Those poor, spoiled Cleveland sports fans. The Cavaliers win the NBA title a few months ago… the Indians are in the World Series playing the Cubs… and then there’s the Browns.
It’s a good thing Browns fans can be distracted with a World Series, the start of the NBA season, and the Cavs getting their championship rings. With their 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns lost for the seventh time in seven games this season, and are the lone winless team left in the league in 2016.
The Browns have now started 0-7 for the third time since 1970 (the year of the AFL-NFL merger). Cleveland started 0-7 in 1975 and in 1999. They also became the 47th team since 1970 to go 0-7. If they are looking for a silver lining as they approach the second half of the season, history shows us that teams starting 0-7 don’t have much hope for turning their season around.
Of the 46 teams prior to the Browns that started an NFL season 0-7, only three were able to salvage something out of their season by winning a majority of their games as they closed out the year. The 1978 St. Louis Cardinals, 1998 Washington Redskins and 2011 Miami Dolphins each started 0-7 but finished the year 6-10 by winning six of their final nine games. (Note: The 1970 Philadelphia Eagles started 0-7 but did play .500 ball the rest of the way, going 3-3-1 in their last seven games; they finished the season 3-10-1.)
Thirty-six of the 46 0-7 teams finished the year with three or fewer wins, and the average number of wins by this group was 2.6. That’s not a good sign for the Browns as they ready for the remainder of this campaign.
What the Browns hope to avoid, I suspect, is joining that group of teams that finished their 0-7 start with only one or no wins. Eleven of the 46 teams that started 0-7 ended that year with only one win or were winless for the season.
Here’s a look at those 11 teams:
1971: Buffalo, 1-13
1973: Houston Oilers, 1-13
1976: Tampa Bay, 0-14
1980: New Orleans, 1-15
1989: Dallas, 1-15
1991: Indianapolis, 1-15
1996: New York Jets, 1-15
2000: San Diego, 1-15
2007: Miami, 1-15
2008: Detroit, 0-16
2009: St. Louis Rams, 1-15
Of the 32 current NFL franchises, eight have not started a season 0-7 since 1970. The eight: Baltimore, Denver, Green Bay, Houston (Texans), Kansas City, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Seattle.
Topping the list with six seasons since 1970 with an 0-7 start are the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Bucs. They have each started 0-7 in six seasons. Following are the seasons since 1970 that each of the current franchises started 0-7.
6: Cincinnati, Tampa Bay
3: Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee/Houston Oilers
2: Detroit, L.A. Rams, Miami, San Diego
1: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, New England, New Orleans, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington
One final stat: Of the 46 teams that started 0-7 from 1970-2015, nine of them the following season won nine or more games, and five actually made the playoffs the year following an 0-7 start. The five (year they started 0-7 is listed): Indianapolis-1986, Washington-1998, Miami-2007, Cincinnati-2008 and Indianapolis-2011.
Games versus the Jets, Cowboys, at the Ravens, versus the Steelers, Giants, Bengals, at the Bills, versus the Chargers and at the Steelers still remain on Cleveland’s schedule.