Teams across the NFL strive for consistency. If players deliver consistent, high-level performances, the team wins games. If they deliver this throughout the season, they will win a lot of games and make the playoffs. Down the years we’ve seen plenty of great teams, those franchises that just keep on winning. These are the teams you see winning divisions and regularly featuring in the postseason.
Sometimes we see teams start poorly before getting it together mid-season. They find form at a great time and their momentum can be potent in the playoffs. But then there's the flipside. Sometimes a team starts red-hot before collapsing in dramatic fashion.
Here are the five biggest season collapses in NFL history:
#5 – Las Vegas Raiders, 2020 season
It was their first year in Las Vegas. Expectations were high for the Las Vegas Raiders going into the 2020 season. Jon Gruden led his team to an excellent 6-3 start with a tough early schedule. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Chargers, all away from home. But then their season came crashing down.
The Raiders would only win two of their final seven games, finishing 8-8. Following a crushing last-second 25-26 defeat against the Miami Dolphins in Week 16, the Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention.
#4 – Washington Redskins, 1978 season
The 1978 Washington Redskins had one of the biggest regular season collapses in league history. After starting the season 6-0, they lost three of their next five, falling to a respectable 8-3.
However, after beating the New York Giants in Week 11, they wouldn’t win again, losing five on the spin to finish 8-8. Inexplicably, after such a good start, they only won two of their last eight games, missing the postseason altogether.
#3 – Pittsburgh Steelers, 2020 season
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers suffered one of the most humiliating season collapses in recent years. After an excellent start to the year, the Steelers were 11-0. But Pittsburgh dropped four of their final five outings to finish 12-4. To make matters worse, this included a humiliating defeat to the Ryan Finley-led Cincinnati Bengals on MNF. Then another AFC North rival defeat to the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.
They met the Browns again in the AFC Wildcard game. They were defeated 48-37, as they fell 28-0 behind in the first quarter, effectively ending the game.
#2 – Miami Dolphins, 1993 season
The Miami Dolphins of 1993 can blame their defense for their season collapse. Miami had begun the season like a house on fire, being 9-2 by the end of November. They looked like Super Bowl contenders.
However, like every other year, the NFL threw up another surprise when the Dolphins lost every one of their final five outings to end the year 9-7. In their final three games against the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, they gave up 47, 45 and 33 points respectively.
#1 – San Diego Chargers, 1987 season
The San Diego Chargers’ season collapse in 1987 is something unlike we’ve seen in the NFL. After losing their first game of the year, the Chargers went on an excellent run, winning each of their next eight outings. They were 8-1 by the middle of November.
However, after beating the Raiders in Week 10, they would go on to lose every one of their remaining games that season. They finished 8-7 and missed the playoffs altogether.
To cap off a ridiculously poor run, the Chargers fell 24-0 to their division rivals Denver Broncos in the final week of the season.