There’s a lot of talk this week about the dynasty Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have built in New England — whether they beat Atlanta in Super Bowl LI or not.
There’s simply no denying the Patriots have been the best franchise in the NFL for the past 16 years — and one of the great franchises in NFL history.
They certainly were the Team of the 2000s — with Super Bowl wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 — and their win over the Seahawks in 2014 put them behind only Pittsburgh (six), San Francisco (five) and Dallas (five) in Super Bowl wins.
This is their NFL-record ninth Super Bowl appearance (Pittsburgh, Dallas and Denver each have eight). It’s the seventh under Belichick and Brady — no coach-quarterback combo has ever reached that many.
A win over the Falcons would make them a near lock for Team of the 2010s — an unofficial title that, added to their dominance of the 2000s, would cement them as the most dominant dynasty in league history.
But there are still three seasons left in this decade, and Seattle and four other teams are in position to challenge for the 10-year title. The Falcons could join that list by beating the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
Although the Seahawks have been on a downward skid ever since their Super Bowl XLIX debacle that gave the Patriots the edge in this unofficial race, the Hawks still have a chance to win it. But it will require two more Super Bowl wins.
Why? Because, for one, there has never been a decade in which one team did not win at least three titles. For the Hawks or anyone else to separate from the pack and claim the title as Team of the 2010s, they will need to hit the three-win mark.
If the Patriots win LI, they will be 2-1 this decade, with a big edge on everyone else.
The others who have won Super Bowls this decade: Denver, Baltimore, the New York Giants and Green Bay. If the Falcons join them, it would be a mini-race over the next three years to see if someone could win two more to hit the magic number.
If no team were to win three, it would be the first time in the last six decades (since the AFL came along). The team of the decade usually has had at least two wins by the sixth season; so, if there is going to be a Team of the 2010s, somebody is going to have to win a couple between now and February 2020.
If the Seahawks want to have a shot at being that team, they have some major work to do.