The NFL season is one of the most anticipated periods for Football lovers in America and other parts of the world. With the Denver Broncos scoring the fewest points in the 2022 season, it is easy to wonder how well other NFL teams have done in the past. So which teams have performed poorly in the past? Which team is the worst NFL team of all time? This article highlights all you need to know about the worst teams in the history of the game.
The Worst NFL Teams of All-time
When it comes to playing poorly in the NFL, these teams never disappoint. Check out our extensive list of the worst NFL teams of all time:
25. 2004 San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ were known to have a two-decade-plus series of Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Also, this team had a near-two-decade run of engaging all-time receiving talents. Unfortunately, all of these achievements abruptly stopped in 2004. Terrell Owens was traded to another team, while Jeff Garcia was cut that offseason. With Ken Dorsey and Tim Rattay in control, the 49ers sadly went 2-14 under coach Dennis Erickson.
The San Francisco 49ers’ had a minus -193 point differential in 2004, which counted as their worst season in the history of the Super Bowl. Despite the Franchise’s picks of superstars, Alex Smith and Frank Gore in 2005, it still took them several years to draft a rebuild.
24. 2007 Miami Dolphins
The 2007 season was a terrible one for the Miami Dolphins. Headed by coach, Nick Saban, the team hardly tried and it greatly affected their results. The Dolphins narrowly avoided going back home winless, as their only win came during an overtime match with the Baltimore Ravens on the 16th of December.
The Franchise disappointed its fans as it failed to make any improvement from its 6–10 NFL record in 2006, dropping woefully to 1–15.
23. 1987 Atlanta Falcons
In 1987, the Atlanta Falcons performed very poorly. Despite that it was the franchise’s 22nd season in the NFL, they didn’t do well, much to the dismay of their fans. The Falcons winded up with the worst record, 3–12, and were able to secure the first overall pick slated for the 1988 NFL Draft.
Coached by Marion Campbell, the team blew off the playoffs after wrapping up the NFL regular season very poorly. The Franchise also experienced its longest losing streak this season, as they lost 6 games in a row.
22. 2012 Kansas City Chiefs
The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs season counted as their worst in the history of the NFL. Coached by Romeo Crennel, the team missed the playoffs after wrapping up the regular NFL season in 4th position. To the frustration of their fans, the Chiefs were unable to improve on their 7–9 record from the last NFL season. Instead, they wrapped up with a 2–14 record.
21. 2011 St. Louis Rams
The 2011 season for St. Louis Rams was their 74th season in the NFL, their 17th overall season in St. Louis, and the third season headed by coach Steve Spagnuolo. This season was largely disappointing for their fans as the Franchise failed to improve on their 7–9 NFL record from the past year (2010). In fact, one day after the 2011 season finale, their head coach, Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney, their general manager were abruptly fired.
St. Louis Ram’s offence was rated as one of the worst in the NFL in 2011. They only scored 193 points (12.1 points for each game), came last in the league, and hit the lowest 30 ever since the NFL went to 16 matches in 1978. Their poor -214 point differential came last in the 2011 league.
20. 2000 San Diego Chargers
The 2000 Chargers season started with the Franchise making an effort to improve on their 1999 record at 8–8. Rather than succeeding in this, the team failed its first eleven matches before they had their first and only win of the season (by just one point). This season is considered the worst NFL record in the Franchise’s history.
Nevertheless, the Chargers gained the 1st overall pick in the 2001 season’s draft. They would later trade this reward to the Atlanta Falcons for another consisting of draft picks and pro wide receiver Tim Dwight.
19. 1971 Buffalo Bills
The 1971 Buffalo Bills season started in a frenzy when head coach John Rauch quit, causing the team’s pro personnel director Harvey Johnson to take up the vacant position. This was the second time Harvey Johnson took up the position on an interim basis.
Unfortunately, Buffalo failed their first ten matches of the season, sadly prolonging their losing streak to 15. This failure also extended their winless streak to 17, dating far back to the last season. The Bills were scoreless in four matches and their minus-210 point differential is regarded as the worst in the Franchise’s history. It is also one of the worst in the history of the NFL.
18. 1982 Baltimore Colts
The 1982 Baltimore Colts season is another peacefully miserable stretch in the NFL, as the team was winless throughout the season. This season was the 30th for the Franchise in the NFL, and their penultimate football season in Baltimore.
The team wrapped up the NFL 1982 season with a very poor record of 0 wins, 8 sad losses and just 1 tie. They also came fifth in the whole AFC East division. The ’82 Colts team were considered the last winless league in the whole of the NFL until their winless record was broken by the 2008 Detroit Lions.
17. 2006 Oakland Raiders
The 2006 Oakland Raiders season finished off with the team suffering extensively through their 2–14 campaign. Initially, the Franchise expected an improvement from their poor 4–12 performance in 2005, however, the 2006 season left them in tears.
Their performance is considered the worst record in the whole 2006 NFL season, which was the worst season since the league went 1–13 in 1962. Since the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl XXXVII, they’ve held a four-year total record of just 15–49. This is considered the worst in the National Football League over that span.
16. 1972 New England Patriots
The ‘72 NFL season had the New England Patriots finishing with a total record of just three wins and eleven defeats. They also ended up being the last position in the whole AFC East division.
After suffering 31–7 in their home opening game against Cincinnati, the team would win their next two games played against Atlanta and Washington. Nevertheless, the Patriots would resume their mid-season suffering, losing nine straight games before they win their first and only game against the Saints.
14. 1976 New York Jets
The New York Jets’ experienced a terrible NFL season in 1976 under their new head coach, Lou Holtz. This season, which was the 17th football season for the club, started with the Jets trying to improve on its last performance (a 3–11 record held from 1975). Unfortunately, the Jets again finished with their last record of just 3–11, which was combined with the exit of Lou Holtz before the season ended. The only squads that the Jets managed to defeat in the 1976 NFL season were the Buffalo Bills (2-12) and the Bay Buccaneers (0-14).
13. 2010 Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers had a rough season in 2010 under coach John Fox. This season, which was the team’s 16th Football season in the NFL, started out with the team trying to make better their previous 8–8 record from 2009. However, they failed to improve and finished off with a poor record of 2–14, which officially eliminated the club from postseason contention in just Week 11.
The 2010 Panthers season in the NFL is considered the team’s worst NFL record since 2001 when the Franchise went 1–15.
12. 1986 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The ‘86 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season kicked off with the club trying to make better their last record when they finished with 2-14. This is regarded as one of the worst seasons the franchise has experienced. In fact, some people argue that the 1986 Buccaneers team was far worse than their 1976 winless team.
11. 1980 New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints had a terrible 1980 season. They couldn’t improve on their last season’s outcome of 8-8, gaining a victory in just one game. The Saints didn’t qualify for the playoffs for their fourteenth season and had a questionable distinction of not only gaining a victory in a single game but also winning the game by just a single point.
Disappointed fans named their team “the Aints”, and showed their displeasure by showing up to matches wearing brown bags over their heads. In shame, the fans tagged themselves “the Unknown Fan”, a practice that grew to become the popular trademark of disappointed fans across different sports in the USA. The ‘80 Saints team still continues to maintain the worst regular NFL season record by a squad whose stadium served as a host to the Super Bowl that season.
10. 2009 St. Louis Rams
The 2009 St. Louis Rams season was the club’s 72nd season in NFL, and their 15th season in St. Louis. Since the Rams only won against the Detroit Lions, they wrapped up with the worst record in NFL at 1–15. This earned them the first overall selection in the next season’s draft (2010 NFL Draft). The ‘09 team was headed by coach Steve Spagnuolo, which made it his first season as a team’s head coach.
9. 1973 Houston Oilers
The 1973 Houston Oilers team had a pretty rough season. This season was their fourth in the NFL and their 14th overall. The Franchise matched their last season’s outcome of just 1–13. They blew off the playoffs for the fourth straight season, which also counted as Houston’s second-successive 1-13 NFL record. Head coach Bill Peterson exited the team after a sad 0-5 start, and he was shortly replaced by Football coaching veteran, Sid Gillman. Gillman went 1-8 to finish off the NFL season.
The team’s offence struggled greatly in 1973 and ranked last in rushing yards ( with 1388), the second-worst team in yards per play (3.9), and the third-worst team in both total yards (3307).
Statistically, The ’73 Oilers also had one of the most inadequate defenses of all time. They surrendered 447 points during this season, which is considered the most given-up points for a 14-match season during the merger era (1970-1977).
8. 1991 Indianapolis Colts
In 1991, the Indianapolis Colts finished off the NFL’s season with a bad record of just 1 win and 15 losses. They also finished in the fifth position in the AFC East division. The poor 1–15 record is regarded as one of the worst outcomes in NFL History. For this reason, they make our list of the worst NFL teams.
7. 1981 Baltimore Colts
The 1981 Baltimore Colts season was the Franchise’s 29th season in the National Football League. They finished off the NFL’s 1981 season with a poor record of just 2 wins and 14 losses. The team also finished fourth in the AFC East division in a tie with the New England Patriots. However, the Colts still finished ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East game based on a head-to-head sweep (with 2–0). The successes over New England happened in the first and last matches of the season, as Baltimore was defeated in 14 games in between their victories.
6. 2017 Cleveland Browns
The 2017 Cleveland Browns football season was the team’s 69th season as a professional sports team and the club’s 65th season as one of the members of the NFL. The ‘17 team was headed by coach Hue Jackson and managed by Sashi Brown.
The Browns could not improve from their 1–15 record from the last season. In fact, they lost all sixteen matches in 2017 and continued their losing streak dating to the last match of the earlier season. They came to be the second team in the history of the NFL to go 0–16 behind the 2008 Detroit Lions. The Cleveland Browns were the twelfth NFL squad to have gone without any win playing eight matches or more and the fourth team to do this since the NFL merger in 1970.
With the 0–16 outcome, the Browns are recorded as the first franchise in the history of the NFL to have numerous seasons with at least 15 or more losses. Also, they are noted as the first team to start straight seasons with a minimum of 14 losses.
5. 1999 Cleveland Browns
The 1999 Cleveland Brown’s season in the NFL marked their return after a brief three-year absence. This season also celebrated the return of football as a sport to the city of Cleveland ever since the last season in 1995 season. The 1999 Browns team, coached by Chris Palmer, blew off the playoffs after they finished off the NFL regular season in 6th position with a 2-14 record.
4. 2000 Cleveland Browns
The 2000 Cleveland Browns season was the club’s 48th season as a member of the National Football League. The team finished the NFL regular season with a record of 3-13. Unfortunately, they went 2-6 at home and an outcome of 1-7 on the road. Their longest losing streak during the 2000 NFL regular season was 7 matches. The Franchise’s total offence was rated 31st in the NFL, while their total defense was ranked 26th.
3. 2008 Detroit Lions
The 2008 Detroit Lions season was the team’s 79th season in the NFL. Although the Lions expected to improve on their 2007 record of 7-9, they became the first NFL squad to go 0-16. This makes them arguably one of the worst NFL teams.
The Lions were mathematically removed from playoff contention just after Week 11. Matt Millen, the Team’s president and CEO was sacked on September 24, while Rod Marinelli, the head coach and almost all his assistants were sacked one day after the 2008 season ended. This season was famous because just one match was arranged in the final game (Week 6). The 2008 Detroit Lions season is recorded as the Franchise’s worst season ever. Statistically, it is ranked the worst season ever in the NFL.
2. 1990 New England Patriots
The 1990 New England Patriots season was the squad’s 31st, and 21st season as a member of the NFL. This was the first season for the Patriot’s head coach, Rod Rust. It was also his only season.
The team finished off the season with a bad record of just one win and fifteen defeats. They also finished in the last position in the AFC East division. Notably, the Patriots were defeated by the Washington Redskins in a nationally televised game. The team was down by 9–0 without their opponents running any single offensive play.
The Franchise’s negative-265 point differential (just 181 points scored and 446 points surrendered) was rated as the worst aggregate of the 1990s. The ‘90 Patriots team is one of only two squads in the history of the NFL to compete in 11 games in one season in which they were unable to lead at any point during the entire game.
1. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Due to their losses, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers is ranked as the worst NFL team. The ‘76 season was the team’s foremost season in the NFL with the squad coached by John McKay. They played their home matches at Tampa Stadium, headed by coach John McKay. The Buccaneers quickly gained humiliation as the first squad in the NFL to play a full 14-match season without succeeding or tying in a single match (including extra five games where the Buccaneers never even scored a point).
In fact, the team did not score any goal until their third match and was unable to score a touchdown till their fourth game. They lost far more than just a touchdown at least eleven times. The franchise finished off with 0–14 at the end of the 1976 NFL season.
Based on past records, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are regarded as the worst NFL Team in the history of the league, wrapping up with an outcome of a 0-14 record. The team also blew off the playoffs after finishing off the NFL regular season in the 5th position in the AFC West. To date, their record as the worst team in the history of the NFL remains undefeated by any other team.
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