I’ve arrived in the United States, just in time to hear about one of the most awful Thursday Night Games in history: Jacksonville vs. Tennessee, two teams that combined for a record of 4-24. In honor of such a legendarily awful game, the Worst Teams of All Time bracket starts now. This doesn’t mean the actual written series is finished, no, but these are just the worst assembled that I’ve coincidentally written about. I wrote a post about the Top 10 Worst 2-14 teams, which would be helpful if read for this bracket. A lot of those teams are included, but if you can’t be bothered, explanations will be provided as to why the team is on the bracket. Votes will be conducted for which team in each match-up is worse, and remember: you vote for the team you think is worse. These posts revolve around these comments, so try not to shrug it off, but if there aren’t enough votes or if it’s too close to tell, the matchups will be simulated 10 times on WhatIfSports.com and whoever loses at least 6 of those games will advance. As for the bracket structure itself, the match-ups are copied from the March Madness formula (2 seed vs. 15 seed, 8 seed vs. 9 seed, etc.) and the seeds were decided based on either record (in only one or two cases) and point differential.
With the rules out of the way, let’s begin.
No.1 Seed VS. No. 16 Seed
No.1 Seed: The 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16) (268 PF, 517 PA, -249 differential)
Claim to Fame: The 2008 Lions became only the first team in NFL history go to 0-16. The three quarterbacks to lead the team were an aging Jon Kitna, injury-prone Daunte Culpepper and Dan “Safety” Orlovsky. The defense became only the third to give up over 500 points in league history, and the Lions set a new standard for futility that will likely live on forever.
No.16 Seed: The Bengals of the 1990’s (15-season span, 71-153, 0.464% win rate)
Claim to Fame: During a 14-year, 15-season span the Cincinnati Bengals won only 71 games, an average of 4.7 per season. They finished with a 3-13 record four times during this span and finished 2-14 once. The most wins recorded from 1991-2004 was an 8-8 season in 1996. Terrible coaching, drafts, management and players silenced Bengal nation as Cincinnati finished as the most unproductive franchise during the 1990’s and half of the 2000’s.
No. 8 Seed VS. No.9 Seed
No. 8 Seed: The 1989 Dallas Cowboys (1-15) (204 PF, 393 PA, -189 differential)
Claim to Fame: During Jimmy Johnson’s first professional season as a coach, the Cowboys began the season inauspiciously with a 28-0 shutout loss to New Orleans. Despite having the likes of Hall of Famers Troy Aikman (who was a rookie at that time) and Michael Irvin, the ‘Boys scored the fewest points in the NFL and led the league in turnovers. The defense was old and nowhere near good enough to back up the offense. Aikman went 0-11 as a starter as Steve Walsh, Johnson’s quarterback at Miami, led Dallas to their only win of the season: a 13-3 shocker over the Redskins.
No. 9 Seed: The 2011 Indianapolis Colts (2-14) (243 PF, 430 PA, -187 differential)
Claim to Fame: In 2011, Peyton Manning sat out the season with a neck injury, and that’s almost the entire story. Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter couldn’t manage any offense as Indianapolis tied for the fourth-fewest points scored in 2011. Their 430 given up was 28th in the league, and the team sputtered to a 2-14 finish. The Colts then became the franchise with the most seasons of of three or fewer wins (1981, 1986, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2011, and an 0-8-1 finish in 1982) of any franchise in the league.
No.5 Seed VS. No.12 Seed
No.5 Seed: The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) (211 PF, 425 PA, -214 differential)
Claim to Fame: In Romeo Crennel’s last season as a head coach, the Chiefs struggled mightily. They scored the fewest points in the NFL, and tied the 1929 Buffalo Bisons’ record for consecutive games in a season without leading at any point with 8. The steak advanced to 9, and it was broken in Week 10. The Chiefs had the worst passing offense in the league as Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn led the league in interceptions with 20. They tied with the Jets and Eagles for the worst turnover differential: -24. In a Week 15 loss to the Raiders, Kansas City didn’t manage a first down until the 3rd quarter, and KC matched the 1981 Colts’ record of losing 9 games by 14 or more points in a single season.
No.12 Seed: The 2006 Oakland Raiders (2-14) (168 PF, 332 PA, -164 differential)
Claim to Fame: The ’06 Raiders scored the fifth-fewest points ever for a 16-game season with 168, an average of 10.5 per-game. Their two starting quarterbacks, Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks, combined for 6 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. In a Week 8 win against Pittsburgh, Oakland finished the day with 98 total offensive yards. The defense wasn’t half bad, but if your offense has the power of a water pistol, it’s easy to see how the team finished 2-14, surprisingly even with Randy Moss.
No.4 Seed VS. No.13 Seed
No.4 Seed: The 2008 St. Louis Rams (2-14) (232 PF, 465 PA, -233 differential)
Claim to Fame: From 2007-2009, the Rams set a new record for the fewest games won in a three-season stretch with 6. In 2008, St. Louis finished 2-14 and were totally uncompetitive. Their 232 points scored ranked 30th in the league and the 465 points they gave up ranked 31st. Scott Linehan was fired after an 0-4 start, and Jim Haslett came in to guide the Rams to a 2-10 record. Marc Bulger and Trent Green combined for 11 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions as both the offense and defense fizzled out both down the stretch and for years to come.
No.13 Seed: The 1978 San Francisco 49ers (2-14) (219 PF, 350 PA, -131 differential)
Claim to Fame: You might think this one is a gimme for the Rams, but hear me out. The 1978 49ers set an NFL record that still stands with 63 turnovers in one season, while only averaging 3.8 yards per offensive play. Steve DeBerg and Scott Bull combined for 9 touchdown passes to 36 interceptions (the passing game averaged only 4.1 yards-per-completion), and an aging O.J. Simpson led the running game with 3.7 yards-per-carry and a single touchdown. The team itself averaged 3.6 yards-per-rush. The 49ers scored the fewest points in the league, and their defense was pedestrian. Their modest point differential doesn’t do the team justice.
No.6 Seed VS. No.11 Seed
No.6 Seed: The 1980 New Orleans Saints (1-15) (291 PF, 487 PA, -196 differential)
Claim to Fame: The 1980 New Orleans Saints are most remembered for having an awful defense, a stark contrast to the No.11 seed. The team was coached by two men named Dick: Nolan and Stanfel. Nolan resigned after an 0-12 start, and Stanfel (the defensive coordinator whose unit gave up 30.4 points-per-game to rank last in the league), took over and guided the Saints to their only win over the Jets. Archie Manning had a mediocre year behind one of his really horrible turnstile offensive lines, and the running attack only gained 1,362 yards and 9 touchdowns all year. The defense gave up 388.6 yards-per-game, 59 total touchdowns, and 194.1 yards-per-game on the ground while surrendering 30 or more points in eight games.
No.11 Seed: The 1992 Seattle Seahawks (2-14) (140 PF, 312 PA, -172 differential)
Claim to Fame: Offense futility. I can’t state this enough. Particularly in the passing game, the Seahawks’ offense became the worst in NFL history, averaging only 8.8 points-per-game to go along with only 111.1 passing yards per game. A fullback led the team in receiving as Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire and Stan Gelbaugh combined for 9 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 3.3 yards-per-pass and 67 sacks. The running attack only scored 4 touchdowns, and the Seahawks finished the year last in total yards per game (210.8) and yards-per-play (3.6). Their defense was very strong, however, which makes their point differential seem not too bad compared to others.
No.3 Seed VS. No.14 Seed (Double Houston Oilers!)
No.3 Seed: The 1973 Houston Oilers (1-13) (199 PF, 447 PA, -248 differential)
Claim to Fame: After an identical 1-13 finish to 1972, change was expected in Houston. Sadly, it did not come. Incompetent coach Bill Peterson was fired after an 0-5 start, bringing his career NFL record to a stunning 1-18. The offense struggled all season to the tune of 1,388 rushing yards (last in the league), 3.9 yards-per-play (second-worst), 3,307 total yards (third-worst) and 193 first downs (also third-worst). The defense gave up a whopping 447 points during the season, impressively bad for a 16 game season, but…Houston only played 14 games. This brings the average to 31.9 given up per game, and their -248 point differential remains one of the top 10 worst all time. Houston became the first franchise to ever record back-to-back one-win seasons.
No.14 Seed: The 1994 Houston Oilers (2-14) (226 PF, 352 PA, -126 differential)
Claim to Fame: Okay, I admit, this is probably the only blip I’d like to fix in the structuring. After a 1993 playoff choke to Kansas City, owner Bud Adams traded all of the team’s talent away, including Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. Gutted by the loss of talent, the team started 1-9, and head coach Jack Pardee was fired. The offense scored the fewest points in the league, as the team’s three starting quarterbacks (Bucky Richardson, Cody Carlson and Billy Joe Tolliver) combined for only 13 touchdowns to 17 interceptions along with 65 sacks. The team averaged 280 yards-per-game, which isn’t terrible, and neither was the defense, a striking contradiction to the No.3 seed.
No.7 Seed VS. No.10 Seed
No.7 Seed: The 2004 San Francisco 49ers (2-14) (259 PF, 452 PA, -193 differential)
Claim to Fame: Dennis Erickson’s return to the NFL didn’t go very well. The 49ers plummeted from a perennial playoff contender to a league joke, finishing with the worst record in the NFL in 2004. The offense’s 16.2 points-per-game ranked 30th in the league while the defense’s 28.2 predictably ranked last. Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey, the team’s starting quarterbacks, threw only 16 touchdown passes all year. The running game averaged only 3.5 yards-per-rush as the offense clinked along to 40 turnovers, only 26 touchdowns the entire year and 286.5 yards-per-game. The defense allowed more passing touchdowns (27) than the offense managed altogether, picking off only 9 passes and surrendering 342.5 yards-per-game. Both wins were 31-28 overtime squeakers over Arizona.
No.10 Seed: The 1996 New York Jets (1-15) (279 PF, 454 PA, -175 differential)
Claim to Fame: There was a 37 game stretch from 1994 to 1996 in which the Jets went 4-33. In Rich Kotite’s second season coaching the team, the Jets went down in flames with a 1-15 mark. The team finished with a turnover differential of -20, as the offense only scored over 30 points once on the year: 31 in their lone win over the Cardinals. The defense gave up 28.4 points-per-game, giving up more passing touchdowns (33) than the offense managed all year (30)…just like the 2004 49ers. 347.7 yards-per-game were allowed along with 7.0 yards-per-pass attempt, while the secondary picked off only 11 passes. There was also a three-week stretch in 1996 in which the Jets were outscored 104-30.
No.2 Seed VS. No.15 Seed
No.2 Seed: The 1990 New England Patriots (1-15) (181 PF, 446 PA, -265 differential)
Claim to Fame: In 1990, the Patriots suffered through the worst season in franchise history under one-year coach Rod Rust. The team only managed 11.3 points-per-game on offense as the starting quarterbacks (Marc Wilson, Tommy Hodson and Steve Grogan) combined for 14 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 58 sacks. Marc Wilson in particular had a sack % of nearly 10.0. The Patriots’ -265 point differential was the worst of the 1990’s, and the ’90 Pats are also only the second team in history to lose 11 games in which they never held a lead at any point in time. Against the Redskins, Washington had a 9-0 lead before running an offensive play: a fumble return for a touchdown and a safety on a snap that went out the back of the endzone.
No.15 Seed: The Lions of the 2000’s (10-season stretch, 42-118 record, 0.355% win rate)
Claim to Fame: From 2000-2009, the Lions only won 42 games, an average of 4.2 per season. There were 5 seasons of three or fewer wins, including an 0-16 disaster in 2008 that happens to be the No.1 seed. Terrible draft decisions were made, such as quarterback Joey Harrington or wide receiver Charles Rodgers. Management was crap, coaches were awful and the talent on the team seemed to regress with every season. The Lions had to fight off the Buffalo Bills (66-94) as the least successful team of the 2000’s.
The “Right Side” of the bracket will hopefully be posted tomorrow. Cast your votes in the comments below and I’ll get to work on organizing the second round of ‘games’.