Chiefs, Bengals, 49ers and Eagles look ready to dominate NFL for years to come – The Washington Post

The divisional round produced a conference championship Sunday stocked with the no-doubt best four teams in the NFL. It also heralded the possible establishment of a new elite. The Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers hover above the rest of the NFL in a collective manner that could become, and might already be, ingrained.

The Chiefs, Bengals and 49ers repeated as conference championship participants. Only two other times since 1990 — after the 1993 and 2012 seasons — have three of the final four teams returned from the previous year. The Chiefs are playing in their fifth straight AFC championship game, and the 49ers have reached the penultimate weekend three times in four years. The Bengals are one Aaron Donald sack away from possibly being reigning Super Bowl champions. The Eagles, the relative newcomers, have a 24-year-old MVP candidate at quarterback and a five-year-old Lombardi in their trophy case.

The quartet boasts several arguments for staying power. Their quarterbacks are 27 (Patrick Mahomes), 26 (Joe Burrow), 24 (Jalen Hurts) and 23 (Brock Purdy). The Bengals and Eagles will soon confront the ramifications of high-priced contract extensions, but the Chiefs already solved that issue with an elegantly structured deal for Mahomes and the 49ers are years off with an out-of-nowhere rookie in Purdy, which will help them afford the upcoming massive payday for presumptive defensive player of the year Nick Bosa.

It will be easier for the Eagles and 49ers to maintain control of the NFC. Micah Parsons gives the Dallas Cowboys a chance to ruin the opponent’s day every time he steps on the field. But the Green Bay Packers are fading in Aaron Rodgers’s twilight (or, perhaps, Jordan Love’s unveiling), the New York Giants remain a cut below even after Coach Brian Daboll’s remarkable turnaround, and the Detroit Lions have yet to prove their playoff bona fides.

The Eagles and 49ers have separated with infrastructure. Sirianni is a young and brilliant coach, and Roseman has shown a special ability for building brawn and talent along the lines. Purdy may or may not be a long-term answer for San Francisco. Even if not, Shanahan produces quarterbacks like MacGyver made bombs: Give him a refrigerator magnet, a piece of twine and a seventh-round pick, and expect pyrotechnics.

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