowl winning team. Last year's Pats were 14-2 and seemed pretty unstoppable before laying that egg against the Jets
3 years ago

I agree that the Colts were probably better in '05 than '06, but do you think the '05 team was better than the '09?
3 years ago
Thank you for including my Bills, though I may be biased and believe they should be first (four trips makes the four times more deserving)... Good article,didn't leave out any teams as far as I know...
2 years ago
Well, I've actually seen every one of the teams listed here and I have no doubt that the best of the bunch was the 1969 Vikings.

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