NFL Futures: Will Any Team Go 0-17? (2021)

Finishing a season with a losing record is a heartbreaking experience, but finishing a season with no wins at all? That’s a totally different level of disappointment and despair. A winless season has occurred just five times in NFL history: the 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0–11–1), 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0–14), 1982 Baltimore Colts (0–8–1), 2008 Detroit Lions (0–16), and 2017 Cleveland Browns (0–16).

The NFL schedule has expanded to 17 games this season, and I’ve identified three teams who have the greatest potential to go winless in 2021. These teams have the lowest implied win totals per BettingPros over/under wins, but will they actually go through the season without tasting victory even once?

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The Candidates

Houston Texans 
It’s been a tumultuous last few years in H-Town, to say the least. The team’s premier receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, was traded for a past-his-prime David Johnson, Will Fuller walked in free agency, and J.J. Watt hit the road. To make matters much worse, DeShaun Watson has publicly demanded a trade, and his future (both long-term and for the upcoming season) is very much in question.

With Watson, the team projects as a bottom-feeder, but without him? The outlook is quite bleak. Houston’s offensive line remains atrocious, the defense isn’t much better, and the skill-position players are a mish-mash of disparate receivers and backs cobbled together recklessly. Houston is the most likely team to go 0-17 in 2021, and it’s not particularly close.

2020 Record: 4-12

Worst Record in Franchise History: 2-14 (twice)

Strength of Schedule: 15th easiest

Key matchups: Jaguars, Jets

BettingPros over/under win total: 4.0

New York Jets
The Jets were a pathetic laughing stock last season and looked like they were on a collision course for a winless season before rattling off a couple of wins against the Rams and Browns in Weeks 15 and 16. The offense and coaching staff got makeovers in the offseason and through the Draft, which should lead to some more competitive games in 2021.

Gang Green used its first four picks on offensive players, selecting QB Zach Wilson and OL Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round, WR Elijah Moore in the second round, and RB Michael Carter in the fourth. New York also signed WRs Corey Davis and Keelan Cole and brought in RB Tevin Coleman. The Jets ranked dead last in points and yards in 2020, but some improvements on that side of the ball should net the team at least one victory this season.

2020 Record: 2-14

Worst Record in Franchise History: 1-15 (1996)

Strength of Schedule: 13th hardest

Key matchups: Giants, Bengals, Texans

BettingPros over/under win total: 6.0

Detroit Lions
Detroit was one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, yet there’s a chance the team takes a step backward in 2021. Matthew Stafford was swapped for Jared Goff in a blockbuster offseason trade, while Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams have replaced Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Detroit’s defense figures to be one of the worst in the league once again, but just how bad is this team?

In addition to a totally new offense, Detroit will also be led by head coach Dan Campbell, who replaces Matt Patricia and interim Darrell Bevell. Despite all of the upheaval in the Motor City ahead of the new season, Detroit can still be competitive with Goff under center, and there are winnable games on the schedule.

2020 Record: 5-11

Worst Record in Franchise History: 0-16 (2008)

Strength of Schedule: 6th easiest

Key matchups: Bengals, Broncos

BettingPros over/under win total: 5.0

The Verdict

The Jets and Texans will face off this season in what will likely end up as the 2021 Toilet Bowl. That means that at least one of the teams featured in this article will win one game, but what about the loser of that contest?

Parity abounds in the NFL, so while an undefeated season is a tall order, going winless is just as improbable. Even the lowly Texans, who are the most likely of the group to go winless, can muster enough semblance of a game to emerge victorious from at least one contest. I’d be willing to bet that no team will go 0-17 in 2021.

Will Any Team Go 17-0?

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