Are There Really More Horrible NFL Teams Now Than in Recent Memory?

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Are There Really More Horrible NFL Teams Now Than in Recent Memory?

A whole lot of bad football is being played in the NFL in 2013. A sad amount, really.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a combined 0-14. Add in the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, and we're at 2-25.

What's happening? 

Are we witnessing the inept play of more horrible teams than ever before?

While that's exceptionally, almost impossibly hard to measure when one considers the league has been in existence since 1920, a ubiquitous phenomenon has taken over: parity.

And the relatively equal quality of on-field play hasn't been good. 

They say teams are as good or as bad as their records, and it's hard to argue against that mantra.

On a more specific, statistical level, the bottom-feeding teams have been extremely bad. 

For the sake of this wide-ranging comparison, let's use three influential statistics to determine the incompetence of some of the worst teams over the past three years.

  • Points per drive
  • Points allowed per drive
  • Turnover differential 

Heading into Week 8, this how the Jaguars, Buccaneers, Vikings and Giants have performed in those categories:

Statistical Breakdown of 2013's Worst Teams
Points Per Drive Points Allowed Per Drive Turnover Differential
Jaguars 0.81 2.45 -7
Vikings 1.56 2.42 -2
Buccaneers 1.16 1.78 0
Giants 1.40 2.11 -14
Averages 1.23 2.19 -5.75

Football Outsiders and ESPN

Some ghastly figures, right? Here's how the teams with the worst records fared in those same stat categories in 2012:

Statistical Breakdown of 2012's Worst Teams
Points Per Drive Points Allowed Per Drive Turnover Differential
Lions 1.88 1.98 -16
Eagles 1.54 2.21 -24
Jaguars 1.31 2.12 -3
Chiefs 1.12 2.17 -24
Averages 1.46 2.12 -16.75

Football Outsiders and ESPN

Here's 2011:

Statistical Breakdown of 2011's Worst Teams
Points Per Drive Points Allowed Per Drive Turnover Differential
Rams 0.92 1.94 -5
Colts 1.24 2.21 -12
Vikings 1.79 2.23 -3
Browns 1.22 1.67 1
Averages 1.29 2.01 -4.75

Football Outsiders and ESPN

And 2010: 

Statistical Breakdown of 2010's Worst Teams
Points Per Drive Points Allowed Per Drive Turnover Differential
Panthers 0.95 1.95 -8
Broncos 1.73 2.39 -9
Bengals 1.67 1.90 -8
Bills 1.48 2.20 -17
Averages 1.45 2.11 -10.5

Football Outsiders and ESPN

Based on those numbers, the 2013 group is on pace to be decidedly less efficient than the NFL's worst teams over the past three seasons. 

While we probably shouldn't expect the Giants to continue to turn it over as often as they have through seven games, the 2013 group could finish with the largest turnover differential as well. 

Are there more bad teams in 2013 than usual?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Will the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Giants and Vikings continue their generally dismal play on both sides of the ball during the second half of the 2013 season? 

In Tampa Bay, things likely won't change much until head coach Greg Schiano is fired. The Jaguars have two atrocious quarterbacks in Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert, and neither can stay healthy. 

The Vikings have major quarterback issues of their own. 

/Getty Images

Newly acquired Josh Freeman, fresh off an epically bad 20-of-53, 190-yard passing performance against the Giants on Monday Night Football, is dealing with a concussion. If he can't go in Week 8, it's back to Christian Ponder. 

Yikes. 

Although Eli Manning is fighting through some significant communication and timing issues with his pass-catchers and an offensive line in shambles, the G-Men probably have the best chance to turn things around. 

Maybe then, the 2013 group of bottom-feeding NFL teams won't be looked at as the worst in recent memory. 

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