This Chiefs Dynasty Might Already Be the Most Impressive in NFL History

What parity?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 11: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs holds the Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime during Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes is hungry for more Super Bowl wins, but his third was already huge
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

After winning Super Bowl 58 last night, Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, acknowledged that the team had achieved “dynasty” status. It was their third Super Bowl championship in the last five years, and apparently that’s not enough to satisfy them. “We’re not done,” Mahomes said. “We’ve got a young team, we’re gonna keep this thing going.”

While it’s not surprising that an athlete of his stature is so motivated to achieve more, there should be a moment of pause to appreciate just what his Chiefs have done up to this point. Per The Athletic’s Mike Sando, Kansas City just became the fourth NFL dynasty of the Super Bowl Era, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s and 1990s, and the New England Patriots of this century through 2018. The criteria, according to Sando:

• Winning three-plus Super Bowls over five-plus seasons
• Posting the NFL’s best regular-season winning percentage, beginning with the first Super Bowl-winning season and ending with the final or most recent one
• Reaching the conference championship round more than half the time during the dynasty

A case can be made — pretty easily, actually — that this Chiefs dynasty is already the best of them all.

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You can throw out the Steelers and 49ers right away because their dynasties existed before the NFL instituted its salary cap in 1994. (Actually, the Niner dynasty’s last Super Bowl win came the year after the salary cap got started, but many of its players were holdovers from the pre-cap days.) There wasn’t even true free agency in the league until 1993, so until the mid-’90s, franchises could much more easily build dynastic teams with limitless spending capabilities, and without fears of losing players.

That leaves only the Patriots for a comparison to the Chiefs. Using some more Sando rationale, the Pats actually had two “mini-dynasties,” having won two sets of three championships with a nine-year gap (and two Super Bowl losses) between them. Another dramatic change to the NFL’s economic structure was instituted in the middle of those two mini-dynasties: a salary floor that required teams to spend a minimum on roster personnel. This adjustment made the league even more competitive, so toss aside that first Patriots mini-dynasty in comparison to the Chiefs’ and focus on the latter one, which came between the 2014 and 2018 seasons.

Like these Chiefs, those Patriots won three Super Bowls in five seasons, and lost one as well. But the Chiefs have an edge in the argument over which one is the best: Mahomes’ homies just won back-to-back titles, something the Pats failed to do. Further, as time goes by the NFL’s penchant for parity deepens, meaning the Chiefs had a more unlikely path to glory than even the Patriots of just a handful of years ago.

But where both these contemporary runs of success lose points against dynasties of yore has to do with the same reason one could argue their achievements are more impressive. The economic structures that have made the league more competitive, and inspired the parity that the Chiefs and Patriots have railed against, have also arguably taken away from the overall quality of the teams.

Mahomes is certainly a better quarterback than Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw was in the 1970s, but how would Mahomes’ entire Chiefs squad stack up against those Steelers, especially their vaunted “Steel Curtain” defense that played in an era when the sport was much more physical? What would Tom Brady’s Patriots have done against those Joe Montana-led Niners of the ’80s, which also had a stout defense? We’ll never know of course, but either of these head-to-head matchups could reveal overall talent gaps that favored the probably more well-rounded teams of the deep past. (At least one simulator said as much.)

Either way, we’re witnessing greatness with this Kansas City Chiefs team. As Mahomes himself said last week, we don’t know how long it will last, so enjoy it while it does.

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