How has the NFL's final undefeated team finished each season?

·8 min read

How has the NFL's final undefeated team finished each season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

For the 49th straight year, the 1972 Miami Dolphins stand alone in NFL history.

Don Shula’s squad remains the only team in the Super Bowl era to run the table in the regular season and win the Super Bowl. The Dolphins went 14-0 in the 1972 regular season before winning three playoff games, capping off a perfect season with a Super Bowl VII triumph over Washington.

Some teams have come close to joining the ‘72 Dolphins in football lore. The 2007 New England Patriots famously went 16-0 in the regular season before being upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. More recently, the 2015 Carolina Panthers went 14-0 before dropping their Week 16 contest. Just last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers got off to an 11-0 start before their season began falling apart in Week 13.

The 2021 season saw its final undefeated team suffer its first loss on Thursday. The 7-0 Arizona Cardinals squared off against the 6-1 Green Bay Packers in a contest that came down to the final play. After executing a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals drove the length of the field with a chance to tie or win the game. With 15 seconds remaining, Kyler Murray threw a pass that sailed past an unsuspecting A.J. Green and into the hands of Packers defensive back Rasul Douglas. The interception sealed a road win for the Packers and ended the Cardinals’ quest for a perfect season.

Now, one loss won’t be the end of the world for the Cardinals. After all, only one team has ever gone perfect for an entire regular season and playoffs. With seven straight wins to start the year, Arizona is still poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

While the Cardinals are no longer an unbeaten team, they still took the title as the last unbeaten team. Here’s how past teams with that distinction have finished the season:

How many last undefeated NFL teams won the Super Bowl?

Twelve of the 55 Super Bowl winners were the final undefeated team that respective season. However, a bulk of those teams came prior to the 21st century, with 11 winning championships before 2000.

The most recent team to be the last unbeaten and wind up winning a title was the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning and Co. started off the year 9-0, finished the regular season at 12-4 and beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. 

Since 2006, six final unbeatens have reached the Super Bowl but lost: 2007 Patriots, 2009 Colts, 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2015 Panthers, 2018 Los Angeles Rams and 2019 San Francisco 49ers.

How many last undefeated NFL teams missed the playoffs?

Eleven teams missed the playoffs after being the last unbeaten team. Three of those teams failed to qualify before the playoffs expanded to eight teams in 1970. The final two unbeaten teams from the 1970 season missed the playoffs, but it then took another 23 years for the last undefeated team to fall short of the postseason.

Only three final unbeatens have missed the playoffs since 2000: the 2002 San Diego Chargers, the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2016 Minnesota Vikings.

How did each last undefeated NFL team do that season?

Here is the full list with the final undefeated team in each season during the Super Bowl era (some seasons had multiple teams), the teams’ final records and their end results:

1966 St. Louis Cardinals: Started 5-0-1, finished 8-5-1, missed playoffs

1967 Baltimore Colts: Started 11-0-2, finished 11-1-2, missed playoffs

1968 Dallas Cowboys: Started 6-0, finished 12-2, lost in divisional round

1968 Los Angeles Rams: Started 6-0, finished 10-3-1, missed playoffs

1969 Los Angeles Rams: Started 11-0, finished 11-3, lost in divisional round

1970 Detroit Lions: Started 3-0, finished 10-4, lost in divisional round

1970 Los Angeles Rams: Started 3-0, finished 9-4-1, missed playoffs

1970 Denver Broncos: Started 3-0, finished 5-8-1, missed playoffs

1971 Washington: Started 5-0, finished 9-4-1, lost in divisional round

1972 Miami Dolphins: Started 14-0, finished 14-0, won Super Bowl

1973 Minnesota Vikings: Started 9-0, finished 12-2, lost Super Bowl

1974 St. Louis Cardinals: Started 7-0, finished 10-4, lost in divisional round

1975 Minnesota Vikings: Started 10-0, finished 12-2, lost in divisional round

1976 Minnesota Vikings: Started 6-0-1, finished 11-2-1, lost Super Bowl

1977 Dallas Cowboys: Started 8-0, finished 12-2, won Super Bowl

1978 Pittsburgh Steelers: Started 7-0, finished 14-2, won Super Bowl

1978 Los Angeles Rams: Started 7-0, finished 12-4, lost in NFC Championship Game

1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Started 5-0, finished 10-6, lost in NFC Championship Game

1980 Buffalo Bills: Started 5-0, finished 11-5, lost in divisional round

1981 Philadelphia Eagles: Started 6-0, finished 10-6, lost in wild card round

1982 Washington: Started 4-0, finished 8-1, won Super Bowl

1983 Dallas Cowboys: Started 7-0, finished 12-4, lost in wild card round

1984 Miami Dolphins: Started 11-0, finished 14-2, lost Super Bowl

1985 Chicago Bears: Started 12-0, finished 15-1, won Super Bowl

1986 Denver Broncos: Started 6-0, finished 11-5, lost Super Bowl

1986 Chicago Bears: Started 6-0, finished 14-2, lost in divisional round

1987 Chicago Bears: Started 4-0, finished 11-4, lost in divisional round

1988 Cincinnati Bengals: Started 6-0, finished 12-4, lost Super Bowl

1989 Los Angeles Rams: Started 5-0, finished 11-5, lost in NFC Championship Game

1990 New York Giants: Started 10-0, finished 13-3, won Super Bowl

1990 San Francisco 49ers: Started 10-0, finished 14-2, lost in NFC Championship Game

1991 Washington: Started 11-0, finished 14-2, won Super Bowl

1992 Miami Dolphins: Started 6-0, finished 11-5, lost in AFC Championship Game

1993 New Orleans Saints: Started 5-0, finished 8-8, missed playoffs

1994 San Diego Chargers: Started 6-0, finished 11-5, lost Super Bowl

1995 Dallas Cowboys: Started 4-0, finished 12-4, won Super Bowl

1995 Miami Dolphins: Started 4-0, finished 9-7, lost in wild card round

1995 St. Louis Rams: Started 4-0, finished 7-9, missed playoffs

1996 Minnesota Vikings: Started 4-0, finished 9-7, lost in wild card round

1996 Indianapolis Colts: Started 4-0, finished 9-7, lost in wild card round

1996 Kansas City Chiefs: Started 4-0, finished 9-7, missed playoffs

1997 Denver Broncos: Started 6-0, finished 12-4, won Super Bowl

1998 Denver Broncos: Started 13-0, finished 14-2, won Super Bowl

1999 St. Louis Rams: Started 6-0, finished 13-3, won Super Bowl

2000 Minnesota Vikings: Started 7-0, finished 11-5, lost in NFC Championship Game

2001 St. Louis Rams: Started 6-0, finished 14-2, lost Super Bowl

2002 Oakland Raiders: Started 4-0, finished 11-5, lost Super Bowl

2002 San Diego Chargers: Started 4-0, finished 8-8, missed playoffs

2003 Kansas City Chiefs: Started 9-0, finished 13-3, lost in divisional round

2004 Philadelphia Eagles: Started 7-0, finished 13-3, lost Super Bowl

2005 Indianapolis Colts: Started 13-0, finished 14-2, lost in divisional round

2006 Indianapolis Colts: Started 9-0, finished 12-4, won Super Bowl

2007 New England Patriots: Started 16-0, finished 16-0, lost Super Bowl

2008 Tennessee Titans: Started 10-0, finished 13-3, lost in divisional round

2009 Indianapolis Colts: Started 14-0, finished 14-2, lost Super Bowl

2010 Pittsburgh Steelers: Started 3-0, finished 12-4, lost Super Bowl

2010 Chicago Bears: Started 3-0, finished 11-5, lost in NFC Championship Game

2010 Kansas City Chiefs: Started 3-0, finished 10-6, lost in wild card round

2011 Green Bay Packers: Started 13-0, finished 15-1, lost in divisional round

2012 Atlanta Falcons: Started 8-0, finished 13-3, lost in NFC Championship Game

2013 Kansas City Chiefs: Started 9-0, finished 11-5, lost in wild card round

2014 Philadelphia Eagles: Started 3-0, finished 10-6, missed playoffs

2014 Cincinnati Bengals: Started 3-0, finished 10-5-1, lost in wild card round

2014 Arizona Cardinals: Started 3-0, finished 11-5, lost in wild card round

2015 Carolina Panthers: Started 14-0, finished 15-1, lost Super Bowl

2016 Minnesota Vikings: Started 5-0, finished 8-8, missed playoffs

2017 Kansas City Chiefs: Started 5-0, finished 10-6, lost in wild card round

2018 Los Angeles Rams: Started 8-0, finished 13-3, lost Super Bowl

2019 San Francisco 49ers: Started 8-0, finished 13-3, lost Super Bowl

2019 New England Patriots: Started 8-0, finished 12-4, lost in wild card round

2020 Pittsburgh Steelers: Started 11-0, finished 12-4, lost in wild card round