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10 worst NFL teams of all-time

Home » NFL » Worst NFL Team Ever: 10 Worst NFL Teams of All Time

All NFL fans like to debate the best team ever, but what about the worst NFL team ever?

In a way, aren’t the worst NFL teams of all time just as memorable as the great ones? Obviously, they aren’t memorable for the right reasons, but bad teams can be memorable nonetheless. That got us thinking about the worst NFL teams of all time.

Worst NFL team ever

Of course, it’s easy to pick out the worst win/loss records in NFL history. But that doesn’t always tell the whole story when picking out the worst teams ever. We didn’t just want to rattle off the lowest win totals in NFL history, we wanted to take a closer look and make a judgment call about the 10 worst teams in NFL history.

10. Panthers, 2001

Early in their history, the Panthers avoided the typical pitfalls of an expansion team. But they fell back to earth in 2001 when they went 1-15.

Surprisingly, they started the season with a victory, only to lose 15 in a row after that. Granted, two of those 15 losses came in overtime and two were decided by a single point, giving Carolina six losses decided by a field goal or less and nine losses coming by eight points or less. But that just means that this team consistently found a way to lose week after week.


9. Browns, 2000

Despite winning three games, the 2000 Browns were still one of the worst teams in league history with one of the lowest win totals in NFL history. In the team’s second season back from hiatus, the Browns actually started the season 2-1, only to lose 12 of their last 13 games.

It’s not just the losses this year but the fact that Cleveland was shut out four times. There were also 11 games in which the Browns scored 10 points or less, failing to score a touchdown in six games. To be fair, outside of a few rough games toward the end of the season, the Cleveland defense wasn’t too bad this year. But a profound lack of scoring is what makes this team historically bad.

8. Jets, 1996

Even for the Jets, the 1996 season was a low point.

Even after using the top overall pick in the draft on wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, the Jets had a world of trouble generating much offense, scoring 10 points or less in six of their 16 games.

They lost eight in a row to begin the season before beating the Cardinals, only to lose seven straight after that. For what it’s worth seven of those 15 losses were decided by a touchdown or less, so there were some close calls, including a few late in the season that could have saved them from one of the lowest win totals in NFL history. But it’s still hard to deny that this is one of the worst teams the NFL has ever seen.


7. Colts, 1991

The Colts actually entered the 1991 season with modest expectations, only to set a new record for the fewest points during a 16-game regular season with 143, which comes out to 8.9 points per game.

In seven of their first eight games of the season, the Colts scored seven points or less. It took until their 10th game to finally get a win, which fittingly came by a single point. Things got ugly again down the stretch with the Colts scoring 10 points or less in four of their last five games. When all was said and done, Indy finished the year 1-15 with just three of those 15 losses coming by a touchdown or less in a truly pathetic and disappointing season.

6. Browns, 2017

After going 1-15 the previous year, there’s no way the Browns and their fans could have known that the worst was yet to come.

Frankly, it’s the team’s fault for bringing back Hue Jackson for a second season after going 1-15. For what it’s worth, the Browns weren’t quite as bad as their 0-16 record in 2017 would indicate.

Two of those losses came in overtime and seven were decided by one score. The opportunities to win games were there, and the Browns even sent a player to the Pro Bowl in linebacker Joe Schobert. But failing to win a game clearly makes them one of the worst NFL teams of all time.

5. Rams, 2009

A decade after winning the Super Bowl, the Rams put together a pitiful 1-15 campaign. Within a few years of the Greatest Show on Turf disbanding, the Rams averaged just 10.9 points per game, making them one of the worst offensive teams in NFL history.

Punter Donnie Jones was an all-pro that year, although that didn’t necessarily help the Rams win games. They did beat the Lions and had three games decided by a field goal or less, including an overtime loss. But since they were held to 10 points or less in nine of their 16 games, the 2009 Rams were rarely close to victory, putting them surprisingly high on our list of the worst teams in NFL history.

4. Oilers, 1973

Even though this was in the era of a 14-game regular season, the Oilers have few excuses for winning just one game in 1973, especially after also going 1-13 the previous year too.

Somehow, they won in Baltimore to avoid a winless campaign. But only two of those 13 losses came by less than a touchdown. In over half of their games, the Oilers were beaten by at least 20 points, which is the sign of a truly terrible team.

3. Patriots, 1990

Long before the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots had one of the lowest win totals in NFL history, going 1-15 in 1990.

The roster had some notable names on it, including Bruce Armstrong, who was selected to the Pro Bowl. But most of those players were in their decline, creating a perfect storm of ineptitude.

The Pats started the year 1-1 with a close loss against Miami and a road win over the Colts. But after a 41-7 loss to the Bengals in Week 3, it was all downhill. New England would lose 14 straight games with only three of those games decided by a touchdown or less.

They gave up over 30 points in nearly half of their games and were held to 10 points or less in 10 games, including five in a row to close out the season, as the 1990 Patriots only seemed to get worse as the season went along.

2. Lions, 2008

The Lions are certainly no stranger to bad seasons, but there was nothing worse than the 2008 campaign. This was one of the worst defensive teams the NFL has seen in decades, giving up 32.3 points per game.

Not only did the Lions go 0-16 this year but they were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 11 and still had six games left to play.

Only six of Detroit’s games this season ended up being decided by a touchdown or less, so there weren’t a ton of occasions when the Lions were close to avoiding a winless campaign. The ironic part is that the Lions went 4-0 during the preseason. But those wins turned out to be even more meaningless after failing to win a game during the regular season.

1. Buccaneers, 1976

In a way, it’s a little unfair to include the Bucs in their inaugural season on this list because expansion teams have traditionally struggled. But the 1976 Buccaneers were a special breed of bad.

They collected a ton of aging veterans during the expansion draft and most of them turned out to be well past their prime that year. They lost all 14 games, getting shutout five times.

It also took the Bucs until the fourth quarter of their fourth game to score their first touchdown in franchise history.

In only four of Tampa’s 14 games did the Bucs actually lose by less than a touchdown, as they suffered one blowout defeat after another in a truly disastrous inaugural season. Even if they had played 16 or 17 regular-season games the way teams do today, it’s unlikely the Bucs would have been able to avoid a winless season.

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