The 5.0 Club: Best Rushing Teams in NFL History

Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 09, 2013

We live in the Golden Age of the Ground Game. The 2011 and 2012 seasons were the best in NFL history for running backs, who for the first time ever averaged more than 4.25 yards per attempt on the ground.

We reported on this phenomenon this week.

The Golden Age of the Ground Game has been defined by some of the greatest rushing attacks in NFL history.

Forty-two teams in NFL history have averaged 5.0 YPA or more on the ground over the course of an entire season. Four of them played in 2012: the Vikings, Bill, Redskins and 49ers. It was the first season in history in which four teams averaged 5.0 YPA or more on the ground.

The 2012 Vikings are No. 7 all time, with an average of 5.42 YPA.

In terms of individuals, Kansas City Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles has averaged 5.79 YPA in his five-year career, which puts him on pace to shatter the nearly 50-year-old record for career average set by the great Jim Brown (5.22 YPA).

You'll notice one thing, however, about this list: running the ball well, even historically well, is by no means a ticket to success. Of the 42 teams that averaged 5.0 YPA or more, only four won championships, and two of those were in the AFL. Many of the greatest rushing teams in history were downright bad. Note, for example, the 2011 Panthers or 2011 Vikings.

The NFL was, is and always will be a league dominated by teams that rule the skies, not the ground.


11963 Browns10-446026395.737
21954 49ers7-4-144224985.652
31963 Chargers (AFL)11-3 (won AFL Title)39522015.572
41997 Lions9-7 (lost WC)44724645.512
52006 Falcons7-953729395.473
62010 Eagles10-642823245.43
72012 Vikings10-648626345.42
82011 Panthers6-1044524085.41
92007 Vikings8-849426345.332
101958 Browns9-3 (lost div. playoff)47525265.318
112002 Vikings6-1047325075.300
121984 Rams10-6 (lost WC)54128645.294
131990 Lions6-1036619275.265
142012 Redskins10-651927095.220
151966 Browns9-541521665.219
162009 Titans8-849925925.194
171951 Rams8-4 (won NFL title)42622105.188
181998 49ers12-4 (lost div. playoff)49125445.181
192011 Vikings3-1344823185.174
201956 Rams4-838419785.151
212002 Chiefs8-846223785.147
222003 Chargers4-1241721465.146
231994 Lions9-7 (lost WC)40620805.123
241973 Bills9-560530885.104
252004 Falcons11-5 (lost NFC title)52426725.099
261956 Colts5-743222025.097
271966 Chiefs (AFL)11-2-1 (lost SB)44822745.076
281972 Steelers11-3 (lost AFC title)49725205.070
292012 49ers11-4-149224915.063
301975 Bills8-658829745.0578
312011 Eagles8-845025765.0577
322012 Bills6-1044222175.052
332003 Packers10-6 (lost. div. playoff)50725585.045
341953 Rams8-3-142621485.042
351960 Browns8-3-138319305.039
361953 49ers9-344322305.034
371985 Colts5-1148524395.029
381958 Rams8-434517345.026
391962 Texans (AFL)11-3 (won AFL title)47924075.025
401934 Bears13-0 (lost NFL title)56728475.021
412008 Giants12-450225185.016
421999 49ers4-1241820955.012

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