The NFL has 32 teams and despite a salary cap that is built to ensure that there is competitive balance in the league, not every team has enjoyed the same amount of success.

Some teams like the New England Patriots are used to playing in the postseason and winning Super Bowls. Other teams though haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade while some haven’t been there in a while.

Let’s take a look at the longest playoff droughts in the NFL as of 2020:

Cleveland Browns Logo Cleveland Browns, 2002 AFC Wild Card

The Browns haven’t made the playoffs in 17 seasons and after trading for Odell Beckham Jr. last year, we thought they had a chance to break the spell. After all, the Browns won five out of their last seven games in 2018 and Baker Mayfield looked like he was ready for the big dance. Or so we thought.

Cleveland went 6-10 during the 2019 season and instead of ending their dry run, they tied the Buffalo Bills’ recent record for the longest playoff drought since 1986 when the New Orleans Saints ended their 20-year postseason absence. Good thing that the Seattle Mariners haven’t made the MLB postseason since 2001, giving Seattle the longest drought in North American professional sports.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Logo Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2007 NFC Wild Card

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were tied for 3rd in the league in scoring last season and they outscored nine out of the 12 playoff teams. They also ranked 5th in the league in turnovers forced and were seventh in sacks. But these stats alone don’t win football games.

The Bucs were up or were tied in the fourth quarter in 11 out of their 16 games played so they were right there with the competition. It was just that they couldn’t finish the job. This coming season, things could change with the arrival of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Although Brady is past his prime, the GOAT should give the Bucs a lot of stability. Keep your fingers crossed here.

New York Jets Logo New York Jets, 2010 AFC Championship

The 2019 season marked the second straight year where the New York Jets were eliminated in Week 14 of the season. That marked the first time since the Rich Kotite days of the 90s where they have been ousted this early in consecutive seasons. Even worse, that was the 9th time that they missed the playoff bus.

The Jets though finished the 2019 season with six wins in their final eight games to give them a record of 7-9. But the Jets could get a boost from the new CBA because it provides for a seventh playoff team for each conference. If we look at the previous season, then the Jets would have been just one game out of the seventh spot.

Arizona Cardinals Logo Arizona Cardinals, 2015 NFC Championship

In 2015, the Arizona Cardinals went 13-3 and set the franchise record for wins. Carson Palmer threw for team records with 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns and they went all the way to the 2015 NFC title game where they were mauled by the Panthers 49-15.

Arizona and the Chicago Bears are the only two teams to have appeared in all of the NFL’s 99 seasons. They’ve not had many winning seasons since their move to the Grand Canyon and they only have made the playoffs 10 times overall.

Cincinnati Bengals Logo Cincinnati Bengals, 2015 AFC Wild Card

Cincinnati’s drought goes more than just making the playoffs. Although they made it to the 2015 Wild Card round, the Bengals have lost eight consecutive playoff games and they currently have the longest playoff-round win drought in the NFL.

The last time that Cincinnati won a playoff game was in 1991 when they defeated the Houston Oilers 41-14 at the Riverfront Stadium in the AFC Wild Card round. They lost to the Raiders the following week and have not seen a different result ever since.

Washington Redskins Logo Washington Redskins, 2015 NFC Wild Card

The Washington Redskins have not made the playoffs since Kirk Cousins led them to the 2015 Wild Card round. The Redskins are in a terrible stretch right now as they have made the postseason only four times since 2000.

Washington fired Jay Gruden after an 0-5 start last season. Bill Callahan took over as interim coach and he won three games but the Redskins finished with a 3-13 record which matched their worst record from 1994 and 2013. In the 23 games since Alex Smith got hurt in 2018, the Redskins have lost 19 games.

Denver Broncos Logo Denver Broncos, Super Bowl 50

The Denver Broncos avoided their third straight seasons with 10 losses and that was big because they hadn’t been that bad in more than half a century. Still, the Broncos missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive seasons, tying a record for consecutive non-playoff seasons after winning the Super Bowl.

At 7-9 last season, the Broncos had their third straight losing season. That’s the first time this has happened since Richard Nixon was president. They ranked in the bottom five in many offensive categories and scored at least 30 points only once during the entire 2019 season.

Las Vegas Raiders Logo Las Vegas Raiders, 2016 AFC Wild Card

Their 2016 Wild Card appearance was their first in the playoffs since they reached the Super Bowl in 2002. The Raiders have not been to the playoffs since then and they have missed the postseason in 16 out of the last 17 seasons.

They were close last season though as they were not eliminated from playoff contention until the final week of the season where they lost to the Denver Broncos. Despite another missed trip to the postseason, their 7-9 record was an improvement from the previous year’s 4-12 season. They are a team that could also benefit from the expanded playoffs under the new CBA.

Miami Dolphins Logo Miami Dolphins, 2016 AFC Wild Card

The 2019 season was Miami’s first without Ryan Tannehill who was traded to the Tennessee Titans during the offseason. The “Tank for Tua” campaign was popular among their fan base. They would end up drafting Tagovailoa with the 5th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Dolphins started the season with a 0-7 record but came on strong and won five out of their last five games. Still, it was their fewest wins since 1968 It was a weird season that began with a 0-43 loss to the Patriots in Week 2 and a 27-24 revenge win over New England.

New York Giants Logo New York Giants, 2016 NFC Wild Card

The New York Giants had the fifth easiest schedule in the NFL during the 2019 season yet they equaled a franchise-worst nine-game losing streak last year. They finished at 4-12 which was worse than the 5-11 record they posted in 2018. Pat Shurmur was fired after the team’s final regular-season game.

Eli Manning ended his career with a win and the 2020 draw has seen New York get the seventh easiest schedule this upcoming season. Daniel Jones gave the fans a lot to be hopeful for and the offense is in good hands with Saquon Barkley.

Detroit Lions Logo Detroit Lions, 2016 NFC Wild Card

The Detroit Lions last made the postseason in 2016 but they have not tasted playoff victory since 1992 when they beat the Dallas Cowboys at the Pontiac Silverdome. Only the Bengals have a longer playoff win drought.

The Lions started 2019 with a 2-0-1 record in their second year under Matt Patricia. However, they lost 12 out of their last 13 games and were eliminated from playoff contention on Thanksgiving weekend.

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