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I know there are a lot of bad NFL teams but I want to know who the worst franchise in NFL history is.. (ie: least playoff appearances/wins/win percentage etc.)

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    Are you including AFL teams in "NFL history"? – Michael Myers Jul 22 '14 at 22:47
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    Actually, the Raiders hold the short term record for the most loses per season at eleven or more loses for seven years, right after their Super Bowl appearance in 2002. – skullpatrol Jul 23 '14 at 17:41
  • AFL records generally are included in NFL history. – Ben Miller Jan 26 '17 at 15:18
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Wikipedia has a list of NFL win-loss records for each of the current 32 NFL teams. The tables on the page include all games that each team has played in, including regular season and playoffs. Sorted by win percentage, combining the regular season and post-season tables, through Super Bowl LI (2017), the best team is the Dallas Cowboys, with a win percentage of .572, and the worst team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with a record of .389.

Of course, some teams are much older than others. The Bears (currently in third place) have played 1,389 games from 1920-2016, and the Buccaneers have only played 659 games since 1976.

These stats only include teams that are currently in the NFL. However, in the early years of the NFL, there were lots of teams that no longer exist, many of whom ended their NFL franchise with a lower percentage than the Buccaneers currently hold.

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    As a lifelong Packer fan, it was really hard for me to type the phrase "the best team is the Chicago Bears." But I think as time goes on we'll move up that list. – Ben Miller Jul 23 '14 at 4:16
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    You could make yourself slightly happier if you update this answer :-) – Philip Kendall Feb 7 '17 at 14:11
  • @PhilipKendall Only slightly. :) It's interesting that the Wikipedia page now separates out the regular season and post-season standings into two tables. But it turns out that the number of playoff games isn't significant enough to affect the standings in the first chart. The Bears moved from 1st to 3rd in 3 years. I'll update. – Ben Miller Feb 7 '17 at 17:23
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It depends exactly how you measure "worst", so I have two submissions for you.

  • The Muncie Flyers were one of the NFL's inaugural teams in 1920. After losing their first game 45-0 their other opponents cancelled to play against better teams. They ended their first season 0-1. Their second season didn't go much better as they went 0-2, losing 14-0 both times. They folded after that season, leaving their all time record at 0-3 with zero points scored.

  • A better measure, which takes longevity into account, is net points scored all time. (This way we eliminate teams which did poorly and folded quickly). In this case, the Arizona Cardinals hold the lead by a long shot with -3557 net points scored all time (although you wouldn't know it from the way they're playing this season). Also, despite being one of the NFL's charter members in 1920, they've only appeared in the playoffs 8 times since then, and won zero Super Bowls, although they did win the NFL Championship twice before the NFL-AFL merger.

  • +1, good insight. And I'm happy to see that the Packers are at the top of the net points chart. :) – Ben Miller Nov 24 '14 at 4:07
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It depends what you mean when you say the worst team, but if you're talking about a team's performance in a season, then watch this video The five worst teams in NFL history, it ranks, from number five to number one,

  • 1981 Baltimore Colts
  • 1991 Indianapolis Colts
  • 1990 New England Patriots
  • 2008 Detroit Lions
  • 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

as the top five worst NFL teams in a single season. It also provides some stats and facts explaining why they belong to this list.

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It's quite easily the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977, when they lost 26 consecutive games, going 0-14 in their inaugural season, then losing their first 12 games in their second. I believe they were shut out five times in 1976, which is unheard of in modern football.

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    could you provide a reference for the stats please? – TrueDub Apr 23 '16 at 15:14
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Out of current NFL teams, four have not made the Super Bowl. These are the Detroit Lions (who also have had an 0-16 record one season), Houston Texans (expansion team in 2002, as of 2018 newest NFL team), Cleveland Browns (who had a 1-31 stretch over two seasons), and Jacksonville Jaguars (who are in the same 4-team division as the Houston Texans). I would argue the worst team after the AFL-NFL merger is the Detroit Lions, and the expansion Browns are the worst if you separate them from the team that is now the Baltimore Ravens. According to Wikipedia, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went 2-26 in their first two seasons (1976 and 1977), have the worst winning percentage of all time (.387). They beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII (37) for their only Super Bowl.

The Lions have seven playoff wins, the Texans have three, the Jaguars have had seven, the Buccaneers have six, and the Browns have 11, but they have not been to the playoffs since 2002. They were re-established in 1999.

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