• Drinking The Water

    Back in early June, we took a look at the teams in the league with the longest current playoff droughts. Here is a look at the original piece, with a few updates…

    For the last decade or so, the NFL has had at least 5 new teams from the previous year in the playoffs. Listed below are the longest-active playoff droughts in order (and with the last season they made the postseason), and we’re including the Texans, who have never reached the playoffs since entering the league in 2002. For argument’s sake, let’s say at least one of these clubs makes the playoffs in 2011. How about 2?

    Which is your choice?

    Lions (1999): Jim Schwartz’s team won its last 4 games last season (the club’s longest winning streak since ’99) and the franchise ended record losing streaks on the road and within the division. The health of QB Matthew Stafford is the big question mark but that defense, led by All-Pro DT Ndamukong Suh and seemingly bolstered by rookie DT Nick Fairley, is coming. The NFC North is tough with the defending Super Bowl champion Packers and division winner Bears, but splitting with those teams in the regular season would be a big step.
    2011: Detroit opened the season at 5-0, the team’s best start since 1956, and despite some ups and downs wrapped up a wild card berth last Sunday with a 38-10 win over the Chargers…

    Bills (1999): It’s still hard to believe that one of the Team of the ‘90s has gone playoff-free since and their last postseason appearance was the “Music City Miracle.” Buffalo split its last 4 games a year ago after opening 0-8, but finished last in the AFC East for the third straight season and haven’t had a winning campaign since ’04. The offense had its moments last season, but it was the Bills’ defense that was in need of an overhaul--a big reason they used their Top 4 draft picks on that side of the ball in April.
    2011: Things started out promising in Orchard Park as Chan Gailey’s team opened 3-0, including a rousing comeback victory over New England that snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots. But a 5-2 start was followed by 7 straight losses and the Bills will once again be home watching the playoffs…

    Browns (2002): Does anyone remember that the Browns were a playoff team one season under Butch Davis (blowing a 17-point lead in a Wild Card loss at Pittsburgh)? It’s been a tough road for the most part since then, and the team is 14-34 the last 3 seasons. New head coach Pat Shurmur hopes that QB Colt McCoy continues to progress, while new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will implement a 4-3 look and count on some youth on that side of the ball. Of course, moving up in the AFC North has never been easy.
    2011: Another dismal offensive performance and another 10-loss season for the Browns, who are now just 68-139 since returning to the NFL in 1999…

    Raiders (2002): Al Davis’ team’s last postseason game was the loss to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII, and the franchise hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since. The Raiders did finish 8-8 a year ago and swept their divisional games, but were obviously less than competitive outside of the AFC West. New head coach Hue Jackson, the offensive coordinator a year ago, will have QB Jason Campbell again and one of the best running games in the league. The defense needs to be better against the run but proved it can get after the quarterback.
    2011: Another up and down year, but the Silver and Black can still make it to the postseason party either as the AFC West champion or a wild card if they win and things break right for them…

    49ers (2002): Last year’s anointed preseason favorite to win the NFC West, the team dug itself an early hole and never fully recovered. New head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff must figure out their quarterback situation (they drafted Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick in the second round) and an inconsistent defense must perform better, but they’re also in a division that was won by the 7-9 Seahawks a year ago. Of course, the odds of that happening again could be slim.
    2011: One of the great stories of the season as Harbaugh is a strong candidate for NFL Coach of the Year honors. The NFC West champion 49ers have given up the fewest points in the league and could give the potent Packers and Saints a run for their money…

    Texans (Never): Nine seasons and no playoff appearance for this franchise, which looked like it may make a move this year coming off a 9-7 showing and getting off to a good start in 2010. The offense is one of the most balanced in the NFL but the defense has been a problem since the team came into the league in ’02 and head coach Gary Kubiak is hoping defensive whiz Wade Phillips will help. It will be interesting to see how former Pro Bowl DE Mario Williams fares at outside linebacker.
    2011: You can never say never again when it comes to the Texans, who won the AFC South 3 weeks ago despite a season long on adversity. Gary Kubiak’s team has played the majority of the season without WR Andre Johnson and OLB Mario Williams while rookie QB T.J. Yates is the team’s third starting quarterback this season. It’s very interesting that after years of promise, the Texans got the job done when the odds were perhaps the longest…

    So there you have it. The Lions, 49ers and Texans are in and the Raiders could soon join them. And perhaps the next question here is how far will each of these teams go in the playoffs? Stay tuned…

    Comments 7 Comments
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      I don't know how many people would have thought 3 of the teams had a shot at the playoffs before the season.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      What's cool is that only one team on that list didn't have a shot at the playoffs at some point in the season.

      Poor old Browns.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      5:00 can't come soon enough.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      I don't know how many people would have thought 3 of the teams had a shot at the playoffs before the season.
      I thought the Lions had a great shot at making the playoffs. A lot of young players waiting to gel. The 49ers seemed to be the most talented of the NFC West teams, but I had my doubts with Harbaugh as a coach. Needless to say those doubts have been erased. Once Peyton Manning was out, the Texans seemed to be the odds on favorite to win the division. So I think realistically, someone could have had three of those teams make the playoffs. I would have figured Detroit and Houston, but not SF. I actually though the Rams were going to win the division. Boy was I waaaaaay off.

      I would have never figured the Raiders to win the division. I thought for some reason San Diego would win the division, but I forgot the Norv factor. As for the Browns, it looks like a loooooooong playoff drought for them. Many high draft picks in the future for them.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      I remember this post Russell. I think my top two possibilities were the Lions and Texans. I did not expect the 49ers to overcome all the variables vs. them.....new coaching staff, ? QB play (to name the biggest 2) to win their division and enter the playoffs. That defense is a true beast...saw it firsthand in Cincy week 2, totally legit. Hats off to the 49ers. The Raiders were my dark horse after sweeping the AFC West last year.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Saw an interesting stat which I can only partially remember. This is the umpteenth (15th?) consecutive year in which 5 new teams have made the playoffs.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Great Stuff Russ. The Browns were short-lived with playoff capability in the last 10 years. Seriously, it appeared that at least Butch Davis was a heck of an NFL Network analyst. My Raiders did again in Week 17 this year. Horrible, Horrible.