It was on October 2, 2015 when NFL Network aired a program that showcased the greatest dynasties in the history of the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers teams that were led by legendary head coach Vince Lombardi obviously made the list. Those great Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers squads from eras gone by also checked in. The Buffalo Bills got a shout-out from the official television home of the NFL even though the Bills has still never won the Super Bowl. Some would say that a team that never won a title cannot be labeled as a true NFL dynasty.
We, in making our own list of the top 10 NFL dynasties, did not agree with that assessment. Think back to those Buffalo Bills teams that made a habit out of playing in the Super Bowl in the 1990s. Those teams played against some historic competition, and the Bills were a converted field goal away from defeating the New York Giants and winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy for a first time. The Minnesota Vikings also deserved to be recognized as a dynasty for playing in multiple Super Bowl games despite the fact that the Vikings dropped all of those contests.
Perhaps the Packers do not deserve to be known as the greatest NFL dynasty in history. Maybe the New England Patriots should receive more respect for all that the Patriots have achieved in an era when all NFL clubs are meant to be equal. The Patriots, simply put, are the best organization in all of pro football, and the combination of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady continue to defy logic and maybe fairness by repeatedly winning. Not only did they defeat the NFL by winning a fourth Super Bowl championship. Belichick, Brady and the Patriots even notched a win over NFL commissioner regarding the “Deflate-Gate” matter.
10. 1990s Buffalo Bills
Those Buffalo Bills teams that had quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, defensive end Bruce Smith and wide receiver Andre Reed were some of the best NFL squads ever assembled. They also happened to run into harsh competition in four straight Super Bowl contests. Buffalo, in losing all of those games, picked up the nickname “Boy I Love Using Super Bowls,” and the franchise has never come all that close to returning to the Big Game since the death of this dynasty. Fans of the Bills have watched a lot of losing football since those glory days, but those supporters at least know that their Bills are staying put in Buffalo.
9. 1969-70s Minnesota Vikings
They were the “Purple People Eaters” known for having a menacing defense. They had a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Fran Tarkenton. The Minnesota Vikings were also known for losing Super Bowl games; four of them to be exact. As great as those Minnesota teams were, the Vikings were also seemingly cursed as it pertained to playing in the Super Bowl. The Vikings have had other heartbreaks and disappointment over the years – remember when Brett Favre threw that horrible interception in the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints? – and the team is still looking for its first Super Bowl title.
8. 1976-1983 Oakland Raiders
The truth of the matter is that you could say that the dynasty that was the Oakland Raiders began in 1967 when John Madden took over as head coach. Madden never had a losing season while leading the Raiders, and the man who later became famous because of a video game guided the Raiders to a first ever Super Bowl victory. That title, won in 1976, would be the first of three Super Bowl Championships that the Raiders would win between 1976 and 1983. Fans of the club yearn for the days when their Raiders were the best franchise in the NFL.
7. 1946-1955 Cleveland Browns
It has become a trivia fact that beaten fans of the Cleveland Browns have had to cling to as they hope that the Browns will one day become a winning franchise. The Browns played in ten consecutive championship games in an era before the Super Bowl existed. Cleveland has eight pro football championships in its past, a past that is not even in memories for those who were born after 1964. The city of Cleveland has not been able to celebrate a pro sports championship in over 50 years, and the Browns do not seem to be at all close to putting an end to that drought.
6. 1970s Miami Dolphins
The argument could be made that the Miami Dolphins deserve to be atop of this list for one reason: They are still the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season that ended with a Super Bowl championship. Along with that feat that was accomplished by the 1972 Dolphins, Miami made history by becoming the first team to play in three straight Super Bowl games. You can’t get any better than perfect, and members of the ’72 Dolphins have been able to celebrate being the only perfect NFL team every year over the past four decades. Will that ever not be the case in the future?
5. 1990s Dallas Cowboys
The biggest reason that the Buffalo Bills were not the team of the 1990s was because the Dallas Cowboys snatched and then ran away with that distinction. Casual football fans remember the names of play-makers such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. The Cowboys teams that won the Super Bowl on three occasions in the 1990s had some of the best offensive lines of that decade. Those Dallas defenses that did not have the luxury of playing under today’s NFL rules are also underrated by too many. The Cowboys from the 90s may very well be the best team in NFL history.
4. Vince Lombardi Packers
It is difficult to rank things from the past. Doing so involves contemplating imagined competitions where ghosts and legacies battle it out for supremacy. Vince Lombardi was the best head coach in the business while running the Green Bay Packers, and he led the club to eight championships during his time with the club. The Packers won the first two ever Super Bowl games played under Lombardi, who deservedly has the NFL championship trophy named in his honor. Lombardi was responsible for building the first dynasty of the Super Bowl era.
3. 1981-1994 San Francisco 49ers
Teams such as the modern-day Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans have been searching for a true franchise quarterback for over a decade. The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, were able to make the transition from Joe Montana to Steve Young. This dynasty technically splits into two runs that were briefly separated, in part, by the New York Giants winning multiple championships, and it is one that included the 49ers winning five Super Bowl titles. San Francisco probably would have won at least another title had fate been even kinder to them during a NFC Championship Game against the Giants.
2. 21st Century New England Patriots
You know the names, the numbers and the scandals. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have participated in six different Super Bowl games. Four of those were won by the New England Patriots. The Patriots have been accused of being cheaters over the “Spygate” story. Brady was accused of bending the rules in a tale that became the “Deflategate” matter that just won’t go away. Critics can hit out at the Patriots until they are breathless. Brady, Belichick and company would like to show you four different rings as a response.
1. 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers did not just win four Super Bowl championships in the 1970s. Pittsburgh beat what were, to date, some of the best NFL teams ever assembled in the process. What also has to be remembered is that the Steelers may have won another title had Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier not been stopped because of injuries. Fans of the Oakland Raiders may not like to admit it, but there is no question that the Steelers would have had a better chance to beat Oakland in that AFC Championship Game if Harris and Bleier were able to suit up. Even still, those Steelers teams that made a dominant dynasty have to be considered to be some of the greatest squads of the Super Bowl era.