10 Longest NFL Playoff Droughts in History (Active and All-Time)

Isaiah De Los Santos
10 longest NFL playoff droughts in history, both active and all-time.
10 longest NFL playoff droughts in history, both active and all-time. / (AP Photo/David Richard)
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The 2022 NFL season is approaching its final week, which means the playoffs are right around the corner. With spots limited in the postseason, a majority of teams will be reduced to bystanders for the rest of the year.

Some teams have gone without a taste of the playoffs longer than others. Here's everything you need to know about the longest NFL postseason droughts, both active and all-time.

Longest Active NFL Playoff Droughts

The New York Jets hold the unfortunate honor of the league's longest active playoff drought at 11 seasons. The team last made the playoffs following the 2010 campaign, which ended with a loss in the AFC Championship Game.

New York is on the verge of pushing its drought to 12 seasons if eliminated from playoff contention this year. Check out the rest of the longest active droughts below.

1. New York Jets (11 Seasons)

2. Denver Broncos (7 Seasons)

The Denver Broncos have officially been eliminated from playoff contention during the 2022 campaign, pushing their drought to seven seasons. They last appeared in the postseason following the 2015 season, which ended with a win in Super Bowl L.

3. New York Giants (5 Seasons)

This may be the year the New York Giants break their playoff curse. With an 8-6-1 record so far, New York currently is the No. 6 seed in the NFC with two games remaining. A postseason appearance would be the team's first since the 2016 campaign.

4. Detroit Lions (5 Seasons)

The Detroit Lions are also in the playoff hunt down the stretch. They're hoping to play in their first postseason game since 2016, but need help in the final two weeks qualify with their current 7-8 record.

5. Miami Dolphins (5 Seasons)

Miami is another team in great position to make the postseason and snap its drought. The Dolphins have a chance to lock up a playoff spot in Week 17, which would finalize the teams participating in the AFC bracket.

6. Atlanta Falcons (5 Seasons)

Atlanta's postseason drought was pushed to five seasons this year after a lackluster campaign. The Falcons last made the playoffs following the 2017 season, which ended with a loss in the Divisional Round.

7. Carolina Panthers (4 Seasons)

Another NFC South team, Carolina has a slim chance at making this year's playoffs with how abysmal the division's been in 2022. Assuming the Panthers miss the postseason, it'll mark their fifth straight campaign without a playoff berth.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4 Seasons)

The Jacksonville Jaguars could snap their playoff drought this year by defeating the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale. The winner of that Week 18 contest will take home the division and the No. 4 spot in the AFC playoffs.

9. Houston Texans (3 Seasons)

It's been a dismal past couple of years for the Houston Texans. The 2022 campaign will mark their third straight season missing the playoffs. Houston's last postseason appearance was following the 2020 season, which ended with a loss in the Divisional Round.

10. Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts (2 Seasons)

These three teams have been eliminated from playoff contention in 2022, making this the second year in a row they've missed the postseason. However, they'll be joined by a few other squads that are currenly on the bubble once the regular season officially concludes.

Longest Playoff Droughts in NFL History

1. New Orleans Saints (20 Seasons)

The New Orleans Saints' two-decades-long playoff drought has been rivaled, but never topped. New Orleans failed to make the postseason in its first 20 seasons as an NFL franchise, starting this drought in 1967. It finally came to an end during the 1987 campaign, which saw the 12-3 Saints make the Wild Card Round.

Here are the other longest playoff droughts in NFL history.

2. Cleveland Browns (17 Seasons)

The Browns are tied for the second-longest playoff drought in NFL history, and only just snapped it following the 2020 season. Prior to that, Cleveland hadn't made the postseason since the 2002 campaign.

3. Buffalo Bills (17 Seasons)

The Buffalo Bills are another recent entry on this list. After losing in the Wild Card following the 1999 season, it took Buffalo all the way until the 2017 campaign to return to the postseason. Since then, the Bills have made the playoffs four of the last five years, and will make it five out of six in 2022.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (17 Seasons)

Philadelphia has enjoyed plenty of playoff football since the turn of the millennium, but the team went through a rough patch earlier on in its history. Following their championship win in 1960, the Eagles failed to make the postseason 17 straight times. They finally returned to the playoffs in 1978.

5. New York Giants (17 Seasons)

New York's endured its fair share of playoff droughts. That includes going 17 seasons in a row without seeing the postseason after the 1963 campaign. The Giants got back to the playoffs in 1981, and went on to a win a Super Bowl in 1986.

6. Arizona Cardinals (15 Seasons)

The Cardinals, as a franchise, have had some rough playoff history. The team's longest drought occurred across three different iterations (St. Louis, Phoenix and Arizona) and lasted 15 seasons overall. After the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated in the Wild Card Round following the 1982 campaign, the now-Arizona Cardinals broke the playoff curse in 1998.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14 Seasons)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of several teams to go 14 seasons without a playoff appearance. Their drought began after the 1982 campaign and wasn't broken until 1997, when the Bucs made it to the Divisional Round.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (14 Seasons)

Speaking of the Cardinals, they appear on this list again. The St. Louis version of the team began its existence with a 14-season playoff-less streak. The Cards didn't make the playoffs from 1960 to 1973, but enjoyed back-to-back postseason appearances from 1974-75.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (14 Seasons)

The Cincinnati Bengals are another more recent addition here. After being bounced from the playoffs following the 1990 season, they also went 14 years without any postseason action. The Bengals finally returned in 2005.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (14 Seasons)

Kansas City was also struck by some dreadful postseason luck early in its existence. Following a Divisional Round appearance in 1971, the Chiefs didn't feature in the playoffs again until 1986. The current-day team, however, currently owns a streak of eight straight postseason appearances.

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Isaiah De Los Santos is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Isaiah De Los Santos also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zayyy05328. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

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