We often only consider championship teams among the best of all time, but some of the best NFL teams that never won a Super Bowl also deserve to be recognized among the greatest teams ever.
After all, the Super Bowl is just one game and the NFL playoffs are one-and-done. That means some truly excellent teams may not have been able to finish the job but still deserve recognition for their accomplishments.
Best NFL teams that never won a Super Bowl
Among the best Super Bowl losers ever and the teams that had a bad game at the wrong time, who are the greatest teams to not win a Super Bowl?
While we could have picked at least one team every year for most of the Super Bowl era, we wanted to create an exclusive list. With that said, here is our ranking of the 10 best NFL teams that never won a Super Bowl.
10. 2019 Ravens
It’s true that this team stumbled in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, but Baltimore’s 14-2 season in 2019 was something special. Frankly, Lamar Jackson was something special that year, setting the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback while also leading the league in passing touchdowns.
That same year, the Ravens had a monster secondary that accounted for three of their 13 Pro Bowlers. Baltimore entered the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak and looked unstoppable until they met Derrick Henry, who they couldn’t stop, spoiling a brilliant season.
9. 1984 Dolphins
This turned out to be Dan Marino’s best chance to win a Super Bowl and the best season of his career. Marino was phenomenal while leading the Dolphins to a 14-2 record during the regular season.
There should have been no stopping the Dolphins, who won their two playoff games by a combined 76-38. Unfortunately, the 1984 49ers were an even bigger juggernaut and in the midst of creating a dynasty. They steamrolled Miami 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX. But in almost any other year, Marino and the Dolphins would have been good enough to win a Super Bowl.
8. 1990 Bills
Of the Buffalo teams that lost four straight Super Bowls, the 1990 Bills were undoubtedly the best. They had the most productive offense in the league and the Defensive Player of the Year in Bruce Smith. After going 13-3 during the regular season, the Bills beat the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game 51-3, showing just how dominant they were and how they looked destined to win the Super Bowl.
However, Scott Norwood’s missed field goal ended those dreams, ruining Buffalo’s best chance to win a Super Bowl but leaving the 1990 Bills among the best teams to come up short.
7. 1969 Vikings
The Vikings could have easily prevented more than half a century of frustration and futility if they could have just won Super Bowl IV. They lost their first game of the season and the last game of the regular season but were a perfect 12-0 in between.
In those 12 wins, the Purple People Eater defense never allowed more than 14 points, holding six teams to seven points or less. Behind legendary players like Alan Page, this was one of the best defensive teams in NFL history. Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn’t finish the job despite being favored by 13.5 points in the Super Bowl. They lost 23-7 to the AFL-champion Chiefs, setting an unfortunate precedent for the franchise.
6. 1968 Colts
If only they could have won Super Bowl III as 19.5-point favorites, the 1968 Colts could have avoided inclusion on this list. Even with Johnny Unitas getting hurt and Earl Morrall playing quarterback, Don Shula’s Colts finished the regular season 13-1 with eight of those wins coming by at least 17 points.
In theory, Super Bowl III should have ended the same way. But the presumptive winners turned the ball over five times, including three interceptions by Morrall and one by Unitas, who came off the bench. In the end, Joe Namath’s boldly ludicrous guarantee came true, leaving the 1968 Colts as one of the top teams to not win a Super Bowl in what remains the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.
5. 2001 Rams
In 2001, the Rams looked poised to win their second Super Bowl in three years during what would be the swan song of “The Greatest Show on Turf.” They were tripped up a couple of times during the regular season but finished the year 14-2.
The St. Louis offense couldn’t be contained that year with Kurt Warner winning MVP and Marshall Faulk being Offensive Player of the Year. For the third straight year, they scored more than 500 points, a first in NFL history. Alas, the Patriots managed to slow down the Rams in the Super Bowl, opening the door for a young Tom Brady to lead a game-winning drive and cause the 2001 Rams to be considered among the best NFL teams that never won a Super Bowl rather than winning two Super Bowls in three years.
4. 1983 Redskins
Washington set several NFL records during the 1983 season, finishing the year 14-2 while trying to win a second straight Super Bowl. Behind MVP Joe Theismann, Washington scored 541 points, which was an NFL record at the time.
Their turnover margin of +43 was also a new NFL record. But despite being favored to win their second Super Bowl in a row, the Redskins were blown out by the Raiders 38-9. That game doesn’t paint them in a positive light, although the rest of Washington’s season in 1983 puts them among the greatest ever.
3. 1998 Vikings
A missed field goal by a kicker who hadn’t missed one all season likely prevented the Vikings from winning a Super Bowl. The tandem of Cris Carter and Randy Moss at wide receiver helped give Minnesota an offense that was almost unstoppable. They scored at least 30 points in 11 of 16 games during the regular season, making it easy to go 15-1 and look destined to finally give the Twin Cities a Super Bowl win.
But when Gary Anderson missed a field goal in the NFC Championship Game, things unraveled and the Vikings lost to the Falcons. In fairness, there is no guarantee Minnesota would have beaten a Denver team that won its second straight Super Bowl. Nevertheless, after a 15-1 regular season, the 1998 Vikings are surely among the best teams in NFL history that failed to win the Super Bowl.
2. 2015 Panthers
Fewer than 10 teams in NFL history have won at least 15 games during the regular season. The 2015 Panthers are among them, yet they ended up among the greatest teams to not win a Super Bowl. During Cam Newton’s MVP season, Carolina steamrolled the rest of the league to go 15-1 during the regular season, albeit with a few close games.
But during the postseason, the Panthers showed their dominance, winning the NFC Championship Game 49-15. Unfortunately, the Broncos had a historically good defense that year, shutting down Newton and the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 to prevent Carolina from finishing off a special season.
1. 2007 Patriots
Since they came one game away from a perfect 19-0 season, there should be no doubt that the 2007 Patriots are the best team ever that didn’t win the Super Bowl. This was arguably New England’s best season during one of the greatest NFL dynasties.
During the regular season, only four of New England’s 16 wins came by fewer than 10 points with 10 games won by at least 20 points. Only a handful of teams were even competitive with the Patriots all season, yet they couldn’t seal the deal in the Super Bowl.
The Giants got some amazing players in Super Bowl XLII, most notably the famous “Helmet Catch” from David Tyree, to beat the Patriots and prevent them from making history.