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.
No.1 Seed VS. No.16 Seed
No.1 Seed: The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14) (125 PF, 412 PA, -287 differential)
Claim to Fame: The expansion Buccaneers provided fans with laughs and tears early on, losing their first 26 games before finally grabbing their first win in Week 13 of 1977. The offense was dysmal, with quarterback Steve Spurrier providing nothing to the offense. The unit scored 8.9 points-per-game, a stark contrast to the leaky defense’s 29.4. The team finished with more players on injured reserve (17) than touchdowns (15), and the Bucs trudged through a miserable season that will live forever in football annals as both one of the worst seasons ever and a season to rival the likes of the 0-16 Lions.
No.16 Seed: The Buccaneers of the 1980’s (14-season stretch, 69-155, 0.455% win rate)
Claim to Fame: After the disastrous 0-26 start to the franchise, there was the swoon that occurred from 1983 all the way to 1996 in which the Buccaneers averaged 11 losses a season. Three 2-14 seasons were registered (1983, 1985, 1986), four seasons of 5-11 (1988, 1989, 1992, 1993), a 4-11 finish to 1987 and a 3-13 mark in 1991 cemented Tampa Bay as the laughingstock of the league. Things only changed in 1997 once the Buccaneers finally put together a competent defense along with an intelligent coach in Tony Dungy.
No.8 Seed VS. No.9 Seed
No.8 Seed: The 1971 Buffalo Bills (1-13) (184 PF, 394 PA, -210 differential)
Claim to Fame: The Bills actually had two one-win seasons, one coming in 1968 and the other in 1971. The latter proved to be a worse effort, however, as the Bills trudged through the worst season in franchise history. Dennis Shaw and James Harris combined for 12 touchdown passes and 32 interceptions, while the running game only netted 6 scores. The defense gave up 28.1 points-per-game, and the Bills were shut out four times while being held to 10 or fewer points seven times, which is equivalent to half the games they played.
No.9 Seed: The 1984 Buffalo Bills (2-14) (250 PF, 454 PA, -204 differential)
Claim to Fame: 13 years later, the Bills were back in the cellar with a league-worst 2-14 record. Quarterback Joe Ferguson was responsible for 21 turnovers just by himself, and the Bills’ three starting quarterbacks were sacked 60 times while combining for 18 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. The defense gave up 32 passing touchdowns and 348.8 yards-per-game, while the offense fumbled through the awful, disappointing year.
No.5 Seed VS. No.12 Seed
No.5 Seed: The 1986 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) (239 PF, 473 PA, -234 differential)
Claim to Fame: It seems like there are a lot of Buccaneer teams on this side, but this is the last one. In 1986, star quarterback Steve Young was acquired from the Los Angeles Express of the USFL, a rival football league, but he was unpolished as a passer. Young turned the ball over 24 times in 1986, and threw only 8 touchdown passes, which equates to a 1:3 touchdown-to-turnover ratio. The Bucs scored the third-fewest points in the league while giving up the most, surrendering 395.8 yards-per-game. The Buccaneers also allowed 31 rushing touchdowns and their turnover differential stood at -10. Convinced yet?
No.12 Seed: The 2000 San Diego Chargers (1-15) (269 PF, 440 PA, -171 differential)
Claim to Fame: Thanks in part to primadonna first-round draft bust Ryan Leaf, the Chargers plummeted to a 1-15 record. The Chargers’ defense gave up 33 passing touchdowns on their way to giving up the third-most points in the league. The passing attack, led by the previously mentioned Leaf, was weaker than Applebee’s hot sauce, finishing with a 19 TD – 30 INT ratio while no quarterback on the roster surpassed 2,000 yards. The running attack finished as the worst in history with only 1,062 yards on 351 carries as a team, a 3.0 yards-per-carry average to go along with a miserable -28 turnover differential.
No.4 Seed VS. No.13 Seed
No.4 Seed: The 1991 Indianapolis Colts (1-15) (143 PF, 381 PA, -238 differential)
Claim to Fame: In 1991, the Colts hit rock bottom with a franchise-worst 1-15 record. The offense was one of the worst in history, scoring the second-fewest amount of points for a 16-game schedule with 143. They had the worst first quarter offense combined with the worst second-half defense. Quarterback Jeff George ranked last in the league with only 8.3 yards-per-completion while taking 56 sacks against one of the easiest defensive schedules in the league. Per Football Outsiders, the 1991 Colts had the least efficient running game of any team in their ranking’s history. Indianapolis was also 0-8 at home.
No.13 Seed: The 2007 Miami Dolphins (1-15) (267 PF, 437 PA, -170 differential)
Claim to Fame: Thanks to injuries, numerous arrests and a coaching debacle featuring Alabama’s good ol’ boy Nick Saban, the Dolphins crashed and burned to a 1-15 record under an offense that ranked 6th-to-last in scoring and a defense that ranked 3rd-worst in points allowed. Their point differential ranked 31st in the league, unsurprising with a passing attack that only managed 12 touchdowns all year. The Dolphins allowed 342.1 yards-per-game and their turnover differential stood at -7. Miami also started the season 0-13 before winning their first game.
No.6 Seed VS. No.11 Seed
No.6 Seed: The 2009 Detroit Lions (2-14) (262 PF, 494 PA, -232 differential)
Claim to Fame: Although the Lions were given the first overall pick of the 2009 draft thanks to their pitiful 2008 season, it didn’t pay instant dividends. After extending their 19-game losing streak, the Lions finally won a game…something they would do only once more in 2009. The offense threw twice as many interceptions than touchdown passes, while the defense gave up a league-high 494 points, only 23 better than their 2008 shamble of 517. The defense gave up 35 touchdown passes and picked off only 9 passes, letting 392.1 yards-per-game slip by along with it. The Lions’ turnover differential was grim, sitting at -18.
No.11 Seed: The 2002 Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) (279 PF, 456 PA, -177 differential)
Claim to Fame: In the franchise’s worst season, the Bengals scored only 17 points per game and ranked last in the league in defense, despite being coached by Dick LeBeau. The team’s turnover differential was -15, and the defense’s touchdown passes allowed-interceptions forced ratio was 30-9. Twice the Bengals stopped themselves inside their opponents’ 10-yard line for a score that would have won the game, in Week 8 against Tennessee and Week 11 against Cleveland. Cincinnati also ranked 31st in the league in turnovers forced.
No.3 Seed VS. No.14 Seed
No.3 Seed: The 2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15) (175 PF, 436 PA, -261 differential)
Claim to Fame: There have only been four teams to go 1-15 in the millenium: The 2000 Chargers, the 2001 Panthers, the 2007 Dolphins and the 2009 Rams, the last team to do so. St. Louis in 2009 suffered from total ineptitude on both sides of the ball: 12 touchdown passes were thrown all year, one of them was tossed by kicker Josh Brown. The Rams scored the sixth-fewest points ever in a 16-game season, and their defense gave up 372.8 yards-per-game while picking off only 8 passes. The team scored 10 or fewer points seven times, and St. Louis finished with a league-worst point differential and a -13 turnover differential.
No.14 Seed: The 2001 Carolina Panthers (1-15) (253 PF, 410 PA, -157 differential)
Claim to Fame: Somehow, behind legendary coach George Seifert, the 2001 Panthers managed to win on opening day…and then lose 15 straight. They ranked third-worst in scoring and fourth-worst in points allowed, while giving up 371.4 yards-per-game. The 2001 Panthers are the only team on the entire bracket with a positive turnover differential, with theirs sitting at 1. The biggest reason for the Panthers’ failings were rookie quarterback Chris Weinke, who was thrown right to the wolves immediately and produced medicore-at-best stats.
No.7 Seed VS. No.10 Seed
No.7 Seed: The 1999 Cleveland Browns (2-14) (217 PF, 437 PA, -220 differential)
Claim to Fame: After returning to Cleveland as an expansion team in 1999, the Browns struggled heavily under head coach Chris Palmer. First-round draft pick Tim Couch didn’t pan out as expected, and the Browns scored the fewest points in the league. The ’99 Browns also rushed for only 1,150 yards, one of the worst totals ever for a 16-game season. The defense only registered 25 sacks and 8 interceptions, while being unable to force turnovers. Cleveland’s turnover differential stood at -11 and Cleveland was 0-8 at home.
No.10 Seed: The 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) (255 PF, 444 PA, -189 differential)
Claim to Fame: Today, we all think that we can just tick off a win when we see the Jags on our schedule, and it was no better exemplified than in 2012. The Jags ranked third-to-last in scoring and fourth-worst in points allowed. The Jaguars only averaged 3.8 yards-per-rush and scored only 5 touchdowns on the ground, while the team’s two quarterbacks were Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert. The defense allowed 380.5 yards-per-game. The team’s leading rusher, Maurice Jones-Drew, only managed 414 yards.
No.2 Seed VS. No.15 Seed
No.2 Seed: The 1981 Baltimore Colts (2-14) (259 PF, 533 PA, -274 differential)
Claim to Fame: Their defense. The Colts set so many dubious defensive records, it’s almost hard to keep track. They set the record for most points allowed in a season (533), the worst point differential for a 16-game season, the most first-half points allowed in a season (307), the most touchdowns allowed (68), the most first downs allowed (406), and the fewest punt returns in a season (12). The Colts also set the record (since broken) for the most yards allowed in a single season with 6,793, an average of 424.5 per-game. The Colts also finished 1981 with the worst yards-allowed-per-pass with 8.2. All of this coupled with an offense that scored only 16.2 points-per-game, and you can see why the Colts lost 14 games in a row between Weeks 1 and 16.
No.15 Seed: The Saints of the 1970’s (10-season stretch, 42-118 record, 0.355% win rate)
Claim to Fame: The Saints finished the 1970’s as the decade’s least successful team. Not including expansion teams Tampa Bay and Seattle, New Orleans joined the Jets and Giants as the only teams not to make the playoffs in the entire decade. In the 70’s, the Saints had three 2-win seasons (1970, 1972 and 1975) and only won more than 5 games twice. In fact, since the Saints’ inception in 1967, they didn’t post a winning season until 1987, so the losing carried over into the 1980’s in a big way…(see: Saints, New Orleans, 1980).