Every fan believes his team will achieve NFL glory, but the reality is that most teams will end up being disappointments.
Most of the time, this just means simple mediocrity, but every once in a while a team comes along that is so bad that it is remembered for all time, which is just as good as winning a Super Bowl, right? Right???
Well, they’re at least as entertaining, in a totally sick, bent way, but since we are totally sick, bent people, we thought it was about time these horrible teams were celebrated. They are the teams that depressed entire fan-bases, ran owners out of town, and in some cases, caused the team to fold up completely. Now that’s failure. Indeed, they are the nine worst NFL teams ever.
9. 1960 Dallas Cowboys
We’ll cut the Cowboys a little bit of a break since they were an expansion team in 1960 and so they were almost supposed to suck. But still, 0 wins is 0 wins, and given that that’s happened only 3 times in the last 70 years, that will earn you a spot on this list. Besides, who doesn’t want to make fun of the Cowboys for starting their history off as complete failures? For all their glitz and glamour (™Jerry Jones), never forget that they started life as an utter embarrassment. Nobody was a Cowboys fan back then, and it’s no wonder, given that the team lost every week by an average of 16 points. Even Tony Romo doesn’t fuck up that badly. But hey, at least they somehow managed to tie the New York Giants, which is something the Giants should have to apologize to the rest of us for until the end of time.
8. 1990 New England Patriots
Never forget that at one point, the proud Patriots were one of the most pathetic franchises in pro football. They actually managed to knock off the Indianapolis Colts in week 2, but it was all downhill from there, as the Patriots lost the rest of their games and were outscored on the season by a whopping 265 points, which is the third worst margin for an entire season ever. That’s, uh, that’s not good. But that’s what happens when you start a washed-up Marc Wilson at quarterback, a dude who couldn’t even make it out of training camp with the Packers a couple of years earlier. Thank God, or Buddha or Tom Brady or whoever for the Colts inexplicably shitting the bed in that week 2 “showdown”, I guess, or else that Patriots of 1990 might have taken the top spot on this sad list.
7. 1973 Houston Oilers
The 1973 Houston Oilers tried to rebound from a 1972 season that saw them win only 1 game. Somehow, it got even worse. The Oilers again only came away with 1 win, a November upset of the Cleveland Browns, but they didn’t even manage to be competitive in the rest of their games, losing by an average of 17.7 points per game, which is the second lousiest in the last 60 years. They had the worst defense in the league, and one of the worst offenses, which, uh, yeah, that’ll do it.
6. 2009 St. Louis Rams
The 2009 St. Louis Rams only managed a single victory, against the Detroit Lions (of course) who were themselves coming off their 2008 0-16 debacle. So yeah, the Rams were horrible. They had the worst offense in the league – at one point they were relying on a dude named Keith Null at quarterback, who may or may not have been a hobo they lured off of the streets – and their defense was the second worst. It all added up to the Rams being outscored on the season by 261 points, which is the 4th worst ever. Thank God for the Lions, eh?
5. 1934 Cincinnati Reds
The early days of pro football were so wild and convoluted, with some teams only playing 1 or 2 games, others as many as 18, and with franchises popping up and disappearing seemingly overnight, that you can’t really take any of it seriously. But there’s a limit. And there was no way I could let the 1934 Cincinnati Reds (what an original name!) slip by without some mocking. It’s not just that they didn’t win any games, it’s that they only scored 10 points the entire season. They gave up 243. Look man, I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that’s terrible. That means the average score of their games was 30-1. 1 point. Yeah, that was the last season for the Cincinnati Reds.
4. 1950 Baltimore Colts
This isn’t the same Colts that would later sneak away to Indianapolis in the middle of the night. No, this was a different Colts franchise, one that had just joined the NFL after the league absorbed the rival AAFC, and this version of the Colts was a horror show. They lost by an average margin of 20.8 points per game, which is the worst since World War II, and we won’t count any of those teams since with the players all off fighting Hitler, teams were almost literally playing with bums and rejects. The Colts of 1950, though, had no such excuse, and even though they managed to whip the Packers 41-21 (which just makes that horrible average margin of defeat even more damning, right?), the team was promptly disbanded. Now that’s a shitty football team.
3. 1952 Dallas Texans
The Dallas Texans? Yes, the Dallas Texans. Long before the Dallas Cowboys existed, and waaaay before the Houston Texans existed, there was the Dallas Texans. Actually, there were two versions of the Dallas Texans. This one, and a later one introduced in 1960 that later became the Kansas City Chiefs. I know it’s confusing, but try to keep up. Anyway, for the season, the Texans lost by an average margin of 20.4 points per game, which is the third worst mark in the last 70 years, but mere stats don’t tell the whole tale. Oh no. This one is really sad, and will take some explaining.
You see, the reason you probably haven’t heard of the OG Dallas Texans –and the reason the name was available only 8 years later – was because they were so horrible in 1952, their first year in Dallas, that as soon as the season was over, everyone involved said to hell with it and folded the team. At one point, they were even forced out of Dallas because no one cared, were relocated to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and somehow ended up playing their last home games in Akron, Ohio. Now that’s some depressing failure right there. While in Akron, they somehow managed to beat the Chicago Bears, but only because Bears coach George Halas was so sure his team would win that he played his reserves.
After that was over, the NFL tried to find a new buyer for the franchise, but nobody wanted any of that toxic mess, and so the Dallas Texans died and were quickly forgotten. Say what you will about the other teams on this list, even the other disbanded teams, at least they were able to finish out the season without getting evicted and sent to Akron. That’s just cruel.
2. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yes, they were an expansion team, and yes, that means they should probably get a bit of a break, but… no. Just… no. Aside from having the second worst record in history, they were outscored on the season by a total of 287 points, which is the worst all time. Ever. They had the worst offense in the league and the second worst defense, and they lost by an average margin of 20.5 points, which is the worst – by far – of the Super Bowl era. Funny side-note: the starting quarterback was a dude by the name of Steve Spurrier. Yes, that Steve Spurrier. Anyway, there are only two things saving them from the top spot on this list. One, they were an expansion team, and so you can kind of understand that they were awful – not that awful, but still – and two, even though they finished 0-14, there is another team that somehow managed to do even worse…
1. 2008 Detroit Lions
Sigh. Look, I’m going to upfront with you. I’m a Lions fan. I lived through this. It was horrible. And although the actual stats aren’t quite as bad as some of the other teams on this list, that just made the season more appalling. The Lions were a bad team, but what made them a legendarily bad team is that most of the other teams on this list were either expansion teams or they rose up and at least had enough pride to win 1 lousy game. But not the Lions. Oh no. Matt Millen’s boys managed to be the only team in NFL history to go 0-16, a ridiculous record that speaks for itself. This was not an expansion team. This was a team that almost made the playoffs the year before. There was no excuse for this. None. But it still happened, and that combination of unprecedented failure and an inability to truly account for its epic scale, is what makes the 2008 Detroit Lions the worst team in NFL history.