The Athletic Includes 1998 Vikings in Ranking of 25 Most Dominant NFL Teams Since 1970

Will Ragatz

Over at The Athletic, Mike Sando and Zac Boyer recently created a formula to determine the 25 most dominant NFL teams of the last 50 years (subscription required). The formula used winning percentages and points-per-game ratio (points scored divided by points allowed) for the regular season and the playoffs, with more weight given to the regular season. It also gave some extra weight to those two statistics against teams that finished the regular season with winning records.

The writers applied that formula to each of the 550 playoff teams since 1970, "calculated percentile rankings for each team in each category, weighted those results, added them together and multiplied by 100 to create power rankings on a 0-to-100 scale."

The results are pretty fascinating. The most dominant team of the last 50 years, unsurprisingly, is the 1985 Chicago Bears, who scored a 98.44 in this formula. That team went 15-1 and outscored their three playoffs opponents 91-10 on their way to a Super Bowl victory.

The Vikings are represented on the list just once, and you can probably guess which team that is. The 1998 Vikings check in at No. 16 on the list with a 90.53 score. This is a difficult note to swallow, but those Vikings are the only team in the Top 25 to not reach the Super Bowl.

While reaching and winning Super Bowls helped teams in this ranking, the 1998 Vikings proved it was possible for a team to factor despite falling short of that standard. Minnesota set a league record with 556 points (since broken) and became the only team to score at least 24 points in every regular-season game during the 16-game era (since matched by the 2018 Chiefs). Counting playoffs, the 1998 Vikings and the 2018 Chiefs are the only teams to score at least 24 points in 18 games during the same season. They led the NFC Championship Game 20-7 at halftime and led by a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.

That was a historically dominant offense with Randall Cunningham, Robert Smith, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and three Pro Bowlers on the offensive line. The defense included John Randle, Ed McDaniel, and Jimmy Hitchcock. 

You probably don't need a reminder on how that season ended.

Sando and Boyer also noted teams No. 26 through 30 as "on the fringe," including the 1976 Vikings at No. 30. 

The "Purple People Eaters” were in decline but had one last chance to win a championship, falling to the Raiders in Super Bowl XI. They went 11-2-1 with a strong regular-season PPG ratio, but they were a relatively modest 3-2-1 against teams with winning records.

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