One of the few things that Miami Dolphins fans can point to proudly is that '72 season. The only perfect season in the modern history of the NFL. A feat never repeated in the several decades since. "Perfectville: Population 1," as the saying goes.
Of course, anytime a 'Fins fan brings this up (usually as a way to mediate the depression that comes along with being a fan of the modern version of the team) someone is always there to be like, "Well, it was a different NFL back then, and they had a favorable schedule. And that team wasn't even that talented by today's standards, and also blah, blah, blah, Mercury Morris is insufferable."
And it's always like, "OK, yeah, but shut up, nerd. It's the only perfect season, K."
Well, the math nerds at FiveThirtyEight used their calculators and spreadsheets and are now claiming that the '72 Dolphins weren't the best team of all time. Not even close. In fact, according to their calculations, they aren't even the best team the Dolphins have ever fielded.
The rankings are based on the Elo rating of every modern NFL team ever. Elo ratings are what happens when nerdom and sports fandom combine and is an analytic borrowed from chess and is meant to be a benchmark statistics of how well a team is expected to perform against a given challenger.
As it turns out the best team in history according to Elo were the 2007 New England Patriots. You might remember that as the team that headed into the Super Bowl with a perfect season and then lost the big game to the New York Giants in the single closest call a team ever came to moving into Perfectville with those '72 Dolphins. Yet, according to math they are indeed the best NFL team ever.
The '73 Dolphins appears on the list as the sixth greatest team of all time. Like the '72 Dolphins, they won the Super Bowl. Unlike that season, however, they dropped two games in the regular season. Interestingly, a lot of longtime Dolphins fans and sports writers at the time did consider the '73 team to be the superior squad, despite the roster being quite similar.
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Meanwhile, the '72 Dolphins came in at 17th. The third best Dolphins squad of all time were the Dan Marino-led '84 Dolphins, coming at 47th place overall.
The worst Dolphins team of all time? The first Dolphins team of all time. The inaugural '66 team was actually ranked below the disastrous one-win 2007 Dolphins.
The worst team of all time? The Miami Seahawks, who played a single season in Miami in 1946 in the All-American Football Conference, a league that some NFL teams trace their history back to.