The Super Bowl. It’s the most-watched sporting event in America every year, and it helps determine who the best team in the NFL each season. Although the best team does not always win, most of the greatest teams in history made it to the beloved game. It’s hard to say who the best teams are, whether it be a dynasty team or a one year wonder. But here are the 10 best NFL teams since 2000.
1. 2007 New England Patriots
The only NFL to ever go 16-0 in the regular season, the 2007 Patriots are arguably the greatest team not to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots outscored their opponents by an absurd 19.7 points per game, the largest differential in the Super Bowl era. Their offense was led by Tom Brady and Randy Moss, who each set touchdown records as Brady threw for 50 touchdowns and Moss caught 23 of them. With 4 other All-Pro players joining the duo on offense, the Patriots exceeded 30 points in 13 of their 19 games. Add in 47 sacks (second most in league) and you have the recipe for one of the greatest teams ever, even if the New York Giants managed to upset them 17-14 in the Super Bowl thanks to this incredible catch by David Tyree.
2. 2013 Seattle Seahawks
The 2013 Seahawks had one of the best defenses in NFL history. Led by their famous Legion of Boom (LOB), the Seahawks defense led the league in points allowed, yards allowed and takeaways, becoming the first team to do so since the 1985 Chicago Bears. Their LOB, consisting of Pro Bowl defensive backs Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, allowed a measly 172 passing yards per game while the defense as a whole gave up just 5 rushing touchdowns. After finishing the regular season 13-3, Russell Wilson and company destroyed the highest scoring team in history in the Super Bowl, beating the Denver Broncos 43-8.
3. 2004 New England Patriots
The 2004 version Patriots wasn’t the franchise’s best team ever, but it was the best one to win the Super Bowl. With a balanced offense led by Tom Brady and running back Corey Dillon and a good defense containing 3 Pro Bowlers, the Patriots finished top 5 in both points scored and points allowed on their way to a 14-2 season. After defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, the Pats became just the second franchise ever to win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and are currently the last team to repeat as champions.
4. 2016 New England Patriots
The final Patriots team to show up on this list, the 2016 version of the Brady/Belichick dynasty was a record-breaking bunch. Brady was suspended for the first 4 games of the season as punishment for Deflategate, yet the Patriots still went 14-2, including a perfect 8-0 record on the road. During the season the Patriots became the first franchise to 500 wins and clinched a record 8th straight division title. The defense was dominant as they allowed just 250 points (fewest in NFL), while Brady set the record for best touchdown-interception ratio (28-2). New England outscored opponents by 12 points per game on their way to making a record 9th Super Bowl appearance. In the Big Game, the Pats overcame a 28-3 deficit with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter to win in overtime, the first Super Bowl ever to go to OT. Their 25 point comeback was the first time a team came back from a deficit of more than 10 to win.
5. 2009 New Orleans Saints
Just four years after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints managed to rally the city of New Orleans together with their incredible run. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints started the season 13-0 before losing their final 3 games. The Saints then defeated Kurt Warner’s Cardinals and Brett Favre’s Vikings on the way to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. Going up against Peyton Manning and the Colts, the Saints pulled off a surprise onside kick to start the second half before Tracy Porter intercepted Manning and returned it for a game clinching touchdown. New Orleans became the first team to defeat three former Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in a row in the playoffs, although the legacy of this team has been tainted by Bountygate.
6. 2000 Baltimore Ravens
As great as the 2013 Seahawks defense was, the 2000 Ravens defense was even better. Led by linebacker Ray Lewis, Baltimore set the NFL record for fewest points allowed (165 points/10.3 points per game) and rushing yards allowed (970 yards/2.7 yards per carry) in a 16-game season. Their vaunted defense allowed just 5 rushing touchdowns and 11 touchdown passes while recording 23 interceptions and shutting out 4 opponents. Although they didn’t win the division, their defense carried them to the Super Bowl as they allowed just 23 points in 4 playoff games — 7 of which came on a kickoff return touchdown. They also collected 12 takeaways on their way to a championship, despite Trent Dilfer being considered the worst quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
7. 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yet another great defensive team, the 2002 Buccaneers had arguably the best pass defense in NFL history. Led Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp to go along with Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber, the Bucs allowed 427 fewer passing yards than the next best pass defense. They recorded 31 interceptions against just 10 passing touchdowns allowed while finishing top 5 in pass defense, run defense, takeaways and points allowed. They took it to another level in the playoffs, outscoring opponents 106-37 while notching 11 sacks and 9 interceptions. Five of those interceptions came in the Super Bowl against MVP Rich Gannon of the Raiders as coach Jon Gruden beat his former team in his first year in Tampa Bay.
8. 2013 Denver Broncos
The complete opposite of the last two teams on this list, the 2013 Broncos were one of the greatest offensive teams ever. Led by quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos set single season NFL records for touchdowns (76) and points (606). Manning himself broke the single season records for passing touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477) as he led the Broncos to a 13-3 season. While Denver was able to reach the Super Bowl, their number 1 ranked offense came up short against the Seahawks number 1 ranked defense.
9. 2001 St. Louis Rams
The 2001 Rams, much like the 2013 Broncos, were known for their offense. Led by 4 Hall of Famers (Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, Marshall Faulk and Aeneas Williams) and 2 potential ones (Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt), the team labeled “The Greatest Show on Turf” set a franchise record with 14 wins while going 8-0 on the road. Their offense led the NFL in yards, touchdowns and points, while their defense finished 3rd in yards allowed and 7th in points allowed. Kurt Warner became the third straight Rams player to win MVP, as he won in 1999 and Marshall Faulk won in 2000. The Rams made their way to the Super Bowl but fell to the Patriots 20-17.
10. 2005 Seattle Seahawks
The 2005 Seahawks were an extremely balanced team, led by MVP running back Shaun Alexander and arguably the best offensive line duo ever in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. Alexander scored a then-record 28 touchdowns while running for 1,880 yards. Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck quarterbacked the offense as it led the league in scoring while finishing 2nd in yards. The defense was also strong, as they led the league in sacks while allowing the 2nd fewest touchdowns and 7th least points. The Seahawks rode this balance all the way to the Super Bowl, where they lost behind very controversial officiating.
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
2015 Carolina Panthers
2011 Green Bay Packers
2012 New England Patriots
2004 Philadelphia Eagles