It is theme week across SB Nation: Best team to never win a championship. The New England Patriots had, of course, their fair share of talented squads to never hoist a trophy, and we will honor them and their legacy.
The 2007 Patriots did something no team has accomplished since the NFL went to its 16-game regular season format in 1978: they won every single game to complete the greatest regular season of all time. Not just that, they also dominated their opposition in a fashion never before seen and not duplicated since: New England scored a then-record 589 points while surrendering only 274 for a combined point differential of +315.
That is right, New England won its regular season contests by an all-time-best average of 19.7 points. For comparison, the second best team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger — the 1999 St. Louis Rams — outscored their opponents by “only” 17.8 points. And yet, those Rams did do something that even that juggernaut that was the ‘07 Patriots failed to do: they ended the season as the last team standing and as Super Bowl champions.
But while only one of the two teams finished the season victoriously, the greatness of both cannot be denied from a subjective perspective. This begs the question: does a team have to win a title in order to become great?
The 2007 Patriots are the best example of a team that came up short in the end but undoubtably having secured its status as one of the greatest squads in NFL history: fueled by the “Spygate” scandal that was kicked off after the team’s opening day win against the New York Jets, New England went on to not just beat its opponents — despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the league that year — but to embarrass them.
Teams like that vaunted New England team can be found all through the NFL annals, of course — historically great squads that eventually ran out of fuel when it mattered most. Take the 2013 Denver Broncos, who surpassed the ‘07 Patriots as the highest scoring ever: they scored 606 points during the regular season, but eventually were dismantled 43-8 in the Super Bowl by a Seattle Seahawks team that also featured one of the best units ever.
The legendary “Legion of Boom” defense was the best in football when it kept that explosive Denver team from winning a championship. One season later and as still potent as ever, however, the Seahawks’ 2014 season came to a similarly disappointing end: the team ran into Tom Brady and a Patriots team at the peak of its powers, losing the Super Bowl 28-24 — another outstanding team that failed to cap an impressive season with a title.
Those three teams are joined by other great ones like the 1968 Baltimore Colts, 1990 Buffalo Bills or the 1998 Minnesota Vikings as some of the best in league history to dominate during the regular season but end the year at best in second place.
But to go back to the question above: Does a team need to win a Super Bowl to become great? SB Nation’s FanPulse survey polled Patriots fans to get an answer, and the majority of participants think that a championship is no necessary requirement for a team to achieve “greatness” status: 62% answered the question with no, that teams don’t need a Super Bowl win to be seen as great, while 38% shared a different opinion.
The subject itself is one of debate, but what cannot be denied is that the 2007 Patriots, 2013 Broncos et cetera have re-written the record books and earned a place in league history — even without a Lombardi Trophy to show for it.
Does a team need to win a Super Bowl to become great?
This poll is closed