For the 3rd part of this series I am reviewing the team No.s 4, 3, and 2 to either lose the Super Bowl or in the playoffs.
4. 1983 Washington Redskins
Point Differential: +13.1
Turnover Margin: +43
OVERVIEW: Forget the near-meltdown vs. the 49ers in the NFC title game. Forget the team's futile showing against the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII (losing 38-9). From a regular-season perspective, the Redskins, led by Joe Theismann, John Riggins, Art Monk, Darrell Green and coach Joe Gibbs, prevailed in the end, thanks to an otherworldly turnover differential and actual Super Bowl berth. Talk about a close call!
3. 1998 Minnesota Vikings
Point Differential: +16.2
Turnover Margin: +14
OVERVIEW: The 2005 Oakland Raiders may disagree with this premise, but Randy Moss is likely the greatest first-impression player in NFL history. He's obviously had an amazing impact with this year's Patriots, totaling 98 catches for an NFL-record 23 TDs on a team that was primed for a perfect 19-0 season.
His first year with the '98 Vikings was also one of his greatest success, reeling in 69 catches for 1,313 yards and a rookie-best 17 TDs. The '98 Vikings were a viable powerhouse in that 15-1 season, amassing 556 points (an NFL record before this year's Pats).
Perhaps more impressive, the offense didn't really click on all cylinders until after QB Randall Cunningham took over in wekk three following a Brad Johnson injury.
Of course, the Vikings' championship dreams were crushed unceremoniously by the Falcons in the NFC title game—preventing the most-hyped Super Bowl of all time, pitting Moss, Robert Smith and Cris Carter against John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe.
2. 2005 Indianapolis Colts
Point Differential: +12
Turnover Margin: +12
Regular Season Wins of 10 points or more: 9
Losses to sub-.500 teams: 0
Record vs. playoff teams: 5-1
Strength of division (minimum to maximum scale of 1 to 5): 3
Playoff Extra Credit: Lost to Super Bowl champs (Steelers)
OVERVIEW: Sure, the Colts captured a Super Bowl crown one year later, but the 2005 club, in my opinion, stands out as Indy's best team of the Peyton Manning era—and it's not really close.
Indy opened that regular season with 13 straight wins, posted a 5-1 mark against playoff teams. They tallied nine blowout victories and had a symmetrical bonanza in point differential and turnover margin. Until they lost to the Chargers in week 15 and then again in the playoffs verse the Steelers, I was sure that they were the greatest team ever.
I hope you all enjoyed the list. Check back and read the final article of the series in a day or two.