The 2011 season and postseason featured several “feel-good” stories, including Detroit making it back to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
And Houston reaching the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
The Cincinnati Bengals, who suffered through a 14-year playoff drought that ended earlier this decade, also managed to make the playoffs for the second time in three years.
The feel-good story ended rather abruptly for Detroit, in the wild-card round, at the hands of New Orleans.
Houston did win its first playoff game in franchise history – dispatching Cincinnati – before falling to Baltimore in the Divisional Round.
Several franchises could use that same type of redemption story in 2012, including the Buffalo Bills. Despite starting off the season at 5-2, the once-dominant franchise won just one more game the rest of the way, en route to yet another disappointing season.
Here are the teams that are most desperate for success in 2012, for their franchises and fan bases alike:
LONGEST CURRENT PLAYOFF DROUGHTS
12 years – Buffalo Bills
- One winning season & two 8-8 seasons in that time
- Went 9-7 in 2004…could have made the playoffs with Week 17 win vs. Pittsburgh (which sat its starters), but lost
- Average of 6.3 wins per season (low of 3 wins in 2001)
9 years – Cleveland Browns
- Two winning seasons, 7-9 & 6-10 seasons, then nine more seasons of five or fewer wins
- Managed to go 10-6 in 2007…and still miss the playoffs on tiebreakers
- Average of 5.2 wins in past 13 years
9 years – Oakland Raiders
- No winning seasons since Super Bowl season of 2002
- Last playoff game was SB XXXVII loss to Tampa Bay
- Averaged 4.1 wins for seven seasons before finishing 8-8 each of past two
7 years – St. Louis Rams
- Seasons with eight, seven & six wins, plus four seasons of three or fewer wins
- Fell one win shy of a playoff berth in 2010, losing at Seattle in Week 17
- Went 6-42 (.125) from 2007-09
- Averaged 4.6 wins the past eight seasons (including 2004, when they made the playoffs with an 8-8 record)
4 years – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Dropped final three games of 2010 to fall out of contention at 8-8
- Averaged 6.3 wins
4 years – Washington Redskins
- Went 2-6 in second half of 2008 to wreck promising season
- Averaged 5.8 wins past 4 years (but are just 17-39 since ’08 midpoint)
3 years – Tennessee Titans
- Nearly made playoffs after 0-6 start
- Vince Young and Cortland Finnegan meltdowns aided 1-8 finish in 2010
- Averaged 7.7 wins
3 years – Carolina Panthers
- 2-14 season in 2010 allowed team to be in position to draft Cam Newton
- Averaged 5.3 wins
There are teams that would like to simply make the playoffs to ensure their fan bases that they’re on the right track, while other franchises have made the playoffs recently, but are desperate for a postseason victory.
No team in the NFL has had to wait longer to savor a playoff win than Paul Brown’s Bengals.
LONGEST RECENT STREAKS WITHOUT PLAYOFF VICTORY
- Last win: Jan. 6, 1991 (routed Houston Oilers 41-14, with Boomer Esiason throwing a TD pass in the fourth quarter to put Bengals up 41-7, before falling to Los Angeles Raiders in Divisional Round)
- Playoff record since last win: 0-4 (defeated by Houston Texans 31-10 in wild-card round last season)
- 20 seasons
- Last win: Jan. 5, 1992 (def. Dallas 38-6 behind a stellar performance by Erik Kramer, before getting throttled by Washington 41-10 in NFC title game)
- Playoff record since last win: 0-7 (defeated by New Orleans 45-28 in wild-card round last season)
- 18 seasons
- Last win: Jan. 16, 1994 (in his last hurrah, Joe Montana beat Pittsburgh in OT and then Houston, 28-20, before losing to Jim Kelly and Buffalo in the AFC title game)
- Playoff record since last win: 0-7 (including four home losses & with three of the losses coming against Indianapolis)
- 16 seasons
- Last win: Dec. 30, 1995 (def. Miami 37-22 in wild-card game before getting pummeled by eventual AFC champion Pittsburgh the following week)
- Playoff record since last win: 0-4 (most recently the Music City Miracle game at Tennessee on Jan. 8, 2000, that ended with a Titans’ KO return TD)
- 14 seasons (Cleveland did not have a franchise from 1996-98)
- Last win: Jan. 1, 1995 (Browns under Bill Belichick def. New England 20-13 in a wild-card game, with Leroy Hoard scoring the winning TD)
- Playoff record since last win: 0-2 (both losses at Pittsburgh)
- 11 seasons
- Last win: Dec. 30, 2000 (def. Indianapolis 23-17 in OT on the last 17 yards of Lamar Smith’s 209-yard day, after erasing a 14-0 deficit, but then were shut out by Raiders in Divisional Round)
- Playoff record since last win: 0-3 (with past two at home against Baltimore)