I'm still buzzing over The Last Dance, an irresistible peak behind the curtain at the greatest player in the history of professional sports, Michael Jordan.
Yep, MJ's the G.O.A.T. I will always and forever believe that. Just like I'll always believe the Jordan-led Bulls would've won another Larry O'Brien Trophy in 1999. And I'll always believe the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots dynasty will never be duplicated by another NFL franchise.
In a league defined by parity during the salary cap era, the Pats logged double-digit wins in each of the past 17 years, winning the AFC East 16 times in the process. In the last 19 editions of the single-elimination postseason, New England made 13 conference championships and nine Super Bowls (winning six). That's a remarkable run. Utter domination. Something that, again, seems unmatchable.
But with Brady's relocation to Tampa Bay, the dynasty torch suddenly appears up for grabs. Who's in the best position to take it and run? Which NFL team is most likely to become the league's next great dynasty? Who'll be the Team of the Decade? Let's rank the candidates, Schein Nine style!
1) Kansas City Chiefs
No surprise here. After all, had Dee Ford just lined up on the right side of the line of scrimmage, the Chiefs would currently be back-to-back champions. (Yes, I absolutely believe Kansas City would have beaten the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.)
Frankly, the Patrick Mahomes Chiefs dynasty feels like it's already underway. Still just 24 years old, Mahomes capped off his first season as a starter by earning league MVP and his second by snagging Super Bowl MVP. Simply put, he's the best show in sports today. And he's only going to get better. Good luck stopping this generational talent -- especially now that his Chiefs just exorcised multiple demons. Remember all that talk about how Andy Reid can't win the big one? How K.C. is doomed to an eternity of postseason disappointment? No longer.
Mahomes has a spectacular collection of explosive receivers, with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman giving defenses fits. Not to mention Travis Kelce, a Pro Bowl tight end five years running. And now Kansas City just gave the backfield a first-round boost in the form of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, whose well-rounded game will play perfectly in this offense. Meanwhile, the Chiefs' defense has a number of playmakers, from Chris Jones and Frank Clark up front to Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill in the back end. The D made substantial improvements in Year 1 under Steve Spagnuolo -- expect that upward trend to continue in 2020.
On the whole, Kansas City's set to return 20 of 22 starters from last season's title team. Get used to seeing Mahomes and the Chiefs hoisting Lombardi Trophies.
2) Baltimore Ravens
I firmly believe Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has assembled the NFL's best roster, 1-53. April's draft was another masterclass from the Baltimore brass. First-round pick Patrick Queen is the next star linebacker in Baltimore. Second-rounder J.K. Dobbins was put on Earth to run the ball for the Ravens. Baltimore's depth chart, on both sides of the ball, is overflowing with talent. Of course, no one's more enticing than the reigning league MVP.
Lamar Jackson is as special as they come. His improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 was staggering. What happens if he takes another massive step forward this fall? Do the Ravens possess a legitimate cheat code??
Baltimore has a fantastic coach in John Harbaugh -- and inherently, the team boasts a stellar culture. They scout and develop and think and plan better than your team. The offense is a terrifying mix of speed and creativity. The defense is strong and consistent. Same with special teams. This organization has everything in place to serve as Kansas City's main foil for years to come. What a series of AFC title games we could have in store!
3) San Francisco 49ers
The only pause I have here is with the quarterback. Can Jimmy Garoppolo take his game up another level? Under the watchful eye of a sensational coach and play caller in Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy G will have every chance to max out. Consequently, this team should be primed for sustained success.
The way Shanahan and Niners GM John Lynch worked this offseason was breathtaking, finding a way to swap in Trent Williams for the retiring Joe Staley, immediately replacing DeForest Buckner with a talented, young facsimile (Javon Kinlaw) and bringing in another catch-and-run nightmare to the receiving corps (Brandon Aiyuk).
Could this team fall victim to the infamous Super Bowl hangover in 2020? Quite difficult to fathom. Though the NFC West doesn't offer any breaks.
4) Dallas Cowboys
Too high? Well, I am going to operate under the dangerous blanket of assumption that Dak Prescott eventually signs a long-term deal. Mike McCarthy maximizes Dak, improving his consistency and making him a Super Bowl champion. That's why McCarthy was brought to Dallas: to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. He's done it. And he will again.
McCarthy is an offensive guru, and this squad is loaded with talent on that side of the ball. Prescott's flanked by one of the game's best running backs in Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard flashed plenty of ability as a rookie runner last season. Meanwhile, Dallas could definitely possess the top receiving trio in the NFL, with first-round pick CeeDee Lamb joining a pair of 1,000-yard wideouts in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. And while Travis Frederick's retirement hurts, the offensive line should be just fine with Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La'el Collins holding the fort.
Questions do exist on defense. Beyond DeMarcus Lawrence, where will the pass rush come from? Does the secondary, minus free-agent departure Byron Jones, have the personnel to hold up in today's pass-happy league? Mike Nolan has his work cut out for him in his first year as Dallas' defensive coordinator, but it's not like this unit's completely devoid of talent. In addition to Lawrence, 24-year-old linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch also have Pro Bowl recognition on the resume.
All in all, this roster has plenty of win-now talent in an NFC East featuring multiple teams in transition. Dallas hasn't even made it past the Divisional Round for nearly a quarter century. The time is now for the 'Boys to finally deliver the goods.
5) Philadelphia Eagles
I hated the Jalen Hurts pick because Carson Wentz is an absolute star. The kind of star an NFL team should be dying to build around, not plan around. If the Eagles were so concerned about Wentz's long-term health, why did they give him a $128 million contract extension less than a year ago? Protect that investment by surrounding him with everything he needs.
Fortunately, Howie Roseman did provide a needed influx of explosiveness to the receiving corps. First-round selection Jalen Reagor's a home-run hitter who'll immediately hold a prominent role in this offense. Meanwhile, fifth-round pick John Hightower and trade acquisition Marquise Goodwin bring additional take-the-top-off speed of their own. Roseman also shored up the defense with the marquee acquisitions of Javon Hargrave and Darius Slay -- and don't sleep on the signing of stout nickel corner Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Doug Pederson has posted consecutive 9-7 seasons since leading the 13-3 Eagles to a Super Bowl title in his second year on the job. It's time to get back to double-digit wins -- and stay there.
6) Buffalo Bills
My respect for Sean McDermott is well-documented. He received my AP vote for Coach of the Year last season. The Bills' current culture of winning and accountability is excellent. And McDermott's stamp is all over this great defense. Of course, most questions with this organization revolve around the other side of the ball -- and namely, the quarterback. But don't count me among the doubters.
I think Josh Allen, who showed immense improvement last season, will continue to get better in Year 3. I'm confident that this fine athlete with an absolute cannon for an arm will become great and lead this proud franchise for a long period of time. General manager Brandon Beane has appropriately surrounded Allen with plenty of talent, adding a true No. 1 receiver via trade (Stefon Diggs) and another multi-talented running back in the third round (Zack Moss, who follows in Devin Singletary's footsteps).
Buffalo has the roster to not only take over the Brady-less AFC East, but also to routinely compete for titles.
7) Los Angeles Chargers
GM Tom Telesco has loaded the Bolts with talent across the roster. And Anthony Lynn can coach. So what's the problem here?
Most will point to the quarterback position, where Philip Rivers has just left the building after 14 seasons in the starting lineup. Tyrod Taylor will get the first opportunity to fill Rivers' shoes, but the long-term play is clearly No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert. Do you believe in the Oregon product? I sure do! I love the 6-foot-6, 236-pounder's athletic makeup, arm talent and calm demeanor. Even though he might need a bit of time to transition to the NFL level, Herbert's going to turn heads in Los Angeles this decade. Just watch. I can't wait to be right here.
8) Tennessee Titans
General manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel have established a winning environment in Nashville in a relatively short amount of time, with last year's AFC title game appearance serving notice to the rest of the league that the Titans' smashmouth approach can indeed work in today's league.
Ryan Tannehill was superb last year, but can he do it again? One thing I'm relatively sure of: Derrick Henry will be pounding people as the Titans' lead back for a while. Yes, I know he's currently set to play the 2020 season on the franchise tag, but the brute-force back represents so much of this team's identify. I can't imagine Tennessee will just let him walk after the coming campaign. The Titans' formula -- potent run game, stout defense and solid coaching -- never really goes out of style. They should rack up plenty of regular-season wins and be a tough out come playoff time.
My biggest concern with the Titans is the division they play in. Chris Ballard and Frank Reich are building something special in Indianapolis -- though I'm not sure how much Philip Rivers has left in the tank. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson is a transcendent individual talent in Houston. And the Jaguars' rebuilding plan might just be light years ahead of the curve, as Jacksonville's roster has some alluring young talent.
9) Cleveland Browns
This is not a drill, people. Cleveland now has a bright general manager, a qualified coach, a quarterback entering Year 3 as a starter and gobs of talent. It's the Browns' time to shine!
The chip is back on Baker Mayfield's shoulder following a highly disappointing 2019 campaign. With a loaded offensive cast around him -- and an upgraded, Kevin Stefanski-led coaching staff in his ear -- Mayfield should be poised for a major bounce-back in 2020. And Cleveland has the youth to become a force for years to come.