The Most Dominant Playoff Teams In NFL History

Every NFL season features some great teams, however, only the greatest teams are remembered in the annals of history. When the playoffs come around, the odds-makers tend to have their favorites, but these teams didn’t just defy the odds — they completely dominated their opponents.

Whether you’re a fan of the Cowboys run of success in the ’90s or the Patriots trying to culminate an undefeated season with a championship, these teams proved that some teams just stand out compared to the rest.

John Elway really made his name in the playoffs, but he wasn’t the only player who helped solidify the Broncos dynasty in the late ’90s.

1942 Chicago Bears

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Bettmann/Getty Images

The 1942 Bears were the 2007 New England Patriots. Chicago took out all of their opponents during their 11-game undefeated season. In the NFL Championship game, the Bears were favorites to beat the Washington Redskins. But, with the Bears at the one-yard line near the end of the game, the Redskins defense held its ground to win the title match.

Like the Patriots, the Monsters of the Midway were dominant during the regular season, but failed to win it all.

1950 Cleveland Browns

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Bettmann/Getty Images

These Browns are nothing like the 2017 Browns. Coach Paul Brown was using a finesse style of football. Cleveland’s only two losses from the 1950 season came at the hands of the New York Giants.

The Browns would go on to appear in 1950 NFL championship against the Los Angeles Rams. Cleveland scored two unanswered touchdowns in the second and third quarters, retaking the lead, and walked away with a 30-28 victory. After the title game, they went 2-3 in their next five title games.

1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

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Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The Steelers successfully defended their Super Bowl title from the previous season. The Steel Curtain Defense and its imitators were so effective that the league enacted drastic rule changes to give offenses a chance. They ended up beating the Miami Dolphins and Houston Oilers en route to Super Bowl XIV.

It was a close game during the first three quarters, but Pittsburgh controlled the fourth quarter, scoring 14 unanswered points to power out a 31-19 win over the Rams.

The Steelers biggest rival of the seventies left their own mark on the history books.

1966 Green Bay Packers

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Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Vince Lombardi’s Packers would beat the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL championship. Next, they put the AFL-Champion Kansas City Chiefs in their place in the inaugural Super Bowl. The first half was competitive, and the Chiefs put up more fight in their 35-10 loss than many NFL competitors did against the Packers.

That golden age of Packers football would come to an end a few seasons later, and it would take years for the Packers to recapture that magic.

1999 St. Louis Rams

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Focus on Sport/Getty Images

For the first time since 1973, the Rams went undefeated at home. The Greatest Show on Turf remains one of only four teams in NFL history to score more than 30 points twelve separate times in a single season.

In the playoffs, they defeated the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers en route to Super Bowl XXXIV, where they beat the Tennesse Titans 23-16. It was the franchise’s first NFL World Championship since 1951.

1976 Oakland Raiders

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Led by the iconic John Madden, the 76 Raiders overcame a ton of adversity. After having appeared in the three previous AFC Championship games, and losing all three, the Raiders finally marched their way to Super Bowl XI in what was the Raiders second Super Bowl appearance after losing in Super Bowl II.

Oakland gained a Super Bowl record 429 yards, including a Super Bowl record 288 yards in the first half, en route to defeating the Vikings 32-14.

Even with Madden as the coach, the Raiders offense wouldn’t be a match for the next team, regarded as the “Legion of Boom.”

1998 Denver Broncos

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Lutz Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images

John Elway and the Broncos started the season 13-0, and running back Terrell Davis rushed for 2,008 yards with 21 touchdowns. Both the ’97 and ’98 Broncos teams ran over the competition in the playoffs. In Super Bowl XXXIII, Denver scored 17 consecutive points to build a 17–3 lead in the second quarter from which Atlanta could not recover.

At 38 years old, Elway became the oldest player, at the time, to be named Super Bowl MVP.

1984 San Francisco 49ers

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George Rose/Getty Images

The franchise had their best season ever with a record of 15 wins and only one loss. In the playoffs, they defeated the Giants and then shut out the Bears 23-0 in the NFC Championship game. Super Bowl XIX was hyped as the battle between Joe Montana and Dan Marino.

But after trailing in the first quarter, the 49ers would end up taking the game by scoring ten unanswered points in the second half to dominate the Dolphins 38-16.

2013 Seattle Seahawks

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With the Seahawks 10th win only eleven weeks into the season, the team secured double-digit victories in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Seahawks and the “Legion Of Boom” made their playoff run look like a walk in the park.

After defeating the 49ers and Saints, the Seahawks went onto Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle built a 36–0 advantage before allowing Denver’s first and only score on the final play of the third quarter.

The biggest comeback in Super Bowl history is up next.

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Craig Jones/Getty Images

The Bucs kicked off their playoff run with a 31-6 victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Then, the team had to face adversity by playing out in the cold in Philadelphia. Then, in Super Bowl XXXVII, it was the defense who trounced Oakland’s offense. Tampa Bay would pick off Rich Gannon five times en route to a 48-21 victory.

Along with the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, the Bucs hold the distinction of winning it all in their lone Super Bowl appearance.

1977 Dallas Cowboys

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Focus on Sport/Getty Images

America’s team dominated the NFC. Dallas had an easy path en route to the conference title, rolling over the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings in the process. The Cowboys finally escaped years of playoff losses and Super Bowl near-misses.

Led by coach Tom Landry, the boys in blue would win their second Vince Lombardi trophy against the Denver Broncos by a score of 27-10. They became the first team from the NFC East Division to win two Super Bowls.

2016 New England Patriots

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Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Patriots set a record for the most pass attempts by a team without an interception to start a season. Even after Tom Brady served a four-game suspension for the Deflategate scandal, New England prevailed.

They quickly gave the Texans and Steelers a hard time in the postseason, and made history against the Atlanta Falcons. After trailing 21-3, the Patriots went on to score 25 unanswered points to tie the game, 28–28, with 57 seconds left. They famously won in overtime 34-28 to complete the comeback.

The 2007 Patriots and the 1972 Miami Dolphins have one uncommon thing between them.

1986 New York Giants

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The ’86 Giants might be the most dominant defensive juggernauts on this list. Defensive tackle Jim Burt knocked Joe Montanna out of a playoff game, which led to a 49-3 triumph. Then, they disposed of their division rivals, the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship game.

In Super Bowl XXI, quarterback Phil Simms completed 88% of his passing attempts and their always strong defense showed up to play. The Giants overcame a halftime deficit and proceeded to defeat John Elway and the Broncos 39–20.

1992 Dallas Cowboys

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At the time, Dallas fielded the youngest team in the NFL. In the divisional round, they whooped the Eagles 34-10, and in the NFC championship game, the Cowboys would pull away with a 30-20 victory in San Francisco. But, when they faced the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, it wasn’t even close to a challenge.

The Bills turned the ball over nine times, and the Cowboys capitalized on those costly mistakes en route to a 52-17 victory.

1972 Miami Dolphins

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Despite the 1972 Dolphins going undefeated both in the regular season and in the playoffs, their playoff run was decidedly not dominant. They won all three of their playoff matches by a touchdown or less. In comparison, the 1973 Dolphins cruised through the playoffs with three easy wins. They even got revenge on the Raiders, who ended their unbeaten streak in Week 2.

In Super Bowl VIII, the Dolphins would beat Minnesota 24-7 as Larry Csonka rushed for 145 yards with two touchdowns.

The team who won the Lombardi Trophy five seasons after relocating from Cleveland is still on the way.

1983 Los Angeles Raiders

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Rob Brown/Getty Images

The 1983 Raiders easily disposed of the Steelers and Seahawks in the playoffs. Then, they shocked the football world by destroying the defending champions, the Washington Redskins. As the favored team, the Redskins were no match for the Raiders dominant play in Super Bowl XVIII, and the Raiders would go on to win 38–9.

Marcus Allen rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the third Heisman Trophy winner to also be named Super Bowl MVP.

1991 Washington Redskins

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Doug Pensinger/Allsport/Getty Images

On paper, the 1991 Redskins don’t look so dominant. Darrell Green and Art Monk were still around, as were some other holdovers like Joe Jacoby and Charles Mann. The Redskins started the playoffs with an easy 24-7 victory over the 10-6 Falcons, keyed by six Atlanta turnovers, and then defeated Detroit in the NFC Championship game.

In Super Bowl XXVI, the Redskins and Bills kept it close, with Washington eking out a win by a final score of 37-24.

2000 Baltimore Ravens

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Ezra Shaw/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Throughout the playoffs, the Ravens legendary defense only allowed 23 points total. First, they defeated the Broncos 21-3. In an anticipated rematch against the Tennesse Titans, the Ravens redeemed themselves with a 24-10 victory. In the AFC Championship Game, they humiliated the Raiders for their first Super Bowl appearance.

Finally, in Super Bowl XXXV, they held the Giants to 152 total yards and forced five turnovers in a 34-7 win. The Ravens would win the Lombardi Trophy five seasons after relocating from Cleveland.

1989 San Francisco 49ers

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Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Bill Walsh’s influence was felt all over the 49ers depth chart. This team had Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and John Taylor, some of the all-time greats. The offensive threat made them one of the most balanced teams in football.

Thanks to all that talent, the red and gold marched their way to Super Bowl XXIV. The 49ers proceeded to bully up on the Broncos 55-10, resulting in one of the most lopsided victories of all-time. The West-coast offense was simply no match for a young John Elway.

1985 Chicago Bears

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Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Nobody has ever marched through the playoffs like the 85 Bears. Led by coach Mike Ditka, the Bears’ defense was ranked first in the league and only allowed 198 total points. Their playoff performance was so memorable that the team didn’t give up a single point in their first two games.

The scoreless streak ended in the first two minutes of Super Bowl XX, but the Bears went on to outscore the Patriots 46-10. It was the Bears’ first NFL World Championship title since 1963.