The wait for a dynasty in the NFL has been long overdue. It has been ten years since the New England Patriots won back to back Super Bowls and three titles in four years. On Sunday the Seattle Seahawks will aim to be that side who become the league's newest powerhouse when they aim to defend their title. Victory could mean the beginning of that dynasty we have waited for. However, defeat would cement one for their opponents. The Patriots, with the same head coach and quarterback that won its first Super Bowl in 2001 have returned for the sixth time. Their legacy as one of the best could be confirmed in Arizona.
Pete Carroll, formerly the Patriots head coach, has built a youthful, dominant team who scare the life out of people. More importantly they know how to win. They have easily been the best side in the league over the last few years and have a defense that ranks amongst the best in NFL history. To make back to back Super Bowls you have to be pretty damn good. That is exactly what they are. When they won it all last year they barely had a moment to celebrate. Quarterback Russell Wilson, finishing only his second season in the league, was talking about building something great. This wasn't about winning one championship. It was about becoming the next dynasty.
It could be argued that they are being considered a dynasty already. However, many teams have been in a similar situation and have failed to add to their success. The St Louis Rams lost to the Patriots in 2001, despite being favourites to make it two Super Bowls wins in three years. The Green Bay Packers under Bret Favre looked like they could win multiple Super Bowls after winning in 1996 and getting to the big show again the following year, but Favre never returned after losing to the Broncos in 1997. It would not be inconceivable for the same to happen to Russell Wilson.
On the other side no one has had as much success over a lengthy period of time like the Patriots have had. Since quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick started this run in 2001, the Pats have won 12 divisional titles, been to nine AFC Championship games and won three Super Bowls from five appearances. As the two main men in the New England head towards retirement all that is left is to cement their legacy. A fourth title would cap an unbelievable era of dominance that is rarely seen in sport.
The two sides are very different. One is more business-like and has been around for a long time. The others are the fun and exciting new kids on the block. It is surprising to see that this game has not been seen as a battle between the old and the young. There is almost a late 90s Manchester United v Arsenal feel about this game. Manchester United and the Patriots have been compared to each other for many years due to their success and head coaches. Seattle may be more defensive than the Arsenal side that first challenged Alex Ferguson's reign but with head coach Pete Carroll's laid back style of coaching, which has bred a relaxed and fun atmosphere amongst his players, they are changing the way the game is being coached, much like Arsene Wenger did when he arrived in 1996.
The NFL has been very proud of the parity it has created over the years. This has been generally good for the league but the rumblings in the press suggest that it may have gone too far. It was fun for a while when the likes of the Giants and Ravens got hot at the right time and rode to Super Bowl glory. Is parity overrated? Maybe, but it's about time we had one or two teams who were consistently challenging.
So what victor would be better for the NFL? Forgetting the scandals recently, a Patriots victory would give belief to the other 31 teams that with the right head coach and quarterback, any team can have longevity and win multiple championships. For Brady and Belichick, they would seriously be in contention, if they aren't already, to be the greatest of all time. It would be a moment in time that future generations will look back to along with the Miami Dolphins unbeaten season, Joe Montana's fourth Super Bowl victory and so on.
However, a Seahawks victory would start a new cycle. They will become the team that every other will have to catch up to and aim to knock off their perch. Of course it is very hard to predict the future in the NFL but the signs point towards the Seahawks being in contention for many years to come. Not only would they have won back to back Super Bowls, they would have done it beating Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. They don't get much better than that.
It would be good for the development of the league too as we head into a new era. Instead of the usual suspects like the Packers or Steelers, we see the Seahawks, who had only been to one previous Super Bowl in franchise history, battle teams who haven't been at the top very much like the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions. The new crop of superstars are making headway along with these teams. We have already seen Andrew Luck take another step towards being the best when his Colts reached the AFC Championship game. The Brady and Manning era is coming towards an end and is being replaced by Wilson, Cam Newton and of course Luck.
For the NFL the two teams have become perfect examples for the rest of the league's teams to aspire to. Both have had short term and long term continued success. Both the Patriots and Seahawks have achieved greatness before a ball is even snapped. But when all is said and done on Sunday, we will know what kind of dynasty we will be talking about for years to come.