Texans QB C.J. Stroud Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Ranking the 8 Teams Most Likely to Become the NFL's Next Dynasty

Kristopher Knox

The term "dynasty" holds an almost mythical place in the sporting world. Teams that win multiple championships, or are at least in perennial contention, with the same core groups typically end up earning a place in sports history.

In the NFL, we're talking about teams like the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, 1980s San Francisco 49ers, 1990s Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots teams of the 2000s and 2010s. The Kansas City Chiefs, who have won back-to-back Super Bowls and three of the last five, are the league's latest dynasty.

While we can enjoy watching Kansas City carve out its place in history, the who's-next nature of the NFL makes it difficult not to look ahead. There will come a time when the Chiefs are no longer the team to beat, and it's fair to wonder who will replace them.

We'll dive into that very question here, examining factors like recent results, roster makeup, team trajectory, coaching, and the ages and contract statuses of key players to rank the top eight candidates to be the NFL's next dynasty.

8. Chicago Bears

Bears QB Caleb Williams Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Chiefs have found sustained success because they've been able to build around quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Teams that have an elite young quarterback typically going to be in the playoff conversation more often than not.

This is why it's hard not to get excited about the Chicago Bears, who just used the No. 1 overall pick on USC quarterback Caleb Williams. While Williams has yet to play a down in the NFL, he entered the league as one of the most highly-regarded prospects in recent memory, and he's already settling into the face-of-the-franchise role.

"We're gonna ride through H-E-L-L and back with him, so I'm just looking forward to seeing what he put out," receiver D.J. Moore said, per Grant Gordon of NFL.com.

Chicago can have Williams on a rookie contract for the next five years, which will help with financial flexibility. For example, the Bears are already projected to have $74 million in cap space next offseason.

However, the Bears are more than just a promising young quarterback and a surplus of cap space. With a solid-and-improving offensive line and skill players like Moore, Keenan Allen, Cole Kmet, D'Andre Swift and Rome Odunze, Chicago is poised to give Williams a stellar supporting cast.

The Bears defense also showed improvement down the stretch last season, holding opponents to 20 or fewer points in each of the final six games. The only real question lies with head coach Matt Eberflus, who has delivered just 10 wins in his two seasons and has no prior head-coaching experience.

Still, Chicago should have a fairly complete team by the end of the 2024 season, it has the means to further improve in 2025, and it could be where the Chiefs currently are before the end of Williams' rookie contract.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals QB Joe Burrow Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are poised to be relevant every year in which quarterback Joe Burrow remains healthy. In four seasons with Burrow under center, Cincinnati has reached two AFC title games and one Super Bowl.

Burrow feels destined to eventually lift the Lombardi Trophy, and if he does, the Bengals could finally have themselves a dynasty.

Cincinnati has good younger players like wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt and safety Dax Hill. More importantly, Burrow is under contract through 2029, and the Bengals aren't in a financial bind.

The Bengals are projected to have $57.2 million in cap space next offseason.

Of course, there are reasons why the Bengals aren't higher on this list. Key players like Tee Higgins and Trey Hendrickson are set to be free agents in 2025 and 2026, respectively, and both requested trades earlier this offseason. Cincinnati's 31st-ranked defense was a problem last season, and there are questions about head coach Zac Taylor and about Burrow's ability to stay on the field.

Burrow has finished the year on injured reserve in two of his four seasons. In those campaigns and in the year before Burrow arrived, Taylor led the Bengals to fourth-place finishes in the AFC North.

Still, Burrow's supreme talent, drive and leadership help cover up a lot of warts in Cincinnati, and the 27-year-old isn't going anywhere in the foreseeable future. He and the Bengals are quite likely to clash with Mahomes and the Chiefs in the postseason again, and perhaps repeatedly, in the coming years.

Delivering that franchise's first Super Bowl win would certainly earn Burrow's Bengals a spot in team history.

6. Baltimore Ravens

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Like Burrow, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is regularly in the conversation with Mahomes as the top signal-caller in the AFC. He's a two-time MVP and one of the league's most unstoppable playmakers when healthy.

Baltimore, though, has a clear edge over Cincinnati in the coaching department. John Harbaugh is one of the NFL's best, having won a Super Bowl in 2012 and having coached the Ravens to four appearances in the AFC title game.

The marriage between Jackson and Harbaugh finally resulted in an AFC Championship Game appearance last year, and Baltimore narrowly lost to the Chiefs. The Ravens are already on the doorstep, and with Jackson under contract through 2027 and core players like Mark Andrews, Zay Flowers, Tyler Linderbaum, Justin Madubuike, and Marlon Humphrey in the fold, they're poised to stay there.

Of course, getting past Mahomes and the Chiefs will be an issue. The other problem for Baltimore is that it's now in the heart of Jackson's lucrative second contract. The Ravens were forced to part with players like Jadeveon Clowney, John Simpson, Geno Smith and Patrick Queen this offseason.

Next offseason, the Ravens are projected to be $3.9 million over the cap. Keeping the proverbial band together will be a challenge, though Baltimore can keep chugging along if it has hit on draft picks like Nate Wiggins, Roger Rosengarten and Adisa Isaac.

An often overlooked aspect of Kansas City's success has been its ability to draft and develop players to support core veterans like Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. The Ravens have their own core veterans and one of the few quarterbacks who can match Mahomes as a playmaker.

5. Green Bay Packers

Packers QB Jordan Love Ryan Kang/Getty Images

You're going to find a common thread here, and it's that every team on this list has some level of quarterback stability.

The Green Bay Packers seem to have found their quarterback of the future in Jordan Love. While Love had some ups and downs early in his first season as a full-time starter, he was playing like one of the league's best by the end of the 2023 campaign.

Love led the Packers on an unexpected playoff run before embarrassing the Dallas Cowboys and nearly knocking off the San Francisco 49ers in the postseason. In his two playoff starts, Love passed for 466 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 108.6 quarterback rating.

While Love has become the most important piece in Green Bay, there are other factors to consider. The Packers had the youngest roster among playoff teams in 2023 and boast several ascending stars—including receiver Romeo Doubs, tight end Luke Musgrave, lineman Zach Tom, edge-rusher Rashan Gary and new safety Xavier McKinney.

Additionally, the Packers have a head coach in Matt LaFleur who has delivered four postseason appearances and two trips to the NFC title game in five seasons. With Aaron Rodgers under center, LaFleur became the first head coach in NFL history to deliver three straight 13-win campaigns.

The Packers are also in a good spot financially, with a projected $60.5 million in 2025 cap space. While the Ravens could be battling to keep their playoff window open, the Packers' is just opening.

The only real cause for concern in Green Bay is the fact that Love is entering the final year of his deal. Until he gets an extension, there's a chance that he will depart in 2025 or, at the very least, get distracted by his situation.

" I don't really know what's going on, but we'll see," Love told reporters about playing out his current contract.

It's highly unlikely that Green Bay will let Love walk, though, so as long as his late 2023 production was no fluke, the Packers are poised to be perennial contenders.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles showed in 2022 that they are legitimate threats to win it all. They came within a few plays of knocking off the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, and they appeared poised to contend for the foreseeable future.

However, the Eagles took a significant step back in 2023. They did win 11 games and make the playoffs for the third straight year. However, their 26th-ranked defense became a liability, and they were routed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round.

The good news is that the Eagles took serious steps to address their defense this offseason. They added the likes of C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Bryce Huff, Devin White, Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean to that side of the ball. They also rounded out the offense by adding Saquon Barkley, Parris Campbell, Ainias Smith, and Johnny Wilson.

Perhaps more importantly, the Eagles have locked up core players like quarterback Jalen Hurts, offensive tackle Jordan Mailata and wide receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown for the long-term.

There isn't a glaring weakness on Philadelphia's roster, though there are some questions about the coaching staff. Head coach Nick Sirianni hasn't missed the playoffs yet, but he took plenty of well-deserved heat for failing to hold the team together last season. Sirianni is also out of potential scapegoats after firing offensive coordinator Brian Johnson and defensive coordinator Sean Desai (in-season) and hiring Kellen Moore and Vic Fangio to replace them.

If Philadelphia stumbles at all in 2024, Sirianni will find himself on the hot seat.

"If they don't win the division this year, Nick Sirianni will never be a head coach in the NFL ever again," Craig Carton of The Carton Show said earlier this month.

A potential short leash for Sirianni and a rising level of competition in the NFC puts Philly in the middle of our list, even if the roster screams "perennial contender" heading into the 2024 season.

3. Houston Texans

Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Houston Texans were the NFL's biggest surprise in 2023, going from three wins the previous season to the top of the NFC South standings and earning a playoff victory.

The Texans' turnaround was sparked by head coach DeMeco Ryans, who helped quickly change the culture in Houston, and young players like C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr.

Stroud and Anderson were named Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively, and Stroud had arguably the greatest rookie QB campaign in recent memory. Having those two players on rookie contracts for the next four years will give Houston a ton of flexibility.

The Texans already began loading up this offseason, adding veteran playmakers like Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs, Joe Mixon and Azeez Al-Shaair. It shouldn't be Super Bowl or bust in 2024, though, as Houston is projected to have $29.4 million in 2025 cap space.

Houston will have opportunities to add even more talent next offseason.

While the future appears very bright in Houston, though, there will be a chance for regression this season. The Texans aren't taking anyone by surprise in 2024, and it's worth noting that they barely won the division last season.

Had Gardner Minshew and Tyler Goodson hooked up on a fateful 4th-down play in the season finally, the Indianapolis Colts might have replaced Houston in the postseason.

A high amount of roster turnover could also mess with the chemistry the Texans built in 2023. It's easy to love their new additions, but it's important to remember that what looks great on paper doesn't always translate to on-field results.

If the first year of Ryans, Stroud and Anderson was a sign of things to come, though, Houston is going to be an AFC threat for the foreseeable future.

2. Detroit Lions

Lions QB Jared Goff Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Like Ryans in Houston, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has really changed his team's culture since taking over in 2021. However, Detroit is even further along in its turnaround than the Texans and came within a few plays of winning the 2024 NFC Championship Game.

It's been a methodical rebuild in Detroit, one that's been impressive to follow. The Lions struggled mightily in Campbell's first season, had an explosive offense but a disastrous defense in Year 2 and then fixed the run defense in Year 3.

Heading into Year 4 of the Campbell era, Detroit has finally addressed its pass defense, adding the likes of Marcus Davenport, Carlton Davis, Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

On paper, the Lions have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL, and they locked up key players like Jared Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Penei Sewell this offseason. Detroit has done all of this without sacrificing cap flexibility.

The Lions are projected to have $63.6 million in cap space next offseason, so more extensions and additions could still be incoming.

There isn't an obvious need on Detroit's roster, and the Super Bowl window has only just opened. While Goff feels like an older quarterback at 29, the Lions have a strong mix of young and veteran talent.

Thanks to ascending stars like St. Brown, Sewell, Jahmyr Gibbs, Aidan Hutchinson, Jack Campbell and Sam LaPorta, the Lions can actually be classified as a "young" team. They had the fourth-youngest roster among playoff teams last season behind only Green Bay, Dallas and the Los Angeles Rams.

With Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott set to be a 2025 free agent and Rams QB Matthew Stafford set to turn 37 in February, the Lions are better poised than either of those teams to be the NFC's next dynasty.

1. San Francisco 49ers

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Chris Unger/Getty Images

The 49ers are potentially closer to the end of their window than any other team on this list. They're facing a tough financial future—they're projected to be $23.4 million over the cap next offseason—and don't have a particularly young roster.

San Francisco had the fourth-oldest roster among playoff teams last season.

Within the next season or two, the 49ers could be forced to part with the likes of Christian McCaffrey—who will turn 28 next month—and 2025 free agent Brandon Aiyuk. However, having quarterback Brock Purdy on a seventh-round rookie contract does give San Francisco some more financial flexibility than it might otherwise have.

Yet, the 49ers have to top this list because they're already one Super Bowl win away from entering dynasty territory.

While head coach Kyle Shanahan won just 10 games over his first two seasons, the 49ers have been perennial contenders since. Over the past five years, San Francisco has made the playoffs four times, appeared in four NFC title games and played in two Super Bowls.

Shanahan could easily have two rings already had a few plays bounced San Francisco's way in the two Super Bowl meetings with Kansas City. This past February, the 49ers actually held an overtime lead over the Chiefs before Mahomes and the Chiefs mounted a game-winning drive.

The 49ers have a roster without major flaws, a quarterback who can lead the franchise for the next decade-plus and a head coach who has proven he can put his team deep into the playoffs.

The 49ers won't overshadow the Chiefs with one Super Bowl win. However, lifting the Lombardi next February would be enough to make San Francisco's case for being considered the best NFC team of the past 20 years.

*Cap and contract information via Spotrac.


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