Ranking the next five-year windows for each NFL team


Every NFL team tries to build a dynasty and win Super Bowls, but only a select few in NFL history have found such consistency. Over the next five years, these are the teams that have the best chance at ultimate success.


Kansas City Chiefs

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For the Chiefs, it all comes back to Patrick Mahomes. The 25-year-old Mahomes is the face of the NFL, and still has elite players Tyreek Hill (27) and Travis Kelce (31) in great condition. The offensive line was rebuilt with youth in the offseason, which seems like a smart investment to protect Mahomes. The defense could be set for an identity crisis in the next few years with the potential for Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark to depart, but the team will have Chris Jones and promising youngsters on the second and third levels for a while. After making three consecutive AFC Championships and two consecutive Super Bowls, the Chiefs are on the cusp of a true dynasty.


Cleveland Browns

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After years of bad teams and high draft picks, the Browns have finally started to get the draft right. Former No. 1 overall draft choices Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett are clear franchise players, but the young talent around them is also elite, including a great offensive line and multiple building blocks in the secondary. So far, head coach Kevin Stefanski has also looked like the right man for the job, leading the Browns to the playoffs in his first season.


Buffalo Bills

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Josh Allen has quickly become one of the top young quarterbacks in the league, creating optimism that Buffalo isn’t far from a Super Bowl appearance. To get there, recent defensive draft picks like Gregory Rousseau will need to pan out and help fellow foundational players Tremaine Edmunds, Ed Oliver, and Tre’Davious White.


San Francisco 49ers

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The 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl just two years ago, but are coming off a nightmarish 2020 season in which several key players were injured. On the bright side, they’re set up well for the future with Jimmy Garoppolo and third overall draft choice Trey Lance behind him. No matter the quarterback, the 49ers have elite, young weapons on offense with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk, along with head coach Kyle Shanahan, established as one of the top play-callers in the game. The defense also has young stars Nick Bosa (23) and Fred Warner (24). If Lance pans out, the 49ers could be in as good a position to make a run as any team.


Los Angeles Chargers

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The Chargers roster has been one of the most impressive in the league on paper seemingly for the last 10 years, yet they only have two playoff appearances in that time to show for it. It’s clear the team hit on 2020 first-round pick Justin Herbert and has invested heavily in an offensive line to protect him. The defense also has star power with Joey Bosa and Derwin James in their mid-20’s, but the pair have also been injury-prone early in their NFL careers. With the right coaching and a little luck, the Chargers have a chance to be Super Bowl contenders soon.


Baltimore Ravens

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Mobile quarterbacks can have an early decline, but 24-year-old Lamar Jackson should have plenty of time left. The team is hoping J.K. Dobbins can return healthy from a knee injury next season, and also have some interesting, young receivers. The elite defense is a mix of youth and experience, but 25-and-unders Marlon Humphrey and Patrick Queen provide reason for optimism.


Arizona Cardinals

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The Cardinals have reason to be optimistic with 24-year-old Kyler Murray and a host of talented weapons around him, including DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore. The bigger concern is the defense, with a core on the backend of their careers, including Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt. Arizona also must contend in what looks like a loaded NFC West for the foreseeable future.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The defending Super Bowl Champs brought back all 22 starters from their championship team, which suggests they’re in a great spot for 2021. The end of the five-year window is where things get murky, as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Shaquil Barrett, and Lavonte David are on the backends of their careers. To the front office’s credit, the Bucs have drafted extremely well recently, so players like Tristian Wirfs, Vita Vea, Devin White, Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Antoine Winfield Jr. will make the inevitable reboot much easier.


Los Angeles Rams

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The Rams have a unique roster, bypassing draft picks to acquire stars like Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford. That strategy requires them to draft well in the later rounds, and GM Les Snead has done just enough. Of course, the team’s depth has also taken a hit with the lack of recent first-round picks. Stafford and star Aaron Donald are on the wrong side of 30, while star wideouts Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are also nearing 30. With head coach Sean McVay, the current window of opportunity is excellent but it could also be brief.


Pittsburgh Steelers

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Ben Roethlisberger is a surefire Hall of Famer, but he could be entering the final season of his career. The Steelers have put a young group around him, including wideout stars Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, as well as first-round rookie running back Najee Harris. The defense is also loaded with young superstars, including T.J. Watt (26), Devin Bush (23), Terrell Edmunds (24), and Minkah Fitzpatrick. If the team can find its quarterback post-Big Ben, they should remain major contenders.


Seattle Seahawks

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Russell Wilson is perhaps the most underappreciated quarterback of the last 10 years, still playing at an elite level at age 32. He has elite weapons with Tyler Lockett and 23-year-old DK Metcalf. The defense has been unable to completely rebound from the elite Super Bowl teams they had in the last decade, but Bobby Wager, Jamal Adams, and draft picks have been enough to keep the unit serviceable. Like Bill Belichick in New England, there remain questions about 70-year-old head coach Pete Carroll‘s future that cloud the team’s status beyond this year.


Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas finally paid Dak Prescott, for good reason, but the depth of the roster has suffered. The team has other young stars like CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons, but staples like Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and De Marcus Lawrence could be past their primes. The Cowboys have time to reboot with the 28-year-old Prescott, but the window with the current group is closing. 


Green Bay Packers

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Quarterback has rarely been a concern in Green Bay over the last 30 years between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, but that could change next offseason if Rodgers is ready to move on. Jordan Love might not be the future despite being selected in the first round last year, and Davante Adams is nearing age 30. The defense has enough young talent with stars like Jaire Alexander and Kenny Clark. There’s obvious talent, but the future is murky beyond 2021.


Tennessee Titans

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The Titans seem to be all-in after acquiring veterans Julio Jones, Janoris Jenkins, and Bud Dupree in the offseason. That makes sense considering the usually limited football lifespan of an elite running back like 27-year-old Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill (33) likely has some good years remaining, especially with elite A.J. Brown, and the team has some young franchise players on defense in Jeffery Simmons (24), Rashaan Evans (25), and Harold Landry (25). Young head coach Mike Vrabel also continues to establish himself as a difference-maker with three consecutive winning seasons.


Miami Dolphins

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Miami underwent a nearly complete rebuild only two years ago. Strong free agent moves and drafting have already turned the team into a contender, and they could be set up for a Super Bowl run if Tua Tagovailoa continues to develop. He has a young offensive line blocking for him, as well as former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle catching passes. The defense has a lot of elite players nearing 30 ( Xavien Howard, Byron Jones), but youngsters Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, and Jevon Holland are young building blocks.


New England Patriots

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The Patriots let Tom Brady walk and missed the playoffs last year for only the third time this century. The team responded by spending big in free agency and drafting quarterback Mac Jones in the first round. Pairing Jones with former college teammate Damien Harris and a bevy of veteran receivers could revamp the offense, and the defense has been consistently outstanding under Bill Belichick. The bigger concern is Belichick’s age (69), as the possibility of retirement could promptly hinder the team’s Super Bowl window.


New Orleans Saints

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The Saints successfully rebuilt their roster in recent seasons, particularly on defense. With the retirement of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas’ injuries, the defense could be the team’s biggest strength, and youngsters like Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, and Marcus Davenport could give that unit longevity. It remains to be seen if Jameis Winston is the quarterback of the future, but he’s still only 27 with blue-chip arm talent and an elite offensive coach in Sean Payton. Payton’s presence ultimately gives the organization a shot.


Denver Broncos

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The Broncos struck out on Drew Lock at quarterback, but have a bevy of strong, young weapons elsewhere. Receivers Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, and Noah Fant show the embarrassment of riches if the team can find their long-term signal-caller, while 2021 draftee Javonte Williams is also promising. While franchise player Von Miller is closer to the end of his career than the beginning at age 32, the team still has young defensive talent intact with Bradley Chubb (25), Patrick Surtain Jr. (21), and Justin Simmons (27).


Indianapolis Colts

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The Colts had one of the best up-and-coming rosters early in GM Chris Ballard‘s tenure, but Andrew Luck’s retirement was a monumental setback. The team hopes they’ve found the answer with Carson Wentz, but they can certainly pivot again if he doesn’t get out of his recent rut. Young players like Jonathan Taylor, DeForest Buckner, and Rock Ya-Sin give fans reason for hope, but the wide receiver rebuild has been disappointing so far and linebacker Darius Leonard is already 30. If the team is going to win a Super Bowl in the next few years, it will take more top-end talent.


Cincinnati Bengals

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The jury is still out on Joe Burrow after he missed much of his rookie season due to a knee injury, but the Bengals have an embarrassment of riches around him with Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Ja’Marr Chase. The defense has solid talent at all three levels that have yet to mesh, including Jessie Bates, Sam Hubbard, and new edge rusher Trey Hendrickson. It would seem good days are ahead in Cincy.


Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Jaguars had the first overall pick in this year’s draft for a reason, and the rebuild could take several years. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence seems like a can’t-miss prospect based on his college performance, but he’s already experience growing pains. He has some attractive, young talent around him, including D.J. Chark (24), Laviska Shenault (22), and James Robinson (23), but that’s much more than the defense can say. The Jaguars are hopeful young players like K’Lavon Chaisson and C.J. Henderson pan out after significant draft investments, and the jury is still out on legendary college coach turned NFL head honcho Urban Meyer.


Washington Football Team

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The Washington head coach job has been a revolving door during Daniel Snyder’s ownership, but perhaps Ron Rivera can stick around for a while. He certainly has the young talent on defense, with an incredible defensive line that includes first-rounders Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and Daron Payne. There are also interesting offensive weapons with Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin, but the team’s lack of long-term clarity at quarterback could hold them back.


Philadelphia Eagles

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Is Jalen Hurts the answer at quarterback? He certainly looked like it in Week 1 vs. the Falcons, but his status is still unclear. He does have several young, interesting weapons around him, including Miles Sanders, DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, and Dallas Goedert. The offensive and defensive lines remain strong, albeit with several older players.


Minnesota Vikings

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Minnesota had three playoff appearances in five years before their 7-9 finish last year, and there are some signs the defense needs a complete reboot. Quarterback Kirk Cousins (33) should have some good years remaining, and he has elite, young weapons with Dalvin Cook (26) and Justin Jefferson (22). The offensive line has also been addressed in recent drafts, but the defense could be on its last leg while the team relies on players with injury and age concerns like Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Patrick Peterson, and Harrison Smith.


Las Vegas Raiders

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Jon Gruden rejoined the Raiders on a 10-year contract in 2018, but the franchise has seen minimal progress in three seasons. There’s no doubt Derek Carr has improved under Gruden, and tight end Darren Waller has emerged as a star. However, the team’s recent draft results have been suspect, with the franchise still waiting for Clelin Ferrell, Jonathan Abram, and Henry Ruggs to develop. The offensive line was also somewhat gutted in the offseason, and the defense looks a long way from being formidable.


Carolina Panthers

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Panthers future is now dependent on Sam Darnold, which is certainly a risk after the struggles he showed in his first three seasons with the Jets. Christian McCaffrey still has some time in his prime at age 25, of course, and wideouts D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall could produce in Carolina for a while. The defense has plenty of raw, young talent led by Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, and Jeremy Chinn.


Chicago Bears

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Bears fans couldn’t be more optimistic about the addition of Justin Fields, but the team still needs to build around him. David Montgomery had a breakout 2020 season, and Darnell Mooney looks like a draft steal, but the youth and talent elsewhere on offense is lacking. The defense is also getting long in the tooth, with stars Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks in their early 30’s.


New York Giants

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Now entering his third season, it’s time for Daniel Jones to show he’s an NFL starter or else. The team has provided him with all the weapons he needs, including the return of 24-year-old back Saquon Barkley, though the offensive line remains shaky. The defense has enough young talent to be strong, but it doesn’t mean much of Jones and head coach Joe Judge isn’t the right men for the job.


New York Jets

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The Jets are just getting out from under the setback that is Adam Gase, and the almost annual rebuild will take time. New York moved on from Sam Darnold in favor of 2021 draftee Zach Wilson, and the team hopes he’s as big a hit as recent first-rounders Mekhi Becton and Quinnen Williams. Elsewhere on the defense, the long-term keepers are few and far between, which exemplifies just how long the Jets have to go.


Detroit Lions

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The Lions seemingly did a reboot in the offseason, trading Matthew Stafford and remaining quiet in free agency. That could make for an interesting few years ago, and the team does have much of their offensive line future on the squad, including Penei Sewell, Frank Ragnow, and Taylor Decker, to go along with tight end T.J. Hockenson. Despite his history as a Super Bowl quarterback, Jared Goff might only be a placeholder, and the defense clearly needs a revamp beyond former first-rounder Jeff Okudah, who will miss the rest of 2021 to an Achilles injury.


Atlanta Falcons

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There was speculation the Falcons would move on from Matt Ryan in the offseason, and the 36-year-old quarterback could still be playing elsewhere before his career ends. He continues to play well now and has solid, young weapons in Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Unfortunately, cap issues and poor recent drafts have left the defense without much of an identity, but 2020 first-round cornerback A.J. Terrell has shown promise.


Houston Texans

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What a difference a few years make. Houston had the makings a potential powerhouse, led by star quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, some head-scratching win-now trades and signings by Bill O’Brien helped ruin the franchise’s future, and Watson’s off-field issues could prevent the team from rebuilding. The Texans are clearly headed for a long and ugly rebuild.

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