Could the '85 Bears beat the worst NFL team today?


Fact Box

  • The 1985 Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl XX in 1986. 
  • The US Super Bowl grew out of a merger between the National Football League (NFL) and it’s rival American Football League (AFL) in 1966. The first Super Bowl, following the merger in January 1967, squared off the Green Bay Packers (NFL) against the Kansas City Chiefs (AFL). The results were 35-10.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs won 31 to the San Francisco 49ers’ 20 in the 2019-2020 season.   
  • 14 teams started the NFL in September 1920, among them the: Arkon Pros (OH), the Buffalo Bills (NY), Canton Bulldogs (OH), Chicago Cardinals (now Chicago Bears - IL), Chicago Tigers (IL), Cleveland Tigers (later the Cleveland Indians - OH), Columbus Panhandles (OH), Dayton Triangles (OH), Detroit Tigers (MI), Hammond Pros (IN), Muncie Flyers (IN), and the Rock Island (Il).

Tyler (Yes)

The 1985 Super-Bowl champion Chicago Bears would have absolutely dominated today's NFL. The Bears combined impeccable play on both sides of the ball with outstanding coaching from Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. The Bears' menacing defensive front seven would wreak havoc on today's quarterbacks that thrive on scrambling and improvising on plays and frequently passing the ball. Today's quarterbacks aren't accustomed to the utter pulverization that would await them if they played the 85 Bears. The Bears' stout defense featuring All-Pro's Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, and Dan Hampton would be an absolute force in today's NFL. 

The 85 Bears running game is still arguably the most incredible display of 'ground and pound' football of all time. The team only lost one game that season and a lot of that credit are due to Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton and the powerful William 'The Fridge' Perry. Walter ran for over 1500 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, with help from two All-Pro offensive linemen. While the Bears relied heavily on their run game, quarterback Jim Mcmahon was elected to his first Pro Bowl in 1985. 

Mike Ditka's tough coaching style is foreign in today's NFL. Ditka was a 2x NFL Coach of the Year and certainly proved his worth in his playing days, as NFL films voted him as the 4th greatest tight end in NFL history. The Bears brought a tenacity to the game that has not been replicated since and would strike fear in opposing teams.

Jay (No)

How good were the 1985 Chicago Bears? They remain the only defense in NFL history to record two post-season playoff shutouts. Those Bears couldn't compete with even the worst NFL team today. Why? Because of the progression of the game and the physical development of current players. The average Defensive Tackle in 1985 weighed 266 pounds and had a BMI of 32.5; in 2006, these numbers were 306 and 38.5. At 266 pounds, the Bears defensive line wouldn't get anywhere near a quarterback today. A typical offensive lineman in the NFL in 2015 was 6-foot-5, 312 pounds. Today, NFL linemen are bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic than players from teams in 1985-including the Bears. 

This comparison also doesn't consider how the game has evolved; complex, computer-aided, and faster at every position. Training methods, nutrition, injury treatment, and coaching have all improved. The 1985 Bears didn't even have a Special Teams coach. Take for example the worst team in the NFL in any given year. This cellar-dweller would wallop the ‘85 Bear easily. They would push the smaller, slower, weaker Bear players all over the field on offense and defense would get to Jim McMahon on nearly every play. McMahon was slow and had a weak arm in 1985. How do you think he'd fare against even the worst defense in the league today? He'd get killed. We can appreciate the '85 Bears as a historically great team, but they'd get outclassed playing even the worst NFL team today.

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