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List: NFL fan bases with the biggest gripes

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Posted at 11:54 AM, Jan 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-29 09:47:34-05

Feeling miserable about your favorite NFL franchise's performance this season? Most fan bases have some reason for grumbling. 

Scripps National Desk took an empirical look at how miserable each fan base is. To learn more about how the data was compiled, click here

 

#1 — DETROIT LIONS

Misery index: 188.0

Why Lions fans are miserable: The closest the Lions came to a postseason win since 1991 was hurt by a controversial pass interference call that was taken back. 

Low point: The 2008 Lions also are the only team to go 0-16. Running back Barry Sanders, arguably the best player in franchise history, abruptly retired before the 1999 season. The retirement came in part because Sanders believed the Lions were not in a position to win. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: After being out of the playoffs for more than 10 seasons, the Lions have been in the playoffs two of the last four seasons. 

 

#2 — BUFFALO BILLS

Misery index: 187.0

Why Bills fans are miserable: Four Super Bowl appearances in a row without a ring will give Bills fans heartache for years to come. But Buffalo finished below average in every category and has not been to the postseason since 1999 — the lone NFL team to not make it this century.

Low point: Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal (shown below via Getty Images) in the 1991 Super Bowl that would have given the Bills their only franchise Super Bowl victory.

Light at the end of the tunnel: Buffalo hired Rex Ryan to be their coach, and Ryan has a history of winning playoff games with subpar quarterbacks.

 

#3 — CLEVELAND BROWNS

Misery index: 182.5

Why Browns fans are miserable: There is this, this and this to start. It's also not good when national columnists are writing stuff like this.

Low point: Former owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season leaving Cleveland without a professional football team for three seasons. The pain gets worse given that the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 and have been one of the NFL's most successful franchises. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: At least some Browns have maintained a sense of humor throughout the process. The city is also sure to get its much sought after championship with NBA star LeBron James coming back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, right? Some fans are not so sure new quarterback Johnny Manziel is the answer. 

 

#4 — ATLANTA FALCONS

Misery index: 176.5

Why Falcons fans are miserable: The Falcons are rarely discussed in conversations about miserable franchises, but the team has rarely made the playoffs compared to other NFL teams and when they do, they are not all that successful. 

Low point: Michael Vick (shown below via Getty Images) had the Atlanta Falcons looking like a Super Bowl contender after guiding the team to an NFC title appearance in 2004. But Vick's legal troubles proved too much for the Falcons, and he never played for Atlanta again following an indefinite suspension by the NFL and an ensuing 19-month prison sentence for dog fighting. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Just three seasons ago, the Falcons completed the franchise's first back-to-back-to-back playoff appearances and several of the pieces remain. 

 

#5 — CHICAGO BEARS

Misery index: 153.0

Why Bears fans are miserable: The Bears are the most miserable franchise with a Super Bowl victory in part because the team was below average in every other category — the city's cold weather did not help. 

Low point: The Dave Wannstedt era was all-in-all a troublesome time, but the Bears were big favorites against the Washington Redskins in the 1987 Divisional Playoffs only to fall 27-13 a year after winning the Super Bowl. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Bears fans only need to remember that new coach John Fox won with this guy (Tim Tebow via Getty Images):  

 

#6 — JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Misery index: 151.0

Why Jaguars fans are miserable: The Jaguars have not sniffed the playoffs since 2007. The franchise started off with playoff appearances in four of its first five years. The playoff-less streak was not helped by the decision to draft punter Bryan Anger (shown below via Getty Images) ahead of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a Super Bowl champion. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Jacksonville fans at least have a team. Concerns the franchise could move to Los Angeles have been tempered. The Jaguars also have not finished in last place in their division in either of the last two seasons despite winning seven games combined. 

 

#7 — SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 

Misery index: 149.5

Why Chargers fans are miserable: Chargers fans watched one of the most talented teams for most of the 2000s, but those fans did not get to witness a Super Bowl appearance for that time as time and again the Chargers fell short of expectations under head coaches Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer.

Low point: The most gut wrenching moment for Chargers fans came shortly after the teams’ best regular season in franchise history. In 2006, the Chargers finished 14-2 before losing to the New England Patriots 24-21 in the Divisional Playoffs. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Even without a lot of playoff success, the Chargers are still in one of the franchise’s best periods. The team also no longer has Ryan Leaf (pictured below via Getty Images) as a quarterback. 

 

#8 — ARIZONA CARDINALS 

Misery index: 146.5

Why Cardinals fans are miserable: Arizona only gets “credit” for the franchise’s time in Arizona, but the Cardinals did not make its first postseason appearance in Phoenix until its 11th season there.

Low point: Arizona has had only one real playoff run, but the team came so close to a title that it’s hard not to remember the Super Bowl XLIII loss where the Cardinals had a 23-20 lead with 2:47 left in the game.

Light at the end of the tunnel: Despite playing with a third-string quarterback for part of the season, the 2014 Cardinals won the most regular season games since the team moved to Phoenix in 1988. Arizona fans also have one of the all-time coaching rants.        

 

#9 — CINCINNATI BENGALS

Misery index: 144.5

Why Bengals fans are miserable: The Bengals have the second-lowest playoff winning percentage within the confines of the study. Cincinnati has made the playoffs four straight seasons without a postseason victory. The Bengals, in fact, have not won a playoff game since the 1990 season.

Low point: The Bengals lost two close Super Bowls — both leading candidates for miserable experiences — but the most miserable moment for Cincinnati arguably came when the Bengals made the postseason in 2005. Franchise quarterback Carson Palmer completed his first pass of the game, but tore his ACL on the play. The injury not only ended the Bengals’ playoff hopes but also wrecked the following season. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Bengals have registered winning seasons in five of the last six seasons. For perspective, the team had only five winning seasons in the previous 27 seasons. The Bengals also had entertaining touchdown celebrations courtesy of Chad Johnson.

 

#10 — MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Misery index:  141.0

Why Vikings fans are miserable: Minnesota lost four Super Bowls before 1980 and weren't particularly close in any of them. A poor playoff winning percentage did not help the Vikings, though the city of Minneapolis enjoys the lowest unemployment rate of any NFL metropolitan area. 

Low point: Vikings fans have been part of some pretty difficult playoff losses, including Brett Favre's overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 NFC Championship, but the worst had to be the overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the 1999 NFC Championship. The Vikings had a 15-1 regular season record and were favored by 11 points. Kicker Gary Anderson had been perfect on field goals for the season before kicking a field goal wide left from 38 yards. The field goal (portrayed in the video below) would have given the Vikings a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Vikings managed a decent season in 2014 despite playing most of the season with a rookie quarterback and losing Adrian Peterson for most of the year due to a child abuse case.  

 

#11 (tie) — NEW YORK JETS

Misery index: 140.5

Why Jets fans are miserable: The Jets made back-to-back AFC Championships in 2009-10, but the team has have only five 10-win seasons since 1986. 

Low point: The Jets have a 1-15 season, but fans will remember when the Jets had a 20-10 lead late in the fourth quarter against the favored Cleveland Browns in the 1987 divisional round. But the Browns bounced back and won 23-20 in overtime to hand the Jets one of the team's toughest losses in its history. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Jets are reloading with a new general manager and new coach. But Jets fans (and the rest of us) get to enjoy incredible rants such as the one below. 

 

#11 (tie) — PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Misery index: 140.5 

Why Eagles fans are miserable: The Eagles have a long history of winning when it matters. One of the most successful franchises in the NFL during the regular season, the Eagles have yet to win a Super Bowl despite being favored in a number of would-be losses. This is also the fan base that booed Santa. 

Low point: The Eagles lost three straight conference championships, but none was as tough as the third — a 14-3 loss in 2004 to Carolina where Philadelphia's offense had four turnovers. The Eagles were home favorites in the game. The next season, the Eagles finally made it to the Super Bowl but lost to the New England Patriots. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Many consider coach Chip Kelly to be one of the game's most innovative leaders. The Eagles historically have piled up 10 win seasons. 

 

#13 — TENNESSEE TITANS

Misery index: 140.0

Why Titans fans are miserable: The Titans have not been to the playoffs since 2008 and had for the first time since the franchise moved to Tennessee in 1997 finished 2-14. 

Low point: On the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, the Titans came within a foot of taking the St. Louis Rams to overtime. The stunning drive came after Rams quarterback Kurt Warner completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce for the go-ahead score with 2:12 left in the game. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Titans could end their search for a quarterback with the No. 2 pick in the April draft or trade the pick for a big haul. Tennessee fans also can always remember this: 

 

#14 — HOUSTON TEXANS

Misery index: 136.0

Why Texans fans are miserable: While expansion teams Jacksonville and Carolina both made deep runs in the playoffs early in their existence, the Texans are still looking for their first conference championship appearance. 

Low point: Houston had a talented team in 2011, but the Texans had to rely on third-string quarterback Tyler Yates in a divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. Even with the disadvantage, the Texans only lost 20-13. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Texans went from having commercials about their lack of an offensive line to having one of their players — defensive end J.J. Watt — starring in commercials. 

 

#15 — ST. LOUIS RAMS

Misery index: 134.5

Why Rams fans are miserable: St. Louis is now the head of the class of potential teams to move to Los Angeles. The franchise has a history there and Rams owner Stan Kroenke has plans to build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles. While in St. Louis, the Rams have struggled to make the playoffs and have not been to the postseason since 2004. 

Low point: The Rams were favored by 14 points in XXXVI but fell behind early to the New England Patriots and lost on a last-second 48-yard field goal. The loss came in the middle of what many thought would be a dynasty. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Rams fans got to watch one of the greatest offenses and won one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all-time. The team also has been competitive despite not having much luck with quarterback health. 

 

#16 — TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 

Misery index: 133.5

Why Bucs fans are miserable: Tampa Bay has gone through a couple periods of woeful football and now has five losing seasons in the six years. 

Low point: Like everyone else, Bucs fans have endured miserable playoff losses, but only two franchises have put their fans through a season without a win and Tampa Bay was the first with an 0-14 season in 1976. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Tampa Bay bottomed out and got the first overall pick in the NFL draft this spring. Perhaps that could solve the franchise's long-standing lack of an above-average quarterback. Perhaps Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (below) will be the answer. 

 

#17 — CAROLINA PANTHERS

Misery index: 125.0

Why Panthers fans are miserable: The Panthers have been a pretty mediocre franchise since coming into existence in 1995. Carolina has seven or eight wins in half of its 20 seasons with very few terrible seasons and three 12-win seasons. Still, the Panthers is a little bit below average with its playoff record and has not won the elusive ring. 

Low point: Carolina came agonizingly close to winning Super Bowl XXXVIII, but the Panthers fell 32-29 to the New England Patriots. But Patriots hit a last-second field goal to take the victory just after Carolina raced back to tie the score. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Carolina seems to have found its franchise quarterback in Cam Newton, who earned his first playoff victory this year. Newton is a marketable player (as seen below) who has overcome some injuries. 

 

#18 — KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Misery index: 124.5

Why Chiefs fans are miserable: Kansas City would be a lot more miserable if not for its early franchise success. But the team's Super Bowl IV victory is a long time ago (1970). The Chiefs have not won many postseason since 1994. 

Low point: Led by Marcus Allen, the Chiefs were an 8-point favorite against the Indianapolis Colts following the 1995 season. But the Colts held down the Chiefs offense and won 10-7. Kansas City had four turnovers. The Colts fumbled four times but did not lose one. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Kansas City has a strong history and will always be remembered for making the first Super Bowl (even if it was a loss to the Green Bay Packers). They also have an all-time great quarterback in Len Dawson (shown below).

 

#19 — NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Misery index: 122.5

Why Saints fans are miserable: The Saints went 20 seasons before having a winning season and making the playoffs. Just when it seemed as if New Orleans would be in the Super Bowl conversation annually, the team faded back as superstar quarterback Drew Brees gets older. 

Low point: Saints coach Sean Payton (photo below via Getty Images) was suspended for the 2012 season after he was alleged to have covered up payments made to players for injuring opposing players. The Saints did not make the playoffs — ending the best three-season run in franchise history. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Saints still have Brees and a relatively recent Super Bowl win after beating the Colts in XLIV. It could be a lot worse as Saints fans know. 

 

#20 (tie) — MIAMI DOLPHINS

Misery index: 95.5

Why Dolphins fans are miserable: The Dolphins have not had a winning season in six years — the longest drought in franchise history. Despite having an all-time great in quarterback Dan Marino, Miami has not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl VIII. 

Low point: The Dolphins were not favored in a 2000 playoff matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but a 62-7 loss was not the way Marino planned to end his career. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Miami has a long history of success. Plus, it's Miami (shown below via Getty Images). 

 

#20 (tie) — INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Misery index: 95.5

Why Colts fans are miserable: The Colts went through a miserable time upon getting an NFL franchise with only one playoff appearance in 11 seasons. Even after getting to the playoffs regularly with Peyton Manning, the Colts struggled to win a Super Bowl until breaking through with Super Bowl XLI. 

Low point: The Colts have plenty of playoff losses, but perhaps the worst came in 2006 when Indianapolis kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field field goal late in what would be a 21-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Colts were favored by 8.5 points. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Colts transitioned from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck without missing a beat, and Indianapolis did win a Super Bowl. The Colts also are the home of the one of the greatest rants. 

 

#22 — NEW YORK GIANTS

Misery index: 92

Why Giants fans are miserable: The Giants had one of the worst starts to the NFL-AFL merger and failed to reach the postseason until 1981 post-merger. New York now has failed to reach the postseason in the last three seasons. 

Low point: Everything is exciting about going to a Super Bowl until your team gets thumped. Very little went right for the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. The Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens 35-7. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The franchise will be remembered eternally after quarterback Phil Simms became the first Super Bowl MVP to say he was going to Disney World. 

 

#23 — Oakland Raiders

Misery index: 86.5

Why Raiders fans are miserable: Oakland fans probably feel they should be much higher on these rankings after failing to reach the playoffs since 2002. 

Low point: Oakland had a great chance to get to the 2001 AFC Conference Championship until one of the most infamous calls in sports history took place. The "Tuck rule" (shown below) allowed the New England Patriots retained possession and gave the team a chance. New England kept the ball, drilled a field goal and then won in overtime. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Raiders have a terrific playoff record when the team does make the postseason. Though the Raiders are struggling with their worst playoff drought in the team's history, the lack of late-season drama should keep the team's fan base from experiencing too much heartburn. 

 

#24 — WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Misery index: 84.0

Why Redskins fans are miserable: Pick one — a quarterback-coach feud (seen below), an owner who has struggled to turn the franchise into a consistent winner and a growing number of media outlets that refuse to use the team's nickname. 

Low point: After making Robert Griffin III the franchise quarterback, Washington played Griffin after he went down with a knee injury in a Wild Card loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin has not been the same since and the Redskins have not been back to the playoffs. The team also lost a playoff game to a team quarterbacked by Shaun King. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Washington has a first-round draft pick. 

 

#25 — GREEN BAY PACKERS

Misery index: 80.5

Why Packers fans are miserable: It's really cold in Green Bay, but for Packers fans who prefer the cold weather, there's not too much to complain about. 

Low point: The Packers were 15-1 in 2011 but got blown out 37-20 by the New York Giants in the Packers first playoff game. The team has a long history, but losing after the team's best regular season and as an 8-point favorite was a shock to the franchise. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Green Bay transitioned as well as anyone from Hall-of-Fame quarterback (the Colts might have an argument, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a ring). 

 

#26 — DENVER BRONCOS

Misery index: 75.0

Why Broncos fans are miserable: The Broncos are undergoing a period of uncertainty after opting to change coaches and the questions about whether Peyton Manning will retire. 

Low point: Denver fans have been through tough Super Bowl losses, but Super Bowl XLVIII seemed to have everything going for the franchise — a win against the Patriots in the conference championship. The team also was a 2.5-point favorite. But the Seahawks dominated the Broncos from start to finish with a 43-8 win. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Just when things looked bleak following a season of Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, the Broncos swung for the fences and landed Peyton Manning. Though there does not seem to be a clear answer if Manning should retire, the Broncos are a franchise known to make big deals.

 

#27 — SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 

Misery index: 73.5

Why Seahawks fans are miserable: This is the part of the rankings where the team that is in back-to-back Super Bowls make an appearance on the list. 

Low point: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's proclaimed that the Seahawks would beat the Packers in overtime after the Seahawks won the coin flip (shown below). Hasselbeck threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The Seahawks have had tough playoff losses, but the moment in that game will be remembered for a long time. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Seahawks are, after all, in their second straight Super Bowl and are on the brink of becoming a dynasty.  

 

#28 — NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Misery index: 71.0

Why Patriots fans are miserable: Questions of cheating are plaguing the franchise and have turned Super Bowl XLIX pregame into a series of scientific experiments. 

Low point: Patriots fans expected to see the team complete an undefeated season with a Super Bowl XLII victory, but the New York Giants had a stunning 17-14 upset. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Regardless of any allegations, the Patriots have been one of the most successful franchises since Bill Belichick became coach in 2000. 

 

#29 — SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Misery index: 58.5

Why 49ers fans are miserable: Fans just watched their franchise-saving coach Jim Harbaugh leave for the University of Michigan without having won a Super Bowl with the 49ers. The franchise has not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. 

Low point: Special teams crushed the San Francisco 49ers hopes in the 2012 NFC Championship when the 49ers lost 20-17 to the New York Giants. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: San Francisco fans can lean on their five Super Bowl championships along with historic quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young. Commercials like this below bring up good memories. 

 

#30 — BALTIMORE RAVENS 

Misery index: 54.5

Why Ravens fans are miserable: It has been two full seasons since the Ravens won a Super Bowl. 

Low point: In the 2012 AFC Championship Game, Baltimore had a chance to beat the Patriots late in the game, but Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans dropped what probably would have been the game-winning touchdown pass and Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: See "Why Ravens fans are miserable." 

 

 

#31 — PITTSBURGH STEELERS 

Misery index: 52.0

Why Steelers fans are miserable: If not for temperature, the Steelers would be the least miserable franchise for this list. But the Steelers have gone four seasons without a playoff win. That's a pretty long stretch for a franchise with six Super Bowl titles. 

Low point: This might not be the total low point, but younger Pittsburgh fans fully expected the Steelers as 7.5-point favorites to thrash the Tim Tebow-lead Denver Broncos. Instead, Tebow surprised everyone with an overtime touchdown pass (shown below). 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Pittsburgh won the AFC North this year and the 1980s were the last year the Steelers did not make a Super Bowl appearance. 

 

#32 — DALLAS COWBOYS

Misery index: 50.0

Why Cowboys fans are miserable: Dallas fans might be surprised to see their team as the least miserable franchise, but good weather, low unemployment, an insatiable ability for making the playoffs and five Super Bowl rings give the team the top spot. Though the Cowboys have not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXX, Dallas has enough of a storied history to make up for the lack of recent success.

Low point: In the 2007 playoffs, Dallas looked to win its first playoff game in more than a decade. The Cowboys had a 19-yard field goal attempt to win the game, but quarterback Tony Romo could not handle the snap and Dallas lost. The play sparked conversation about whether Romo could be a Super Bowl quarterback — a question that remains today and has led to comical videos such as the one below. 

Light at the end of the tunnel: Despite some believing the Cowboys could bottom out, the team won the NFC East this year and a playoff game only to lose on a controversial call to the Green Bay Packers.