May 262013
 

Preseason results don’t count for anything in the end, but I’m sure any NFL head coach would be concerned if his team went winless during the preseason. Listed below are all instances of a team going winless in league preseason play.

Winless in NFL, AFL, or AAFC Preseason Games (Season by Season)

Note: A team must have played a total of three preseason games vs. league opponents to have their winless preseason counted. If a team defeated a non-league opponent, but was winless in league preseason play I listed them. The records only include league preseason games; AFL vs. NFL preseason games were counted as league games.

Show the Legend »

Legend:

Pre W-L: The record the team had in league preseason play.

Reg W-L: The regular season record the team had after they finished the preseason winless.

Playoffs: How well the team did in the playoffs if they made them.

Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header. You can search for a specific team or season using the search box to the right.

TeamSeasonPre W-LReg W-LPlayoffs
Arizona Cardinals (Phoenix)19900-45-11
Arizona Cardinals20070-48-8
Arizona Cardinals20090-410-6Lost in the Divisional Round
Atlanta Falcons19790-46-10
Atlanta Falcons20030-45-11
Atlanta Falcons20110-410-6Lost in the Wild Card Round
Baltimore Ravens19970-46-9-1
Buffalo Bills (AFL)19610-36-8
Buffalo Bills19730-69-5
Buffalo Bills19780-45-11
Buffalo Bills19790-47-9
Buffalo Bills19850-3-12-14
Buffalo Bills19900-413-3Lost the Super Bowl
Buffalo Bills20020-48-8
Buffalo Bills20120-46-10
Carolina Panthers19970-47-9
Carolina Panthers20000-47-9
Carolina Panthers20090-48-8
Chicago Bears19620-59-5
Chicago Bears19780-47-9
Chicago Bears19980-44-12
Chicago Bears20100-411-5Lost in the NFC Championship
Cincinnati Bengals19830-47-9
Cincinnati Bengals19990-44-12
Cleveland Browns19670-59-5Lost in NFL Conference Round
Cleveland Browns19720-610-4Lost in the Divisional Round
Cleveland Browns20080-44-12
Dallas Cowboys19620-55-8-1
Dallas Cowboys19860-57-9
Dallas Cowboys19980-510-6Lost in the Wild Card Round
Dallas Cowboys20000-55-11
Denver Broncos (AFL)19600-54-9-1
Detroit Lions19470-33-9
Detroit Lions19660-4-14-9-1
Detroit Lions19880-44-12
Detroit Lions19890-47-9
Green Bay Packers19460-36-5
Green Bay Packers19800-4-15-10-1
Green Bay Packers19870-45-9-1
Houston Texans20030-45-11
Indianapolis Colts (Baltimore)19810-42-14
Indianapolis Colts19900-47-9
Indianapolis Colts20050-514-2Lost in the Divisional Round
Indianapolis Colts20100-410-6Lost in the Wild Card Round
Kansas City Chiefs20000-47-9
Kansas City Chiefs20050-410-6
Kansas City Chiefs20070-44-12
Kansas City Chiefs20090-44-12
Kansas City Chiefs20110-47-9
Miami Dolphins19890-48-8
Miami Dolphins (AFL)19660-43-11
Miami Dolphins20120-47-9
Minnesota Vikings19610-53-11
Minnesota Vikings19790-47-9
New England Patriots (Boston / AFL)19630-57-6-1Lost in the AFL Championship
New England Patriots (Boston / AFL)19640-510-3-1
New England Patriots (Boston / AFL)19650-54-8-2
New England Patriots (Boston)19700-42-12
New England Patriots19830-48-8
New England Patriots19900-41-15
New England Patriots20080-411-5
New Orleans Saints19710-64-8-2
zNew York Bulldogs (Defunct)19490-51-10-1
New York Giants19440-3 ¹8-1-1Lost in the NFL Championship
New York Giants19450-3 ²3-6-1
New York Giants19490-46-6
New York Giants19690-56-8
New York Giants19710-64-10
New York Giants20000-412-4Lost in the Super Bowl
New York Jets (Titans / AFL)19620-45-9
New York Jets19930-48-8
New York Jets20120-46-10
zNew York Yanks (Defunct)19510-51-9-2
Oakland Raiders (Los Angeles)19890-48-8
Oakland Raiders20110-48-8
Philadelphia Eagles19570-64-8
Philadelphia Eagles19700-53-10-1
Philadelphia Eagles19760-64-10
Pittsburgh Steelers19480-44-8
Pittsburgh Steelers19540-75-7
Pittsburgh Steelers19650-52-12
Pittsburgh Steelers19870-48-7
Pittsburgh Steelers20060-48-8
San Diego Chargers19990-58-8
San Francisco 49ers19630-52-12
San Francisco 49ers19660-56-6-2
San Francisco 49ers19690-64-8-2
San Francisco 49ers19740-66-8
San Francisco 49ers20040-42-14
St. Louis Rams (Los Angeles)19930-45-11
St. Louis Rams (Los Angeles)19940-44-12
St. Louis Rams20020-47-9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers19860-42-14
Tampa Bay Buccaneers19880-45-11
Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers / AFL)19670-49-4-1Lost in the AFL Championship
Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers)19760-65-9
Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers)19830-42-14
Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers)19950-37-9
Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers)19970-48-8
Washington Redskins19520-5 4-8
Washington Redskins19540-6 ³3-9
Washington Redskins19600-61-9-2
Washington Redskins19610-51-12-1
Washington Redskins19630-43-11
Washington Redskins19820-48-1League Champion / Won the Super Bowl
Washington Redskins20060-45-11
zBaltimore Colts I (Defunct)19500-71-11
zBrooklyn Dodgers (AAFC / Defunct)19460-2-13-10-1

¹ Defeated the non-league Sampson Naval Training Station in 1944.

² Defeated non-league Camp Lee in 1945.

³ Defeated the non-league 11th Naval District in 1954.

 

The Buffalo Bills have tallied eight winless preseasons; a major professional football record for preseason futility.

Winless in NFL, AFL, or AAFC Preseason Games (Cumulative)

FranchiseWinless PreseasonsLosing Seasons AfterLast Winless Preseason
Arizona Cardinals3 preseasons1 season2009
Atlanta Falcons3 preseasons2 seasons2011
Baltimore Ravens1 preseason1 season1997
Buffalo Bills8 preseasons5 seasons2012
Carolina Panthers3 preseasons2 seasons2009
Chicago Bears4 preseasons2 seasons2010
Cincinnati Bengals2 preseasons2 seasons1999
Cleveland Browns3 preseasons1 season2008
Dallas Cowboys4 preseasons3 seasons2000
Denver Broncos1 preseason1 season1960
Detroit Lions4 preseasons4 seasons1989
Green Bay Packers3 preseasons2 seasons1987
Houston Texans1 preseason1 season2003
Indianapolis Colts4 preseasons2 seasons2010
Jacksonville Jaguars0 preseasons
Kansas City Chiefs5 preseasons4 seasons2011
Miami Dolphins3 preseasons2 seasons2012
Minnesota Vikings2 preseasons2 seasons1979
New England Patriots7 preseasons3 seasons2008
New Orleans Saints1 preseason1 season1971
New York Giants6 preseasons3 seasons2000
New York Jets3 preseasons2 seasons2012
Oakland Raiders2 preseasons0 seasons2011
Philadelphia Eagles3 preseasons3 seasons1976
Pittsburgh Steelers5 preseasons3 seasons2006
San Diego Chargers1 preseason0 seasons1999
San Francisco 49ers5 preseasons4 seasons2004
Seattle Seahawks0 preseasons
St. Louis Rams3 preseasons3 seasons2002
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2 preseasons2 seasons1988
Tennessee Titans5 preseasons3 seasons1997
Washington Redskins7 preseasons6 seasons2006

 

Additional Info

  • The 1982 Washington Redskins are the only team to ever win a Super Bowl after going winless in the preseason.
  • The following teams went winless in the preseason, but subsequently posted more losses during the preseason than the regular season.
Team Year Pre Rec Reg Rec Playoffs
Boston Patriots (AFL) 1964 0-5 10-3-1  
Cleveland Browns 1972 0-6 10-4-0 Lost in the Divisional Round
Buffalo Bills 1973 0-6 9-5-0  
Washington Redskins 1982 0-4 8-1-0 League Champion / Won the Super Bowl
Buffalo Bills 1990 0-4 13-3-0 Lost the Super Bowl
Indianapolis Colts 2005 0-5 14-2-0 Lost in the Divisional Round

 

  • The New England Patriots (Boston) had three winless preseasons in a row from 1963-1965.
  • Does winless preseason lead to a losing record in the regular season? Probably not. In the last ten seasons only 50% of the teams that finished the preseason winless, went on to have losing records in the regular season.

 

Preseason and regular season records were retrieved from various team media guidesThe Pro Football Archives, and Pro-Football-Reference.com.

 

  5 Responses to “Winless in the NFL Preseason”

  1. Very interesting list…for some reason, I thought the 2006 Colts were the winless squad, as there would’ve been some irony behind their SB win that year. However, they were 1-3, and I was thinking of the ’05 squad…

    I can still point to the 2008 Lions and their 4-0 preason for the ultimate irony though…

    • The Lions 4-0 preseason in 2008, definitely makes their 0-16 regular season ironic and even more interesting.

      Now we just need to see a team go 0-4 in the preseason, and undefeated through the regular season and playoffs. I’m not holding my breathe that it will happen anytime soon though.

  2. [...] Chicago and Indianapolis in 2010 had 11 wins), many winless teams struggle.  In fact, according to Football Geography, only one winless preseason team has ever won the Super Bowl (the 1982 Washington Redskins in the [...]

  3. Interesting list.May not always foretell the season but the majority of the time,the 0-4 preseason meant under 500 or 500 record.Looking at the Cowboys , 3 of their 4 winless lead to under 500 seasons so you can’t tell me preseason has nothing to do with regular season

    • As I mentioned in the beginning of my post; the games might not count for anything, but no coach wants to start the year with an 0-4 preseason. Losing is contagious and a team can be infected in the preseason.

      I think the negative impact of an 0-4 preseason is greater than the positive impact of a 4-0 preseason. That’s just my thoughts though w/o any analytic review.

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