Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! Check out the first round of voting here, the second round of voting here and the Final Four voting here. The championship round poll will close at noon ET on Tuesday.
In determining which two teams would compete for “Best NFL Team Ever” status in our bracket, fans chose two of the greatest defensive teams of all time
The ’75 Steelers, the most dominant of the team’s four Super Bowl champions that decade, took out the 17-0 1972 Miami Dolphins in the semifinals of our “Best Team Ever” NFL bracket. The ’85 Bears beat Joe Montana, Bill Walsh and the 1984 San Francisco 49ers. While there are some similarities between the two finalists, they differ in a distinct way. The Steelers ruled an entire decade, winning four titles and coming up just short in the loaded AFC playoffs a few other years. The Bears were a one-hit wonder, at least in terms of championships. Chicago made just one Super Bowl with that core, with injuries keeping the Bears from getting back after their one magical season.
Both teams will be remembered forever. Only one gets to be crowned our best ever.
1985 Chicago Bears vs. 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 3: 1985 Bears
15-1 regular season
Allowed 10 points in three playoff wins
Led NFL in points and yards allowed
The Bears were a force, on and off the field. During their 12-0 start, they became the biggest story in the NFL. Their “Super Bowl Shuffle,” recorded during the season, set a new bar for a team talking trash and backing it up. In the playoffs, the Bears won 21-0, 24-0 and 46-10. It’s arguably the most dominant playoff run in NFL history.
Along the way the ’85 Bears became immortal. Jim McMahon had a Pro Bowl season at quarterback, Walter Payton was first-team All-Pro, Willie Gault was a tremendous deep threat at receiver and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan orchestrated a defense that brought endless pressure on quarterbacks. Decades later, the legend of that team continues to grow.
No. 4: 1975 Steelers
Second of four Super Bowls in 1970s
Eight defensive starters made Pro Bowl
Allowed 17 points or fewer in 15 of 17 games
The Steelers, one of the NFL’s worst franchises for decades, became iconic in the 1970s. A string of phenomenal drafts, starting with picking defensive tackle Joe Greene in the first round of the 1969 draft, built a roster filled with legends on offense and defense. The Steelers were a transcendent team in 1975. They won a second straight Super Bowl, Terry Bradshaw matured into a steady quarterback and made his first Pro Bowl, and many of their best players were at a prime age. The Steelers lost two games all season, and one was the regular-season finale after they had clinched the AFC’s best record.
The Steelers had 10 Hall of Fame players — Mel Blount, Bradshaw, Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Donnie Shell, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster — and in 1975 only Greene was older than 27. Greene was 29 years old that season.
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