25. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson — Green Bay Packers
It reportedly took Cobb some time to get used to seeing Nelson in an Oakland Raiders uniform. It’s difficult to blame Cobb considering the duo enjoyed tremendous success together in Green Bay. Though others like James Jones and Davante Adams eventually crashed the party, Cobb and Nelson were a perfect pairing together. In 2014, Nelson ranked seventh in the NFL with 98 receptions and Cobb tied for ninth with 91, while they combined for 25 receiving touchdowns.
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24. Al Toon and Wesley Walker — New York Jets
When Toon entered the league in 1985, the gifted wide-out landed in an ideal spot with a chance to learn from one the game’s best in Walker. At the time, Walker was a seasoned veteran and already had one 1,000-yard season under his belt. Walker’s next came in ’86, when he and Toon combined for 2,192 yards and 20 touchdowns.
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23. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery — Chicago Bears
This red-zone dominant duo played together in Chicago for only three seasons, though their collective presence was felt throughout the rugged NFC North. In 2013, Marshall recorded his fifth 100-catch season and second straight with the Bears, while Jeffery led the team with 1,421 yards. Chicago finished 8-8, but the duo combined for 189 catches, 2,716 yards and 19 touchdowns. Though injuries bothered Marshall the next season, they still combined for 146 receptions and 18 TDs.
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22. Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh — Cleveland Cavaliers
A 2004 injury to Peter Warrick bumped Houshmandzadeh into a starting role alongside his fellow Oregon State Beaver. While the out-spoken Johnson (before he was known as Ochocinco) posted his third of six straight 1,000-yard receiving yards, Housh recorded a career-high 978 yards at the time. They each topped 1,000 yards in ’06 – the first duo in Bengals history to do so – and again in ’07.
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21. Herman Moore and Brett Perriman — Detroit Lions
It would be easy to add Johnnie Morton in with Moore since those two each posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 1997. However, it was Moore and Perriman’s remarkable performance as a pair in ’95 that’s often overshadowed by other elite receiving duos of the ’90s. In ’95, Moore led the NFL with 123 catches while Perriman ranked sixth with 108 receptions. They combined for an astonishing 3,174 yards and 23 touchdown receptions.
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20. Roddy White and Julio Jones — Atlanta Falcons
Not only was the White-Jones duo freakishly talented, but they remain great friends that shared terrific chemistry on the field. For a time during the early portion of this decade, the duo was arguably the best in the business. Their size and speed created mismatches all over the field, and produced a memorable 2012 season when they combined for 2,549 yards, 171 catches and 17 touchdowns.
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19. Drew Pearson and Tony Hill — Dallas Cowboys
In ’79 and ’80, Dallas’ pair of receivers was perhaps the best tandem in the NFL. The 1979 season was the highlight for Pearson and Hill, as the duo totaled for 115 receptions, over 1,000 yards receiving and combined for 18 touchdowns through the air.
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18. Art Monk and Gary Clark — Washington Redskins
It would make sense to include Ricky Sanders to form a dominant trio, but Monk and Clark started it all as a pair in the mid-1980s. The duo combined for 163 catches during the diminutive Clark’s rookie season in 1985. They each posted 1,000-yard seasons in ’86, ’89, and ’91. More importantly, they helped Washington win Super Bowls in ’87 and ‘91.
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17. Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey
Smith and McCaffrey were a big reason Denver won back-to-back Super Bowls in the ’97 and ’98 seasons. The uniqueness of each player made them a terror defend. McCaffrey, a dependable chain mover, was John Elway’s biggest security blanket, while Smith was the team’s most dangerous big-play threat. During Denver’s two Super Bowl runs, Smith and McCaffrey combined for 265 receptions, 4,045 yards and 36 TD catches.
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16. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin — Arizona Cardinals
The pair of former ACC wide-outs were a stalwart for some of the best Cardinal teams in the franchise’s history. Their breakthrough season together came in 2005, when they each caught over 100 passes and recorded over 1,400 yards. During the Cardinals’ run to the Super Bowl three seasons later, the two each went for more than 1,000 yards – along with slot receiver Steve Breaston – and totaled 23 touchdowns.
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15. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings — Green Bay Packers
Playing receiver is a bit easier when you have Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers under center. That being said, Driver and Jennings were both phenomenal individual talents that helped bolster a high-powered Packers attack. Their stellar seasons together in ’08 (combined 154 catches, 2,304 yards) and ’09 (2,174 yards) will live in Green Bay sports lore for years to come.
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14. Henry Ellard and Willie ‘Flipper’ Anderson — Los Angeles Rams
Ellard had a few years on Anderson, but together they almost took the Rams to the Super Bowl during the 1989 season. Ellard caught 70 passes for 1,382 yards that year and Anderson recorded an impressive 1,146 yards on just 44 receptions. Ellard’s steady brilliance along with Anderson’s explosive ability (holds the record for most yards in a game with 336) made them a near impossible pairing to contain.
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13. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell — Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville pairing appropriately earned the nickname of ‘”Thunder and Lightning” for their play on the field. McCardell was the “Thunder”, given his reliable set of hands and willingness to make a play over the middle of the field. Smith, the better pure athlete of the two, was the “Lightning” as he was a threat to score from anywhere on the field. In the Jaguars’ second season of existence in 1996, the pair combined for 168 receptions and each posted more than 1,100 receiving yards. They each went for over 1,000 yards in ’97, ’00 and ’01.
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12. Andre Reed and James Lofton — Buffalo Bills
Lofton had already made a name for himself in Green Bay, but it wasn’t until his second season with Buffalo in 1990 that he and Reed began their three-season run as arguably the AFC’s best receiver tandem. They helped lead the Bills to three of their four straight Super Bowl trips, and in 1991, each caught more than 1,000 yards worth of passes.
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11. Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson — Los Angeles Chargers
The wide-out centerpiece of “Air Coryell,” Joiner and Jefferson teamed with tight end Kellen Winslow and quarterback Dan Fouts for one of the most prolific passing attacks in NFL history. They helped the Chargers reach the AFC Championship game in 1980. Together, Joiner and Jefferson posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in ’79 and ’80 before the latter’s three-year stint in San Diego ended.
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10. Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens — San Francisco 49ers
Eventually, Rice and Owens would become No. 1 and 2 in career receiving yards, respectively. They played together in San Francisco during the end of Rice’s tenure and combined for 23 touchdowns and 2,254 yards in 1998. Though their statistics together with the 49ers aren’t completely eye-catching, the fact two of the greatest ever played together at a high level is something special.
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9. Don Maynard and George Sauer — New York Jets
Somebody had to catch passes from Joe Namath, and Maynard and Sauer were two of the best at the time. They each posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 1967 and ’68. Although Namath was considered the star, he couldn’t have famously led the Jets to a victory in Super Bowl III without the help of his trusted teammates.
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8. Tom Fears and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch — Los Angeles Rams
Fears was arguably the best receiver in the NFL during his first three seasons from 1948-1950, when he totaled 212 receptions and 2,827 yards. In 1951, Hirsch broke out in his third season with 66 catches for 1,495 yards and 17 touchdowns as the pair helped led the Rams to an NFL championship.
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7. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt — Los Angeles Rams
The stars of “The Greatest Show on Turf” led the franchise to its only Super Bowl victory in the 1999 season. Though they couldn’t bring the team another title, Bruce and Holt each had 1,000-yard receiving season in five of their next seven campaigns. The Rams have obviously had their share of elite receiving duos, but Bruce and Holt must be at the top of that list.
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6. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne — Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were a force to be reckoned with throughout a majority of the 2000s. Peyton Manning was the driving force throughout Indy’s dominance, but the future Hall of Famer had his fair share of talented teammates. Harrison is one of the craftiest players to ever play the position. Despite his short frame, Harrison had the ability to make plays over the top of defenders, and didn’t shy away from contact. After starring for the University of Miami, Wayne joined the Colts as a first-round pick and took their offense to a new level. From 2004-2006, they each went over 1,000-yards receiving and and combined for 21 touchdowns during the Super Bowl-winning campaign in ’06.
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5. Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch — Oakland Raiders
It was as if the Biletnikoff-Branch combi was a passing of the torch. Branch entered the league in 1972, six seasons before Biletnikoff’s Hall of Fame career came to an end. They starred together from 1974-1977. In ’76, Branch had 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Biletnikoff was named MVP of Super Bowl XI. Both rank among the top-10 in career playoff receiving yards.
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4. Mark Duper and Mark Clayton — Miami Dolphins
The “Mark Brothers” never won a Super Bowl, but they sure were fun to watch. Duper enjoyed four 1,000-yard seasons with the Dolphins, including two over campaigns in which he amassed over 1,300 yards. Clayton had five, with one surpassing 1,300. On three occasions they went over 1,000 together, and it didn’t hurt that Dan Marino was the one throwing them the ball.
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3. Cris Carter and Randy Moss — Minnesota Vikings
Moss’ draft fall to Minnesota in 1998 proved to be a blessing. Not only did he find the right fit to begin his career, but landed the perfect mentor in Carter. Both had their own off-field issues to overcome before becoming NFL stars. During Moss’ rookie season, he recorded 1,313 receiving yards while the veteran Carter had 1,011, and they posted 29 TD receptions between them. The fun continued the next two seasons and today they both have busts in Canton.
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2. John Stallworth and Lynn Swann — Pittsburgh Steelers
This duo didn’t post the gaudy numbers like most on this list, but was part of four Super Bowls titles with Steelers teams known from their defense and running game. In 1978, they combined for 102 receptions and 20 touchdowns as Pittsburgh won its first of back-to-back Super Bowls. For their careers, Swann and Stallworth combined for 114 touchdowns
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1. Jerry Rice and John Taylor — San Francisco 49ers
While Rice and Owens had the star power, Rice and Taylor did their best work when the lights shined brightest. In Super Bowl XIII, the 49ers second against Cincinnati, Rice earned MVP honors for his 11 receptions, record-215 yards and one TD, but Taylor caught the game-winner from Joe Montana with 34 seconds left. The following season, Rice again went off for seven catches, 148 yards and three touchdowns while Taylor also scored in the ‘Niners’ Super Bowl rout of the Broncos. Rice might be the best receiver of all-time, but Taylor’s postseason resume should not be overlooked.
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