Race to the bottom: Ranking NFL’s worst teams

By Jesse Reed
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Early this season, it seemed the Miami Dolphins were categorically the worst NFL team and destined to obtain the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Since then, however, other teams have proved just as incompetent and now we have a race to the bottom of the standings.

Four teams have yet to win a game so far this year, and three more have lost four out of five heading into Week 6. The Arizona Cardinals also have just one win, but they are at least competitive and will avoid this list.

So how do the NFL’s worst seven teams rank? From best to worst, this is how we see the rest of the season unfolding as they compete for the top pick in next April’s draft.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4)

A highly competitive team, despite its record, Pittsburgh has enough talent on both sides of the ball to eke out at least a handful of wins this year. The Steelers are minus-15 in point differential this year, which highlights that competitiveness. Assuming Mason Rudolph can return to action sooner rather than later. Starting with Miami in Week 6, the Steelers have winnable games coming up on their schedule against the likes of the Browns (twice), Bengals, Cardinals and Jets.

6. Denver Broncos (1-4)

A team that has been making improvements of late and is coming off a road win against the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver is a tough out every week. The AFC West is a tough division, and that hurts Denver’s chances of getting to .500 this season. But given the veteran leadership the Broncos feature, with Von Miller and Joe Flacco leading the charge, it would be stunning if Denver didn’t figure out a way to win five or six games this season.

5. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

Stunningly, Atlanta’s defense is among the league’s worst. It’s stunning because head coach Dan Quinn got the job based on his abilities on that side of the ball. Injuries and a distinct lack of discipline are partly to blame. But it’s also worth pointing out that the Falcons aren’t bringing the heat upfront, and that’s allowing opposing teams to shred the secondary. It’s also not helping matters that Matt Ryan has been struggling to get Julio Jones the ball the past couple of weeks.

4. New York Jets (0-4)

Sam Darnold is back in action after missing the past three games due to mononucleosis. With his return, the offense should have a better chance of putting points on the board, and that will help a decent defense that is taxed with too much time on the field. The tough thing is that the Bills and Patriots are in the division. But so also are the Dolphins, which will likely gift two wins. With games against Washington and the New York Giants, the Jets should win at least three or four games this season.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (0-5)

There is too much offensive talent on this team to stay winless this season. A.J. Green will come back eventually, and with him and Tyler Boyd, even Andy Dalton can do big things through the air. Cincinnati’s schedule is tough. However, the Bengals have the Cleveland Browns twice, and they will face the Steelers, Jets and Dolphins later this year. It’s not too much to ask this team to eke out two or three wins, right?

2. Miami Dolphins (0-4)

It’s tough to envision the Dolphins winning a game this year when you look at this team’s first four losses. But there is one key reason the Dolphins have a shot to win at least one more game this year than Washington — Josh Rosen. Head coach Brian Flores has declared Rosen will start under center the rest of the season. He has very little protection and therefore has been getting hammered quite a bit already. But he is a resilient, young gunslinger who’ll keep firing downfield and eventually will see a positive result.

1. Washington Redskins (0-5)

Washington is the biggest train wreck in the NFL, and there is no close second. It was not surprising that Jay Gruden was fired, because he and the front office disagreed on way too many things — including Dwayne Haskins. Interim head coach Bill Callahan isn’t planning on starting the rookie any time soon, either, and neither Case Keenum nor Colt McCoy will generate much offense for Washington. There isn’t enough talent on defense to make up for the lack of offensive production, and at this point it’s not hard to envision Washington going winless in 2019.