If you’re looking for your favorite AFC teams, you have come to the wrong place. Let’s wrap this series up with the remaining 16 NFC teams and build each franchise their offensive juggernaut.
QB: Russell Wilson
RB: Shaun Alexander
WR: Steve Largent
Before you get mad at me Marshawn Lynch fans, let me remind you the problems Alexander gave opposing defenses during the 2000’s. May I remind you the running back lead a rather flawed Seahawks team to the Super Bowl during the 2005 season. He finished his career with an 9,429 rushing yards and 100 rushing touchdowns in eight seasons for the Seattle franchise.
Wilson gets the nod over Matthew Hasselback at quarterback for producing a far better win loss record even though the total statistics are relatively similar. Largent is a guy most casual football fans have never heard of but he was the lone bright spot for much of the late 70’s and 80’s. He lead the team in receiving for 12 straight years and was a member of the team’s inaugural season in 1976 via trade from the Houston Oilers.
Arizona/St. Louis/Chicago Cardinals
QB: Jim Hart
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
TE: Jackie Smith
Fitzgerald should get more consideration when talking about the greatest receivers of all time due to longevity alone. In such a violent sport, the wide receivers has gracefully been the lone star of the Cardinals offense for what seems like forever.
Hart looked like the actor who played Gerry Bertier in Remember the Titans and even rocked the old school 2-bar face mask that barely covered any part of your face. He leads the franchise with 34,369 passing yards and 209 passing touchdowns.
Cowboys fans will remember Smith for dropping a wide open touchdown in Super Bowl XIII but the tight end revolutionized the position while a member of the Cardinals franchise. He was terrific in the open field and and retired with the most catches ever by a tight end in history – 480 – which is third all-time in franchise history.
Los Angeles/St. Louis/Cleveland Rams
QB: Kurt Warner
RB: Eric Dickerson
WR: Isaac Bruce
These next two franchises were really tough for because both franchises are loaded with great players. Warner’s rags-to-riches stories is one of the more inspiring stories in sports so he gets the nod at quarterback from me. He lead the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams to two Super Bowl appearances and lead the league in completion percentage from 1999-2001.
There are so many great running backs in this franchise’s history too, but I’m going to roll with Dickerson. He’s second all time in franchise history with 7,245 rushing yards and accomplished that in only five seasons. He also holds the all-time single-season record for most rushing yards ever (2,105).
The receiver was a tough battle between Bruce and Torry Holt but Bruce leads the franchise in receiving yards (14,129) and receptions (942). He was one of the most sure-handed receivers to play the game during his time and became Warner’s and Marc Bulger’s top target.
San Francisco 49ers
QB: Joe Montana
RB: Frank Gore
WR: Jerry Rice
Another franchise just loaded with Hall of Famers. You could go a lot of different routes here but I’m going to roll with Montana as my quarterback. Many argued he was the best quarterback of all time until Tom Brady came along, winning four Super Bowl Championships and leading the league in completion percentage five different seasons with the 49ers.
Gore will never be considered one of the flashiest of running backs but boy was he consistent. His 11,073 rushing yards and 2,442 carries are first all time in franchise history. From 2006-2014, he rushed for over 1,000 yards each year except for the 2010 seasons. Give me consistency over flashiness any day of the week.
Rice is the easy choice here among some of the great pass catchers in 49ers history. The Mississippi Valley State graduate played 16 years with the franchise and is first all time in all receiving categories. His 22,895 receiving yards and 197 receiving touchdowns still rank first all time in NFL history as he was a model of consistency at the receiver position.
QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Barry Sanders
WR: Calvin Johnson
What’s interesting about the Lions is they have one of the most talented running backs and wide receivers ever in NFL history, but have zero Super Bowls to show for. Sanders is often argued to be one of the best running backs ever to play the game as he possessed an elite-level of elusiveness that allowed him to bust off big runs regardless of the blocking in front of him. But Sanders retired early at the young age of 30 after the Lions failed to win with him on the roster. He is the franchise’s leader in rushing yards, carries and rushing touchdowns.
Almost too similarly, Johnson retired at the young age of 30 but was gifted with the ideal size and athleticism to play the position. He had the speed to outrun defensive backs, the leaping ability to jump higher than most basketball players and hand-eye coordination to catch any ball in a five-foot radius.
As far as quarterbacks go, their isn’t a long list of talented players in the franchise’s history so Stafford gets the nod. The former number one overall pick in 2009 has put up numbers that compare with some of the elite arms in the NFL but he has a sub – .500 record as a starter and has struggled to lead the team on a deep playoff run.
RB: Walter Payton
RB: Matt Forte
RB: Gale Sayers
I finally get the chance to build a super team with no quarterback. Sorry Jay Cutler and Jim McMahon, I didn’t like either of you stacked up against these three legendary backs. Payton was the model of consistency as he rushed for over 1,000 yards all but three seasons. His 3,838 carries and 16,726 rushing yards are both second all-time in NFL history.
Forte was one of my favorite do-it-all backs of my generation. He had three seasons with 60 or more receptions including 102 in the 2014 season. Sayers had a very similar skill set to Forte as he could run, catch out the back field and return kicks and punts at a high level. In fact, his career average of 30.6 yards per kick return still remains the best in NFL history. You don’t need to pass the ball when you have those three running backs in your backfield.
Green Bay Packers
QB: Brett Farve
WR: Donald Driver
WR: James Lofton
I am sure I upset a handful of Packers fans with these picks but it’s challenging when a franchise has so many legendary players. Farve was one of my favorites growing up because of his fearlessness and his ability to improvise on the fly.
Farve also had a beautiful chemistry with Driver that lasted for that lasted for eight seasons. Driver wasn’t flashy as a play maker but his hands were so reliable and he could run any route at any given time of the game. He leads the franchise with the most receptions and receiving yards.
Lofton was a big play maker for the Packers offense for nine seasons. The Hall of Famer averaged over 16 yards per reception all but one of his seasons with Green Bay, as he consistently made plays with the ball in his hands. There were a few coaches around the league that called Lofton the best athlete during his time.
QB: Fran Tarkenton
RB: Adrian Peterson
WR: Randy Moss
Let’s start with the elephant in the room; yes, chose Moss over Chris Carter despite the latter having more receiving yards and receptions in his Vikings career. While Carter was ‘Mr. Consistency’ for a very long time, Moss changed the way urban kids of my generation played the game. We always went tried to ‘Moss’ someone while on offense whether it was 7-on-7, full pads or just playing pick up at the park.
Peterson was another legend from my adolescence as this man did practically everything for the Vikings offense from 2007-2016. He willed mediocre Vikings teams to the playoffs four different times in his career while playing with the likes of Tavaris Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Ponder and a very old Brett Farve. He earned the ‘All Day’ nickname for a reason folks and came so close to breaking Dickerson’s all-time single-season rushing record in 2012.
Chances are, many of you never had the chance to watch Tarkenton play, but this man aged like fine wine. If you look at his year-by-year stats, he gradually improved in nearly every category (barring injuries) and even led the league in passing yards as a 38-year old with 3,468. He still holds the franchise record for most passing yards in a career.
QB: Michael Vick
WR: Julio Jones
WR: Roddy White
Vick may not be the best quarterback statistically in Falcons franchise history, but like Moss and Peterson, Vick was a legend to us urban kids who grow up loving football. I will never forget how unstoppable he was on Madden ’04. He had a cannon of an arm and could fit balls into tight overages but he could also outrun everybody on the defensive side of the ball too. One of the more gifted athletes to every play the position.
Jones was made in a lab somewhere they just haven’t admitted it yet. Like ‘Megatron,’ Jones has ideal size and athleticism to play wide receiver. Ask him to run any route and he’ll do it with extreme precision and lose any defender trying to cover him one-on-one. White possessed a little different skill set but was equally as dangerous. His elite speed continuously took the top off defenses and he could make those tough catches in traffic as well.
QB: Cam Newton
RB: Christian McCaffrey
WR: Steve Smith Sr.
Speaking of freakishly athletic quarterbacks, there may be no one in history more gifted at the position than Newton. 6’5″ 250 pounds with the ability to run past linebackers, run through defensive backs and was extremely evasive in the pocket avoiding sacks. It’s a shame the Panthers wasted his prime with poor offensive line play and sub par receivers.
I would have loved to do a two running back team here but Smith absolutely deserves to be on this list. At 5’9″ 195 pounds, he played like he was Newton’s size and was fearless on the gridiron. Smith is a big reason why I fell in love with the sport of football and his 12,917 receiving yards and 836 receptions are both first in franchise history and will probably stay that way for a long time. Pound for pound, arguably the greatest receiver of all-time, “Ice up , son!”
McCaffrey is a thing of beauty to watch and gets the nod over some very talented backs in DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. He is so versatile that he could probably make the pro bowl as a slot receiver if he was asked to switch positions. Newton was fortunate enough to play a couple seasons with both Smith Sr and CMC, but imagine if they all had their primes at the same time? Automatic Super Bowl victory if you ask me.
New Orleans Saints
QB: Drew Brees
WR: Marques Colston
WR: Joe Horn
Despite the Saints recent success, they haven’t been a franchise loaded with talented players. Brees is their best quarterback by a large margin and has almost 44,000 more passing yards then Archie Manning who is second in that category. The 13-time pro bowler is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (77,416) and passing touchdowns (547).
Colston got to New Orleans the same year Brees did and the two had a fantastic 10-year run. Colston was as sure-handed as they come and could run any route in the playbook. Pair those two along with Sean Payton’s play-calling and it was going to be a long day for opposing secondaries. Horn played with New Orleans before Brees arrived but was the team’s go to target for seven straight seasons. He played only one year with Brees as a 34-year-old but one could only imagine how his career would have went if Horn had played in his prime with Brees.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB: James Wilder
RB: Cadillac Williams
FB: Mike Alstott
If I read off to you the list of quarterbacks that started for the Buccaneers in their history, you might burst into laughter. I was tempted to go with newcomer Tom Brady or Super Bowl champion Brad Johnson but I decided to load up on ball carriers.
Alstott may be the most recognizable fullback to ever play the game. Despite the position’s primary task to create running lanes, Alstott received an awful lot of hand-offs and was the Bucs number one weapon for few years. Seriously, go check out his highlight tape, the dude probably could have been a 1,000 yard rusher multiple seasons if they gave him the ball more.
Williams makes this list because no one had a better nickname in all of sports. I actually had to look up his real name – it’s Carnell – but he had a knack for finding cutback lanes, cutting on a dime and hitting the hole with exceptional acceleration.
Wilder was much more physical than these two other backs which is why I think the three could work in a backfield. At 6’3″ 225 pounds, he could deliver a lot of punishment but he was very agile and was used a lot in the passing game as well. Wilder finished with over 2,000 scrimmage yards in 1984 and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl that season.
QB: Troy Aikman
RB: Emmitt Smith
WR: Michael Irvin
Ugh, another really tough franchise to pick for. There are so many greats to put on the Cowboys uniform but why not go with the trio that won the franchise three Super Bowls? Smith is statistically the best running back to ever play the game as his 18,335 rushing yards, 4,409 carries and 164 rushing touchdowns are all NFL records. Not to take anything away from his talent, but he had the benefit of running behind one of the best offensive line groups ever which bolstered the rushing attack.
Irvin was a play-maker out wide and like many of the receivers I have listed before, could run any route in the playbook. He was tough as nails and was not afraid of big moments, as he finished his career with 87 postseason receptions and eight receiving touchdowns in 16 playoff games.
Even though he may sound dry as a color commentator, Aikman was capable of making some exciting plays. He seemed to fit passes in the tightest of coverages thanks to elite arm strength and accuracy. He, along with Irvin, was also tough as nails and withstood a lot of big hits but led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories in the 90’s.
New York Giants
QB: Eli Manning
RB: Tiki Barber
RB: Saquon Barkley
Say what you want about Manning’s career, but you have to give the guy props for beating arguably the best franchise ever twice in the Super Bowl. His regular season play was lackluster at times, his face was commonly memed but the dude had ice in his veins and came through in big games for the G-Men. Miraculously, he somehow finished his career 117-117 as a starter, which almost too perfectly fit mi how his career went, but you can’t deny Manning’s ability in clutch moments during his prime.
Even after saying all those nice things about Manning, I don’t want him throwing the ball too many times. That factored into my decision in giving him two great backs to hand the ball off too. Barkley is a next generational talent and possesses all the attributes athletes dream of. If his career isn’t stunted by injury, poor offensive line play or subpar coaching, Barkley may finish as one of the top backs to play this game.
Barber was a do it all back that wasn’t flashy but got the job done day in and day out. He currently leads the franchise in rushing yards (10,449 yards) and is second all-time in receptions (586).
QB: Donovan McNabb
RB: Brian Westbrook
WR: Harold Carmichael
I always really enjoyed McNabb’s game as a kid. Not an elite passer nor a runner but he was really efficient and could do a little bit of both at a high level. His 32,000 passing yards is still good for first in franchise history.
Westbrook was one of those backs you could ask to do anything and he would do it at a high level. His career was cut short due to injuries but he had four seasons of 800+ rushing yards and 60+ receptions with the Eagles. He went on to play one season for the San Francisco 49ers at the end of his career before coming back in 2012 to retire as an Eagle.
Carmichael leads the franchise with 589 receptions and over 9,000 receiving yards catching passes from the likes of Ron Jaworski and Roman Gabriel. At 6’8″ 225 pounds, he was a larger than life presence on the gridiron which made it tough for defenders to bring down. He went 127 straight games with a reception too. You could make the argument that Carmichael is the closest example size wise if Lebron James were to play wide receiver in the NFL.
QB: Joe Thiesmann
RB: Clinton Portis
WR: Art Monk
It is unfortunate, but Thiesmann will always be remembered for the gruesome injury he suffered when Lawrence Taylor sacked him, ultimately ending his NFL career. But Thiesmann was a prolific passer during his prime and his 25,206 passing yards still stands as best in franchise history.
I liked Portis’ game a lot too growing up, but much like Westbrook, injuries really derailed this man’s career. He spent seven years with Washington after spending too in Denver and in the four seasons he played 16 games, he finished with over 1,500 total yards from scrimmage.
Monk was as smooth as peanut butter when running routes and was on the receiving end of plenty of Thiesmann’s passes. He had a knack for laying out for the ball and making spectacular catches as he possessed really good body control and athleticism. Monk is the franchise’s leader with 888 receptions and 12,026 receiving yards.