Malcolm Butler might have just cemented the New England Patriots’ legacy as one of the greatest NFL franchises of all time.
Butler’s interception with 20 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX sealed the Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks, giving them four Super Bowl trophies in the last 15 years.
Naturally, the win has brought the old “dynasty” debate back to the forefront, as few teams in NFL history have enjoyed a run of success like the Patriots.
But has any team? The folks at FiveThirtyEight decided to break it down using a metric called an “Elo rating,” a predictive tool designed to assess head-to-head matchups. Patriots fans will like what they found.
In simple terms, the graph shows which team was the “best” in the NFL over a specified time period, and New England claims the title in eight different domains (many of which overlap, of course).
Yet the San Francisco 49ers — who had 16 consecutive winning seasons from 1983 to 1998 and have won five Super Bowls — give the Patriots a run for their money in the longevity department.
The Elo rating is just one metric, and the answer to the question of the NFL’s “best” dynasty isn’t this clear-cut. Still, going toe-to-toe with Joe Montana’s legendary 49ers teams certainly isn’t the worst thing for the Patriots.
FiveThirtyEight’s full analysis of the chart above is worth a read, as are a few other breakdowns it compiled about the Super Bowl, including the win probability behind the Seahawks’ fateful decision to throw the ball at the 1-yard line and a case for this year’s Super Bowl as the most exciting ever.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deustch/USA TODAY Sports Images