The New England Patriots have established themselves as the defining dynasty of modern NFL football with a stunning eight Super Bowl appearances and five championships in the last 17 years.
But the Pats' 41-33 Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night in Minneapolis may have dethroned them for good.
Bill Belichick turns 66 years old in April, Tom Brady turns 41 in August, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is leaving to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions.
That could open the door for another NFL franchise to rise up and replace the Pats as the league's gold standard.
It will be a talk task for any franchise to replicate the Patriots' consistency and excellence across the better of the last two decades, but here are five with promise that could be the next NFL dynasty in the making:
Teams that could become the NFL's next dynasty
Teams that could become the NFL's next dynasty
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles aren't atop this list just because they won Super Bowl LII. They're here because GM Howie Roseman's team is deep, coach Doug Pederson's play-calling and leadership this season were nothing short of brilliant, the offensive line is dominant, and they have the league's most enviable quarterback situation: backup Nick Foles is getting a hero's welcome in Disney World as Super Bowl MVP while 2017 regular season MVP candidate Carson Wentz prepares to return from knee surgery with a chip on his shoulder -- and that should make the rest of the NFC shudder. They finished 2017 with a total record of 16-3, including a meaningless Week 17 loss to the Cowboys with the NFC's top seed locked up. Linebacker Nigel Bradham is a free agent but the Eagles bring almost all of their top contributors back in 2018, and their chemistry, swagger and talent should make them formidable for years to come.
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
2. Los Angeles Rams
If the Rams can beef up their defense behind ferocious 2017 Defensive Player of the Year DT Aaron Donald, it's hard to bet against the future of 2017 Coach of the Year Sean McVay, 32, young quarterback Jared Goff, 23, stud running back Todd Gurley and this electric offense. The Rams went 11-5 in 2017, and when they lost at home to the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, 26-13, the stage appeared new and imposing to some of their major contributors. But those jitters will be gone in 2018 and replaced by a desire to prove they were no fluke, and as long as GM Les Snead keeps the offensive line strong, adds talent and depth on D, and Goff continues to develop, they might only get better. Donald also is going to ruin some teams' Super Bowl hopes one day soon. In the loss to Atlanta, he played about as well as a player can in a loss. In the first half, he hurried Falcons QB Matt Ryan nine times in 20 pass rushes, per Pro Football Focus, with one sack and one run stop.
(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
3. Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson, 22, lit the NFL on fire with 1,699 passing yards, 269 rushing yards, 21 total TDs and a 103.0 QB rating in just seven appearances and six starts as a rookie before tearing his ACL. Watson said he hoped coach Bill O'Brien, the architect of the offense, would stay. O'Brien received a four-year contract extension. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in football, and the Texans could be ready to burn down the AFC South and more for years to come. They need to keep J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney healthy and dramatically improve a defense that surrendered a league-high 27.2 points per game last season, but Watson's eruption last fall put the league on notice that no should be surprised if this team turns into a year-in, year-out contender with such a dynamic player at the most important position in the sport.
(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Head coach Doug Marrone made some costly errors in the AFC Championship Game when he had the Patriots on the ropes, but the Jags will get a quarterback and they'll be back. Tom Coughlin's influence in Jacksonville's management is felt in the emphasis on a strong running game and mean men up front. Running back Leonard Fournette is a monster. The defense is stacked with young talents CB Jalen Ramsey, 23, and LB Myles Jack, 22, complemented by stud veterans CB A.J. Bouye, LB Telvin Smith and DE Calais Campbell, the 2017 AFC Defensive Player of the Year as voted by the Pro Football Writers of America, who is signed for three more years. LB Paul Posluszny is 33 and a free agent, but this team's foundation makes it the second AFC South team to make the list.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
5. New Orleans Saints
We don't know how much longer Drew Brees, 39, will keep playing, and the challenge of replacing the future Hall of Famer might prove too great. But just when Sean Payton was on the ropes, he returned the Saints to scary-good status with the help of GM Mickey Loomis beefing up the offensive line and hitting big on several recent draft picks: 2017 Rookie of the Year RB Alvin Kamara (third rounder), 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year CB Marshon Lattimore (first rounder), and wide receiver Michael Thomas (second-rounder, 2016). This team suddenly is infused with youth and energy and was finally respectable again on defense in 2017, despite surrendering the Minneapolis Miracle in that heartbreaking divisional round playoff loss to the Vikings. And they'll be angry in 2018 to undo that heartbreak and, if they can find a quarterback for the future, the pieces around him could return the Saints to the type of glory Brees and Payton shared in Super Bowl XLIV to close the 2009 season.