Five NFL teams have dominated the league over a sustained period of time, winning enough Super Bowl titles to call themselves a dynasty. This includes the 1980s Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1990s, the San Francisco 49ers from both decades, the Mid-to-Late 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, and the new Millennium New England Patriots.
Recency bias will try to convince us the Tom Brady– and Bill Belichick-led Patriots are the best of this bunch, but does that theory hold up upon further and more detailed examination? Only by comparing each team’s accomplishments, taking a close look at the stats, and making a few grandiose assumptions about the level of play in different eras can we answer the question of which Super Bowl dynasty team is the best of all time.
Yes, we’re about to do that right here, right now:
5. The 1980s Washington Redskins
The Joe Gibbs-coached Washington Redskins won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks from 1982 to 1992. The QBs were Joe Theismann (Super Bowl XVII), Doug Williams (Super Bowl XXII), and Mark Rypien (Super Bowl XXVI). If the question asked was which Super Bowl dynasty team had the best offensive line, the Redskins’ famous Hogs would be higher up on this list.
Guards and tackles like Russ Grimm, Mark May, Joe Jacoby, and later Mark Schlereth and Jim Lachey dominated like no other group of offensive lineman before or since.
However, the revolving door at QB detracts from Washington’s image as a dominant team, giving each Super Bowl-winning squad a much different look and feel. Even the star running backs the Hogs blocked for were different every time: John Riggins (Super Bowl XVII), Timmy Smith (Super Bowl XXII), and the combination of Ricky Ervins and Earnest Byner (Super Bowl XXVI).
Legendary receiver Art Monk was on all three Championship teams, and GOAT corner Darrell Green was on two of them. However, Gibbs and these two Hall of Famers aren’t enough to raise the 1980s Washington Redskins up from the fifth spot on this list of the best Super Bowl dynasty teams.
4. The early 1990s Dallas Cowboys
The fact that the three Super Bowls in four years the Dallas Cowboys won in the early 1990s doesn’t have them higher on this list of the best Super Bowl dynasty teams speaks only to the greatness of the teams above them. From 1992 to 1995, Dallas truly dominated the NFL.
Quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin were all tops in the NFL at their position. Plus, the defense was the league’s best. The Super Bowl performances were as dominant as they come, with the Cowboys beating the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII, 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII, and the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX.
Perhaps if Jimmy Johnson hadn’t resigned after the second Super Bowl win and America’s Team had beaten the San Francisco 49ers in the 1994 NFC Championship Game, they’d have won one more title and found themselves topping this list. In other words, blame Barry Switzer.
3. The mid-to-late 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers
Four Super Bowls in five years is an amazing accomplishment and just what the Pittsburgh Steelers did from 1974 to 1979—led by legends Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth on offense. Plus, “Mean” Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, and the rest of the Steel Curtain on defense, the mid-to-llate 1970s Steelers were almost unbeatable.
The only reason Pittsburgh isn’t higher on this list of the best Super Bowl dynasty teams is the close nature of most of the Super Bowl wins. They won Super Bowl IX just 16-6 over the Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl X just 21-17 over the Dallas Cowboys, and Super Bowl XIII 35-31 over Dallas.
Finally, Super Bowl XIV was a more dominant 31-19 win over the LA Rams, but Chuck Noll’s and the Steelers’ other Super Bowl wins were far less convincing.
2. The 1980s and 1990s San Francisco 49ers
By winning five Super Bowls in 13 years, the San Francisco 49ers dominated parts of the 1980s and 1990s, making them the second-best Super Bowl dynasty team on this list. Dominating the NFL for almost two decades, the San Francisco 49ers almost forced us to make them No. 1.
First, it was one-time GOAT QB, Joe Montana, winning his first two Super Bowls in just his first few seasons in the league. Then, the Niners added GOAT Receiver Jerry Rice and won back-to-back championships to end the 1980s. This included a completely dominant 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history.
Montana left, but Rice kept at it, and Steve Young filled in admirably for the legendary QB. In fact, Young dominated Super Bowl XXIX, lifting the 49ers to a 49-26 blowout win over the San Diego Chargers, throwing for 325 yards and six TDs, running for close to 50 yards, and running away with the Super Bowl XXIX MVP award.
If Montana had stayed and somehow managed that type of Super Bowl performance before retiring, the San Francisco 49ers would have to be considered the best team ever. The fact it took two QBs to put this dynasty together and Young only managed the one Super Bowl win are the only knocks against these Niners.
1. The new millennium New England Patriots
Recency bias is damned. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won six Super Bowls in 17 years with the New England Patriots, making them the best Super Bowl dynasty team of all time. No other team has dominated the NFL like this. In an era of parity across the league, the fact it happened recently makes it even more impressive.
A sixth-round draft choice who came off the bench in his second year to do all this, Tom Brady is inarguably the greatest NFL QB of all time. He’s the NFL’s true GOAT. Head Coach Bill Belichick helped make the legendary Bill Parcells with the NY Giants and built his own reputation as a coach who doesn’t need great players to do great things.
Except for maybe Brady. The Pats roster has been turned over dozens of times since 2001, and Brady and Belichick kept on leading whoever was active to Super Bowl wins.
The only knock against this team is that they didn’t win a Super Bowl from 2005 to 2013. However, they were always a threat, making the Super Bowl twice during that time, including that time they went 16-0 in the regular season, rolled through the playoffs, and somehow lost the big game to Eli Manning and the NY Giants.
The truth is the Pats would probably still be winning Super Bowls if egos hadn’t forced Brady’s defection last season, one in which he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win instead.
Bottom line? Brady. Belichick. Best ever Super Bowl dynasty team. Period.