I guess I look at things differently. No surprise, I often do.
But I consider a dynasty to not necessarily be Rings. There's too much luck that goes into actually getting a ring. The Patriots had some bad luck in the Rings they missed out on, but had some UNFATHOMABLY great luck on some of the Rings they won, so it kind of evened out.
To me, it's a dynasty when you are dominant team for years. A team that every other team marks down as a probable loss on their schedule. A team that every other team considers their Super Bowl. A team that every other team brings out their best game plan for. A team that changes the way the game is played.
So from that point of view, I'd consider 4-Super-Bowl-Loss Bills a dynasty, just not a very good one. I'd consider the 70s-era Vikings a dynasty. They had the Purple People Eaters. They were dominant. They just didn't get it done.
The Cowboys were a fixture in the playoffs and had a chance to win it every year, even under a number of different QBs, during the Tom Landry era. I gotta consider that a dynasty.
Heck, most people consider the Madden-era 70s Raiders a dynasty, right? He only won a single Super Bowl. In the 14 years from 1969 to 1983, they went to EIGHT conference championships, winning 3, and then winning 3 Super Bowls.
You could even extend that to 15 years, starting in 1967, and add in another 1-1 record in the AFCCG and another Super Bowl loss, but no one ever talks about Rauch as one of the greats, so I'd start the dynasty with Madden.
For 13 (or 15) years, the Raiders were dominant. It went from Lamonica to Stabler to Plunkett. It went from Madden to Flores. But they picked up 3 Super Bowl wins and were continuously scary for more than a decade. I can't really say why I'd call it a dynasty when it went across both QB and coaches, but it seems to me that it is.
Sort of in the way the 49ers were a dynasty across both Montana and Young, and across Walsh and Siefert. Not just across 2 QBs and 2 coaches, Rice wasn't there the whole time, Craig was replaced by Watters, etc. But it just felt like continuity of team excellence and dominance.
The Greatest Show on Turf wasn't a dynasty because it was too brief. They were scary for only 3 years, then fell off immediately. A blip too short to be a dynasty.
The Broncos are tougher. Elway almost led them to a dynasty in his early career. 4 AFCCG in 6 years, won THREE of them (but lost each Super Bowl). I'm open to arguments they were a dynasty, but the only year they won even 12 games was the year they didn't make the Super Bowl. And the 2 years they didn't make the AFCCG they missed the playoffs completely with an 8-8 record and one ELEVEN loss season. A dynasty can't have an 11-loss season in the middle of it.
The Shanahan era Elway Broncos could argue was a dynasty, but again, it was really just too short. They were dominant and scary, but they kind of came out of nowhere, averaged 13 wins a season for 3 seasons, then disappeared. That 3-year run was sandwiched by an 8-8 season and a 6-10 season, so wasn't a dynasty. Also, another detractor is they didn't even win their division in their Super Bowl-winning middle season. The collapse coincided with the retirement of Elway and Terrell Davis being too injured to be scary anymore...but it was still a collapse that ended their scary dominance too soon to be an actual dynasty.
Manning-era Broncos is interesting. For 4 years, they won at least 12 games each season. They made two Super Bowls and won one. They were scary. They were dominant. Teams that had them on the schedule prepared emotionally for a loss. Beating them was like a Super Bowl win...at least it felt that way as a Chiefs' fan...they had some battles between Manning and Brady's Patriots.
But it REALLY was the Dynasty of Peyton Manning. He was the one that made them dominant and scary. ELEVEN seasons of at least 12 wins. Broken in the middle by injury. It didn't matter who his coach was, who his OC was, who is receivers or RBs were. Peyton himself was the dynasty. You had Peyton on your schedule, you prepared for a probable loss. Beating Peyton felt like an accomplishment. Beating Peyton required special game plans. Peyton changed the way the NFL defended things. I think all the rules about pick plays (picking receiver has to be running a route, not deliberately changing path to block; pick plays are okay within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage, etc) were due to the way Peyton Manning played the game.
So based on all this, the Chiefs are *almost* a dynasty, or maybe already there.
It isn't Reid, because Reid wasn't scary with Alex Smith. He'd beat you in the regular season, but was very beatable in the playoffs. Reid was kind of a dynasty with the Eagles. They were certainly the scariest team in the NFC for a while.
But Mahomes is a dynasty. So he makes the Chiefs a dynasty...or is ALMOST there.
The thing is, Mahomes made such a big impact so quickly, I think it gets us there more quickly. Maybe also because Reid was already so good, that adding in a great QB got us to dominant status so quickly.
Teams were already treating beating us was like a Super Bowl Mahomes' 2nd year in the league. Teams were already getting crazily aggressive to try and beat us, knowing that every game with the Chiefs was a likely blowout. They gameplanned like crazy, got extra physical with our receivers, changed their whole defensive structure. in 2019, the Colts were a zone defense team. Their DC was committed to zone, their personnel fit zone style play, etc. And then they played almost totally man coverage against the Chiefs to flummox Mahomes. The change in defense, combined with Cameron Wake stepping on Mahomes' ankle, was enough to beat the Chiefs. Making those sorts of changes to win just ONE game against ONE team means that team is a dynasty. Same with the entire NFL switching to the 2-high safety shell to stop Mahomes-to-Hill. That caused a slump in Mahomes' performance in 2021, but now he's past it. Then we let Hill move on, and now the NFL is trying to figure out another way to beat the Chiefs.
Another thing that makes Mahomes and the Chiefs a dynasty is the Bengals' MAIN claim to excellence was being 3-0 against us. Being 3-0 against THEM didn't make the Browns a great team, but being 3-0 against the Chiefs did. About half the time, people would say Burrow was great, or the best QB in the league, or top five, because he made it to a Super Bowl his second season....but between 50% and 60% of the time, the argument was he beat Mahomes 3 times. Never mind that he had nothing to do with the defense stymieing Mahomes in the 2nd half, but he DID play mistake-free football to slowly catch up with the opportunity the defense gave him but shutting down the Chiefs' scoring in the 2nd half.
But if just beating someone three times makes the winner great, it is only by stealing luster/reputation from the losing team. That means the Chiefs ARE a dynastic team.
I mean, when they were 3-0 against the Chiefs, all 3 were 3 point games. Two of them were at home, which tends to favor the home team by 3 points in point spreads. Winning on the road against a great team counts for more. Two of them were regular season, which is relatively meaningless. Of course, in 2021, losing to the Bengals prevented us from getting the #1 seed. Having to play that extra game might have helped contribute to injuries and fatigue that contributed to losing to the Bengals in the AFCCG, but also maybe no difference at all. The loss in 2022 made no difference at all. Chiefs still got the #1 seed. If anything, it increased the Chiefs' determination to win when it DID count, in the AFCCG. And it certainly gave Reid and Spags more information about what works and what doesn't to continue to beat them in the future...but we'll see about that.
So beating the Chiefs is a bragging point for every team. That makes the Chiefs dynastic. They have won at least 12 games every season for 5 seasons. They have hosted the AFCCG 5 seasons in a row. They have made 3 Super Bowls and won one. The two Super Bowls they missed, they lost the AFCCG in OT.
The only question left is, is that long enough to be a dynasty? Not sure. 3 years isn't enough. Maybe 4 years is enough, but I don't think so. The Bills were actually dominant for 6 years, and I consider them a dynasty. The Cowboys only won 12 games four times in the 4-season span they won 3 Super Bowls and lost one NFCCG. They bookended that run with an 11-win season and a 10-win season. That would indicate 4 years is enough, and the Chiefs are already a dynasty...but are the Cowboys boosted by the extra Super Bowl wins? I'm not sure. The Cowboys sure feel like a dynasty, but also because it feels like the Aikman/Emmitt/Irvin dominance lasted longer than just 4 years.
From that point of view the Chiefs are a dynasty, too. We've already got 5 years of dominance. No one with half a brain thinks other teams are going to stop fearing the Chiefs next year if they lose this Super Bowl. They aren't going to stop doing extra game planning against Mahomes, they won't stop treating the game with us like their season's Super Bowl.
If the Chiefs somehow collapse next year, maybe that view would change. But it really does seem like Mahomes' FLOOR is a 12-win season...I can't say his FLOOR is making the AFCCG, there's too much chance of an Any Given Sunday-style loss in the Divisional round at some point, but if Mahomes keeps improving and Veach keeps adding excellent rookies, that might turn out to be the case.
So then the final question is: is Mahomes' the dynasty, or is the team? I hope we never have to find out, meaning, Mahomes plays his entire career for the Chiefs. I do think if Mahomes would go to another team, Reid wouldn't host consecutive AFCCGs with Buechelle. Or even with a retread like Carr or a reclamation like Darnold or Mayfield. Mahomes going to the Bengals with their defense and WRs, or the Bills, would be almost unstoppable, until the salary cap started taking players away. The only reason the Chiefs aren't unstoppable right now is due to the double-edged sword of Mahomes stepping into a team with good players, great coaching, and an established, successful system. It meant that Mahomes was able to take the team to the top without going through the pain of the final stages or rebuilding, but it also meant that he doesn't get to play with Top of the Draft talent. And the excellence of Spags, the brilliance of Kelce in getting open, and the success by Veach in retooling the OL with Creed and Trey, and recognizing McDuffie's excellence AND being able to snag him, in recognizing Karlaftis was good enough to be the 2nd-best DE in the draft, that we could get rookies and a RB in the 4th-round-and-later that could dominate...all these things contribute to a better overall TEAM that helps bolster Mahomes' skills. Without the team, we could conceivably have lost to the Jags in the Divisional round. They have talent and good coaching. We just have more. Part of that is Mahomes competitiveness and ability. But not all of it.
So I think it is the CHIEFs that have a dynasty, not just Mahomes. It is the TEAM that changes the Chiefs from being in the conversation every year to being dominant. It is the TEAM that meshes with Mahomes' excellence to make the difference in close games. And it is the TEAM that will have to win next Sunday, and will help make sure Mahomes' floor is 12 wins and hosting the AFCCG for years to come...
So in doing all this research, I've come up with a sense that to be a dynasty, you must
1) be dominant under a single identity.
That identity can be the QB, or a Defense, or a Coach/QB combo, or a Coach, or sometimes even just the identity a team gets from an owner/GM. We have two examples of that. a) the 70s Raiders under Al Davis' "Just Win, Baby" signature phrase that took misfits and troublemakers from other teams, and won across QBs, RBs, and even coaches. b) the West Coast Offense 49ers, that was the most effective WCO team in the NFL, and won across QBs, RBs, WRs, and coaches. We also have the Peyton Manning Dynasty, which at least had the QB in common.
2) You also have to win a floor of 12 games, I think. 11 is just a little too weak. 10 wins is only slightly better than Meh. If you win 12 games, any team facing you the next year has to consider they have a less than 50/50 chance of winning.
3) You also have to make it to Conference Championships. Losing in the Divisional round more than once, or worse, not even making it there, without some significant issue like an injury to your starting QB or star RB, kind of marks the end of a dynasty. Making it to the Conference Championship game means you beat at least one other playoff team that had a good season...either they already won a playoff game, or they got a bye with a dominant regular season...either way, you ruined the hopes of a team with decent Super Bowl chances. Ruining the season of good teams is a big boost to being a dynasty.
4) You have to win your Division. If you aren't consistently he best even in your own Division, then you aren't the best. Actually, the more I think about this, the more true it seems. I just looked up a bunch of teams, and all the teams I consider a dynasty really dominated their division for a number of years. The ones that didn's were the two Elway-era Broncos. They never won the Division even 3 years in a row until Manning.
5) Winning a few Super Bowls under the same identity makes up for shortcomings in other areas. The Aikman Cowboys' dominance was pretty brief. Only 4 years of 12-win seasons, only 5 consecutive years of winning the division...but 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 years made them the team to beat, put them in all the highlighted games and NFL promos, put them in the forefront of every conversation, etc.
#5 is kind of the cherry on top that makes it a dynasty. The Chiefs started their division dominance under Alex Smith, but losing in the Division round every year weakened any chance of that turning into a dynasty. The 2nd year they won the Division crown, they did so with a 10-6 record. It took the arrival of Mahomes to kick off the dynasty...but I guess it does help expand the feeling of dominance of the Division that Smith kicked it off with ruining their seasons by beating them. It just makes it more frustrating that the Mahomes era STARTED with the other AFC West teams having lost a string of games to the Chiefs already.
So, yeah, I think the Chiefs are a dynasty. We've got consecutive 12+ win seasons. We've won in the playoffs against good teams. We've HOSTED the AFCCG five times...no one had ever done it more than 3 times in a row before. We've made the Super Bowl 3 times in 4 years...and it took OT loss to keep us from a fourth. We didn't get dominated, we lost a close game...makes it feel closer to a normal trend of winning, if that makes sense. We've taken care of business in our own division...not just winning it, but sweeping it this year, and with an incredible W/L ratio over the last 7 years. And we have an identity with Reid, Mahomes, and Kelce. Impossible to identify ALL the elements of this identity, but clearly Tyreek wasn't necessary. Kelce probably won't be, either, it's probably Mahomes...but we can't say for sure yet.
The Chiefs are a dynasty already, and the only question is where they will end up on the list.