History has a way of repeating itself — even though oftentimes it isn’t much fun to relive.
It’s a concept the 2019 Miami Dolphins are surely getting acquainted with, the Fish — I know, dolphins are mammals — getting off to perhaps the worst start the NFL has ever seen in its 100 seasons. Miami is 0-4 and has been outscored 163-26, a margin that includes being collectively whitewashed 81-0 after halftime. That negative-137 scoring margin already has this team halfway to the worst differential ever accrued in a 16-game season … only one quarter of the way into the schedule.
But before we begin wondering if the ’19 Dolphins will live on the opposite extreme of the NFL spectrum from their 17-0 1972 brethren, let’s pause to consider that the football gods may be smiling on Josh Rosen and Co. Coming off its bye week, Miami will host the equally winless Washington Redskins, who just fired coach Jay Gruden and probably wish they had a quarterback as good as Rosen at their disposal.
Still, the ‘Skins are favored by 3½. And with Sam Darnold returning from mono, it doesn’t appear the Dolphins will get two cracks at the heretofore hapless (and equally winless) Jets.
(Did I fail to mention the Cincinnati Bengals? Equally winless at 0-5 … though as I think about this “equally winless” thing a bit more, the Jets and Dolphins are merely 0-4.)
As we obsess over this game in South Florida that no one deserves to win, we also continue celebrating the NFL’s 100th season, which USA TODAY Sports helped kick off by ranking the 100 greatest teams in league history. Only seems fair we’d also list the 100 worst — and every current franchise is represented with the exception of the Ravens, who have never subjected their fans to the true depths of football misery in their 24-year existence.
Bit of a change this time as we work our way down to the NFL’s most hapless crew and re-familiarize you with the other dregs of this football century along the way:
100. 1920 APFA Muncie Flyers (0-1): Let’s rewind to the beginning, all the way back to the NFL’s first official season (when it was still known as the American Professional Football Association). Muncie played once … and lost 45-0, victimized by the Rock Island Independents in the fledgling league’s second game. The Flyers managed to schedule one more contest that year, but it was rained out. They returned for two games in 1921 but were shut out each time and never again appeared in football’s premier league.
99. 2005 Saints (3-13): They deserve resilience points for winning three times despite being displaced the entire season by Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans’ “home” games occurred at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium, San Antonio’s Alamodome and Baton Rouge’s Tiger Stadium. Silver lining: Drew Brees and Sean Payton arrived a few months later.
98. 2007 Falcons (4-12): There have been significantly more abject teams on the field. But off of it? In the aftermath of Michael Vick’s imprisonment for dogfighting, Atlanta tried to get by with recycled first-round QBs Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich. Then, first-year coach Bobby Petrino bolted after 13 games, returning to the NCAA for Arkansas’ top job. Leaving a form letter to explain his departure made already miserable players angry. Fun times.
97. 2002 Houston Texans (4-12): Considering they were an expansion franchise, it was actually a fairly respectable season — one that kicked off with a 19-10 upset of the cross-state Cowboys. But Andre Johnson wouldn’t arrive for another year. Expansion draft LT Tony Boselli never arrived … and that was a particularly cruel blow to No. 1 draft pick David Carr, who never recovered from the beating he took while enduring a single-season record 76 sacks.
96. 1969 Bears (1-13): Despite having Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, no squad in 100 seasons of Bears football had fewer wins. Still, despite the record, they were generally competitive most Sundays.
95. 2001 Panthers (1-15): Rarely bad, even Carolina’s solitary one-win edition — it lost every game after a victorious opener — averaged a respectable 11.2 points per defeat.
94. 2016 Los Angeles Rams (4-12): After concluding their two-decade hitch in St. Louis with a truly miserable stretch of football, they sprung to a 3-1 start under QB Case Keenum while kicking off their L.A. repatriation. But they lost 11 of their final 12, coach Jeff Fisher getting fired during that tailspin while No. 1 pick Jared Goff offered a bust-worthy first impression.
93. 1978 Baltimore Colts (5-11): Stud QB Bert Jones had begun breaking down, though he did return to gut out two wins late in the season. But there was no overcoming a start in which the Colts lost their first two games by a combined 80-0.
92. 2009 Oakland Raiders (5-11): They were 3-4 in games that QB JaMarcus Russell didn’t start. Unfortunately for them, the former No. 1 pick was on the field extensively. Fortunately for them, he was so brutal that he played (and ate) himself out of the NFL that year.
91. 1984 Indianapolis Colts (4-12): After the franchise stole out of Baltimore in the middle of the night, fans in Indy had to be wondering why they bothered stealing it in the first place.
90. 1999 Saints (3-13): Coach Mike Ditka was fired after the season, one that began with him trading his entire draft (and more) in order to select Ricky Williams.
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89. 2016 49ers (2-14): For drastically different reasons, it remains the last time anyone saw Colin Kaepernick or Chip Kelly employed on an NFL sideline, Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem — whether or not you agree with him — stirring a season-long controversy.
88. 1983 Houston Oilers (2-14): Earl Campbell’s last full ride with the team was squandered with QBs Gifford Nielsen, Oliver Luck (Andrew’s dad) and a washed-up Archie Manning under center.
88a. 1984 Houston Oilers (3-13): Matters only improved marginally a year later, even with Warren Moon joining the fold.
87. 1962 Vikings (2-11-1): The second year of the franchise’s existence, this remains the only Minnesota team — despite the presence of Fran Tarkenton and Jim Marshall — that failed to win three games.
86. 2014 Oakland Raiders (3-13): Epic draft class with Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson. But they couldn’t prevent Dennis Allen from getting fired after an 0-4 start nor really help a team whose losses came by an average margin of 16.6 points.
85. 1993 Indianapolis Colts (4-12): The good news is that it marked the end of QB Jeff George’s tenure and brought Jim Harbaugh’s arrival the following year.
84. 1998 Eagles (3-13): The good news is that it marked the end of Ray Rhodes’ tenure and brought Andy Reid’s arrival the following year.
83. 1970 Saints (2-11-1): Just imagine if Tom Dempsey hadn’t kicked his then-record 63-yard FG to beat Detroit 19-17 that November.
82. 2006 Oakland Raiders (2-14): Shame Art Shell returned to coach this group, which parlayed its record into the regrettable decision to draft Russell.
81. 2005 Houston Texans (2-14): Outscored by a franchise-worst 171 points, their best player was RB Domanick Williams. Remember him? Didn’t think so.
80. 2000 San Diego Chargers (1-15): The only time the Bolts finished with a single win, the recovery began instantly when LaDainian Tomlinson was drafted the next spring.
79. 2014 Tennessee Titans (2-14): Worst they’ve been in terms of wins and point differential (minus-184) since relocating to Nashville. Former first-round QB Jake Locker, then 26, had so much fun that year, he decided not to play football anymore.
78. 2011 Buccaneers (4-12): Worst Tampa team in the post-Creamsicle era, their 3-1 start was undone by a defense that surrendered the most points in the league and the unraveling of presumed franchise QB Josh Freeman.
77. 2011 Indianapolis Colts (2-14): When you build a team around Peyton Manning, but he can’t play … this is what happens — they couldn’t even beat the ’11 Bucs. At least the timing of Curtis Painter and Co. was impeccable, their crash and burn allowing Indy to pluck Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft.
76. 1984 Vikings (3-13): Probably the worst team in Minnesota’s history, as none gave up more points (484) or had a worse differential (208). Les Steckel was so bad in his only year as a head coach, Bud Grant came out of retirement in 1985.
75. 1975 Bears (4-10): Despite having a rookie named Walter Payton, no squad in 100 seasons of Bears football was outscored by more points (188).
74. 1992 Seahawks (2-14): Horrible Seattle teams are few and far between, but this is the only one that lost 14 times. It also scored a paltry 8.8 points per game, worst ever over a 16-game season. Somehow, DT Cortez Kennedy managed to win defensive player of the year honors … probably helped that he was on the field all the time.
73. 1998 Bengals (3-13): Cincinnati has seen a lot of bad football, but a team coached by Bruce Coslet and quarterbacked by Neil O’Donnell distinguished itself by getting outscored by 184 points.
73a. 1999 Bengals (4-12): The next year, Coslet and QB Jeff Blake added a win and cut the total point differential by … seven points.
73b. 2000 Bengals (4-12): Finally, QB Akili Smith got Coslet fired.
72. 1966 Broncos (4-10): Denver was a truly terrible operation during its initial years in the American Football League, winning four or fewer games in seven of its first eight seasons. And the losses were almost always decisive. Despite getting four victories in the first season of the Super Bowl era, the Broncos averaged nearly 21 points per defeat.
71. 1967 Dolphins (4-10): Miami’s second year was its worst, the Fins losing by 24.6 per week during an eight-game slide that began after a season-opening win. They were outscored by 188 points overall, worst in club history.
70. 1962 Oakland Raiders (1-13 ): The only time in 60 seasons they didn’t win at least twice.
69. 2002 Bengals (2-14): Remarkably, this is the only Cincinnati team that didn’t reach the three-win plateau. Coach Dick LeBeau was replaced by Marvin Lewis in 2003.
68. 2007 Dolphins (1-15): Nearly as remarkable, this is the only Miami outfit that didn’t reach the three-win plateau (for now). Then the Fins passed on Matt Ryan to kick off the 2008 draft.
67. 1996 Jets (1-15): Sticking with the theme, this is the only NYJ group that didn’t reach the three-win plateau. The presence of No. 1 pick Keyshawn Johnson didn’t help much, and Peyton Manning’s decision to stay at Tennessee led the Jets to dump the top pick of the 1997 draft.
66. 2012 Jaguars (2-14): One more time — the only time Jacksonville didn’t reach the three-win plateau.
66a. 2013 Jaguars (4-12): The Jags won twice as many games in the subsequent season, but this was the only time they were outscored by 200-plus points.
65. 1968 Bills (1-12-1): Buffalo’s only one-win AFL effort got them O.J. Simpson atop the 1969 draft.
64. 2004 49ers (2-14): The coach was Dennis Erickson. The quarterbacks were Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey. The top skills guys were RB Kevan Barlow and TE Eric Johnson — yes, Jessica Simpson’s husband. You get it.
64a. 2005 49ers (4-12): And these were the guys who used that hard-earned No. 1 pick on Alex Smith instead of Aaron Rodgers. You don’t get it … and neither does anyone else.
63. 1963 Broncos (2-11-1): Denver was 2-2 after four games but didn’t win again. Four quarterbacks started.
62. 1985 Bills (2-14): Pretty horrid — 52 turnovers! — while waiting for Jim Kelly to leave the USFL.
61. 1984 Bills (2-14): Pretty horrid while waiting for Jim Kelly to leave the USFL and Bruce Smith to leave Virginia Tech.
60. 1961 Broncos (3-11): Played and dressed poorly — you’ll remember the gold and brown vertically striped socks — allowing 37 points four times in their season-ending seven-game slide.
59. 2018 Arizona Cardinals (3-13): They had Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Chandler Jones and David Johnson … and still somehow managed to be the league’s worst team.
58. 1936 Eagles (1-11): Philadelphia began the year by picking No. 1 in the first-ever NFL draft, selecting Jay Berwanger, the inaugural Heisman Trophy winner. The Eagles also beat the Giants 10-7 in the season opener. Otherwise? They lost the rest of their games and never did reach a deal with Berwanger.
57. 1980 Saints (1-15): They beat the Jets 21-20 at Shea Stadium in Week 15 for their first win — narrowly avoiding the league’s first 0-16 campaign. The worst of the Ain’ts, as no New Orleans team was outscored this badly (196 points).
56. 2010 Panthers (2-14): This was the Jimmy Clausen-led team that got John Fox fired and Cam Newton drafted.
55. 2011 St. Louis Rams (2-14): America may not have properly recognized how bad the post-Greatest Show On Turf Rams teams really were. As bad as this installment was, not even close to some of its relatives. More on this later …
54. 1964 Broncos (2-11-1): Scoring the fewest points and allowing the most in the AFL’s fifth season will land you on the list, Denver’s 198-point differential its worst ever.
53. 1963 49ers (2-12): Ranked last in both total offense and total defense and their dozen losses came by an average of 17.2 points.
52. 1975 Saints (2-12): A microcosm of the Archie Manning years, they were sunk by an offense that produced the fewest points and yards in the league … despite Manning’s otherworldly talent.
51. 1973 San Diego Chargers (2-11-1): To think, they had Johnny Unitas and Deacon Jones (plus rookie Dan Fouts). The lowest scoring team in club annals, no team in Bolts history had a bigger gap between points scored (188) and allowed (386).
50. 1976 Seahawks (2-12): The worst club in Seattle history, even with WR Steve Largent and QB Jim Zorn, was also the first. But it wasn’t the ugliest expansion club that year. More on this later …
49. 1972 Eagles (2-11-1): Welp. They were good at receiver (Harold Jackson and Harold Carmichael), but without anyone to throw to them, Philly was outscored (by 207 points) like it never has been before or since.
48. 1941 Steelers (1-9-1): They opened with seven consecutive defeats and finished with a flourish, dropping their final two games by a combined score of 89-14.
47. 1939 Chicago Cardinals (1-10): Fairly competitive in the season’s first half, they dropped their final six games by a combined score of 175-28.
46. 1976 Jets (3-11): Coach Lou Holtz made his players learn a fight song, then fled to Arkansas with a game left to play — doubtless planting a seed for Petrino 31 years later. No other Jets squad was outscored by this many points (214).
46a. 1975 Jets (3-11): The previous year’s Jets were only slightly more competitive. Together, these two teams chewed up and spit out four head coaches.
45. 1969 Steelers (1-13): “Mean Joe” Greene was their first-round pick, and he enjoyed victory in his debut. Then … nothing. But this woeful season put Pittsburgh in position to draft Terry Bradshaw No. 1 the following year.
44. 1942 Lions (0-11): Hate to harp on teams playing when the league was largely gutted of talent during World War II. But going winless with the average loss by more than 20 points is notably inept.
44a. 1946 Lions (1-10): With the war over, Detroit found the win column — once.
43. 1948 Lions (2-10): Two years later, Detroit doubled its win total but its losses were by an average of 21.4 points. Negative progress.
42. 1954 Chicago Cardinals (2-10): They won one fewer game than their peers in Washington that year, but the Cards’ scoring differential was 61 points better. And having Ollie Matson, Charley Trippi and Night Train Lane counts for something.
41. 1987 Falcons (3-12): Their strike scabs actually made them more competitive. Atlanta’s “regulars” went 2-10 and lost their games by an average of 22.3 points.
40. 1944 Card-Pitt (0-10): Though the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Cardinals merged for one season during the height of WWII — it wasn’t a ridiculous notion given the 1943 “Steagles” (a mixed Pittsburgh and Philadelphia squad) went a respectable 5-4-1 — their combined talent produced nary a win and an average margin of defeat of 22 points.
40a. 1943 Chicago Cardinals (0-10): Didn’t win and were, on average, two TDs worse than the opposition. Hence the need for Card-Pitt …
40b. 1945 Chicago Cardinals (1-9): They won once following the Card-Pitt experiment, an obvious turnaround … and their first triumph since 1942.
39. 1965 Steelers (2-12): Pittsburgh’s final team before the dawn of the Super Bowl era exemplifies what a wayward franchise this was before Lombardi Trophies were at stake. Giving up 195 more points than they scored was a low-water mark pre-Curtain.
38. 1921 APFA Tonawanda Kardex (0-1): What a name, right? Wouldn’t you love to see the league market “Tonawanda Kardex” gear — the club was also dubbed the Lumbermen — circa 2019? But let’s not digress … much further. No NFL team had a shorter stint than Tonawanda Kardex, which played one game. The Lumbermen, who were based in Upstate New York, were blown out 45-0 by the Rochester Jeffersons and never heard from again.
37. 1934 Cincinnati Reds (0-8): They must have shown up with bats and gloves, dropping their games by an average of 29.1 points while getting shut out six times. The Reds’ final game was a 64-0 loss to the Eagles that marked the end of their NFL membership.
36. 1924 Rochester Jeffersons (0-7): Winless and outscored 156-7.
35. 1923 Rochester Jeffersons (0-4): Winless and outscored 141-6 in basically half the time — their average defeat by 33.8 points (compared to a meager 21.3 the following season). Ah, the Roaring Twenties.
34. 1990 Browns (3-13): They gave up 462 points, more than any other team in the 1990s. Their losses came by an average of 19 points, one reason Bud Carson lost his job at midseason. Perhaps just mental fatigue after losing the AFC Championship Game to the Broncos in three of the previous four years.
33. 1970 Patriots (2-12): The last year they’d be known as the “Boston Patriots” would not be one to remember. Well, maybe not true given Joe Kapp, Jim Nance and Co. were doing a lot of that losing at Harvard Stadium.
32. 1986 Buccaneers (2-14): They kicked off the year by drafting Bo Jackson, who made good on his threat to never play for an organization he believed cost him his baseball eligibility at Auburn. Then a young Steve Young proceeded to lose 12 of his 14 starts.
31. 1971 Bills (1-13): No Buffalo team was more thoroughly dominated (outscored by 210 points), partially because O.J. hadn’t hit his stride yet.
30. 1958 Packers (1-10-1): In 99 NFL seasons, only one Green Bay team has finished with one win. Yep, this one. But it was worth it — coach Ray McLean was replaced by Vince Lombardi the next year.
29. 1961 Redskins (1-12-1): A win over Dallas in the regular-season finale salvaged the season. Sort of.
28. 1961 Oakland Raiders (2-12): No Oakland team was ever outscored by more (221 points). They didn’t even resemble the Raiders, their gold and black uniforms closer to Pittsburgh’s look and their “home” games at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
27. 2012 Chiefs (2-14): Easily the least-competitive team this proud franchise has ever fielded. Despite Jamaal Charles’ brilliance, the Matt Cassel era ended with a thud … which included 12 losses in the final 13 games — and a four-game skid to end the season when K.C. was thrashed 103-23 collectively.
26. 1954 Redskins (3-9): Sure, they prevailed a quarter of the time. But when they didn’t … Washington’s margin of defeat in its nine losses was 27.6 points, including a 62-3 rout courtesy of the Browns.
25. 1968 Falcons (2-12): Atlanta’s third installment wasn’t very good, ranking last in the NFL in both total offense and defense and outscored at more than a two-to-one clip.
24. 1966 Falcons (3-11): Atlanta’s inaugural installment was worse, losing its first nine games while scoring the fewest points and allowing the most yards in the league … while getting outscored at more than a two-to-one clip.
23. 1967 Falcons (1-12-1): But Atlanta’s second installment? Truly the pits, the organization suffering it’s only one-win season while getting outscored by a franchise-record 247 points … and easily at a rate exceeding a two-to-one clip. They scored the fewest points and gave up the most while surrendering the most yards and gaining the fewest.
22. 1949 Packers (2-10): Curly Lambeau’s final season on the sideline was perhaps the worst in franchise history, Green Bay’s minus-215 point differential still the worst in its record book. The Pack’s average margin of defeat was 23.6 points, and all of their losses had at least a 14-point spread.
21. 1972 Patriots (3-11): Their 52-0 loss to the famed ’72 Dolphins is still the worst in club history. And New England’s negative 254-point differential was the second worst ever by a team playing a 14-game schedule. More on this later …
20. 1989 Cowboys (1-15): Legendary coach Tom Landry got sacked by new owner Jerry Jones … though opposing quarterbacks were rarely in such jeopardy. The hostile takeover by Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson quickly bore a dynasty, but they almost didn’t survive the lone 1-15 campaign America’s Team has ever endured.
19. 1999 Browns (2-14): Cleveland’s expansion return after a four-year absence didn’t go well. It marked the only time the Browns failed to win three games … in the 20th Century anyway.
18. 1982 Baltimore Colts (0-8-1): You wonder how bad it might have gotten had the strike not truncated this campaign. Their first-round pick was soon-to-be notorious QB Art Schlichter, though Mike Pagel started every game, engineering an average deficit of 15.4 points. Both would have been replaced by John Elway in 1983 had he not forced his way out of Baltimore … right before the Colts did the same.
17. 2003 Arizona Cardinals (4-12): They’ve got a case as the worst club in franchise history — which is saying something since the Cards are one of the NFL’s two remaining charter members … though admittedly these Pac-10 teams that toiled at Sun Devil Stadium all blur together. WR Anquan Boldin was a rookie star, but he couldn’t prevent losses that averaged 20-point margins.
16. 2000 Arizona Cardinals (3-13): They’ve got a case as the worst club in franchise history — which is saying something since the Cards are one of the NFL’s two remaining charter members … though admittedly these Pac-10 teams that toiled at Sun Devil Stadium all blur together. Pat Tillman was still patrolling the secondary, but he couldn’t prevent the Cards from being outscored by 233 points, worst in team history.
15. 2008 St. Louis Rams (2-14): You’d think a team with Torry Holt, Steven Jackson and Marc Bulger couldn’t be this bad, but they dropped 10 in a row to end the season and lost by an average margin of 18.2 points. But it gets worse. More on this later …
14. 1966 Giants (1-12-1): The G-Men have been around since 1925. This is the only time they didn’t reach two wins. Their minus-238 point differential is also easily the worst in franchise history. New York finished last in the Eastern Conference, 1½ games behind the expansion Falcons.
13. 2000 Browns (3-13): Even with consecutive No. 1 draft picks (QB Tim Couch and DE Courtney Brown), they managed to be worse than the previous season’s expansion effort. Cleveland’s 258-point differential remains the worst in team history, and the Browns’ 13 losses came by an average of 22 points. They were also shut out four times, including a 48-0 scrubbing from Jacksonville.
12. 1991 Indianapolis Colts (1-15): After dealing to get mercurial George atop the previous year’s draft, they sure weren’t expecting the only 1-15 season the team has ever had. Like they did for the 1980 Saints, the Jets saved the Colts from the ignominy of the first-ever 0-16 season … though not before Ron Meyer was fired.
11. 1949 New York Bulldogs (1-10-1): Their losses occurred by an average of more than 22 points — though a 65-20 drubbing from the Cardinals took the cake. The following year, they were rechristened the New York Yanks. And after the 1951 season, they were no longer in the NFL.
10. 1990 Patriots (1-15): It wasn’t always hunky-dory for the New England faithful. Not only did these Pats produce the only 1-15 record the club has everr suffered, they got outscored by 265 points on the way. The 446 points allowed were a team record, too. Worst of all, allegations that several players sexually harassed Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson in the locker room added an ugly layer to a train wreck of a campaign.
9. 1950 Baltimore Colts (1-11): Not to be confused with the familiar Colts of Unitas, Manning and Luck, this separate entry lasted just one year in the NFL after coming over from the defunct All-America Football Conference (AAFC). But they went out in a blaze of glory, the only team in league history to allow at least 50 points in four regular-season games, including a 70-27 loss to the Rams. The Colts stunk despite having familiar names, including future Hall of Famers Y.A. Tittle and Art Donovan.
8. 1952 Dallas Texans (1-11): Not to be confused with the AFL’s Dallas Texans (who later became the Kansas City Chiefs). These Texans lasted just one year in the NFL — financial issues forced them to leave Texas midway through the season as they hopscotched to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and and Akron, Ohio — before they ultimately became established as the Baltimore Colts in 1953. Entertaining Donovan and legendary Gino Marchetti were both on the roster (and later became Colts mainstays). But first, these Texans lost their games by an average of 22.6 points and surrendered 35.6 per week.
7. 1960 Cowboys (0-11-1): Unlike the aforementioned Dallas Texans, the Cowboys eventually made the NFL thrive in the Lone Star State. Yet unlike those Texans, these maiden Cowboys, quarterbacked mostly by Eddie LeBaron, couldn’t win a game.
6. 1973 Houston Oilers (1-13): If you ever want to see an overmatched coach failed by eloquence, look up the old NFL Films clips of Bill Peterson. As for the X’s and O’s, Houston suffered its only (non-strike) one-win seasons under Peterson — in consecutive years. The ’73 team was outscored by 248 points and lost its games by an average of 19.4. Poor Dan Pastorini and Elvin Bethea … though colorful No. 1 overall pick John Matuszak probably deserved this.
6a. 1972 Houston Oilers (1-13): Peterson’s first Houston effort was only about two points better per week. While going 2-26 and getting outscored by nearly 500 points over these two seasons, very strong argument this is the worst two-year stretch any club in league history has ever weathered.
5. 2017 Browns (0-16): Going 0-16 will get you into the top (bottom?) five … especially when the analytics steer you way from Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and any number of other capable players. But it most be noted that Hue Jackson’s team only lost by 11 points a week, so they weren’t just rolling over.
5a. 2016 Browns (1-15): In fact, their average margin of defeat was 12.7 points. But at least they contributed a victory to a team that went an unparalleled 1-31 over two years.
4. 2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15): These dudes again, though this is truly the nadir of football in the Gateway City. It marks the only time the Rams have ever gone 1-15, and they lost by an average of 17.9 points — an epic failure during the salary cap era. And drafting Sam Bradford the following spring merely proved another mirage. Theory: These Rams teams have been spared their deserved denunciation because of what happened in Detroit the previous year. More on this later …
3. 1981 Baltimore Colts (2-14): Since the 16-game schedule went into effect in 1978, no team has been outscored by a worse margin than their 274-point gap. They were scorched for 533 points — no team has ever relinquished more. They lost by an average of nearly 20 points a week. And you can’t claim injuries on Bert Jones this time — he only missed one game. Weirdly, the Colts won their opener and regular-season finale by a combined three points, both victories against the Patriots — who, maybe not surprisingly, also went 2-14.
2. 2008 Lions (0-16): The first team to go 0-16, not all that easy when you have a superstar like Calvin Johnson on your side. Getting QB Matthew Stafford in the next draft only made them two wins better, though their margin of defeat worsened from 15.6 to 17. The grand culmination of the Matt Millen years.
1. 1976 Buccaneers (0-14): Football futility at its finest. They were outscored by 287 points (20.5 per game), the widest margin in NFL history. QB Steve Spurrier hastened his transformation into Head Ball Coach by going 0-12 with a passer rating of 57.1. WR Morris Owens was the top pass catcher (30 receptions, 390 yards). Just nothing future Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon could do to salvage a ship that sank at the dock. Tampa Bay was shut out five times and cracked 20 points only once (and never 21 points). Still, coach John McKay’s gallows humor makes it fun watching old “highlights” of the expansion Bucs, who would also lose their first 12 games of 1977, though in far more competitive fashion.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis