10 Longest Losing Streaks in the NFL

Every football fan feels a sense of pride when their team is doing well, pulling off exciting plays and beating their opponents with impressive scores. But the true test of a fan’s loyalty comes when their team does poorly! Sometimes lackluster coaching, sub-par playing on the field, and bad luck can result in truly terrible scores.

So, just how long are the worst losing streaks in NFL history? Today we’ll be looking at 10 of the longest losing streaks in the history of the league and ranking them according to how many games were lost. We’ll also learn some cool facts about each franchise!

  1. Cleveland Browns

Number of Games: 17
Season(s): 2015, 2016
Opponent in First Defeat: Seattle Seahawks
Opponent in First Victory: Los Angeles Chargers

Cleveland_Browns  Source: wikimedia.org

The Cleveland Browns were named after their co-founder and first coach, Paul Brown. Even in the face of this losing streak, the fans stayed strong–in fact, Browns fans are said to be the most loyal fanbase of all. Baker Mayfield played a key role in the game against the Los Angeles Chargers that finally broke their frustrating losing streak.

Did you know? 

Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns have played the majority of their home games in the  FirstEnergy Stadium in Berea, Ohio.

  1. St. Louis Rams

Number of Games: 17
Season(s): 2008, 2009
Opponent in First Defeat: New England Patriots
Opponent in First Victory: Detroit Lions

St_Louis_Rams  Source: wikimedia.org

The St. Louis Rams, now known as the Los Angeles Rams as they were for the greater part of their franchise’s existence, played their first-ever home game in the famous Busch Memorial Stadium. Scott Linehan became head coach in 2006, but was later fired after the team scored distressingly low in 2008. Steve Spagnuolo then filled the position of head coach and soldiered through the rest of the Rams’ losing streak.

Did you know? 

The Rams once beat the Baltimore Colts 70-27 in 1950, setting the record for the most points they’d ever scored in a game.

  1. Houston Oilers

Number of Games: 17
Season(s): 1982, 1983
Opponent in First Defeat: Pittsburgh Steelers
Opponent in First Victory: Detroit Lions

Houston_Oilers  Source: wikimedia.org

While this losing streak began in 1982, the Houston Oilers began to take a nosedive late in the 1980 season. Then-coach Bum Philips was fired and replaced by Ed Biles, but the Oilers’ scores continued to flop. Biles actually got so frustrated with this losing streak that he resigned merely six weeks into the 1983 season and ended his coaching career!

Did you know? 

The 1982 season was the Houston Oilers’ 13th season in the NFL.

  1. Washington Redskins

Number of Games: 17
Season(s): 1960, 1961
Opponent in First Defeat: Cleveland Browns
Opponent in First Victory: Dallas Cowboys

Washington_Redskins  Source: wikimedia.org

The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys have maintained a sports rivalry for many years, and it all goes back to the year 1960. They played each other once in 1960 and were then placed in the same division together in 1961. Ever since then, they’ve played against each other twice during every single regular season.

Did you know? 

In 2014, the Washington Redskins went through another rough patch that many people compared to their losing streak from the 1960s.

  1. Dayton Triangles

Number of Games: 17
Season(s): 1927, 1928, 1929
Opponent in First Defeat: Chicago Cardinals
Opponent in First Victory: None–team folded

Dayton_Triangles  Source: wikimedia.org

A three-season losing streak is enough to make anyone wince, but many people claim that the Triangles’ decline began even earlier in 1922. While other teams chose to start hiring top talent from all around the nation, the Triangles decided to stick with local players–and that decision certainly cost them dearly. Their scores began to drop and fans lost interest, resulting in a poor turnout for home games and a fizzling presence in the NFL.

Did you know? 

Triangle Park, where home games were played, only seated around 5,000 people.

  1. Houston Oilers

Number of Games: 18
Season(s): 1972, 1973
Opponent in First Defeat: Oakland Raiders
Opponent in First Victory: Baltimore Colts

Houston_Oilers  Source: wikimedia.org

The Houston Oilers only won one game in the 1972 season, and made poor scores in 1973 as well. The 1972 season was the Oilers’ third in the NFL and 13th overall, which drew the attention of some superstitious types! Despite years of difficulty for the Oilers, Sid Gillman earned his place in the Hall of Fame by coaching the franchise back to success in 1974.

Did you know? 

Sid Gillman tried playing football in 1934 and was thoroughly defeated, which led him to consider an alternative future in coaching instead.

  1. Detroit Lions

Number of Games: 19
Season(s): 2007, 2008, 2009
Opponent in First Defeat: Green Bay Packers
Opponent in First Victory: Washington Redskins

Detroit_Lions  Source: wikimedia.org

This unfortunate losing streak was a serious blow to the Lions’ reputation and came at a terrible time alongside the Great Recession. Between the Lions’ dismal scores and the scarcity of spending money in Detroit, this losing streak ushered in several broadcast blackouts for the franchise because so few game tickets were sold. The Lions lost so many games that fans wondered if they would outdo the longest losing streak in history.

Did you know? 

The first of the broadcast blackouts to take place for the Lions was also the first one in the history of Ford Field.

  1. Oakland Raiders

Number of Games: 19
Season(s): 1961, 1962
Opponent in First Defeat: New York Titans
Opponent in First Victory: Boston Patriots

Oakland_Raiders  Source: wikimedia.org

Head coach Eddie Erdelatz guided the Oakland Raiders through the first few games in their entire career, but was dismissed from his coaching position after awful scores in 1961. He was replaced by Marty Feldman: However, the Raiders continued to lose throughout the 1962 season and Feldman was fired as well. At last, the Raiders climbed uphill with new uniforms and a new coach, Al Davis.

Did you know? 

The Raiders’ fanbase is so enthusiastic and distinct that they have had their own name since the 1990s: The Raider Nation.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Number of Games: 26
Season(s): 1976, 1977
Opponent in First Defeat: Houston Oilers
Opponent in First Victory: New Orleans Saints

Tampa_Bay_Buccaneers  Source: wikimedia.org

Some teams start out with a bang, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started out in the NFL by losing their first 26 games. However, the Bucs picked up speed once they broke out of their stagnant entry into the NFL and lined up a number of accomplishments. For instance, the Buccaneers are the first post-merger expansion team to have won a division championship and a playoff game.

Did you know? 

Many fans see the Buccaneers’ losing streak as endearing and find that a rocky past only strengthens their support of what is now a winning franchise.

  1. Chicago Cardinals

Number of Games: 29
Season(s): 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945
Opponent in First Defeat: Cleveland Rams
Opponent in First Victory: Chicago Bears

Chicago_Cardinals  Source: wikimedia.org

The Chicago Cardinals went through the longest losing streak in NFL history in the 1940s. While the Buccaneers’ losing streak is a tie in terms of the number of games lost, the Cardinals’ streak stretched on for a much longer period of time. 1946 was actually the Cardinals’ first winning season in eight years! They finally broke their losing streak with a score of 6-5.

Did you know? 

In 1944, the Chicago Cardinals combined with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played as one team which was nicknamed the Card-Pitts or “Carpets”.

Leave a Comment