Best and worst franchises in the NFL’s 16 game era

What teams have had the most winning and losing seasons since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule for the 1978 season? Who has finished with what record the most times? This will look at each team’s seasons from 1978 through 2017 (not counting the strike-shortened 1982 and 1987 seasons) to find out.

Most common record and NFL Bingo

The table below takes a look at which teams have finished with what record the most amount of times since the 1978 season.

Record Team # of times
0-16 Browns (2017), Lions (2008) 1
1-15 *10 different teams 1
2-14 49ers, Buccaneers 4
3-13 Bengals 4
4-12 Jets, Raiders 6
5-11 Cardinals 10
6-10 Giants 7
7-9 Saints 11
8-8 Broncos 8
9-7 Seahawks 10
10-6 Eagles 10
11-5 Eagles, Patriots, Steelers 6
12-4 Cowboys 8
13-3 Broncos 5
14-2 Patriots 4
15-1 *6 different teams 1
16-0 Patriots (2007) 1

*10 teams are: Browns (2016), Chargers (2000), Colts (1991), Cowboys (1989), Dolphins (2007), Jets (1996), Panthers (2001), Patriots (1990), Rams (2009), Saints (1980)

*6 teams are: 49ers (1984), Bears (1985), Packers (2011), Panthers (2015), Steelers (2004), Vikings (1998)

Notes

Out of the seven teams to finish 15-1 or 16-0, only two won the Super Bowl that year

Since 1978, there have only been six 15-1 seasons, with two coming in back-to-back seasons in 1984 and 1985

The Patriots are the only team to go 16-0, on top of being one of 10 teams to go 1-15

The Panthers are the only team to have been both 15-1 and 1-15

Browns are the only team to be both 1-15 and 0-16, which they did in back-to-back seasons

NFL Bingo

Since the 1978 season, every NFL team is between three and eight spots away from hitting NFL Bingo. This means that they would have finished with each possible record in a 16-game schedule at least once.

The farthest away are the newest team, the Houston Texans at eight. They would need to have seasons of 0-16, 1-15, 3-13, 11-5, 13-3, 14-2, 15-1 and 16-0 to hit NFL Bingo. In contrast, the Indianapolis Colts are the closest team, only needing to finish at 0-16, 15-1 and 16-0.

The NFL’s biggest winners and losers in the 16-game era

The stacked column chart below shows the number of times each team has finished with a winning, losing or even record in the 16-game era. It is sort by winning record with the Patriots (28) being first and the Texans (6) being last.

How NFL teams finished the season since the 16-game era started in 1978 (not counting strike years of 82 and 87)

In the 38 non-strike shortened NFL seasons since the 16-game era started, 13 teams have finished with a winning record at least half of that time against the total seasons they have played.

*The Colts (18 winning-16 losing), Titans (18-15), Redskins (17-16) and Chargers (16-15) all have had more winning seasons than losing ones. The other 15 NFL teams all have had more losing than winning seasons.

Team
Win record against total seasons
Patriots 28/38 (73.68%)
Steelers
27/38 (71.05%)
Broncos
24/38 (63.15%)
Cowboys
23/38 (60.52%)
Eagles 23/38 (60.52%)
Packers 23/38 (60.52%)
49ers 21/38 (55.26%)
Dolphins
21/38 (55.26%)
Chiefs 21/38 (55.26%)
Ravens
12/22 (54.54%)
Seahawks 20/38 (52.63%)
Vikings 20/38 (52.63%)
Giants 19/38 (50%)

The stacked column chart below shows the number of times each team has finished with a winning, losing or even record in the 16-game era. It is sorted by losing record.

How NFL teams finished the season since the 16-game era by lose.png

In contrast, there have been 13 teams who have finished with a losing record at least half the time in the total seasons they have played in the 16-game era.

Team
Losing Record
Browns 24/35 (68.57%)
Cardinals 26/38 (68.42%)
Buccaneers 25/38 (65.78%)
Lions 24/38 (63.15%)
Falcons 22/38 (57.89%)
Rams 22/38 (57.89%)
Panthers 13/23 (56.52%)
Jaguars 13/23 (56.52%)
Bengals 21/38 (55.26%)
Bears 20/38 (52.63%)
Bills 19/38 (50%)
Saints 19/38 (50%)
Texans 8/16 (50%)

Least amount of losing and winning seasons

Only six teams have managed to have less than 10 losing seasons since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule. Although two of these, the Ravens and the Texans, are newer franchises. In contrast, only five teams have less than 10 winning seasons but three are also newer franchises.

Teams # of losing seasons
Packers 9/38 (23.68%)
Patriots 8/38 (21.05%)
Texans 8/16 (50%)
Steelers 7/38 (18.42%)
Ravens 7/22 (31.81%)
Broncos 6/38 (15.78%)
Teams # of winning seasons
Browns 9/35 (25.71%)
Cardinals 8/38 (21.05%)
Jaguars 8/23 (34.78%)
Panthers 7/23 (30.43%)
Texans 6/16 (37.5%)

The most .500 records and ties

The Buccaneers have had the least .500 seasons, only have finished 8-8 once in the last 38 seasons. In contrast, the Broncos have the most 8-8 seasons, having done so eight times. This is on top of Denver having the least losing seasons and the third most winning ones.

How NFL teams finished the season with a .500 record in the 16-game era (not counting strike years of 82 and 87)

Since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule, there have been 18 times that a regular season game has ended in a tied game. 20 of the 32 teams have had a tie in this period, with the Eagles accounting for the most with four.

How NFL teams have tied in the 16-game era (not counting strike years of 82 and 87).png

The most common record teams have finished with when having a tie has been 8-7-1, followed by 10-5-1. The Dolphins (1981) and 49ers (2012) finished 11-4-1, while the Giants (1983) finished 3-12-1.

Record # of times
11-4-1 2
10-5-1 6
9-6-1 3
8-7-1 8
7-8-1 4
6-9-1 4
5-10-1 4
4-11-1 4
3-12-1 1

Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “2009 NFL Black Logo” by Michael Tipton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/index.htm

All graphs and tables made using Google Spreadsheet

 

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