15Patriots2002-16170249ers1984-981697Cowboys1970-841655 While this can complicate things when trying to use Elo to make predictions (as with the 2016 Raiders), the stat is much stronger when it looks backward because it struggles to immediately pick up a team’s rises and declines.Public perception tends to lag when a traditionally bad team gets good, or a traditionally good team goes all to hell. And football is less dependent on individual players than basketball, where LeBron James can leave town and send the Cavaliers to the lottery for nearly half a decade. So when we see the Patriots maintaining these high ratings across different eras and team compositions, what we’re seeing isn’t just sustained performance, but sustained relevance.VIDEO: The Patriots better worry about Julio Jones 22Patriots1995-2016165049ers1981-20021645Packers1995-20161615 24Patriots1993-2016163549ers1980-20031628Packers1993-20161611 2Cowboys1992-931786Patriots2003-041782Dolphins1972-731779 1749ers1981-971685Patriots2000-161684Cowboys1970-861637 849ers1987-941718Patriots2003-101713Steelers1972-791700 14Patriots2003-16171349ers1984-971700Cowboys1970-831663 9Patriots2003-11171549ers1987-951715Steelers1972-801689 How we qualify success is a big part of how we define a dynasty, so a quick note on the method we’re using here: Elo ratings are a favorite around FiveThirtyEight because they are relatively simple to calculate and don’t require many points of input, making it possible to apply them to time periods when data collection wasn’t very good. Want to know if the Cleveland Spiders of the 1890s were the sorriest team in baseball history? Elo can do that.The price of that simplicity is, well, a fairly simplistic stat, without the benefit of modern advancements like player tracking data in the NBA or PITCHf/x in MLB. Elo doesn’t know about star players coming or going or fortuitous bounces or egregious penalty calls — it just knows who won, who lost, and by how much, and trusts that the specifics will even themselves out over time. The top dynasties in NFL history, by number of years 3Cowboys1992-941759Seahawks2013-151743 # OF YEARSTEAMAVG. ELOTEAMAVG. ELOTEAMAVG. ELO BEST DYNASTYSECOND-BESTTHIRD-BEST 1Patriots20071824Patriots20071824 749ers1988-941722Patriots2003-091713Patriots2010-161713 5Patriots2003-071747Patriots2003-071747 ALL-TIME BEST DYNASTIESBEST DYNASTIES SINCE 1997 15Patriots2002-161702Patriots2002-161702 25Patriots1992-2016162149ers1980-20041615Cowboys1971-951611 1849ers1981-981683Patriots1999-20161673Cowboys1970-871628 2Cowboys1992-931786Patriots2003-041782 All-time dynasties and dynasties since 1997, by number of years 10Patriots2003-121714Patriots2003-121714 Should Terrell Owens Be In The Hall of Fame? 23Patriots1994-2016164649ers1981-20031639Packers1994-20161614 1949ers1980-981666Patriots1998-20161665Packers1994-20121617 The numbers are self-evident: Win or lose Sunday night, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have put together one of the best runs in NFL history. Since 2001, the team has made seven Super Bowl appearances, with four wins (and another possible this week), and it has achieved a level of sustained success unheard of in the modern NFL. Exactly where does this stretch rank among football dynasties, though? Well, it depends on how you define dynasty.Do two titles in three years qualify as a dynasty? What about three in five? The end points for runs of dominance have always been up for debate. So rather than pick one definition and stick to it, we went looking for the best team over any number of years.1This is an update to a feature we ran a few years ago, which used a different version of Elo, so the ratings will be a little different, but reflect the same principles. The table below shows the top teams over a given period — from the best one-year teams, to the best team over a quarter-century, based on FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings: 6Patriots2003-081732Patriots2003-081732 # OF YEARSTEAMAVG. ELOTEAMAVG. ELO 20Patriots1997-20161662Patriots1997-20161662 4Cowboys1992-951751Patriots2004-07174749ers1989-921734 6Patriots2003-08173249ers1989-941727Steelers1974-791726 749ers1988-941722Patriots2003-091713 10Patriots2003-12171449ers1987-961709Steelers1972-811677 1Patriots20071824Patriots20041816Bears19851796 20Patriots1997-2016166249ers1981-20001654Packers1995-20141614 849ers1987-941718Patriots2003-101713 1149ers1984-941712Patriots2003-131711 1749ers1981-971685Patriots2000-161684 Related: Hot Takedown 4Cowboys1992-951751Patriots2004-071747 16Patriots2001-161700Patriots2001-161700 12Patriots2003-141714Patriots2003-141714 1149ers1984-941712Patriots2003-131711Cowboys1971-811671 14Patriots2003-161713Patriots2003-161713 16Patriots2001-16170049ers1983-981692Cowboys1970-851647 12Patriots2003-14171449ers1984-951710Cowboys1970-811670 That the 2007 Pats (undefeated until a loss against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl) are the top one-year team of all time, despite not winning the title, isn’t all that surprising. But the Patriots’ dynasties being at the top of the longer-term ranges is. Consider that the Pats claimed the top spot for the 25-year stretch despite a dreadful 2-14 1992 season, when they were coached by Dick MacPherson, as well as a couple painful years during Bill Parcells’ brief tenure, which also included a Super Bowl appearance following the 1996 season.In the in-between lengths, New England owns many but not all of the top spots. It never had as dominant a three- or four-year run as the Cowboys in the 1990s, but at the five-year mark, New England begins a run of taking a top-two spot in most ranges, trading off occasionally with the 49ers. But by the time we get into the 20-year windows, with Walsh and Montana having given way to Mooch and Garcia, even San Francisco begins to fade.And we haven’t even accounted for the NFL’s modern era of parity yet, although things begin to look a little unfair once we do. If we look at the post-Cowboys-era NFL, beginning in 1997,2The salary cap was instituted for the 1994 NFL season, but by then, powerful teams in the league had already been assembled. It’s an approximation, but we used 1997 and post-Cowboys as a rough estimate of when the “parity era” began. the Patriots take the top spot in every dynasty range, from one year to 20 years, except for the three-year range, which Seattle locked down from 2013 to 2015. 5Patriots2003-071747Steelers1975-79172749ers1988-921725 1949ers1980-981666Patriots1998-20161665 1849ers1981-981683Patriots1999-20161673 13Patriots2004-161710Patriots2004-161710 13Patriots2004-16171049ers1984-961706Cowboys1970-821667 3Cowboys1992-941759Dolphins1972-741751Steelers1974-761743 9Patriots2003-111715Patriots2003-111715 21Patriots1996-2016166049ers1981-20011651Packers1995-20151614