Boy, did this take a while. In order to make this list, I had to go through all the 2-14 teams that have washed up since 1978, and my God, there are a lot more than I expected. Much more 2-14 teams exist than 3-13 teams, as I finished with around 20 teams and 16 finalists, which I had to cut down. That was like trying to decide which of my fingers I had to slice off.
So here we go, the Top 10 Worst 2-14 teams of all time.
Honorable Mentions (5)
1994 Houston Oilers (Point differential: -126)
The ’94 Oilers point differential of -126 was actually the best of the finalists of the list, and it was difficult to pry myself away from the fact that this disaster came straight after a 12-4 season in 1993. Angered by the frequent playoff choke-jobs the Oilers kept pulling, owner Bud Adams jettisoned all the team’s talent, including future Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. Houston ranked last in offense and 25th/28th in defense, and the three quarterbacks that were used to try and replace Moon were Cody Carlson, Bucky Richardson and Billy Joe Tolliver.
2006 Oakland Raiders (Point differential: -164)
The Raiders only scored 168 points in 2006, the 5th lowest all time for a 16 game schedule. Their defense was ranked 8th in the league though, creating a huge team gap. Their two quarterbacks, Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter, only threw 3 touchdown passes each the entire season.
2002 Cincinnati Bengals (Point differential: -177)
Rejoice, Bengal fans, even the worst team in franchise history doesn’t make an appearance on the list. The defense was awful, surrendering over 28.5 points per game, and the only player who wasn’t completely talentless on offense was Corey Dillon. Needless to say, Cincy lost their first 3 games by a combined score of 84-16. Cincinnati always found ways to screw themselves, with numerous game-winning drives faltering inside their opponent’s ten. The season will always be remembered for Peter Warrick’s infamous punt return fumble against Indianapolis.
2012 Jacksonville Jaguars (Point differential: -189)
In one of the ugliest seasons in recent memory, the toothless, mangy Jaguars combined an atrocious defense along with the quarterback tandem of Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert, who combined for 50 sacks and only won 1 game each. They only scored 5 rushing touchdowns the entire year.
2009 Lions (Point differential: -232)
The 2009 Lions were a team I took major, major consideration into adding to the list, but there was another team in 2008 who barely eeked it out and grabbed a spot on the list. More on that later. The 2009 Lions were coming off a season where it was literally as low as a team could go (0-16 in 2008), so it was impossible to do worse. Well, the defensively-challenged 2008 team sort of carried over to the 2009 team. They allowed 23 fewer points…but that only brought the grand total to 494. In their average game, Detroit was beaten by two touchdowns, but their estimated W-L record according to statistics is slightly higher than the previously mentioned 2008 team that made our list.
Now on to the real list!
10. The 1978 San Francisco 49ers (Point differential: -131)
O.J. Simpson gimping along in a 27-10 loss to the Rams.
The 49ers were 2-14 in both 1978 and 1979, but the 1978 team was slightly worse. In the offseason, San Francisco traded for O.J. Simpson, who had recently undergone knee surgery and was tremendously out of shape. As a result, the 49ers traded away some valuable stuff for what was essentially a pair of shoes. Simpson was the focal point of the offense, which was a terrible mistake. He couldn’t run anymore, and Simpson was never able to catch in his career. Steve DeBerg was also a turnover machine. The offense constantly put the defense in horrid position, while also placing last in the league in points scored, and still hold the record for most turnovers in a season (63).
9. The 1992 New England Patriots (Point differential: -158)
Oh, Hugh Millen. May history mercifully forget you.
The Patriots of the early 1990s were an absolute joke. From 1990 – 1993, they won only 14 games. The 1992 team is a horrendous one that really gets forgotten in NFL annals. Dick McPherson’s final year coaching the team was that year, and boy, did he have problems, starting 0-9. The offense was the biggest undoing, as the Patriots didn’t make it into their opponent’s redzone until Week 3 (the same week they caused their first turnover of the season) and only one of their quarterbacks eclipsed 1,000 yards (Hugh Millen, who went 0-7 as a starter). Four different quarterbacks started, and only one of them could win, Scott Zolak, who went 2-2 as a starter. These four combined for 19 interceptions, 65 sacks, and a grand total rating of 63.2. The running game was terrible, and the defense was pedestrian. Their point differential might not be awful, and some of the honorable mention teams are worse, but just because they were as putrid as they were to watch and because they’re the Patriots (I like to laugh at them), I’ll squeeze them in onto the list.
8. The 2004 San Francisco 49ers (Point differential: -193)
The entire season was a mess, just like this picture.
Dennis Erickson, I am disappoint. After being rehired to coach the 49ers, Erickson did a good job of destroying the franchise’s winning reputation. Their two starting quarterbacks, Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey, each only won a game each, both 31-28 overtime squeakers against division rival Arizona. The entire team was a complete disaster, it was like they didn’t know what to do. Nothing worked right, as San Francisco barely escaped an imperfect season. At the end of the season, Erickson was fired, and San Francisco promptly took Alex Smith No.1 overall, while Aaron Rodgers was still available.
7. The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs (Point differential: -214)
If there was any one photo to tell you how Kansas City played in 2012, it would be this picture of Matt Cassell getting crushed.
The Chiefs in 2012 had Jamaal Charles. That was it. There was no coaching, no talent around him, nothing. The Chiefs gave up more than twice as many points as they scored (211 – 425). Matt Cassell and Brady Quinn started 8 games each, both winning once, while piling up 20 interceptions to only 8 touchdowns, while taking 40 sacks. There was no defense to speak of, and Kansas City trudged through the awful season. However, in 2013, they improved to 11-5, proving to us all that sometimes even the worst of the worst can turn it around.
6. The 1992 Seattle Seahawks (Point differential: -172)
This sack on Stan Gelbaugh was probably the biggest gain Seattle had all year.
Boy, was this a confusing entry. The Seahawks might have had a nice point differential, but that can’t excuse their blasphemous offense, one that only scored 140 (8.8 per game) points the entire season. It was absolutely nightmarish, and if not for the NFL’s 3rd ranked defense constantly bailing them out, the ’92 Seahawks very well could have gone 0-16. Their only two wins were a 10-6 triumph over the previously mentioned Patriots and a hideous turnover rich 16-13 overtime win over divisional rival Denver. The team only threw for 9 passing touchdowns collectively while only rushing for 4. The quarterback trio of Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer and Dan McGwire combined for 67 sacks and 23 interceptions to go along with that. Gelbaugh also had the worst completion percentage in a game (30.3%) until Andy Dalton tied it yesterday against Cleveland.
5. The 1984 Buffalo Bills (Point differential: -204)
The Bills only won 4 games over the span of two seasons, 1984-1985, so I was sort of forced to pick one of them. The 1985 team’s problem relied on offense, despite having an average quarterback in rookie Frank Reich and Hall of Fame receiver Andre Reed, they only scored 200 points. Well, the 1984 team was a worse effort statistically. Their offense couldn’t score either, as ancient Joe Ferguson and Joe Dufek threw 30 interceptions and took 60 sacks, winning a single game each. In all, the Bills scored 15.6 points per game. The defense was worse, though, giving up a whopping 454 points. The bright spot of the season was running back Greg Bell, who rushed for 1,100 yards, while running for 206 over their upset win over the Cowboys.
4. The 2008 St. Louis Rams (Point differential: -233)
During a three season stretch from 2007-2009, the Rams only won 6 games. That’s pathetic. In the midst of this, the 2008 crew won 2. They’re the middle child of the moronic Rams teams of the late 2000s. And, well, that’s how the NFL treated them in 2008, with the better teams beating up on them along with the worst teams picking on them. Marc Bulger won both games, despite throwing 13 interceptions and taking 38 sacks, but backup Trent Green was far worse, throwing 6 interceptions over the course of 3 games and 1 start, while throwing no touchdowns. Steven Jackson rushed for over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns, but it was bleak. The Rams gave up 29.1 points per game on defense, over double what they scored on offense. This was the team that beat out the ’09 Lions for this spot, because of an uglier showing and an Estimated W-L difference of a few tenths.
3. The 1999 Expansion Cleveland Browns (Point differential: -220)
Tim Couch has fallen and he can’t get up.
Now we’re getting into the real nitty-gritty. The ’99 Browns were an absolute catastrophe from the beginning, drafting poorly and hiring Chris Palmer as head coach. Right off the bat, Cleveland fans regretted whining for a new team. Pittsburgh clubbed them 43-0, and the disaster of a season was on. They were outscored in their first two games 69-9, and didn’t manage a win until Week 8, where they beat the New Orleans Saints on a last second Hail Mary. Both sides of the ball were absolutely vomit-inducing, and even though Cleveland was moderately pleased to have football back in its city, the fans couldn’t ignore the fact that their team sucked. Really sucked.
2. The 1986 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Point differential: -234)
I’m fairly sure there aren’t any known pictures existing on the Internet of this team during the 1986 season, and for good reason. They were one of the worst teams ever, no questions asked. Some even reckon them to be worse than the winless expansion team in 1976. The defense was awful, giving up 473 points, and the offense, then managed by a “run first, then throw to the other team” version of Steve Young, was non-existent. What makes them even worse is the fact that they traded away Steve Young at the end of the season, and as we all know, he went on to have his Hall of Fame career in San Francisco.
1. The 1981 Baltimore Colts (Point differential: -274)
The Colts giving up one of their 30 rushing touchdowns.
Now, there might be some debate over who was worse, the ’86 Bucs or the ’81 Colts, but I still think that the latter was a worse effort. Owner Robert Irsay thought up a genius idea around 1980. He thought that putting out awful teams that couldn’t win if their lives depended on it would drive fans to pay for a new stadium, but it obviously did not. After this disaster of a season, the Colts went 0-8-1 in 1982 and consequently 7-9 in 1983, before moving to Indianapolis.
This team had the worst defense ever, no team even comes close, giving up an unbelievable 533 points, a then-record 6,793 yards, and surrendering 8.19 yards per opponent passing attempt, a worst that still stands. The Colts are the second team since 1940 to play 11 games in which they never held a lead (the other being the 1990 Patriots). Their only two wins came against divisional neighbor New England, in Weeks 1 and 16, who also finished 2-14. Their records that still stand are:
- Worst point differential, 16 game season: -274
- Most first-half points allowed, 16 game season: 307
- Most touchdowns allowed, season: 68
- Most first downs allowed, season: 406
- Fewest punt returns, season: 12
- Most points allowed, season: 533