Before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots had never won a Super Bowl. Since the duo’s partnership began in 2000, New England has etched its name among the league’s elite.
There is no clearer proof of the Patriots’ 21st century golden age than a recent ranking of the 100 greatest NFL teams from USA Today. In total, New England placed 10 teams among the 100, all of which are from the Belichick-Brady era.
An interesting note is that the top Patriots team on the list is from 2007, a season in which New England didn’t win the Super Bowl. Also, no Patriots team made it into the top 15 of the ranking.
17. 2007 Patriots (went 16-0, lost Super Bowl XLII)
19. 2016 Patriots (went 14-2, won Super Bowl LI)
29. 2004 Patriots (went 14-2, won Super Bowl XXXIX)
40. 2014 Patriots (went 12-4, won Super Bowl XLIX)
60. 2003 Patriots (went 14-2, won Super Bowl XXXVIII)
63. 2011 Patriots (went 13-3, lost Super Bowl XLVI)
66. 2012 Patriots (went 12-4, lost AFC Championship Game)
70. 2018 Patriots (went 11-5, won Super Bowl LIII)
72. 2001 Patriots (went 11-5, won Super Bowl XXXVI)
81. 2017 Patriots (went 13-3, lost Super Bowl LI)
The No. 1 team on the list is the 1985 Chicago Bears, with the ’84 49ers, ’62 Packers, ’89 49ers, and ’72 Dolphins rounding out the top five.
The methodology that the article’s author, Nate Davis, provided acknowledges the inevitable subjectivity of a list like this, while also noting that various metrics were taken into account:
Given the way the game and players have evolved, extra weight and consideration was conceded to the modern game — you’ll note all 53 Super Bowl champions are listed, however many of the NFL and AFL champions prior to 1966 didn’t receive similar recognition. Metrics like titles won, victories, point differentials and such — which cut across generations with some level of equality — were taken into account, though there was also plenty of room for opinion and art in the final analysis.
Belichick, always known for his historical knowledge of the sport, has been involved in an NFL top 100 project of his own recently. The Patriots coach is prominently involved in an upcoming NFL Films series about the top 100 players in football history.