In any sport, there are good teams and there are bad teams. That is a given. Throughout history, most of those teams are forgotten. But, when a team is abnormally bad, it is remembered forever. The worst teams in NFL history are no different. Not just in the record books or in the hearts of their fans; but in the case of a few of these teams, they are remembered in the minds of every self-respecting football fan. So, who are those teams that we just can’t get out of our minds?
Worst Teams in NFL History
5 | 1999 Cleveland Browns
At number five on our list of the worst teams in NFL history is the 1999 Cleveland Browns. After putting their team on pause for three seasons (1996-1998), they returned to the NFL. When they returned, it was a brand new league as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers were two new expansion teams from the 1995 NFL season.
In Cleveland’s first season back, it seemed like they had a little bit of rust. Their overall record was 2-14 and they flirted with a winless record. In their first game, the Browns got a total of two first downs and 40 total yards in a 43-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In their first seven games in 1999, they went 0-7. They then beat the New Orleans Saints when quarterback Tim Couch threw a Hail Mary pass to Kevin Johnson. Their next and final victory of the season came against the Steelers in the rematch two weeks later. Cleveland won that game on a game-winning field goal. In the end, the Browns were outscored by 220 points on the season.
4 | 2000 Cleveland Browns
In the 2.0 era of the Cleveland Browns, 2000 was the Browns’ second year. If you were a fan of this Browns team you automatically assumed that your team was going to improve from their 2-14 record from 1999. Sadly, that didn’t happen, even though they had the number one pick. They chose defensive end, Courtney Brown who played a total of just 61 career games in the NFL, over Brian Urlacher, and Lavar Arrington, among others, and have regretted it since. Urlacher is in the Hall of Fame and Arrington went to three pro bowls during his seven-year NFL career.
3 | 2008 Detroit Lions
The 2008 Detroit Lions season was the final season for GM Matt Millen. Unfortunately, it was the worst season in the team’s long history and was also the final season for head coach Rod Marinelli who finished with a minus -249 scoring differential on the year. The Lions could actually be higher on our list of worst teams in NFL history, considering they were the first team to ever go 0-16.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson managed to have a 1300 receiving yard season even though the team used three quarterbacks (Daunte Culpeper, John Kitna, and Dan Orlovsky). Every quarterback that started for the Lions lost at least four games.
2 | 1990 New England Patriots
It’s hard to believe, considering all of the success the New England Patriots have had with former quarterback Tom Brady, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But, back in 1990, Brady was a 13-year old kid who was rooting for the 49ers. As for this version of the Patriots, they had the second longest-tenured quarterback in franchise history… Steve Grogan. Sadly, his career ended with a 1-15 team. Head coach Rod Rust was one-and-done. Rust did win the first game of the season but then proceeded to lose the next 15 straight. Rod finished his career with the third-worst margin of defeat for a season (-265).
1 | 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Number one on the list of worst teams in NFL history is the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lead by John McKay. They had an extremely depressing 0-14 season with the NFL’s worst roster in history. In what was already the first year for the fledgling franchise, injuries to key members furthered weekend the team even more. The Steve Spurrier-quarterbacked team came within one score just twice — once to the expansion Seahawks — and also lost five shutouts. The Bucs did not notch their first win until Week 13 of the next season, 1977.
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