Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/29/13
There is a common understanding in the sports community that “no one remembers who finished in second place.” For the most part, this is true but I would like to put this theory to the test. Quickly, who won the Super Bowl in 1982? 1990? 1996? Now, who made it to the Super Bowl in four consecutive years? All football fans can answer that question without even thinking about it- it’s the Buffalo Bills.  When we think of dynasties we think of the following teams: the 1960s Green Bay Packers, the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1980s San Francisco 49ers, the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, and the New England Patriots of the 2000s. All of those teams won multiple NFL titles and have set the bar for what all franchises strive to become. But when analyzing these great teams, the 1990s Buffalo Bills deserve to be somewhere in this conversation.I want to ask the following question: what is more impressive, the Bills making it to the Super Bowl in four consecutive years, or teams like the St. Louis Rams or Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl once?  From a fan’s perspective, I wonder which you would rather, a team that is perennially “in the hunt” but never comes through, or a team that wins the Super Bowl once and is not a factor year in and year out for a significant period of time? To help answer this question, I will write from my perspective (although I welcome other points of view). As a fan of the New York Giants, I have been blessed to witness Big Blue win the title four times in my lifetime, two of them being recently in 2007 and 2011.  In the past four years, the Giants have made the playoffs only once when they happened to win the Super Bowl.  Would I rather that they win the Super Bowl in their only playoff appearance or would I have preferred they made it to the Super Bowl each of those four years and lost every time? If forced to answer, I would rather win it the one time as going four straight years with "nothing to show for it" would be extremely frustrating. However, in my mind, that is why getting there four straight years is so impressive.Put yourself in the players’ shoes for a moment. You lost your third straight Super Bowl to the Dallas Cowboys in embarrassing fashion, 52-17, yet the next summer, you still feel motivated to try it again and make it back to the big game! Amazing.Let’s now get away from opinion and sentiment and look into some numbers as to why the 1990s Bills deserve to be mentioned as one of the great dynasties of all time. I looked at data concerning point differential of the Bills during their Super Bowl years and compared them to some of the more current dynasties, each over a four-year span and here is what I found:1992-1995 Dallas Cowboys (three Super Bowl titles): +155.75 per year average1987-1990 San Francisco 49ers (two Super Bowl titles): +141.74 per year average1990-1993 Buffalo Bills (four Super Bowl appearances): +122.5 per year average2001-2004 New England Patriots (three Super Bowl titles): +105.25 per year averageI also took a look at how these teams compared over a specific span of time regarding playoff appearances:2001-2012 New England Patriots: 10 playoff appearances in 12 seasons (and counting)1988-1999 Buffalo Bills: 10 playoff appearances in 12 seasons1981-1990 San Francisco 49ers: nine playoff appearances in 10 seasons (only missed during strike of 1982)1991-2000 Dallas Cowboys: eight playoff appearances in 10 seasonsObviously, all of these numbers are extremely impressive, especially when you consider that with football, unlike most other sports, injuries play such a huge part into a team’s fortunes. For example, one of the years that the Patriots did not make the playoffs between 2001 and 2012 was when they lost Tom Brady for the entire 2008 season when he suffered a knee injury during the first game. Now, the Patriots still went 11-5 which somehow was not good enough to make the playoffs that year, but the point is that for a franchise to operate at such a level of consistency is truly remarkable. Also, unlike other sports that have best of seven series, with football there is only one game and truly anything can happen which makes the Bills making it to the Super Bowl in four straight years so extraordinary.Unfortunately for the Bills, not winning the Super Bowl will keep them from being in the same discussion as the other synasties. But before making them out to be a punchline, keep in mind that they were one of the most dominant teams of their era and that making it to four straight Super Bowls is an achievement that should not be taken lightly. If Scott Norwood had made that field goal in Super Bowl XXV against the New York Giants, would the Bills be thought of differently?    
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