Hey, did you know that the Super Bowl is in four days? And that Richard Sherman likes to talk? And that Marshawn Lynch doesn't? And this game is important for the legacy of Peyton Manning? And that the Broncos have the league's best offense while the Seahawks have the league's best defense?
You did? Well, good. Because this post won't be about crowning a champion at Super Bowl XLVIII--we're going to focus on the Super Bowls of the past. But this post won't be about past champions either--it's going to be about the best teams that didn't win it all.
For the Minnesota Vikings, having great teams fall short of the ultimate goal is all too familiar. The franchise lost four Super Bowls in the 70's and has broken our hearts in numerous NFC Championship Games in recent years. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Vikings are the most featured team in the top 20 of Fox Sports South's list of the NFL's greatest teams to not win the Super Bowl.
Fox actually went through 40 teams but for our purposes we're just going to focus on the top 20 of their "best-of-the-not-quite-the-best" list. They explained how they tried to take the most objective approach possible:
Fox Sports South invokes a numbers-based look at the 40 Greatest Teams Not To Win The Super Bowl -- a list that researches 48 NFL campaigns (1966-2013) and rewards overall record (regular season), per-game point differential, turnover margin, strength of schedule, divisional superiority, blowout victories ... and any other bits of extra credit that may vault teams into the countdown.
Their "top 20" actually has 22 teams listed since there were two ties in their scoring system. Six franchises made the list multiple times, but only the Vikings were awarded the bittersweet distinction a whopping four times. Here are the teams that Fox listed along with their rankings:
#18: The 1975 Vikings. My dad still claims that this team was definitely the best Vikings team of the 70's, even though they didn't even make it to the Super Bowl that year. Then again, you might remember why they didn't make it--the blatant no-call of offensive pass interference by Drew Pearson on Nate Wright on the infamous Hail Mary that allowed Dallas to beat Minnesota. Let's just move on before our middle aged readers start breaking stuff.
#18a: The 2009 Vikings. Here's one that Vikings fans of all ages can get pissed off about since it happened so recently. The magical Brett Favre year ultimately cut short by that game in New Orleans. The one with a bazillion turnovers. The one with 12 men on the field. The one with all the cheap shots by the Bountygate Saints. The one with the bad interception at the end of regulation. The one that still hurts the most for a lot of fans because it's the freshest in our memories.
#5: The 1998 Vikings. This is the one ranking that makes absolutely no sense to me. There is no possible way that there were four better teams in NFL history that didn't win it all. But this is where Fox had them according to their ranking system. I still maintain that this was easily the best Vikings team of my lifetime. I still remember exactly where I was when I watched Gary Anderson's field goal miss. I still recall that How I Met Your Mother created an entire episode around this loss. ("DAMN!") I still think that the Dirty Bird is the worst dance ever created--even worse than the Macarena.
#4: The 1969 Vikings. It looks like this list awarded extra credit for losing in the Super Bowl since this is the only Vikings team listed that actually made the big game. This team was absolutely dominant during the regular season--they scored the most points in the league AND allowed the fewest that year. But they got outplayed and outcoached badly in the Super Bowl by the Chiefs. In fact, they got Tecmo Bowl'ed: Hank Stram was literally guessing the Vikings' plays from the sideline. Of course the Vikings pummeled the Chiefs in the opening game of the following season, but that's the very definition of too little too late.
The 18-1 2007 Patriots "won" the distinction of being the best team to not win it all. That's hard to argue with, but for my money the 1998 Vikings should be a close second on that list.
And that concludes our melancholy trip down memory lane. What do you think of the list? Were any other Vikings teams that should have been listed? Let us know in the comments.