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NFL's worst betting seasons of the Super Bowl Era

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Which teams are the most mystifying against the spread? (0:59)

Doug Kezirian picks the Bears as his worst team to peg against the spread, and Preston Johnson goes with the Patriots. (0:59)

The NFL season is still pretty far away. We know the 2020 schedule, and opening lines have been released for Week 1, Monday Night Football games and some other key matchups.

As we wait for the real action to begin, we decided to take a look at some of the worst betting seasons in NFL history. Our NFL Nation reporters give their perspective on the worst individual seasons against the spread, using research from ESPN Stats & Information.


1976 Buccaneers (2-10-2, .167)

This expansion team was classic "Yucks" (short for "Yuckaneers") football, going 0-14 in its inaugural season and becoming the first team in modern NFL history to go winless in a season. The Bucs failed to score any points in five games and finished last in the league in points scored (125 for the season) and touchdowns (14).

Although the Bucs drafted a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in Lee Roy Selmon, the rest of the team had little talent. NFL free agency didn't start until 1993, and back then, NFL rules allowed existing teams to protect all but five players on their active rosters, which means that to form the team, Tampa Bay was relegated to selecting from a pool of aging, injured players. -- Jenna Laine


1980 Steelers (3-13, .188)

If 1972 marked the start of Pittsburgh's dynasty, the 1980 season signaled the end of it. After winning Super Bowl XIV against the L.A. Rams in January, the Steelers started to lose effectiveness the next season and ended their streak of eight consecutive playoff appearances with a 9-7 regular-season finish. The defense, once the cornerstone of the championship seasons, went from second in yards allowed to 15th and surrendered 313 points (also 15th). The Steelers came out on the losing end of several close games, dropping seven games by an average of 7.5 points, including three by two or fewer points. After the season, running back Rocky Bleier retired, kicking off a slew of retirements of key players over the next couple of seasons and a slide into mediocrity that marked the 1980s. -- Brooke Pryor


1981 Patriots (3-13, .188)

When the Patriots were visiting the Baltimore Colts in the season finale on an eight-game losing streak, some called it the "Stupor Bowl" because the loser would earn the top pick in the next year's draft. The Patriots lost to finish the season 2-14. Eight of the team's losses were by seven or fewer points. Matt Cavanaugh and Steve Grogan split the quarterback duties. Tony Collins was the leading rusher (873 yards on 204 carries with seven TDs). Don Hasselbeck (46 catches) and Stanley Morgan (44) were leading receivers on a club that had one Pro Bowler (guard John Hannah). -- Mike Reiss


2007 Ravens (3-13, .188)

It was an imperfect storm in terms of projecting Baltimore in 2007. The Ravens were coming off their most successful season, a 13-3 record and a No. 2 seed in the playoffs. But injuries caused the season to unravel quickly and led to the firing of coach Brian Billick. How bad was it? The Ravens went through three quarterbacks: an aging Steve McNair, an underperforming Kyle Boller and a rookie fifth-round pick in Troy Smith. Baltimore covered only three times, which included a near-upset of the undefeated Patriots in which the Ravens were 19-point underdogs. The season hit bottom in Week 15, when the favored Ravens lost in overtime to the 0-13 Dolphins. That still ranks as one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history. -- Jamison Hensley


2011 Rams (3-13, .188)

Third season's a charm? That certainly wasn't the case for coach Steve Spagnuolo, who watched as his team sputtered to a 2-14 finish behind a dismal offense that ranked worst in the NFL and averaged only 12.1 points per game. The defense didn't fare much better, as it was pushed around for an average of 25.4 points per game, which ranked 26th in the league.

There was notable talent on the roster, including running back Steven Jackson and defensive linemen Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but the Rams could not overcome a plethora of injuries and subpar coaching. Spagnuolo was fired after the season.


2012 Eagles (3-13, .188)

Andy Reid's distinguished 14-year run in Philadelphia came to an end after a very difficult 2012 season in which the Eagles finished 4-12. It started off well enough, with the Eagles winning three of their first four games, but that was promptly followed by an eight-game slide and a splintering inside the building.

Former offensive line coach Juan Castillo, who was shockingly named defensive coordinator the previous season, was fired from that role in October amid infighting on the staff and was replaced by Todd Bowles. A litany of injuries to key players, including Jason Peters and Michael Vick, impacted Reid's ability to fend off the collapse. -- Tim McManus


2014 Titans (3-13, .188)

The 2014 Titans won only two games and finished 1-5 within the division. Ken Whisenhunt's first season as head coach was a forgettable one, as Tennessee had its worst season since 1994. Before the season, the Titans didn't pick up quarterback Jake Locker's fifth-year option. Locker attempted only 146 passes in 12 games and was placed on injured reserve before retiring when the season was over. Eight of the Titans' losses were by at least 14 points. -- Turron Davenport


1987 Bengals (3-12, .200)

Cincinnati's 1987 campaign was sandwiched between two pretty good seasons. The Bengals suffered a loss to San Francisco early in the season before the NFL Players Association went on strike. Cincinnati lost two of its three games with replacement players. That form continued once the 24-day impasse ended, as the Bengals dropped nine of the final 11 games that season. To add to the team's problems, longtime quarterback Ken Anderson retired in June, leaving a short transition into the Boomer Esiason era. Cincinnati finished the season with a 4-11 record (one game wasn't played because of the strike) and was a woeful 3-12 ATS. -- Ben Baby


1981 Colts (3-12-1, .200)

The Colts' defense found its way into the record books in 1981. Too bad it wasn't for anything good. Indianapolis set then-NFL records for yards (6,793) and points (533) allowed in a season. The unit gave up at least 21 points in all 16 games and at least 25 points in all but two games. To make things worse, the Colts scored only 259 points on offense that season. Things were so bad for the Colts that owner Bob Irsay sat with the assistant coaches, put on headphones and called plays during a game against Philadelphia. The Colts lost to the Eagles 38-13. -- Mike Wells


1997 Cowboys (3-12-1, .200)

This was a team that had all but cashed out on Barry Switzer on its way to a 6-10 record. The Cowboys lost their last five games and were far removed from the team that won a Super Bowl in Switzer's second season. The torch was passed to Green Bay on Nov. 23 in a 45-17 Packers win at Lambeau Field. The Bengals, riding the high of Boomer Esiason's insertion into the lineup, even beat the Cowboys.

Perhaps this was the end of the Triplets' dominance, but nobody really knew it at the time. Jerry Jones hired Chan Gailey as Switzer's replacement, and Dallas made the playoffs in 1998 and 1999, but though Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin remained, this team no longer struck fear into opponents. -- Todd Archer


2003 Raiders (3-12-1, .200)

Talk about Super Bowl hangovers. A season after being thumped by once and future coach Jon Gruden and the Buccaneers 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders had the same pieces in place for another run at the Lombardi trophy. Alas, they got old overnight. Reigning MVP quarterback Rich Gannon got hurt, and neither Rick Mirer nor Marques Tuiasosopo could right the ship. After a 2-2 start, the Raiders dropped five straight and 10 of their last 12, prompting coach Bill Callahan to refer to his team as "the dumbest team in America, in terms of playing the game" after a Week 13 loss to the Broncos. That did not go over well in the locker room, especially with Charles Woodson, and the season, which was long since lost, became an unmitigated disaster. The Raiders did not have another winning season until 2016. -- Paul Gutierrez