To be considered a dynasty in the NFL, you don’t have to win the Superbowl every year. What you do need to do is consistently win games, make the playoffs, play great football and do it for a long time. Terry Bradshaw’s Steelers, Troy Aikman’s Cowboys and Joe Montana’s 49ers have gone down in history. The Monsters of Midway and the Purple People Eaters will never be forgotten. Nor will the unprecedented success earned and enjoyed by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
However, Brady is now 40 and the Patriots don’t seem as formidable as they once were. It appears their dynasty is reaching its conclusion. Are there any other teams that seem earmarked for sustained success? Below are five candidates on the cusp of creating the next dynasty in the NFL.
Okay, bear with me on this one. The Jags, whose last winning record came a decade ago, could well be the next team who has a period of success. And yes, they are the least likely of the five teams in this list, but it could still happen. They brought in Tom Coughlin, a man who coached the New York Giants to two Superbowl victories and knows a thing or two about success. They have some real star power on their defensive line, Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson, with young talent behind them in Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. Within two or three seasons, this will be the best defence in football.
Unfortunately for Jacksonville, a good defence needs an offense to compliment it. Blake Bortles just isn’t the guy to carry them to success. While the Jaguars try to find a competent successor, Leonard Fournette is capable of carrying this offense on his shoulders. Once they get their QB of the future, they have the Two Allens, Hurns and Robinson, to provide weapons on the outside.
They’re in a strong looking division, minus the hapless Colts. Marcus Mariota seems sure to be successful in Tennessee for many years and the Texans look far more comfortable with Deshaun Watson under centre, but if the Jags can navigate these teams, they should look forward to success in the years to come.
This is another team who, in my mind, are only a quarterback away from greatness. No-one knows what Teddy Bridgewater is going to be like once he returns from injury, and Sam Bradford has a knee which is ready to buckle at any point. If they can solve the quarterback problem, then they are primed for success. Rookie Dalvin Cook has been a revelation for them at Running Back, the duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have seemed unstoppable and they have a reliable Tight End who hasn’t missed a game since 2014.
The real strength of this Vikings team is their defence. They have some fantastic players at all three levels, and they may well have the most well rounded defence in the entire league. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen dominate the trenches, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are generals from the linebacker spot whilst Harrison Smith is perhaps the best safety in the NFL. This defence is ready for success now and they need the offense to catch up if they want to mount a serious playoff run.
Much like the Jags, they have a very tough division. They have to face Aaron Rodgers twice a year as well as the NFL’s highest paid QB in Matthew Stafford. Even the Bears have shown so far this year that they are a much improved football team. If the Vikings can find a QB who can go some way towards matching their divisional rivals, this team is going to be a contender very soon.
The case for the Raiders isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Initially, you think they have the pieces in order to become a dynasty. They can build their offense around Derek Carr and Amari Cooper and their defence around Khalil Mack. They are however, missing many more pieces of the puzzle than the other teams mentioned. Outside of Mack, their defence is not great and struggles mightily against a good offensive line and against the pass. Whilst they have their quarterback of the future, unlike the Jags and Vikings, the old moniker of “defence wins championships” rings hollow in the ears of the soon to be Las Vegas Raiders. Because of this, they can’t be contenders just yet.
The AFC West is the most competitive division in the AFC and I will remain in the AFC for a look at the penultimate team in this list.
Kansas City Chiefs
Whether it happens next year, in five years, or even ten years, the Chiefs are the team in the NFL who feel most ready to become a dynasty. They have done what seemingly no other team in the league has done; they have their quarterback for the present and their quarterback for the future on the same roster. The last time I can remember that happening, the Packers had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers on the same roster. The Chiefs have a young, explosive offense and a head coach clever enough to utilise it in so many different ways. Andy Reid showed how good he was by besting Bill Belichick on the opening night of the season. Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce will all have a major impact on the Chiefs for many years to come and they can give either Alex Smith or Patrick Mahomes weapons with which they can win a championship.
This defence isn’t too bad either. They can create pressure through the likes of Justin Houston and Chris Jones up front and in Marcus Peters they have perhaps the best ball hawk in the league. The scary thing about this defence; no matter what happens this season and during next offseason, they will be better in 2018 when Eric Berry returns from his Achilles injury.
The Kansas City dynasty should start this year; maybe not in the form of a Lombardi trophy, but with a deep playoff run. This team and this coaching staff is way too talented to not take advantage of the position they find themselves in.
The Falcons may have lost last year’s Superbowl, they may have lost both of their coordinators during the offseason, but they have already begun the process of creating their dynasty. At the time of writing, they remain the only unbeaten team in the NFC, they’ve settled into their new home and they look to be on course for more success. Dan Quinn has completely transformed this football team from the ground up and it is becoming increasingly difficult to say that their 2016 season was a fluke.
Matt Ryan has turned from an erratic turnover machine into the reigning NFL MVP, led by the best running back duo in the league and a generational talent at wide receiver. They have also found an identity in its defence, brought to Atlanta from Seattle courtesy of Quinn. It is young, fast and plays without fear. It is everything the Seahawks defence was, only without the star names. Second year man Deion Jones has become the anchor of this defence and, in Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant, have two incredibly gifted young cornerbacks. They also have a candidate for sack leader, provided Vic Beasley can stay healthy. His speed off the edge kills offensive tackles.
They have managed to do what so many other teams haven’t. They have found a way to rid themselves of their “Superbowl hangover” and they certainly look like they might be going back there this season.
Superbowl LII in Houston might well be contested by the next two teams we might consider as dynasties, teams that live on through the ages as some of the greatest of all time.