Over the years in NFL history, there have been some teams that began the season with tremendous confidence and looked like a sure-fire bet to make the postseason, only to experience an epic collapse down the stretch run.
To qualify for consideration as one of the teams that have experienced these epic meltdowns in December, the team had to start out with a reasonably strong starting point. So, we are going to go back in history to look for teams that began with a record of 5-0, 5-1, 5-2, 6-0, 6-2, 7-3, 8-4 and 9-3 that all failed to make the playoffs.
We are even experiencing some second-half collapses in the 2011 season that will qualify for the list. These are the years that the players and fans of these teams relive, and shake their heads and wonder why. Of course, if the team made the postseason, then there is no collapse, because once you are in the playoffs, anything can happen.
If you do not see your team listed, it is because they have not experienced any second-half collapses after a hot start since the 1993 season. But there are a total of 50 teams that did. On to the presentation.
While there are three weeks left to the current season, it is clear that there is one guaranteed collapse, and possibly more to add when the dust has finally settled on the 2011 season.
The Buffalo Bills began the year 5-2 and looked like they were finally going to break their long 12-year playoffs drought. The Bills then proceeded to drop their next six straight games and are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Injuries to key players on offense and defense really set the Bills back and the team's lack of depth came back to hurt the team.
The Bills lost Fred Jackson, Roscoe Parrish, Kyle Williams, Shawne Merriman, Donald Jones, Marcus Easley, Terrence McGee, Rian Lindell and Eric Wood to IR during the year. It should also be noted that the Bills went on their six-game losing streak right after Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his multi-year extension.
The Cincinnati Bengals began the year 6-2 and then proceeded to lose four of their next five games. It may have been more of a result of the schedule finally getting harder, as the Bengals dropped games to Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh (twice). The Bengals close out the year with Baltimore, and that game may very well determine their fate.
In the NFC, the Chicago Bears started out the year 7-3, but then major injuries struck. First it was quarterback Jay Cutler going down, then it was running back Matt Forte. The Bears have since lost three straight games, and at 7-6 they are in jeopardy of falling out of playoff contention.
The Detroit Lions started out the year 5-0, as they sought to end their long playoff drought as well. But after the hot start, they proceeded to go 2-5 over their next seven games to put their playoff quest in jeopardy. That 2-5 stretch started off with the loss to the 49ers and the infamous handshake between Coach Schwartz and Coach Harbaugh. Currently, the Lions are 8-5 and their fate may come to the final week of play, when they have to face the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
The New York Giants began the year with a very strong 6-2 record to take the early lead in the NFC East. But then the Giants dropped four straight games and watched Dallas take over the lead in the NFC East. But, the Giants defeated Dallas last week to snap the losing streak and they are now back in first place with a 7-6 record. If the Giants fail to reach the playoffs, they will kick themselves after such a great beginning to the year.
The Atlanta Falcons have experienced two regular-season collapses in the past 19 years. The first one occurred in 2006 when the Falcons began at 5-2, only to fade to a 7-9 record overall. Going 2-7 over the last nine games ruined the Falcons' hot start for the playoffs.
That team was led by Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Roddy White and Alge Crumpler. The Falcons lost all four games in November during their second-half fade. Vick led the team in rushing in each of those games, but it wasn't enough to get them a win.
In the 2005 season, the Falcons once again had a strong start, coming out of the gates with a 6-2 record. But they faded as well, losing six of their final eight games to finish as a .500 team with a 8-8 record.
That team had the same cast of characters on offense, but couldn't answer the bell down the home stretch, as they dropped four of their final five games to the season. The most painful loss was dropping a 27-24 overtime game to Tampa Bay on Christmas Eve.
The Baltimore Ravens have only had to deal with a second-half collapse one time in the past 19 years, and that was in 2004. The Ravens started out 7-3 and were looking like a lock for the playoffs.
But over the final six games, the Ravens went 2-4 to finish the season at 9-7 and out of the playoff picture. The four losses included dropping three straight road games to New England, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, and a one-point home loss to Cincinnati, 27-26.
The Ravens were led by quarterback Kyle Boller, running backs Chester Taylor and Jamal Lewis, wide receiver Randy Hymes and tight end Todd Heap.
Similar to the hot start that the Buffalo Bills had this year (5-2), they had an even hotter start in 2008, when they came out of the gate with a 5-1 record. The team was coached by Dick Jauron, but the Bills' continued absence from the playoffs continued when they faded in the second half of the season by going 2-8 over their final 10 games, to close out the year with a 7-9 mark.
The Bills would wind up with three straight 7-9 seasons under Jauron. The Bills in 2008 were led by quarterback Trent Edwards, running backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, and wide receivers Lee Evans and Josh Reed.
The worst part of the second-half fade was caused by their AFC East rivals, as the Bills suffered six of their eight losses to AFC East teams. They wound up being swept by Miami, New England and the New York Jets to become eliminated from the playoffs one more time.
While Chicago Bears fans sweat out the final three weeks of this season to see if they can still make the playoffs, there is one clear second-half fade in the Bears' recent history. The year was 1995, when the Bears began the year 6-2. They ran into a rough patch, going 3-5 in the second half to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
The 1995 Bears were led by quarterback Erik Kramer, running back Rashaam Salaam and wide receivers Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham. The Bears head coach was Dave Wannstedt.
Three of the five final losses were to NFC North rivals, as the Bears were swept by the Detroit Lions and lost to the Green Bay Packers. They also dropped games to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals to drop them out of the playoff chase.
In 1993, the Cleveland Browns began the year with a 5-2 record, and were looking good for another trip to the playoffs.
But, the Browns weren't able to sustain their strong start, going 2-7 over their next nine games to finish the year at 7-9 and fall short of the playoffs. The team was coached by Bill Belichick.
The Browns in 1993 were led by quarterbacks Vinny Testeverde and Bernie Kosar. The running backs were Tommy Vardell, Leroy Hoard and Eric Metcalf. Metcalf and Mark Carrier were the team's leading receivers.
The Browns dropped all four games in November and then closed out the year with another losing streak, losing three of their final four. The Browns lost four of their final five games on the road.
In the past 19 years, the Dallas Cowboys have experienced two second-half collapses that cost them appearances in the playoffs.
The most recent time came in 2008 when the Cowboys began with a 8-4 record. They were in the driver's seat, but failed to take advantage and wound up with a 9-7 record by going 1-3 in the final four games of the year.
Wade Phillips was the coach, and Tony Romo, Tashard Choice, Marion Barber, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten led the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys lost to Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Philadelphia to drop out of the playoff picture.
The second collapse came in 2005. The Cowboys started out 7-3 that year, but wound up with the same 9-7 record due to going 2-4 over their final six games.
That team was coached by Bill Parcells, and featured Drew Bledsoe at quarterback, Julius Jones and Marion Barber at running back, Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson at wide receiver and Jason Witten at tight end.
The Cowboys lost at home in overtime to Denver 27-24, and then lost to the New York Giants and Washington Redskins down the stretch. The Cowboys lost their final game of the year at home to the St. Louis Rams, and they were out of the playoffs.
In the past 19 years, the Denver Broncos have seen three teams collapse in the second half of seasons to fall short of their playoff aspirations.
Most recently, it was the 2009 Broncos team that started out 6-0, but then went 2-8 over their final 10 games to finish as a .500 team. The 2009 Broncos and the 2003 Minnesota Vikings are the only two teams in the past 19 years to start out a season 6-0 and fail to qualify for the playoffs.
The 2009 team was coached by Josh McDaniels, quarterbacked by Kyle Orton and featured Brandon Marshall and Knowshon Moreno. The Broncos won their first six games, then hit their bye week, which brought their momentum to a screeching halt. Coming out of the bye, the Broncos lost four straight.
The 2006 Broncos began at 7-2, but finished at 9-7 after going 2-5 down the stretch. That team was coached by Mike Shanahan and Jake Plummer was the quarterback. Other stars were Tatum Bell and Javon Walker. The key stretch was a four-game losing streak where the Broncos were swept by the San Diego Chargers and also lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 2002 Broncos also had a hot start at 6-2, but also finished at 9-7, as they went 3-4 over the final seven games. That team was led by Brian Griese, Clinton Portis and Rod Smith. They were still coached by Shanahan. That Broncos team lost two costly overtime games in consecutive weeks and were also swept down the stretch by the Oakland Raiders.
The Detroit Lions had two promising starts to seasons end up falling short, and are hoping that the 2011 season won't be a third year to go under.
The 2007 Lions team began with a 6-2 record, only to go 1-7 over their next eight games to finish at 7-9. That team was coached by Rod Marinelli and was led by Jon Kitna, Kevin Jones and receivers Shaun McDonald, Roy E. Williams and Calvin Johnson.
After reaching the 6-2 mark, the Lions proceeded to lose six straight games. Four of the six losses were of the double-digit variety, but a particularly painful was a one-point home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The 2000 Lions began with a 8-4 record, only to win one of their final four games to finish the year at 9-7 and out of the playoffs.That team had two head coaches as both Gary Moeller and Bobby Ross were at the helm in different parts of the season.
Charlie Batch was the quarterback and James Stewart was the running back. Johnnie Morton was the leading receiver. The Lions faced all three of their NFC North division foes over the final four weeks, and lost to all three of them, knocking them out of the playoffs.
From 2005-2010, the Jacksonville Jaguars had three different teams that were in a position to capture a playoff berth, only to come up empty in December. All three teams were coached by Jack Del Rio, so maybe that is part of the reason why he is no longer coaching the Jaguars.
The 2010 Jaguars team and the 2006 Jaguars team took identical paths to miss out on the playoffs. Both teams started out 8-5 and both teams lost their final three games to fall short of the postseason.
The 2010 Jaguars team was led by David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis. The Jaguars lost a home game in overtime to the Washington Redskins 20-17, and also lost on the road to AFC South rivals Houston and Indianapolis to seal their fate.
The 2006 Jaguars team was led by David Garrard, Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and leading receiver Matt Jones. The Jaguars lost their final three games by seven points at Tennessee, at home by three points to the New England Patriots and by five points on the road to Kansas City.
The 2004 Jaguars team began at 5-2 and managed a higher finish at 9-7, but still failed to qualify for the playoffs. That team was hurt by playing at less than a .500 clip over the final nine games (4-5). The team was led by Byron Leftwich at quarterback, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith.
That team was hurt by dropping three of the last four home games to Houston, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Just like the Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs also had three teams during the past 19 years that came out of the gate smoking, only to fall flat on their face in the second half, when it mattered the most.
The most recent team was the 2005 Chiefs. They began 8-4, but only went 2-2 down the stretch, which left them out of the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Dick Vermeil was the coach, Trent Green was the quarterback, and Larry Johnson ran for 1,700-plus yards. Eddie Kennison and Tony Gonzalez had key roles in the offense as well. The Chiefs lost on the road to Dallas 31-28 and at the New York Giants 27-17, which are the games that knocked them out.
The 1999 Chiefs began with a 5-2 record, but then went 4-5 over the final nine games to finish at 9-7. That team was coached by Gunther Cunningham, Elvis Grbac was the quarterback, Donnell Bennett was the leading rusher and Derrick Alexander and Tony Gonzalez were the leading receivers. That team lost three straight in November and also lost their final two games to seal the collapse.
The last team that collapsed was the 1996 Chiefs team. They began 8-3 and looked like a likely playoff team. However, that squad only managed to go 1-4 down the stretch to finish at 9-7 and miss the playoffs again. That team was coached by Marty Schottenheimer, had Steve Bono and Rich Gannon at quarterback, Marcus Allen running the ball and Chris Penn and Kimble Anders as their leading receivers.
The Chiefs lost their final two home games to San Diego and Indianapolis and then dropped their final two road games to Oakland and Buffalo to fall out of the playoff picture.
The Miami Dolphins also had three second-half collapses in the past 19 years, so here is the rundown.
The 2003 Dolphins team began 8-4, but by going 2-2 over the final month, they failed to reach the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. It is hard to miss the playoffs with 10 wins, but that does happen on occasion. The 2003 Dolphins were coached by Dave Wannstedt and were quarterbacked by Jay Fiedler and Brian Griese. Ricky Williams was the running back and Chris Chambers was the leading receiver.
The 2003 team was shut out by New England 12-0, and then lost at home to Philadelphia 34-27, which knocked them out of the playoffs.
The 2002 Dolphins team opened up at 5-1, but went 4-6 over their last 10 games to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Fielder and Ray Lucas were the quarterbacks, and the other stars remained the same. Of their six losses in the second-half fade, the Dolphins were swept by the Buffalo Bills, and then lost their last two games by a field goal to Minnesota and New England, the Patriots loss coming in overtime.
The 1993 Dolphins team began 9-2 and they looked like an automatic playoff berth, but they inexplicably lost their final five games to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs. Out of the 50 second-half collapses, the Dolphins are the only team to go 9-2 in the last 19 years and fail to be in the playoffs.
The five-game slide included losses to the New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, San Diego and New England. The team was coached by Don Shula, and they had three different quarterbacks that started for them: Scott Mitchell (seven games) Dan Marino (five) and Steve DeBerg (four). That probably helps to explain the collapse.
The 2003 Minnesota Vikings started out the year with a perfect 6-0 record. Then the season started to collapse, and the Vikings proceeded to go 3-7 over their final 10 games to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
The 2003 Vikings team was coached by Mike Tice and Dante Culpepper was the starting quarterback. The Vikings had Randy Moss in his prime at wide receiver and four different Vikings rushed for at least 400 yards: Moe Williams (745), Onterrio Smith (579), Michael Bennett (447) and Culpepper (422).
After winning their first five games, the Vikings had a bye week, and then won their sixth. After that they went into a tailspin, losing four straight with two of the losses coming at home.
Over their final six, the Vikings went win, loss, win, loss, win and loss to end the year at 9-7. Too bad they just couldn't string together some wins at the end of the year like they did in the beginning, leading to a painful way to end a great start.
As we cited earlier in the presentation, the 2003 Vikings team along with the 2009 Denver Broncos are the only teams that have started out 6-0 in the past 19 years and failed to make the playoffs.
The 2008 New England Patriots team may go down as the only NFL team to go 11-5 in the regular season and fail to make the playoffs. The 2008 season was uncanny due to all of the high records across the AFC playoff teams, and unfortunately for the Patriots all of the tiebreakers in the NFL went against them.
It is really hard to call a team that went 11-5 a second-half collapse, because they really never did. But as we defined in the presentation, if a team starts out 5-2 and fails to make the playoffs, they make our list, and that is exactly what happened to New England. They began 5-2, went 6-3 over the final nine games and wound up at 11-5 and out of the second season. Bizarre? Yes, I would agree.
That was also the year that Tom Brady was injured in the first game, and Matt Cassel finished out the rest of the year. Cassel actually played quite well, and the Patriots were in the thick of it to the very end.
The other Patriots team to discuss is the 1999 team. They began 6-2 that year, but finished as just a .500 team by going 2-6 over the second half of the season. That team was coached by Pete Carroll. Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback, Terry Allen was the leading running back and Terry Glenn was the leading wide receiver.
The Patriots were 6-2 coming into their bye week, and then after the bye they proceeded to lose six of their next seven. Included in that stretch, the Patriots went 0-4 against AFC East rivals, as they were swept by Buffalo and also lost to Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
The 2002 New Orleans Saints began 6-1 and looked like they were a likely playoff team. However, the Saints went 3-6 over their final nine games and the city of New Orleans went into a funk. The Saints finished at 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs.
The 2002 team was coached by Jim Haslett and Aaron Brooks was the quarterback. The Saints were led by Deuce McAllister and Joe Horn. The Saints lost five of the last seven games that year, and what was especially troubling was losing four of their last five home games.
The 1993 Saints also started out hot with a 5-0 record. They also faded down the stretch by losing six of their final eight games and finished with a 8-8 record.
The 1993 team was coached by Jim Mora and the quarterback was Wade Wilson. Derek Brown was the leading rusher and Eric Martin was the leading receiver.
The NFL had two bye weeks in 1993, and after each bye week the Saints came out and lost two straight games. I wonder if Coach Mora was fielding questions then about the playoffs. The PLAYOFFS?
In the past 19 years, the New York Giants fans have been asked to endure three second-half collapses. The two most recent were very recent: 2010 and 2009.
In 2010, the Giants started out 9-4 yet failed to make the playoffs. They went 1-2 in their final three games, and 10-6 didn't cut it in the NFC.
The 2009 team started out 5-0, but finished 8-8. That team went 3-8 over their last 11 games and missed the playoffs as well. Both teams were coached by Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning was the quarterback. The cast of stars was the same, with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw at running back and Mario Manningham, Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks at wide receiver.
It didn't help that the 2009 Giants lost their final two home games to Philadelphia and Carolina.
The 2004 Giants team began at 5-2 and then basically went straight into the tank. They won only one more the rest of the year and finished up at 6-10. That team was coached by Tom Coughlin and the quarterbacking duties were split between Kurt Warner and Eli Manning.
The New York Jets also had three second-half collapses in the past 19 years, just like their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants.
The most recent Jets collapse was with Brett Favre at the helm. The 2008 Jets team began with an 8-3 record, but they went 1-4 over their final five games to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. The Jets were coached by Eric Mangini and Thomas Jones was the running back. Favre's favorite targets were Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery.
The 2000 Jets team began 6-1, but went 3-6 over the final nine games to finish that campaign 9-7 and out of the playoff picture. The 2000 team featured Al Groh as head coach and Vinny Testaverde at quarterback. Curtis Martin led the ground game, and the Jets had three effective receivers in Wayne Chrebet, Dedric Ward and with Richie Anderson coming out of the backfield.
After the hot start, the 2000 Jets lost three straight, won three straight and then closed out the year losing three straight again. Part of the problem was that they lost four of their final five road games.
The 1997 Jets were another team that started out great but didn't finish very well. They began the year going 8-4, but only won one game out of their final four contests. Bill Parcells was the coach and Neil O'Donnell was the quarterback. Adrian Murrell paced the ground game and Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet were the leading receivers.
The last three losses came to Indianapolis at home and then to Buffalo and Detroit on the road.
Over the past 19 years, the Oakland Raiders have been involved in two second-half collapses that cost them potential playoff appearances.
The 1998 Raiders team began the year 6-2, but then reversed that in the second half of the year and went 2-6 to finish the year at 8-8 and out of the playoffs. The 1998 team was coached by Jon Gruden, who employed three different starting quarterbacks during the year: Donald Hollas, Jeff George and Wade Wilson. The Raiders also featured Napoleon Kaufman, and receivers Tim Brown and James Jett.
In the second half of 1998, the Raiders were 1-3 at home and 1-3 on the road. That is just not going to cut it if you want to be in the playoffs.
The other Raiders collapse was in 1995, when the team started out 8-2 but then proceeded to lose their final six games of the year to finish at 8-8.
The 1995 team was coached by Mike White, who also gave starts to three different quarterbacks: Jeff Hostetler, Vince Evans and Billy Joe Hobert. Harvey Williams led the team in rushing and the leading receivers were Tim Brown and Daryl Hobbs.
The Raiders faced each of their AFC West rivals down that stretch run, and lost all three games. They also dropped their final four games at home, which helped to eliminate them from the playoffs.
The Philadelphia Eagles have only experienced one second-half collapse in the past 19 years. That happened in 1994, when the Eagles started out with a 7-2 record, only to lose their final seven games of the season to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs.
The 1994 team was coached by Rich Kotite. The quarterback was Randall Cunningham. Hershel Walker paced the ground game and the leading receivers were Fred Barnett and Calvin Williams.
The Eagles lost their final three home games to Cleveland, Dallas and the New York Giants. They were at 7-7 after losing five straight, and then lost the final two games by a field goal to drop to 7-9 overall.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced two second-half season meltdowns that left them out of the playoffs.
The most recent occurrence was in 2009 when the Steelers opened up with a 6-2 record. Over the second half of the season, the Steelers went 3-5 to finish at 9-7. That team was coached by Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback. Rashard Mendenhall was the leading rusher and Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward each turned in more than 1,000 yards in receptions that year.
At 6-2, the Steelers lost five straight games, which included two consecutive losses in overtime on the road to Kansas City and Baltimore. The Steelers also lost to Cleveland, but then won their final three games of the year, but it was too late; they were already eliminated from the playoffs.
In 1998, the Steelers opened up 5-2, but then went 2-7 over the final nine games of the year to finish at 7-9. That squad was coached by Bill Cowher and featured Kordell Stewart, Jerome Bettis, Charles Johnson and Courtney Hawkins.
They lost the last five games of the year, including the final home game, 25-24 to Cincinnati.
The San Diego Chargers have experienced three second-half collapses in the past 19 years. They all happened in a short time span from 2001-2005, so the Chargers must have felt like they were snakebitten.
In 2005, the Chargers opened up 8-4, but then went 1-3 over the final four games to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Marty Schottenheimer was the coach, Drew Brees was the QB and LaDainian Tomlinson was the star running back. The leading receivers were Keenan McArdle and Eric Parker. That team lost their final two home games to Miami and Denver.
In 2002, they were off to a great 6-1 start, only to go 2-7 over their final nine games to finish 8-8. The team stars were the same, the coach was the same but the leading wide receivers were different. They were Curtis Conway and Tim Dwight. That team lost their final four road games as well as their final two home games. Included in their eight wins were three overtime wins. They liked to play on the edge.
Then there was the 2001 team, and that was one for the record books. That team came out 5-2 and then lost their final nine games in a row to finish at 5-11. They are the only team in this presentation to have lost nine straight games.The cast was altered to show Mike Riley as head coach, Doug Flutie at quarterback and LT was still the star running back. Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham were the leading receivers.
Don't look now but the Buffalo Bills might equal the Chargers' nine-game losing streak if they don't win one of their final three games.
The 1995 St. Louis Rams opened up with a 5-1 record, but then the momentum fell apart. Over the next 10 games, the Rams could only manage two wins to finish the year with a 7-9 record.
The 1995 team was coached by Rich Brooks, and the quarterbacks were Chris Miller and Mark Rypien. Jerome Bettis was the featured running back and Isaac Bruce was putting up 1,700 yards in receptions.
The Rams closed out the second half of the season with just two wins and lost four of their final five home games.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another NFL team that has watched three great starts turn into second-half collapses in the past 19 years.
Most recently, the 2010 Bucs team started out 5-2, but could only go 5-4 over their final nine games, to finish up with a 10-6 record, which unfortunately wasn't good enough for the playoffs that year. The 2010 team was coached by Raheem Morris, and featured Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow Jr.
The 2008 Bucs team began with a 9-3 record and looked like a very sure thing for the playoffs. That team lost their final four games of the year to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs as well. That team was coached by Jon Gruden, and had Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese at quarterback. Warrick Dunn and Earnest Graham were the leading rushers and Antonio Bryant had a monster year in receptions.
Finally, the 1995 Bucs team is noted for a 5-2 start, but they also had a rough go in the second half as they went 2-7 over the final nine games to finish 7-9. That team was coached by Sam Wyche. Trent Dilfer was the quarterback, and Errict Rhett was the running back. Jackie Harris, Alvin Harper and Horace Copeland were the leading receivers.
1996 was the final year that the Houston Oilers existed and then they moved to Tennessee. That same year was the last year that the franchise had a second-half collapse after a strong start.
The 1996 Oilers team came out with a 5-2 record, but the momentum died. Over their final nine games, the team went 3-6 to finish up at 8-8 and miss the playoffs.
The Oilers were coached by Jeff Fisher. The quarterbacks were Chris Chandler and Steve McNair. They had Eddie George at running back and the leading receivers were Chris Sanders and Frank Wycheck.
Maybe this had to do with leaving Houston for Tennessee, but that Oilers team won their final three road games and lost their final five home games that year.
Our final team slide reveals that the Washington Redskins also had three second-half collapses in the past 19 years. The most recent one was in 2008, when they opened up with a 6-2 record. That was followed by the exact opposite, a 2-6 second half, to finish up at 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
The 2008 team was coached by Jim Zorn and the quarterback was Jason Campbell. Clinton Portis was the featured back and the leading receivers were Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.
The 2000 Redskins team also came out with a 6-2 record to start the year, and repeated exactly what the 2008 team did by going 2-6 in the second half to finish at 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Deja vu all over again?
That team was led by Norv Turner and Terry Robiskie. Brad Johnson and Jeff George were the quarterbacks. The team also featured Stephen Davis, Albert Connell, James Thrash and Larry Centers.
Then there was the 1996 team that started out 7-1, only to finish at 9-7, thanks to a 2-6 mark in the second half of the season. That team was coached by Norv Turner and his quarterback was Gus Frerotte. Other stars were Terry Allen and Henry Ellard.