Playoff Droughts

DENVER - AUGUST 21: The goal posts on the south end of the field aim skyward as clouds filter the fading sun as the Denver Broncos host the Detroit Lions during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21 2010 in Denver Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

     Every year, we draw close to the start of the season asking "Will this be the year?" "Will this be the year we see our beloved Broncos take a mighty step forward?" "Will this be the year we see them back in the playoffs?"

     When pondering questions like those, sometimes two totally separated lines of thought come crashing together and result in a post. This is what happened today. While talking with a coworker (who happens to be a 49ers fan) about what each of us thinks 2011 holds for our teams, the topic naturally came up about whether or not each of us felt like our respective teams had a shot at the playoffs. We were both left with the "it could happen" attitude, despite the fact that both of our teams have been in something of a "playoff drought."

     Now the second line of thought: I recently added an app to my iPad called "NFL 2011." It is a news reader put out by the NFL. It gives easy access to game schedules, previews, live game tracking, statistics, NFL headlines, team-specific headlines and standings.

     One of the headlines caught my attention when it announced that "[Bradie] James says Cowboys need change in organizational culture." Liking to read anything that puts the Cowboys in a less than perfect light -- I had to live with the whole "We're God's team" mythos for 3 years while attending grad school in Fort Worth, Texas -- I skimmed the article.

     What tweaked my curiosity was not James' description of what he believes is wrong with the Cowboys organization, but rather the following sentence:

"The Cowboys have only one postseason victory to their credit in the past 15 years."

     I thought, "Really?"  So, I decided to do a bit of research and see if that statement was accurate. That led me to take a look at the playoff droughts for all 32 NFL teams.

Take a jump and see how the various teams have fared.

I decided to look at five basic questions:

1)When was the last season that the team made the playoffs (and how many years has it been since their last post season appearance)?

2)When was the last season that the team won a postseason game (and how many years has it been since their last postseason victory)?

3)How many postseason victories does the team have in the last fifteen seasons (the fifteen season span is simply an arbitrary number drawn from the original Cowboys article)?

4)Just for fun, how many Super Bowl appearances does the team have in that fifteen year span?

5)Also for fun, how many Super Bowls has the team won in that span?


Team Last PO Yrs Since Last PO Win Yrs Since PO Wins in Last 15 SB Appear SB Wins
Arizona 2009 1 2009 1 5 1 0
Atlanta 2010 0 2004 6 4 1 0
Baltimore* 2010 0 2010 0 9 1 1
Buffalo 1999 11 1995 15 0 0 0
Carolina 2008 2 2005 5 6 1 0
Chicago 2010 0 2010 0 3 1 0
Cincinnati 2009 1 1990 20 0 0 0
Cleveland 2002 8 1994 16 0 0 0
Dallas 2009 1 2009 1 2 0 0
Denver 2005 5 2005 5 8 2 2
Detroit 1999 11 1991 19 0 0 0
Green Bay 2010 0 2010 0 12 3 2
Houston** NONE 9 NONE 9 0 0 0
Indianapolis 2010 0 2009 1 9 2 1
Jacksonville*** 2007 3 2007 3 5 0 0
Kansas City 2010 0 1993 17 0 0 0
Miami 2008 2 2000 10 3 0 0
Minnesota 2009 1 2009 1 6 0 0
New England 2010 0 2007 3 17 5 3
New Orleans 2010 0 2009 1 5 1 1
New York Giants 2008 2 2007 3 6 2 1
New York Jets 2010 0 2010 0 7 0 0
Oakland 2002 8 2002 8 4 1 0
Philadelphia 2010 0 2008 2 10 1 0
Pittsburgh 2010 0 2010 0 14 3 2
San Diego 2009 1 2008 2 3 0 0
San Francisco 2002 8 2002 8 4 0 0
Seattle 2010 0 2010 0 5 1 0
St. Louis 2004 6 2004 6 6 2 1
Tampa Bay 2007 3 2002 8 5 1 1
Tennessee 2008 2 2003 7 5 1 0
Washington 2007 3 2005 5 2 0 0

*The Ravens were franchised in 1996. **The Texans were franchised in 2002. ***The Jaguars were franchised in 1995.

     The shortest length of time since a postseason appearance is 0 seasons; it is shared by the twelve playoff teams from last season -- Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

     The longest drought without a playoff appearance is 11 seasons; it is shared by two teams -- Buffalo and Detroit.

     The shortest span since a postseason victory is 0 seasons; it is shared by six teams -- Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Pittsburgh and Seattle, who all won at least one game in the 2010 playoffs.

     The longest drought without a playoff victory is 20 seasons. This dubious record is held by the Cincinnati Bengals. They are closely followed by Detroit (19), Kansas City (17), Cleveland (16) and Buffalo (15).

     The fewest playoff victories in the last fifteen seasons is 0; it is shared by six teams -- Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston and Kansas City. Though, in Houston's defense, it must be pointed out that the Texans have only been in existence for nine seasons. On the other hand, they've also never made the postseason in their history.

     The most playoff victories in the last fifteen seasons is 17 -- a record held by New England. The Patriots are followed by Pittsburgh (14), Green Bay (12), Indianapolis & Baltimore (9) and Denver (8).

     The team with the most Super Bowl appearances (wins + losses) is New England with 5. They are followed by Green Bay and Pittsburgh with 3 each. Those top three teams are followed by Denver, Indianapolis, New York Giants and St. Louis with 2 each.

     Of course, there are fourteen teams who were not able to make it into the Super Bowl during the last fifteen seasons: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Minnesota, New York Jets, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington.

     The Patriots are also the team with the most Super Bowl wins (3) during the last fifteen seasons. They are followed closely by Denver, Green Bay and Pittsburgh with 2 each.

     Is this all to say that we should be content to rest on the Broncos' laurels, or that we shouldn't be unhappy that Denver has not made it to the postseason, let alone won a postseason game in the last five years?

     Absolutely not! We should continue doing what we've been doing for at least five years now -- demanding that the Broncos put together a team capable of making the playoffs. Not only that, but build a team that will make it to the postseason more often than it misses the playoffs for years to come.

Here's to the hope -- and the belief -- that 2011 will be the first step in making that happen.

Go Broncos!!!!!!

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