Study: 2 Vikings teams rank among 50 greatest in NFL history


The year was 1998. The result was heartbreak.

But that can't take away from the fact that the 1998 Minnesota Vikings are among the greatest teams in NFL history.

FiveThirtyEight established the rank of every professional football team in history with the Elo rating system, which, without getting into the complexity of the algorithm, is "a simple measure of strength based on game-by-game results."

The best team in pro football history, per the Elo rating, is the 2007 New England Patriots, which fell one game short of a perfect season. Randy Moss played for the Patriots that year, but he got his start with the 1998 Vikings. That '98 Vikings team came in at No. 50 on the list.

But as great as those Vikings were, they're still not the best team in Minnesota history.

That honor belongs to the 1970 Vikings, who are defined by Elo as the 39th-best team in professional football history.

That 1970 team didn't go to one of Minnesota's four Super Bowls, but based on the Elo ratings, that team reached its peak after a Week 10 win over the Packers, the Pioneer Press notes.

Remember: There a ton of ratings, but the Elo gives a game-by-game view rather than a full season results perspective.

Every team in Viking history, going all the way back to the expansion season of 1961, is on the list. Some notable rankings include:

  • 58. 1969 Vikings
  • 82. 1976 Vikings
  • 92. 1973 Vikings
  • 111. 1975 Vikings
  • 310. 2009 Vikings

Worst Minnesota teams

The worst team in professional football history, per the Elo ratings, is the 1946 Miami Seahawks, ranked way down at No. 2,046.

Notable terrible Minnesota teams include:

  • 1,631: 2011 Vikings
  • 1,769: 1923 Duluth Kelleys
  • 1,999: 1961 Vikings
  • 2,005: 1929 Minneapolis Red Jackets

The Duluth Kelleys became the Duluth Eskimos when they were sold for the bargain price of $1 in 1926, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Minneapolis Red Jackets existed only two years, but was previously known for two decades as the Minneapolis Marines. They are the root of professional football in Minnesota.

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