The NFL playoffs have been the Tom Brady show for the better part of two decades. Brady and his longtime partner in crime, Bill Belichick, were more than shoe-ins for an AFC East title and postseason appearance, they were Super Bowl participants–and winners–more often than not.
Every non Patriot fan breathed a sigh of relief when the two broke up. Brady has proven he’s a system quarterback and hasn’t had much success leading his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Belichick can’t do anything when he doesn’t have a quarterback who drinks 100 gallons of water per day.
Their days together may be over, but Brady and Belichick set the mold for successful coach-and-quarterback duos across the league. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will have the Kansas City Chiefs in contention as long as they’re linked up. Matt LeFleur and Aaron Rodgers have made the Green Bay Packers a perennial NFC power. Sean McDermott and Josh Allen are rising stars and have Buffalo Bills fans excited again.
These teams have figured it out. Others haven’t been so lucky.
The latter have cycled through head coaches, quarterbacks and front office personnel all in hopes of cracking the 14-team postseason field. A majority of these franchises are in shambles and aren’t in great position to play deep into January anytime soon, but who knows? The NFL can change on a dime.
Anyway, here are the NFL teams who haven’t been able to figure out the formula and have been missing from the postseason longer than anyone else.
The 8 NFL Teams With The Longest Playoff Droughts
8. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4 Years
Last appearance: 2018 AFC Championship Game
Blake Bortles fell four points short of leading the Jaguars to their first Super Bowl in franchise history back in 2018. They haven’t returned to the NFL dance since.
7. Atlanta Falcons, 4 Years
Last appearance: 2018 NFC Divisional
The last Falcons team to make the playoffs still had a majority of the talent from the Super Bowl LI squad. We all know how that went.
The Dirty Birds beat the trendy Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 Wild Card round, but fell to eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles the next weekend.
6. Carolina Panthers, 4 Years
?Last appearance: 2018 NFC Wild Card
Christian McCaffrey’s rookie year featured by far the most success he’s had on a team level. Cam Newton was still slinging it and bulldozing people while Ron Rivera managed from the sidelines. The Panthers went 11-5 in the regular season, but lost to the New Orleans Saints in the first weekend of playoff action.
5. Detroit Lions, 5 Years
Last appearance: 2017 NFC Wild Card
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised the Lions made the playoffs as recently as 2017. Detroit snagged the final spot in the NFC playoffs with a 9-7 record. Their reward was traveling to the hostile CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Seahawks, where they lost 26-6.
Hear me out: Of all the teams on this list I see the Lions making a playoff appearance before anyone else. Dan Campbell has something cooking in the Motor City despite his record in his first season at the helm. This is the Lions we’re talking about though, so they could just as easily crash and burn.
4. New York Giants, 5 Years
Last appearance: 2017 NFC Wild Card
Other than drafting Saquon Barkley, getting smoked by the Green Bay Packers on Wild Card weekend in 2017 is the brightest spot the Giants have had the past five seasons.
The Giants are doing everything they can to claim the title as the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL. That’s saying something considering this list includes the Jets.
3. Miami Dolphins, 5 Years
Last appearance: 2017 AFC Wild Card
By some divine intervention, the Miami Dolphins made the playoffs in Adam Gase’s first year as head coach. He must’ve sold his soul to Pitbull for one decent season in South Beach.
Gase’s heavenly glow wore off quickly when the Dolphins traveled to Heinz Field and were beat by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round.
The Dolphins let Brian Flores go following the 2021 season after he looked like the most competent coach the franchise has seen in 20 years. Your guess for how Miami performs going forward is as good as mine.
2. Denver Broncos, 6 Years
?Last appearance: Super Bowl 50
The Denver Broncos are the owners of the longest playoff drought in NFL history for a team immediately following a Super Bowl win, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Remarkably, the Mile-High football team hasn’t been back to the playoffs since Peyton Manning last suited up for them.
The Broncos have been a revolving door of quarterbacks since “The Sheriff” left town. Not to mention they’re looking for their third coach since Gary Kubiak led the franchise to a Lombardi Trophy.
1. New York Jets, 11 Years
Last appearance: 2011 AFC Championship Game
The Steelers robbed us of Mark Sanchez playing in a Super Bowl. I will never forgive them for that. The Jets hold the distinct honor of having the longest postseason drought of any team in the NFL.
They’ve done everything they can to avoid returning. They hired Adam Gase, drafted Sam Darnold ahead of Josh Allen and have only eclipsed more than six wins once since 2016. If you’re looking to make the playoffs, don’t play at MetLife Stadium and you should have a decent chance.