Compared to other sports, there is a rather short list of great NFL dynasties. Maintaining a high level of success in football year after year isn’t easy.
Teams need good players, good health, and a lot of luck. Even if it helps to have one of the richest NFL owners behind the scenes, it takes a lot more than that to create a dynasty in the NFL.
Greatest NFL dynasties
That got us thinking about the greatest teams in NFL history and some of the great NFL dynasties. There haven’t been that many over the years, but the best NFL dynasties surely deserve special recognition. With that in mind, here are the best NFL dynasties ranked.
10. Patrick Mahomes era Chiefs
Some might claim it’s too early to be considered a dynasty, but how would Patrick Mahomes not end up leading the next great NFL dynasty? In his first five seasons as a starter, Mahomes has led the Chiefs to five AFC Championship Game appearances, three Super Bowl appearances, and two Super Bowl wins.
That’s on top of five AFC West titles and a 64-18 record during the regular season. That alone is enough to be considered a dynasty, and it’s clear that Mahomes and company are far from finished.
9. Washington under Joe Gibbs
The Washington franchise was nothing special when Joe Gibbs arrived in 1981, but that soon changed. Over the next 12 years, Gibbs would lead the then-Redskins to five division titles, eight playoff appearances, and four Super Bowl appearances, winning three of those Super Bowls.
Unlike some dynasties, there were at least three years in between each of those Super Bowl wins. But it’s not as if Washington completely disappeared during those years. Ultimately, it’s hard not to consider three Super Bowl wins in a 10-year span a dynasty.
8. 1970s Cowboys
Tom Landry’s long tenure as the Dallas coach was terrible in the beginning and almost as bad at the end. But the middle part was a true dynasty. Starting in 1970, the Cowboys played in the NFC Championship Game seven times in nine years.
They would make it to the Super Bowl five times in those nine years, winning the Super Bowl twice. Keep in mind that all three Super Bowl losses in the 1970s came by four points or less, so the Cowboys weren’t far from turning a bonafide dynasty into something even more special.
7. Early 70s Dolphins
During the early part of Don Shula’s tenure as Miami’s head coach, the Dolphins were nearly perfect. This might be a short dynasty, but it’s legit. From 1971 to 1974, the Dolphins won four straight division titles while going 47-8-1 during the regular season. That includes their perfect 14-0 season in 1972 that was capped off by a win in Super Bowl VII.
Keep in mind the Dolphins proceeded to repeat as Super Bowl champs the following year and also lost the Super Bowl the year before achieving perfection. They weren’t too far from winning three in a row, which no team has ever done. In fact, the Dolphins of the early 70s are one of just three teams to reach at least three straight Super Bowls.
6. Early 90s Cowboys
This may not have been the longest dynasty ever, but winning three Super Bowls in a four-year span certainly qualifies the Cowboys of the early 90s to be considered among the best NFL dynasties. Even in the one year that Dallas didn’t want the Super Bowl, the Cowboys went 12-4 and reached the NFC Championship Game.
During those four seasons, the Cowboys were 49-15 during the regular season and 10-1 in the playoffs. That’s some serious domination, especially with all three Super Bowl wins coming by double digits. Perhaps the most amazing part of this dynasty is the fact that Jimmy Johnson left after the first two Super Bowl wins with Barry Switzer taking over as the head coach mid-dynasty.
5. Late 40s and early 50s Browns
The early days of the Browns were nothing like today’s Browns and they deserve to be considered among the top dynasties ever. For what it’s worth, Cleveland won four straight All-America Football Conference championships from 1946 to 1949, going 52-3-3 in those years, including the postseason.
After joining the NFL in 1950, the Browns played in the NFL Championship Game seven times in the next eight years, winning the title three times. Right from the start, they were among the most dominant teams in pro football, but my, how things have changed.
4. 1970s Steel Curtain Steelers
In the proud history of the franchise, there was no greater era for the Steelers than the 1970s. Led by head coach Chuck Noll and a defense known as the Steel Curtain, Pittsburgh had two sets of back-to-back Super Bowl wins between 1974 and 1979, constituting a dynasty.
Terry Bradshaw is fondly remembered as the quarterback of those teams, but he got plenty of help from players like Lynn Swann and Franco Harris, not to mention defensive stars like Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, and Mel Blount. With seven division titles and four Super Bowl wins in eight years, this was a great dynasty and a great decade for the Steelers.
3. Vince Lombardi’s Packers
Everybody knows that Vince Lombardi is one of the greatest coaches of all time, but most people don’t realize he only coached the Packers for nine seasons. He just happened to oversee a bonafide dynasty in those nine seasons. In his first season, Lombardi improved Green Bay from 1-10-1 the previous year to 7-5, winning Coach of the Year honors despite the Packers not playing in the NFL Championship Game.
Of course, the Packers would eventually win five NFL championships in a seven-year span under Lombardi and then win the first two Super Bowls in Lombardi’s final two seasons. In his nine seasons, Lombardi led Green Bay to a record of 89-29-4, which is why he’s regarded among the best coaches ever.
2. 1980s and early 90s 49ers
Started by Bill Walsh and continued by George Seifert, the 49ers were nothing short of a juggernaut throughout the 1980s and the first half of the 90s. The duo of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice dominated the NFL during this period, but even when Steve Young took over for Montana, the 49ers kept on rolling.
Between 1981 and 1994, the 49ers made the playoffs 12 times in 14 seasons and won at least one playoff game in nine of those 12 appearances. Of course, what makes this one of the greatest NFL dynasties is the fact that San Francisco won five Super Bowls in a 14-year span, four with Montana at quarterback and one with Young, the two combining to go 19-7 in the playoffs during that stretch.
1. Early 2000s Patriots
Without question, the greatest NFL dynasty belongs to the Patriots of the early 2000s. The dynasty unknowingly began in 2001 when Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe. Behind Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots would win three of the next four Super Bowls. Outside of the 2008 season when Brady got hurt, New England won the AFC East every year from 2003 to 2018, dominating the division beyond comprehension.
In that period, there were only four seasons when the Pats failed to win at least 12 games during the regular season. Plus, during the second decade of the 21st century, New England went to the Super Bowl four times in five years, winning three of those Super Bowls to give them six in 18 years. In terms of longevity, utter domination, and Super Bowl wins, we may never see a dynasty like this again.