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Why the '72 Miami Dolphins are the best ever

Call me a "homer" if you want, but I've never understood how the 1972 Miami Dolphins can even be debated as the greatest team in NFL history.

The Sporting News agrees - putting the '72 Dolphins at the top of their list of the ten greatest NFL teams.

You might be able to sell me on the idea, for example, that a team like the '85 Bears would be able to beat the '72 Dolphins if the two somehow got to play against each other on the field. But the teams are from different eras. If you want to play the "what if" game, I bet you'd be able to to make an argument that even the most average team in 2010 would be able to beat one of the Super Bowl Champions from the mid '70s. After all, players are now bigger, faster, and better prepared than they've ever been.

But I don't deal in "what ifs." I deal in facts. And these are the facts:

  • The '72 Dolphins are the only team ever to win every single game they played. Really, that should be the only fact you need to consider when debating among the best teams in NFL history. Talk about their schedule and the quality of their opponents all you want. All I know is that nobody was able to defeat that team. Period.
  • Despite going unbeaten in the regular season, the Dolphins actually had to play the AFC Championship game on the road in Pittsburgh. Think about that for a moment. Because of the rotating nature of the conference title games back in the '70s, the Dolphins actually had to play in the late December cold up in Pittsburgh against the 11-3 Steelers - a team that had the NFL's 2nd ranked defense and 5th ranked offense.
  • Statistically speaking, the Dolphins dominated the NFL. They were first in points scored, first in points allowed, and first in point differential. They were also first in yards per game and first in yards allowed per game. So we're talking about a team that not only won every single game, they had the NFL's best offense and best defense.
  • People seem to forget that nine of the team's fourteen regular season games - and two of their three playoff games - were started and won by the team's backup quarterback, Earl Morrall. This might be the most underrated fact of their entire perfect season. People forget that they had to do a majority of their work that season without starting quarterback Bob Griese. Just think about if the '07 Patriots had to play over half of their season without Tom Brady. Does anyone really think the team would have still had a perfect regular season? Just look at their '08 season. The Patriots weren't a disaster without Brady - but they weren't a playoff team, either. The '72 Dolphins still managed to go unbeaten despite playing over half the season without their starting quarterback.