Which NFL fan bases have it the worst right now? It's a question the Sports Misery Index tackled when originally published in September 2018. As we approach the conclusion of the 2019 season, we're taking a look at which NFL fan bases currently have it the worst and which don't (cough, the Patriots, cough).
The Index takes into account five factors: championships, playoff berths, playoff wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison, with recent events being weighted more heavily than events that took place decades ago. We've also added a misery bonus for teams that have gone 25-plus seasons without a championship. You can read more on the categories in our main Misery Index that covers multiple sports, but we'll identify how each NFL team rates in each category here.
Total score: 27.24
All-sport rank: 2
Ranking by category: Championships, 7; Playoff berths, 3; Playoff wins, 4; Heartbreaks, 28; Rival comparison, 1
Where they're especially miserable: It has been a rough two decades for the Bills, who made the playoffs only once in the previous 19 seasons since being victimized by the "Music City Miracle" in the 1999 wild-card round. Buffalo hasn't won a playoff game since the 1995 season and hasn't won a championship since its AFL days in the 1960s, qualifying it for the misery bonus. While the Bills have struggled, the rival Patriots have won six Super Bowls and played in four others since the Bills' last playoff win. Even their times of great success (the four straight Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s) were sullied by the fact they lost every single one of them.
Trend: The Bills took advantage of a friendly schedule, a stingy defense and improvement from Josh Allen to get back to the postseason for the second time in three years. That should eventually move them down a bit, and if they can break their quarter-century playoff win drought, the drop could be substantial.
Total score: 24.95
All-sport rank: 4
Ranking by category: Championships, 9; Playoff berths, 1; Playoff wins, 3; Heartbreaks, 27; Rival comparison, 4
Where they're especially miserable: The Browns have the longest playoff drought in the NFL, as they haven't made the postseason since the 2002 season. They've made the playoffs only once since rebooting the franchise in 1999, and no version of the Browns has won a playoff game since 1994. Cleveland is one of only four franchises that has yet to play in a Super Bowl, and the team hasn't won a championship since 1964, when Jim Brown was still active. The Browns had a winless season in 2017, and don't get older fans started on "The Drive" or "The Fumble."
Trend: There was an expected Browns renaissance after their seven-game improvement from 2017 to 2018, but it turned into yet another dead end, as Baker Mayfield regressed, Myles Garrett hit a quarterback with a helmet and Cleveland couldn't dig itself out of a 2-6 hole to make the playoffs. With the Bills making the postseason, Browns fans will be the most miserable in the NFL yet again.
Total score: 23.38
All-sport rank: 6
Ranking by category: Championships, 4 (tie); Playoff berths, 4; Playoff wins, 17; Heartbreaks, 19; Rival comparison, 3
Where they're especially miserable: This will be the ninth consecutive season the Jets have missed the playoffs, the third-longest streak in the NFL, and they haven't made the Super Bowl since Joe Namath's guarantee in Super Bowl III. Yes, it has been 51 years since Broadway Joe shocked the Baltimore Colts, tacking a misery bonus on top of an angst résumé that was already full. Maybe that's why the Jets are a natural target for butt fumbles and firing GMs after spending hundreds of millions in free agency on players like Le'Veon Bell. And we haven't mentioned Bill Belichick yet.
Trend: This season was over before it started, as the Jets fell in a hole as Sam Darnold contracted mononucleosis early and had a case of the ghosts in midseason. New York played better in the second half of the season, but it's nearly a decade removed from making (and losing) in the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010.
Total score: 22.37
All-sport rank: 7
Ranking by category: Championships, 11; Playoff berths, 12; Playoff wins, 5; Heartbreaks, 31; Rival comparison, 2
Where they're especially miserable: The Dolphins have spiraled since Dan Marino retired after the end of the 1999 season, as they've made the playoffs only twice since 2001 and haven't won a playoff game since 2000. Miami has missed the playoffs nine of the past 10 seasons and hasn't been to the Super Bowl since the 1984 season. Needless to say, the Dolphins have a substantial championship drought going as well, as they haven't won the title since prevailing in Super Bowl VIII after the 1973 season. And they also have the issue of sharing a division with the Patriots.
Trend: The "Tank for Tua" strategy didn't work, as the Dolphins weren't bad enough to get the No. 1 pick, and Tua Tagavailoa had a severe hip injury that will affect his draft status. That said, Miami did accumulate draft picks with its unconventional approach. If it hits big on a few, the Dolphins' rebuilding process could speed up.
Total score: 20.7
All-sport rank: 10
Ranking by category: Championships, 6; Playoff berths, 10; Playoff wins, 1; Heartbreaks, 20 (tie); Rival comparison, 5
Where they're especially miserable: The Lions have retained their position in the overall top 10 thanks to not having won an NFL championship since 1957, the longest drought in the league for a team that has remained in the same city. But the championship drought is the tip of the iceberg for Detroit fans. The Lions have won only one playoff game since that '57 title and currently have the NFL record for most consecutive playoff losses, dropping nine postseason games in a row since winning a divisional playoff game in 1991. They've now missed the playoffs three years in a row after making it three times from 2011 to 2016.
Trend: Matthew Stafford performed well when healthy, but the defense was completely overwhelmed despite the Lions having a former defensive coordinator as a head coach. The Patriot Way hasn't taken in the Motor City thus far, and it seems doubtful that it will. So more of the same in Detroit, and the early retirements of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson make more sense by the day.
Total score: 18.38
All-sport rank: 18
Ranking by category: Championships, 16; Playoff berths, 6; Playoff wins, 6; Heartbreaks, 25; Rival comparison, 6
Where they're especially miserable: Like the Dolphins, the Redskins used to be a powerhouse but have fallen on bad times, which many of their fans blame on owner Daniel Snyder. No matter who's to blame, Washington has been in a bad place since Joe Gibbs retired in 1992. Since then, the Redskins have been to the playoffs only five times, never in back-to-back seasons. Washington hasn't been very successful in the rare times it has made the postseason, as it hasn't won a playoff game since 2005 and has won only two since 1999 (one of those coming when Gibbs returned). Fans in their mid-30s and older can remember the days of "The Hogs," when the Redskins won three Super Bowls from 1982 to 1991 and played in a fourth, but that doesn't help the current misery.
Trend: Back to the bottom again. The defense struggled and rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins went through severe growing pains in 2019. Washington is rid of Jay Gruden, but you can't blame Redskins fans for not having much excitement for the next coaching search, as leading the Redskins has been a pretty fruitless enterprise no matter the résumé.
Total score: 17.25
All-sport rank: 21
Ranking by category: Championships, 12; Playoff berths, 9; Playoff wins, 9; Heartbreaks, 17; Rival comparison, 9
Where they're especially miserable: The Bears were the hottest team in the NFL going into the 2018 playoffs, riding a stifling defense to their first division title and playoff berth since 2010. Their Super Bowl run ended as soon as it began, though, as Cody Parkey clanked a potential winning field goal attempt in a wild-card loss to the Eagles. They backslid this year and are still stuck on two playoff appearances since making the Super Bowl after the 2006 season, highlighting the rarity of great opportunities in Chicago. At least there's the "Super Bowl Shuffle" from the legendary 1985 team to fall back on, right?
Trend: Once again, the Bears find themselves questioning their direction at quarterback after a rough season from former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. Having a top defense is great, but until the Bears figure out their quarterback situation (something that has plagued them for decades), the misery will be in plentiful supply.
Total score: 17.13
All-sport rank: 23
Ranking by category: Championships, 21; Playoff berths, 2; Playoff wins, 7; Heartbreaks, 26; Rival comparison, 7
Where they're especially miserable: The Buccaneers have the longest playoff drought of teams not named the Cleveland Browns, as Tampa Bay hasn't been to the postseason since 2007. The Bucs haven't won a playoff game since they won Super Bowl XXXVII after the 2002 season, as that 2002 run -- led by Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks -- produced half of the franchise's overall playoff victories. Besides mini-runs of success in 1979-81 and 1997-2002, being a fan of the Buccaneers has been pretty miserable. The Buccaneers lost their first 26 games as a franchise and have mostly struggled since.
Trend: The first year under Bruce Arians saw explosive offensive play, but the defense's midseason issues kept the Bucs from being a factor until it was too late. While there are questions about Jameis Winston's future because of his interceptions, getting the pass defense to be passable (no pun intended) should be the next move.
Total score: 17.12
All-sport rank: 24
Ranking by category: Championships, 17; Playoff berths, 5; Playoff wins, 8; Heartbreaks, 22; Rival comparison, 10
Where they're especially miserable: There was some bad karma in Super Bowl XXXVII apparently, as the Raiders also haven't won a playoff game since losing to the Bucs. Of course, it's hard to win playoff games when you don't qualify for the postseason, as the Raiders probably will miss the playoffs for the 16th time in 17 years. And while there are plenty of national Raiders fans who will stick with the team after they move to Las Vegas, the local Oakland fans have to deal with their beloved Silver & Black leaving them twice. And the Antonio Brown fiasco was quite the headache.
Trend: The Raiders gave Oakland fans a little bit of hope before shoving off to Sin City, as their assortment of young players such as Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby and Clellin Ferrell put the Raiders in playoff contention. The Raiders are going to fall because of the move, but they would prefer to drop out of the top 25 based on on-field results.
Total score: 14.31
All-sport rank: 34
Ranking by category: Championships, 10; Playoff berths, 14; Playoff wins, 12; Heartbreaks, 29; Rival comparison, 8
Where they're especially miserable: The Cardinals weren't exactly tearing it up before they moved to Arizona, but their performance in Phoenix has been mostly subpar. Arizona has only been to the playoffs five times since moving to the desert in 1988 and went from losing in the NFC Championship Game four years ago to the worst record in the league in 2018. Their current coach had a losing record in the Big 12 and their one Super Bowl appearance was ruined by a late Santonio Holmes touchdown.
Trend: There was skepticism about the Kliff Kingsbury coaching hire, but the Cardinals were improved this season, Kyler Murray showed flashes of being a star and another year of watching Larry Fitzgerald was a good thing. While Arizona's division is brutal and it could be a while before the Cardinals get back to the postseason, at least they're kind of fun to watch now.
11. Tennessee Titans
Total score: 14.21
All-sport rank: 35
Ranking by category: Championships, 15; Playoff berths, 11; Playoff wins, 10 (tie); Heartbreaks, 14; Rival comparison, 11
Where they're especially miserable: The joy of winning a playoff game in 2017 has disappeared, as the Titans were whupped by the Colts in a winner-take-all 2018 season finale to fall short of the postseason. That makes it nine times in 10 seasons that Tennessee missed the playoffs before this season. The Titans had an extremely painful loss the one time they made the Super Bowl (their fans still can't believe Mike Jones tackled Kevin Dyson), and have long-term quarterback questions. And the "Music City Miracle" season of 1999 is now 20 years in the past.
Trend: The Marcus Mariota experience busted out this season, as he was replaced early by Ryan Tannehill. While Tannehill played admirably in keeping the Titans alive in the postseason hunt, is he capable of being the long-term answer or will he revert to his previous inconsistency?
Total score: 14.06
All-sport rank: 36
Ranking by category: Championships, 3; Playoff berths, 17; Playoff wins, 2; Heartbreaks, 16; Rival comparison, 13
Where they're especially miserable: The past four years have been bad enough, as the Bengals have bottomed out as one of the worst teams in the league. But the biggest reason for Cincinnati fan angst comes from the Bengals' playoff win drought, which is the longest in the NFL. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since defeating the Houston Oilers (yes, the Oilers were still a thing) in the 1990 wild-card round. It has been eight postseason losses since, including a particularly painful meltdown against the Steelers in 2015 that capped off a run of six playoff appearances, but no playoff wins, from 2009 to 2015.
Trend: Bengals fans knew that things would get bad, but they didn't anticipate threatening the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns for winless futility for three months. With the Andy Dalton era looking to be over, Cincinnati has a full rebuild ahead of it. Don't be surprised if the Bengals crack the top 25 relatively soon.
Total score: 13.88
All-sport rank: 38
Ranking by category: Championships, 13 (tie); Playoff berths, 7; Playoff wins, 15; Heartbreaks, 24; Rival comparison, 12
Where they're especially miserable: The 2017 season seems to be a mirage, as the Jaguars are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. That makes the heartbreak they received in the 2017 AFC Championship Game, when the Jags blew a 10-point, second-half lead to the Patriots thanks to some Tom Brady magic and a dash of controversy (Jags fans insist that Myles Jack wasn't down), even crueler in retrospect. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was sent to the Rams after demanding a trade, and Jacksonville has now missed the playoffs 11 times in 12 seasons.
Trend: Gardner Minshew might be the guy going forward, as Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles was injured early and benched when he returned. That, plus a depreciating defense and likely administrative shakeup suggests that the Jags' contending window is already closed. At least Leonard Fournette seems to have turned a corner.
Total score: 12.64
All-sport rank: 41
Ranking by category: Championships, 4; Playoff berths, 15; Playoff wins, 16; Heartbreaks, 15; Rival comparison, 17
Where they're especially miserable: The Chargers have one of the longest championship droughts in the NFL, as they haven't won a title since 1963. For reference, the Chargers were then in the AFL and also located in San Diego. Los Angeles has been slow to adopt the Chargers -- who moved from San Diego in 2017 -- as its own, and the franchise's star-crossed history might have something to do with it. Prior to last season, the Chargers had missed the playoffs seven times in eight seasons, and they have played in only one Super Bowl, which was 25 years ago.
Trend: The 2018 playoff berth, and subsequent win, was quickly forgotten. The Chargers faltered in close games this season and will miss the playoffs for the eighth time in 10 seasons. Worse yet, Philip Rivers struggled with turnovers and could be losing the battle to Father Time. Despite the in-house talent, L.A. isn't equipped to start over at QB right now.
Total score: 12.62
All-sport rank: 42
Ranking by category: Championships, 18 (tie); Playoff berths, 8; Playoff wins, 19; Heartbreaks, 10; Rival comparison, 14
Where they're especially miserable: It has been a bummer for the 49ers since they lost the 2013 NFC Championship Game to the Seahawks on a late tipped interception. The 49ers missed the playoffs the five seasons prior to this one and are on their fourth coach since that loss. The last coach not named Jim Harbaugh to get the Niners to the playoffs was Steve Mariucci -- in 2002. They were a popular breakout pick last season, but Jimmy Garoppolo's torn ACL derailed San Francisco's season early, relegating the 49ers to a miserable 4-12 record.
Trend: Behind a dominating defensive line, a physical running game and some timely Jimmy G magic, the 49ers exploded this season, winning their first nine games and evoking memories of the 1981-1994 run in which the 49ers won five Super Bowls. Not only is San Francisco going to make the playoffs, it is a prime Super Bowl contender. The Niners will fall in the next update, potentially quite a bit.
Total score: 12.46
All-sport rank: 44
Ranking by category: Championships, 1; Playoff berths, 18; Playoff wins, 13; Heartbreaks, 8 (tie); Rival comparison, 16
Where they're especially miserable: The Vikings are the oldest franchise to have never won an NFL or AFL championship, as they're 0 for 58 since 1961. Minnesota hasn't made it to the title game in over 40 years; its last Super Bowl appearance came after the 1976 season. The Vikes have faltered in the NFC Championship Game six times since, most recently two years ago. To make matters worse, they missed the playoffs last season despite high expectations after making the NFC Championship game in 2017, losing a must-win finale to the Bears at home even though Chicago clinched and had nothing to play for.
Trend: Year 2 of the Kirk Cousins era looks closer to what Vikings fans expected when he was signed to a fully guaranteed contract. His improved play, plus the explosion from running back Dalvin Cook, has the Vikings back in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Whether they're capable of breaking the streaks above is still up for debate, though.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Total score: 9.95
All-sport rank: 57 (tied)
Ranking by category: Championships, 2; Playoff berths, 16; Playoff wins, 22; Heartbreaks, 8 (tie); Rival comparison, 18
Where they're especially miserable: The wounds of Super Bowl LI haven't healed yet, as the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead over the Patriots before losing in the only overtime game in Super Bowl history. That game was the single most devastating defeat in the heartbreak formula and highlights the fact that Atlanta hasn't won a championship in its 54 seasons of existence. The Falcons haven't been the same since that defeat, as they're about to miss the playoffs for the second straight year. Things feel closer to what they were pre-Matt Ryan (eight playoff berths in 42 season) than what they've been since Ryan was drafted in 2008 (six in 12).
Trend: Another horrible start led to another disappointing season, as the Falcons lost seven of their first eight games to put themselves way behind in the competitive NFC. While they played better in the second half of the season, they're trending in the wrong direction and could be breaking in a new coach next season.
Total score: 8.95
All-sport rank: 60
Ranking by category: Championships, 8; Playoff berths, 25; Playoff wins, 14; Heartbreaks, 7; Rival comparison, 19
Where they're more miserable: The Chiefs were eliminated in overtime of the AFC Championship Game last year without getting a chance to touch the ball, as the Patriots scored a touchdown on the first possession. That added to the Arrowhead Stadium postseason misery, as the Chiefs have dropped seven of their past eight playoff home games dating to 1995. They've also blown two 18-plus-point leads in playoff games since 2013. These struggles are a primary reason why the Chiefs are 50 years removed from their last Super Bowl appearance and title.
Trend: Injuries on offense to Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill have slowed the Chiefs down a bit this season, but they're back where they want to be -- in the playoffs. If Mahomes can get hot and get completely back to his 2018, 50-touchdown-pass form and the defense can continue its improvement, the Chiefs will be a prime contender to come out of the AFC and win the Super Bowl.
19. New York Giants
Total score: 5.66
All-sport rank: 67
Ranking by category: Championships, 28; Playoff berths, 13; Playoff wins, 21; Heartbreaks, 23; Rival comparison, 15
Where they're most miserable: The Giants have only been to the playoffs once since beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI after the 2011 season and haven't won a playoff game since that victory. They've missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and have only made it twice in the past 11 years. Coupled with some questionable moves from the front office -- most notably trading away star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. -- and there's not much for Giants fans to trust right now. The two recent Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011 (over Tom Brady and the Patriots, no less) are the biggest reason they're not higher despite a subpar past eight seasons.
Trend: While this season was another stinker record-wise, one of the moves that GM Dave Gettleman was panned for (the drafting of QB Daniel Jones at No. 6) might not be so bad after all. "Danny Dimes" showed promise as a rookie and ended the Eli Manning era. If Jones can be more careful with the ball, the G-Men might have someone to build around.
20. Dallas Cowboys
Total score: 4.07
All-sport rank: 70
Ranking by category: Championships, 20; Playoff berths, 24; Playoff wins, 20; Heartbreaks, 5; Rival comparison, 22
Where they're especially miserable: Not only are the Cowboys 24 years removed from their last Super Bowl title, they haven't been that close since. The Cowboys haven't made the NFC Championship Game since their 1995 title season, the third-worst mark in the NFC. The only two teams with bigger droughts, the Lions and the Redskins, are in the top 20 of misery. Dallas has found extremely painful ways to not get to the NFC title game, with the Dez Bryant "catch" game in 2014 being one of two gut-punch losses to the Packers the past five years.
Trend: The Cowboys have drafted well and are good enough to be in the playoff hunt almost every year (they've won three NFC East titles since 2014) but are a bit too flawed to be a championship contender, which is par for the course under Jason Garrett. If Dallas can't overachieve and get to (at least) the NFC title game, then Jerry Jones' patience with Garrett will likely run out.
21. Houston Texans
Total score: 3.37
All-sport rank: 76 (tie)
Ranking by category: Championships, 18 (tie); Playoff berths, 23; Playoff wins, 10 (tie); Heartbreaks, 32; Rival comparison, 21
Why they're especially miserable: Because they haven't quite had that breakthrough season. The Texans haven't advanced past the divisional playoff round in their previous 17 seasons of existence, most recently getting tripped up by the Patriots in 2016. Houston hasn't quite been able to put together a complete team in its history, either due to injuries or a roster that was deficient in one key area. Right now, that deficiency is the offensive line, which was exposed in last year's wild-card loss to the division rival Colts.
Trend: The Texans are loaded with star players, as Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are arguably the best QB-receiver combo in the NFL while J.J. Watt is an elite pass-rusher (when healthy). They've also won their second straight AFC South title and are on their way to their sixth playoff appearance since 2011. That said, the "yeah, but" factor will continue to exist for the Texans until they break through and make it to the AFC title game.
Total score: 3.13
All-sport rank: 78 (tie)
Ranking by category: Championships, 13 (tie); Playoff berths, 19; Playoff wins, 23; Heartbreaks, 30; Rival comparison, 20
Why they're especially miserable: The Panthers are compulsively unable to string together back-to-back winning seasons, having never done so since they started playing in 1995. That schizophrenic streak was extended in 2018 in especially painful fashion, as they lost seven games in a row after a 6-2 start. Carolina has not been able to build on its run to Super Bowl 50 in 2015, as it hasn't won a playoff game since and is about to miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
Trend: Not only were the Panthers not able to get back to the playoffs, they now have a crisis at quarterback. With injuries adding up on Cam Newton (he only played two games this season) and Kyle Allen struggling once defenses started to figure him out, Carolina could be starting the 2020s with a new QB and new coach. But at least they have Christian McCaffrey.
Total score: 0.45
All-sport rank: 82
Ranking by category: Championships, 24; Playoff berths, 20; Playoff wins, 24; Heartbreaks, 6; Rival comparison, 24
Why they're especially miserable: Because they've had the gnarliest back-to-back, stomach-punch playoff loss combo since the Browns had "The Drive" and "The Fumble" in the late 1980s. First was the "Minneapolis Miracle," when Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle on the last play to let Stefon Diggs score a walk-off touchdown. Then came the "No Call," when an obvious pass interference against Nickell Robey-Coleman was missed as the Saints were attempting to run out the clock on the Rams, resulting in L.A. winning in overtime and the NFL changing its rules. It's good to be in those games, but New Orleans fans would prefer they not end so painfully.
Trend: The Saints are loaded, as they were able to cruise to an NFC South title despite future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and Pro Bowl RB Alvin Kamara missing significant time with injuries. New Orleans might have its best defense since the Rickey Jackson/Sam Mills/Pat Swilling days. Will that get the Saints over the heartbreak hump and win them their second Super Bowl title since 2009?
24. Los Angeles Rams
Total score: -1.92
All-sport rank: 88
Ranking by category: Championships, 26; Playoff berths, 28; Playoff wins, 18; Heartbreaks, 20 (tie); Rival comparison, 23
Why they're especially miserable: After leading the way last year, the Rams' offense pulled a complete disappearing act in the most recent Super Bowl, losing to the Patriots 13-3. That loss makes it 68 years since the Rams won the 1951 NFL championship, their last title in Los Angeles. While having a 20-plus-year break from professional football lowers the misery level of that stat quite a bit, older Southern California Rams fans who stuck it out haven't been able to celebrate a championship.
Trend: The Super Bowl Hangover hit greater Los Angeles this season, as the offensive problems of last year's Super Bowl bled into the 2019 season. With both Jared Goff and Todd Gurley II regressing amid an NFC (and NFC West) that was extremely competitive, the Rams missed the postseason for the first time in three seasons under Sean McVay.
25. Baltimore Ravens
Total score: -5.11
All-sport rank: 95
Ranking by category: Championships, 29; Playoff berths, 26; Playoff wins, 26; Heartbreaks, 3; Rival comparison, 25
Where they're especially miserable: Normally a consistently successful franchise, the Ravens backslid a bit since winning Super Bowl XLVII over the 49ers, missing the playoffs four of the past six seasons and only winning one playoff game since. The Ravens haven't won a postseason game since 2014, as Lamar Jackson was strip-sacked late in last year's wild-card loss to the Chargers. And their defense isn't quite at its traditional level.
Trend: John Harbaugh's decision to go all-in on Jackson last year has been rewarded, as Jackson's improvement in the passing game to complement his explosive running skills has made him this year's MVP favorite. The Ravens have an explosive offense for the first time ever, have won their second consecutive AFC North title and, with home-field advantage, could easily win a third Super Bowl this season.
26. Denver Broncos
Total score: -5.57
All-sport rank: 96
Ranking by category: Championships, 31; Playoff berths, 21; Playoff wins, 25; Heartbreaks, 13; Rival comparison, 28
Where they're especially miserable: The Broncos have struggled mightily since beating the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, missing the playoffs the past four seasons. Denver is coming off back-to-back double-digit loss seasons, the first time that's happened since the AFL days, and could be on the verge of a third. Many of the problems of the past four years have come from instability at quarterback, as the Broncos have struggled to find a replacement for Peyton Manning. It's weird that a franchise that has had Manning and John Elway would have QB issues, but here we are.
Trend: The Broncos will remain in their current funk and expand their misery until Elway, now the GM, finds that next quarterback. Veteran Joe Flacco was clearly not the answer, and most of rookie Drew Lock's first season was scrapped due to injury. The stout defense is showing signs of wear, so the offensive talent level must increase quickly if the Broncos are going to sniff a ninth Super Bowl appearance and fourth Super Bowl title in the near future.
Total score: -7.44
All-sport rank: 100
Ranking by category: Championships, 30; Playoff berths, 22; Playoff wins, 29; Heartbreaks, 11; Rival comparison, 26
Where they're especially miserable: The Eagles' defense of their Super Bowl LII title was a bit uneven, as they had to ride some more Nick Foles magic to sneak into the playoffs. After a fortunate wild-card victory over the Bears, Foles' good fortune ran out against the Saints in the divisional playoffs, as the normally sure-handed Alshon Jeffery saw a Foles pass go through his hands and into New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore's at the two-minute warning for the game-ending interception as the Eagles were driving for a potential game-winning touchdown.
Trend: The Eagles have gone through another up-and-down season but find themselves in the postseason hunt yet again, as they've been to two Super Bowls and six NFC title games since 2001. However, there's no Foles to get those postseason wins, so can Carson Wentz take his game to the next level? The answer to that question could define Philadelphia for years to come.
Total score: -7.59
All-sport rank: 101
Ranking by category: Championships, 22; Playoff berths, 29; Playoff wins, 27; Heartbreaks, 12; Rival comparison, 29
Why they're especially miserable: The Colts got a stomach punch usually reserved for Lions fans, as Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired last month at age 29 two weeks before the season started. Besides that, Indy's misery is mainly due to playoff games against the Patriots, as the Colts have been dispatched by the Patriots four times in the postseason since 2003, including twice in AFC championships. The most recent AFC title game loss to New England came after the 2014 season in a game that spawned the "Deflategate" controversy. At least they have the Super Bowl XLI title in the relatively recent past.
Trend: Jacoby Brissett might not be Andrew Luck, but he has shown the ability at times to be Indy's guy for the future. Even though the Colts missed the playoffs, Brissett's potential plus GM Chris Ballard's eye for talent (he drafted Pro Bowlers Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard last year) will keep the Colts relevant in the AFC.
Total score: -8.93
All-sport rank: 105
Ranking by category: Championships, 23; Playoff berths, 30; Playoff wins, 28; Heartbreaks, 18; Rival comparison, 27
Where they're especially miserable: A drama-filled season last year saw the Steelers falter late and miss the playoffs, as a crucial 1-4 stretch -- capped by a late JuJu Smith-Schuster fumble in a Week 16 loss to the Saints -- kept Pittsburgh out of the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The playoff miss was capped off with an extra insult in the final week, as the Steelers players helplessly watched the Ravens beat the Browns on the Heinz Field video screen to block them out of the playoffs. They've won six Super Bowl titles, but it's been over a decade since the last one.
Trend: Not much went right for the Steelers early, as Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out for the season in the second game and Smith-Schuster and James Conner had trouble adjusting to starring roles (when they were actually healthy). But a stingy defense and a rookie quarterback nicknamed "Duck" could have the Steelers in the playoffs after all. While a seventh Super Bowl title is highly unlikely, a playoff berth this year could mean bigger things in the near future.
Total score: -9.19
All-sport rank: 106
Ranking by category: Championships, 27; Playoff berths, 27; Playoff wins, 31; Heartbreaks, 1; Rival comparison, 31
Where they're especially miserable: The Packers have scuffled the previous two years, suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1990-91 thanks to injuries to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay also has the highest heartbreak score in the NFL thanks to some rough playoff losses this decade, most notably overtime losses to the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Championship Game and to the Cardinals in the 2015 divisional round. In both defeats, the Packers didn't possess the ball in overtime.
Trend: They're baaack. The Packers are headed to the postseason yet again thanks to a) Rodgers staying healthy and b) the Smith "brothers" (pass-rushers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith) providing the defense with a shot in the arm. Getting back to the playoffs is a step in the right direction, and with Rodgers, who knows what will happen? Considering that the Packers have won four Super Bowls (including one with Rodgers in 2010) and have an NFL-best 13 titles, you can never count out the Pack.
31. Seattle Seahawks
Total score: -10.72
All-sport rank: 108
Ranking by category: Championships, 25; Playoff berths, 31; Playoff wins, 30; Heartbreaks, 4; Rival comparison, 30
Where they're especially miserable: Seahawks fans still have the shakes about the end of Super Bowl XLIX five years ago. Instead of running it in with Marshawn Lynch in the closing seconds to beat the Patriots, Pete Carroll got cute and called for a pass, which Malcolm Butler intercepted to deny Seattle a repeat title. The Seahawks have only won two playoff games in the four completed seasons since, the last one coming in 2016.
Trend: The Seahawks have skillfully transitioned from the Legion of Boom while continuing to win at a high level, as Russell Wilson is an MVP candidate while the defense started to hit its stride midseason. Not only is Seattle back in the postseason for the eighth time in 10 seasons, but the Seahawks could do some serious damage in the playoffs. A fourth Super Bowl appearance since 2005 and a second Super Bowl title this decade is in play.
Total score: -58.98
All-sport rank: 123
Ranking by category: Championships, 32; Playoff berths, 32; Playoff wins, 32; Heartbreaks, 2; Rival comparison, 32
Where they're especially miserable: Considering that they've won six Super Bowls since 2001 and have been to 11 Super Bowls total, they aren't at all -- especially considering that Tom Brady has played in more Super Bowls (9) than every other NFL franchise. But if we have to make up some reason for Patriots fans to complain, it's that they've lost three Super Bowls in the final minutes during the previous 12 seasons. Their loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII prevented a perfect season, while Brandon Graham's strip sack of Brady two years ago prevented a three-peat. But yeah, we're reaching big-time.
Trend: Another year, another season in which New England is in the mix to make a championship run. Brady and the offense haven't been prolific, but magically the Patriots have concocted a defense that's elite. Super Bowl win No. 7 could be in the offing, to the chagrin of every other fan base.