NFL Game

The Best “Triplets” in NFL History

It’s something of a truism that to be successful in the NFL, a team needs to be able to run and pass the ball without any noticeable dropoff between the two. It’s also largely untrue.

During the most dominant period by any team in the history of the league – the New England Patriots from the beginning of the 21st century to a few seasons ago – the team had a decent but far from elite running game.

They also had Tom Brady and enough good receivers to render their running game irrelevant. But for teams without the best QB in NFL history, balance is beneficial.

Bettors who are seeking to pick a potential NFL champion and bet at the sites listed on will factor in how a team will be able to deal with the many challenges the postseason throws at a squad.

Cold weather makes it harder to air the ball out. A long, attritional season may rob a team of one piece of their winning jigsaw.

A player who is inexperienced in clutch games may lose form. But if you have a good set of “triplets” – an elite QB, RB, and WR – then your offense will usually show up when it matters.

But who have been the best triplets since the 1980s (a decade we’ve selected because the NFL was a “ground and pound” league for the first few decades of its existence)?

San Francisco 49ers (1989): Montana, Craig, Rice

Montana was never the most spectacular quarterback in the league. Indeed, for much of his time in Frisco he wasn’t the most spectacular QB on the team, with Steve Young a more glitzy performer. But the “Joe Cool” nickname was well-earned for his ability to play every down as though he had all the time in the world.

Usually, he did. With Roger Craig able to take the ball and break off a big run, and Jerry Rice able to find space against any defense, teams were reluctant to blitz against Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense. If you wanted one offense to take a two-minute drive to save your life, you couldn’t pick better

Dallas Cowboys (early 1990s): Aikman, Smith, Irvin

Throughout the 1990s, NFL fans outside of Texas hated the Cowboys, but they respected them. Once these three were out of the way, they just hated them.

Aikman was a primarily safe passer who could air it out when needed. Smith was the best between-the-tackles runner in the league for several seasons in a row.

Irvin, for all his brashness, was a receiver who would catch anything that was thrown in the same zip code as him. It didn’t hurt that Smith had Daryl “Moose” Johnston opening holes for him, or that Jay Novacek was an ideal comfort blanket at TE, of course, but these three were peerless for a minute or two.

St Louis Rams (1999): Warner, Faulk, Bruce

Let’s hear it for the Rams front office in the late 90s. Of this trio, only Bruce was drafted by the club. Warner landed in Missouri after a journeyman career which saw him slip through the fingers of Green Bay and play in NFL Europe and Arena football for awhile. The best “triplets” in NFL historyFaulk was drafted #2 by the Colts and was traded after five seasons for a couple of draft picks.

Together, these three powered the Greatest Show on Turf which won Super Bowl XXXIV. Faulk in that 1999 season notched up 1000-yard rushing and receiving seasons, setting an NFL record for yards from scrimmage.

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