The word “dynasty” is often used to refer to any team on a successful streak, usually ending in multiple championships. The Chiefs may not be there yet, but they are about as close as any team in the NFL to being a true dynasty.
The duo of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid led Kansas City to the 2023 AFC Championship, marking the duo’s fifth straight appearance. They reached the conference title game in each of the first five years Mahomes was the starting quarterback, a feat accomplished only once in NFL history.
If the Chiefs can make it back to the Super Bowl and earn Mahomes’ second ring, it’s fair to start calling their performance a true dynasty. But even just reaching the AFC Championship five straight years in a conference that is loaded with top-tier quarterbacks is an impressive feat in itself.
Here’s a look back at the longest streaks by a team in conference play in NFL history.
BENGALS-CHIEFS PICK: Straight | Against the spread
Most consecutive championship games
It may come as no surprise, but the Tom Brady-led Patriots hold the record for consecutive conference championship appearances. Which era? The Second Extended Dynastic Period.
From 2011, when New England lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, to 2018, when they beat the Rams, the Patriots reached eight straight conference championship games. There is some overlap with this Patriots team and the current Chiefs lineup, as Brady’s Pats defeated the Pat’s Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2019 AFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl.
But Mahomes is quickly advancing on the New England record. With their appearance against the Bengals in 2023, Kansas City has now appeared in five consecutive AFC Championship games, which now ties the 1973-77 Raiders for the second-longest streak in NFL history.
TSN POWER RANKINGS: 3 Reasons Chiefs, Bengals Will (Or Won’t) Win Super Bowl 57
Mahomes also now shares Ken Stabler’s company in leading a team to the AFC Championship in his first five years as the team’s starter. Heading into 1973, Stabler had been in the NFL for three years but had only started two games for the Raiders. He secured the team’s starting role in Week 4 of the 1973 season and never looked back, leading the team to the AFC Championship in his first year as a full-time starter and then the next four seasons. During that run, the Raiders won Super Bowl 11 during that stretch, marking Stabler’s lone ring.
Here’s a look at all the teams that have had streaks of at least four consecutive championship appearances:
|A team||years||A stripe|
Back-to-back NFC Championship appearances
While three AFC teams have the longest streaks overall, there are three NFC teams that share a tie with the 1990-93 Bills for the fourth-longest streak.
The Cowboys went to four straight conference championship games twice. The first streak began in 1970 when the Cowboys lost the Super Bowl to the Colts. The following year, Dallas defeated the Dolphins in the Super Bowl before losing in two straight conference championship games.
49ERS-EAGLES PICKS: Straight | Against the spread
Dallas again went on an impressive streak in the early 1990s when they won the Super Bowl in three of four years, beating the Bills in two straight Super Bowls, losing to the 49ers in the NFC Championship, and then coming back to beat the Steelers in the Super Cup 30.
Only one other NFC team has appeared in four straight conference title games, and it was none other than Reid’s Eagles of the early 2000s. The Eagles lost three straight conference championship games before rolling through the Falcons to reach Super Bowl 39, where they lost to Brady’s Patriots.
Back-to-back conference championship games
Mahomes returns to the AFC Championship Game and faces a familiar opponent. Last year, the Chiefs’ bid for a third straight Super Bowl appearance fell short as Joe Burrow and the Bengals upset Kansas City and sent Cincinnati to just the third conference title game in team history.
This year, Cincinnati once again stands between Mahomes and a chance to play for a title.
BENDER: Comparing the Burrow-Mahomes rivalry to the Brady-Manning one
The Cincinnati-Kansas City rematch marks just the ninth time in the Super Bowl era that there has been a rematch in the conference title game. Take a look back at the other previous rematches in conference championship history:
|years||Teams||Winner for 1 year||Winner for the 2nd year|
|1966-67||Cowboys vs. Packers||Packers||Packers|
|1970-71||Cowboys vs. 49ers||Cowboys||Cowboys|
|1974-75||Raiders vs. Steelers||Steelers||Steelers|
|1975-76||Raiders vs. Steelers||Steelers||Strikers|
|1978-79||Oilers vs. Steelers||Steelers||Steelers|
|1986-87||Broncos vs. Browns||Broncos||Broncos|
|1992-93||Cowboys vs. 49ers||Cowboys||Cowboys|
|1993-94||Cowboys vs. 49ers||Cowboys||49ers|
|2011-12||Ravens vs. Patriots||Patriots||Ravens|
There are two separate instances where the teams have met three times in a row: 1974-76 Raiders vs. Steelers and 1992-94 Cowboys vs. 49ers. These series initially marked the only occasions where different teams came out of the meetings with victories, as all other rematches had ended with the same winner as the first leg. When the teams face off in rematches, the team that won the previous year is 6-3.
That was until the Ravens and Patriots met in 2011 and 2012. Brady prevailed over Joe Flacco’s Ravens in 2011, but Flacco prevailed in 2012, eventually leading his team to a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers .