Overhyped NFL Teams That Crushed Their Fans’ Dreams

Darren - November 18, 2022

Overhyped NFL Teams That Crushed Their Fans’ Dreams

Darren - November 18, 2022

Most football fans love a good hype train in the offseason. Yet many hyped NFL teams fail to live up to their fans’ hopes and dreams. Perhaps they have a strong preseason or make blockbuster trades for superstars. The media builds them up and claims that they could be Super Bowl contenders. But many of them fail to make it out of their division.

Today we’ll check out some of the most disappointing NFL teams ever. They carried a lot of expectations into these respective seasons but didn’t live up to them. Sometimes injuries cost them dearly or a bad coach made the wrong decisions. More often than not, they just weren’t as good as we thought they were.


Baltimore Ravens – 2021

Baltimore fans had massive hopes for their team in 2021 after Lamar Jackson’s ascendance the two years before that. However, in the end, one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year failed to show up. They suffered a bunch of injuries and lost multiple games by a single score. This failure to close out victories cost them dearly and they failed to make the playoffs.

It’s safe to say that they fell well short of expectations but the NFL is a ruthless league. There was no way they’d make the postseason after a five-game losing streak. Jackson’s form was one of the most disappointing elements of their campaign after his brilliance the previous year (via Baltimore Ravens).

Sky Sports

New England Patriots – 2007

The Patriots had the chance to make history in 2007 and become arguably the greatest NFL team in history. Some people might scoff at their inclusion on this list after their rare undefeated regular season. But in the end, they broke their fans’ hearts because they failed to complete the deal. They made it to the Super Bowl but failed to win the championship against the New York Giants.


Eli Manning’s team came into the showpiece event as outsiders but kept the game tight throughout its entirety. Bill Belichick’s team struggled to separate and in the end, the Giants snatched an unlikely victory. It was heartbreaking for the Patriots because they knew a victory would have immortalized them (via ESPN).

Minnesota Vikings – 2018

Make no mistake, the Vikings had a disappointing 2018 season. They signed Kirk Cousins because they thought that he’d instantly change their fortunes. But horrible offensive line play meant that he didn’t find much success. Meanwhile, special teams didn’t deliver in clutch situations as Daniel Carlson missed overtime kicks.

Sky Sports

John DeFilippo lost his job after the poor play-calling became too much to bear. Critics noted that Cousins couldn’t elevate the players around him. He’s decent with a strong corps around him but he won’t change the game by himself. It’s not fair to blame all of it on Cousins but he didn’t take the team to a new level like the vikings’ ownership hoped (via Full Press Coverage).

CBS Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers – 2020

It’s rare that a team goes on an 11-game winning streak yet still manages to profoundly disappoint their fans. That’s exactly what the Steelers achieved in 2020 after they stormed through the first half of the year. They had an excellent defense with T.J. Watt demonstrating why he’s one of the best players of his generation (via CBS Sports).

NBC Spots

But it was clear that the Steelers weren’t as good as their record suggested. The wins papered over the cracks in Ben Roethlisberger’s game as he declined quickly toward the end of his otherwise illustrious career. They lost four of their last five games and suffered a humiliating defeat in the playoffs against the rival Cleveland Browns. It was a crushing end to their campaign after they had a lot of hope.

New York Daily News

New York Jets – 1996

The Jets know more about failure than most NFL teams because they’ve essentially turned it into an art form. However, 1996 was remarkable even by their lowly standards. It appeared that the only way was up for the franchise after a 3-13 season the previous year. Then they lured QB Neil O’Donnell from the reigning AFC champions Pittsburgh (via Pro-Football History).

NBC Sports

Meanwhile, the additions of Keyshawn Johnson and Jumbo Elliot gave some quality to the roster. Suddenly, they became one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year because of their exciting growth. But nobody counted on Rich Kotite’s inability to lead an alcoholic to a bar. The Jets crashed to a dismal 1-15 record and showed their head coach the door.

L.A. Times

L.A. Chargers – 2019

2018 was a great season for the Chargers as they blazed their way to the divisional round. An excellent 12-4 record reflected their displays throughout the year. Naturally, fans hoped that they’d progress even further in 2019 and take their results to the next level. Unfortunately, Philip Rivers suffered a stark and immediate decline in one of the worst years of his career.

L.A. Times

Rivers threw passes with the wild abandon of a child skipping stones across a lake. Meanwhile, injuries to key defensive players like safety Derwin James cost them dearly because it meant there were problems in every area. In the end, they slumped to a disappointing 5-11 record (via The Athletic).


Arizona Cardinals – 2016

Every preseason creates at least one new hyped NFL team that inevitably disappoints everybody. In 2016, this dishonor belonged to the Cardinals because they failed to live up to high expectations. Many people expected them to go all the way to the Super Bowl but they didn’t even make the Wild Card.


Carson Palmer had a poor season as he made too many slow decisions. He also took a lot of unnecessary hits when he should have released the ball more quickly. But it wasn’t completely his fault because the Cardinals only won seven games all year. It was very underwhelming after they went 13-3 in 2015 (via Arizona Sports).


Cleveland Browns – 2021

The Browns were one of the feel-good stories of the 2020 season after they made a rare foray into the postseason. It appeared that Kevin Stefanski’s team had turned a corner and put their dark days behind them. Their long-suffering fanbase hoped that this meant they would go even further in 2021 (via Fansided).


They became one of the most hyped NFL teams of the season but ultimately they regressed. In the end, they didn’t even make the postseason as Baker Mayfield played through the pain barrier of a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery. One of the worst parts of the season saw Odell Beckham Jr. flee Ohio for sunnier climates with the Los Angeles Rams and earn a Super Bowl ring.

NBC Sports

Oakland Raiders – 2003

Rich Gannon didn’t enjoy a good Super Bowl but he had an MVP season in 2002. Fans hoped that he would rebound from the disappointment of failing to win a ring. However, the opposite occurred as the AFC champions had a horrible year. This was one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers in history.

Sports Illustrated

The team went 4-12 as they counted the cost of an aging roster. Jerry Rice was still their star receiver at the grand age of 41 and this says a lot about what went wrong for them. It’s unsustainable to have a roster that old in the modern game. But that’s what the Raiders found themselves with (via CBS News).

Bleacher Report

Dallas Cowboys – 2015

The Cowboys won the NFC East in 2014 and entered the next season as one of the most hyped NFL teams. However, Jason Garrett’s men didn’t live up to expectations and fell well short of their previous year’s achievement. In the end, they posted a miserable 4-11 record after a dismal season (via Fansided).

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Unfortunately, their lack of success coincided with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant’s lengthy injury records throughout the campaign. They started 2015 with two wins but the wheels fell off the bus. A seven-game losing streak meant that there was little to no chance of them making the postseason.

Fox News

L.A. Rams – 2019

The Rams joined the ranks of teams that faltered after failing to win the Super Bowl. They lost against the Patriots but remained one of the hyped NFL teams before the new season. Sean McVey was one of the most exciting young coaches in the league while Jared Goff appeared to defy his critics (via Bleacher Report).

Fox News

Things started well as they won their first three games of the season but then they faltered badly. They failed to make the most of Todd Gurley while Goff’s inconsistencies rose their head. In the end, they disappointed their fanbase and gamblers across the nation because they didn’t even make the postseason.

Bleacher Report

Denver Broncos – 2013

The Broncos made it to Super Bowl XLVII in 2014 but suffered a humiliating defeat against the Seahawks. In the end, the game finished 43-8 in a blowout victory for Seattle. Much of the narrative after the game concerned Peyton Manning because the legendary quarterback didn’t have a good display (via Denver Post).

New York Times

Seattle shut down the NFL’s top offense and prevented Manning from passing effectively. He produced multiple turnovers that cost the Broncos dearly. It was a crushing blow for Denver’s fanbase because they thought that this was their year. Manning achieved redemption by winning the Super Bowl two years later but he played even worse.

Oregon Live

Seattle Seahawks – 2021

The Seahawks failed to make it out of the NFC West in 2021 as they disappointed their fans. It was a surprise because they had a consistent record of making it to the postseason throughout the previous decade. But they didn’t emulate this as their defense struggled against their opponents’ rushing games.

Seattle Times

Russell Wilson had a reasonable year but one player can’t do everything by himself. The quarterback snapped his streak of 149 consecutive starts for the team during a season of lowlights. It became clear that a rebuild was on the horizon for Pete Carroll after an underwhelming 7-10 record (via Fansided).

Sky Sports

Green Bay Packers – 2018

It feels like we could copy and paste the same segment about the Green Bay Packers. They inevitably enter the season as one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year. Aaron Rodgers has a brilliant regular season as he breaks records before winning the MVP award. Then the quarterback and the Packers tank in the playoffs.

Sporting News

But now it’s time to change the narrative because they didn’t even make it to the postseason in 2018. Rodgers delivered a phenomenal display in Week One but then everything went downhill for the team. Their 6-9-1 record wasn’t enough for them to progress as they enraged their devoted fanbase (via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

Buffalo Bills – 1994

We could reasonably have included five consecutive years of Bills’ misery on this list but this one deserves a special mention. The franchise made four consecutive Super Bowl appearances but failed to bring home the prize. Then in 1994 everything went wrong for the team because they didn’t even make the postseason.

Buffalo Bills

Everything that could go wrong for the team did go wrong. Jim Kelly suffered an injury that reduced his impact across the campaign. Other problems in the front office caused the team to stagnate (via ABC News).

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The Viking Age

Minnesota Vikings – 2006

Many types of hyped NFL teams crush their fans’ hopes and dreams. Some of them fail to fire from the very beginning but arguably they’re not the most frustrating. Rather, these are the teams that have a hot start but fizzle out after a decent winning streak. That’s what the Vikings did in 2006 after they won their first five games.

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It appeared as though their place in the postseason was an inevitability but that wasn’t the case. They only won another three games all season as they fell apart. This was a major meltdown that drove their fans crazy because they started the season with so much promise. It proves that fans should never take anything for granted (via The Score).

Sky News

Seattle Seahawks – 2014

Seattle made it to the Super Bowl in 2014 and came within inches of winning another title. However, Pete Carroll made the infamous call not to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch near the goal line. The rest is history after New England cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s attempted pass.

Sporting News

It was a heartbreaking defeat for Seattle because it could have been one of the most glorious moments in their history. Victory could also have seen them establish a dynasty in the mold of the Patriots in the early 2000s or the Niners in the ’80s. In the end, they fell short and that’s all that fans remember (via The Athletic).

Arizona Cardinals – 2020

The Cardinals had a bizarre 2020 because they offered a lot of promise before crushing their fans’ hopes. They showed that it’s impossible to take anything for granted as they burst out of the stables with a 5-2 record. In the end, they only won three more games all season as they missed out on the playoffs by a single win (via USA Today Sports).


One Zane Gonzalez kick against the Patriots could have changed the entire narrative. But they were on par or below the expectations of most NFL followers before the season. Many identified them as potential dark horses but they didn’t even make the postseason. There are no guarantees in the NFL because of the ruthless nature of games.


Detroit Lions – 2012

The Lions entered 2012 off the back of their first winning season since 2000. It’s no surprise that their delirious fanbase hoped that they’d go even further this time. But Detroit regressed despite being one of the most hyped teams of the year. Matthew Stafford was the reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year but relied too heavily on Calvin Johnson.

Toledo Blade

Meanwhile, their defensive line wasn’t the same despite being one of the league’s best in 2011. Several serious injuries occurred at key points of the season. Titus Young was a serious loss while there were off-the-field problems too with arrests. It was a dismal year but that sums up Detroit (via Sportsnet).


Chicago Bears – 1986

On paper, the Bears had a decent season in 1986 because they achieved 14 wins and made it to the playoffs. But the incumbent Super Bowl champions entered the postseason as the favorite. These positive results justifiably made them into one of the most hyped NFL teams ever but they failed to live up to this billing (via Sportscasting).

Sports Illustrated

Unfortunately, Jim McMahon suffered a brutal hit and this was a fatal blow for Chicago’s season. They lost in the divisional round against the Redskins in a manner that disappointed their fans. It’s possible to point the finger at Charles Martin because he took McMahon out of contention. But it was a shame that they had no Plan B without him.


St. Louis Rams – 2002

The Greatest Show on Earth became a laughingstock in 2002 after Kurt Warner broke his finger. They entered the new season as the favorites to win the Super Bowl title after they fell short to a young Tom Brady and the Patriots in their previous campaign. But everything fell apart after Warner’s injury as the team went 0-5.

Sports Illustrated

It’s safe to say that this wasn’t the start to the year that their fans expected. They came back and won five games on the bounce but it was too late. Their 7-9 record wasn’t good enough for them to make the postseason as their Super Bowl defense ended with a whimper (via Deseret News).

Associated Press

Detroit Lions – 2015

2014 was an excellent season for the Lions by their lowly standards. They made a rare foray into the postseason after winning 11 games that year. In Matthew Stafford they finally had a decent and consistent quarterback. He began to form a strong relationship with the likes of Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson.


That’s why they entered 2015 as one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year. Everybody loves to select a dark horse for a deep postseason run and many people pointed at the Lions. However, they finished the season with a losing record after they only won six games. It was a shame for their long-suffering fanbase because their team regressed again (via Detroit Free Press).

Bleacher Report

Cleveland Browns – 2019

The Browns hoped that they had left the dark days behind them when they appointed Freddie Kitchens as their head coach in 2019. Meanwhile, they assembled a star-studded roster as they traded for Odell Beckham Jr. and signed Kareem Hunt. They also hoped that Baker Mayfield was the franchise quarterback that they desperately craved (via SBNation).

Cleveland 19

Many NFL analysts thought that they would win the AFC North and even be Super Bowl contenders. However, they didn’t even make the postseason as they set an uninspiring 6-10 losing record. This wasn’t the team that people thought they would see during the preseason. Cleveland fired Kitchens because he didn’t have the knowledge to lead a franchise.

New York Upstate

Buffalo Bills – 1990

Scott Norwood singlehandedly crushed the Bills’ dreams in the 1990 playoffs against the Browns. He infamously kicked his field goal attempt ‘wide right’ as Buffalo crashed out of contention. This was one of the strongest rosters in their history with luminaries like Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas on their books.

Democrat and Chronicle

It’s no surprise that they entered the season as one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year. Heartbreakingly, the Bills bounced back and made four successive Super Bowl appearances without a single victory. This remains one of the most devastating legacies in NFL history (via UPI).

Dallas Morning News

Dallas Cowboys – 2017

Everything was going well for the Cowboys before the 2017 season. They assembled an exciting roster with Dak Prescott entering his sophomore year and the likes of Ezekiel Elliot and Dez Bryant giving hype to the Dallas offense. Fans hoped that “America’s Team” would become contenders again (via Sportsnaut).

Denver Post

But then one of the most hyped NFL teams suffered a major blow. Elliot received a six-game suspension for a domestic violence case that cost his teammates dearly. Furthermore, Prescott regressed in his second year and he failed to connect with Bryant. It was a shambles of a season after they began with so much promise.

Kansas City Star

Kansas City Chiefs – 2020

The Chiefs weren’t bad in 2020 as they made it to the Super Bowl again. Nobody would have condemned them for losing against Tom Brady’s relentless juggernaut if they gave them a competitive game. But they entered the showpiece event as one of the most hyped NFL teams ever (via Fansided).


This was supposed to be the moment when Patrick Mahomes sent Brady into retirement but he had one of the worst games of his career. Meanwhile, Brady won an unprecedented seventh ring as he lived a fairytale with the Buccaneers. Fans expected much more from the Chiefs as they hoped to build a dynasty.


Jacksonville Jaguars – 2018

The Jaguars assembled an awesome defense in 2017 that took them within touching distance of the Super Bowl. It didn’t matter at the time that they didn’t have an elite quarterback. They overcame the odds because they had a well-rounded roster that did everything well. This made them one of the most hyped teams of 2018.

New York Times

Unfortunately, they failed to live up to this billing and instead suffered a serious decline in results. Their players didn’t perform as a unit and their attitudes began to stink. In the end, they sank to a 5-11 record after the early signs promised so much. They also set in motion the horrible seasons they’d endure over the next few years (via Sports Illustrated).

Sky Sports

Green Bay Packers – 2021

The Packers entered 2021 as Super Bowl favorites and one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year. But they fell short as Aaron Rodgers had another playoff nightmare. It was the same old story for the Packers who can’t seem to win in clutch situations. This was a major disappointment because they immediately lost star receiver Davante Adams.

Sky Sports

Rodgers won the MVP award after a brilliant regular season as he broke 4000 passing yards. But the 49ers defeated them at Lambeau Field in the divisional round and they fell short in front of their fans. San Francisco had the divisive Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback but somehow Rodgers contrived to underperform (via Clutchpoints).

Free-agent-to-be Jameis Winston puts Bucs in a conundrum - Los Angeles Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2017

There were high hopes for Jameis Winston when the Buccaneers drafted him but ultimately he fell short of expectations. He failed to lead the Tampa offense like a true franchise quarterback in 2017. This wasn’t entirely his fault but his inconsistencies didn’t help matters (via Tampa Bay Times).

The likes of Mike Evans didn’t light up the league like he would in later years. They finished with a miserable 5-12 record as they struggled to score points and unlock opposition defenses. Many people thought that they’d win the NFC South this year but then reality raised its head.

New York Times

Minnesota Vikings – 2010

The Vikings came into 2010 with very high expectations but they failed to meet them. Brad Childress lost his job after nine games because the fanbase hated him. Meanwhile, Brett Favre didn’t live up to the excellent standards that he set in 2009 as he suffered an immediate decline. He threw 19 interceptions as his accuracy went out of the window.

San Diego Union-Tribune

This left the Vikings treading water for the entire season as they played poorly. It didn’t help that Favre’s best wideouts spent most of their time receiving treatment instead of catches. This was a lost year for Minnesota when they had the chance to go much further and make a postseason run (via NPR).

Cleveland Browns – 1990

The Browns were a strong outfit throughout the 1980s but they didn’t start the new decade well at all. Bernie Kosar was a reliable presence at quarterback until 1990. Then he became an interception machine as his form suffered a stark decline. There’s no accounting for how quickly a signal-caller can deteriorate but it was a nail in the Browns’ coffin.

Sports Illustrated

Meanwhile, they had a porous defense that saw them concede 58 points in a single game. In the end, they finished the season with a harrowing 3-13 record after high expectations. The perennial AFC contenders couldn’t make it to the postseason and eventually left the city for a few years (via Andscape).

San Diego Union-Tribune

Las Vegas Raiders – 2022

Have there ever been more hyped NFL teams than in the 2022 edition of the AFC West? The Raiders carried a lot of expectations into the new season under new head coach Josh McDaniels. They signed a genuine superstar in Davante Adams as they reunited him with his former Fresno State teammate Derek Carr.

San Diego Union-Tribune

Many people believed that the Raiders would take the next step and potentially make the postseason. However, they had a dismal start to the season with just two wins in their first nine games. This left McDaniels fighting for his future and infuriated their fanbase after dreams of glory (via DraftKings Nation).

CBS Sports

Philadelphia Eagles – 2020

The Eagles enjoyed a fairytale in 2017 as they won the Super Bowl against the odds. Nobody would have expected Nick Foles to be a Super Bowl MVP but that’s what happened after the backup stepped up. Carson Wentz returned from injury and took back the starting role the following season (via NBC Sports).

Penn Live

Wentz played well until a stress fracture put him out of action but the Eagles still gave him a contract extension. This culminated in a horrible 2020 season where the Eagles went 4-12. It’s mad that just a couple of years after their Super Bowl win they stared down the barrel. Suddenly, one of the most hyped teams in the NFL became one of the worst.

Florida Times-Union

Jacksonville Jaguars – 2021

It’s not entirely correct to say that anybone had high expectations for the Jaguars in 2021. But they expected more from the franchise than they delivered. They became one of the season’s hyped NFL teams after they drafted a generational talent in Trevor Lawrence. He was a genuine franchise quarterback with the ability to bring them to the next level.

New York Times

But they balanced out this decision by appointing Urban Meyer as their head coach. He made one chaotic choice after another before Shahid Khan pulled the trigger and fired him. The team had a terrible 3-14 record as they became the worst team in the NFL for consecutive seasons (via Prime Time Sports Talk).

Star Tribune

Minnesota Vikings – 2000

The Vikings know how to disappoint their fanbase as much as any other team but this was one of their worst moments. That’s because this was one of the most hyped NFL teams of the year. Their awesome offense saw Daunte Culpepper combine with Randy Moss and Cris Carter to light up the skies (via Bleacher Report).


Meanwhile, Robert Smith had a brilliant regular season as he helped them plot their route to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Minnesota never made it to the showpiece event because they fell short in the NFC Championship. In the end, the Giants blew them away 41-0 and the Vikings failed to make the playoffs again for four more seasons.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins – 1995

Don Shula decided that he wanted to depart Miami with a bang after the 1995 season. He knew that this was his last year in charge of the franchise and pushed the front office to spend a lot of money. They invested heavily in the roster and used a lot of cap space to assemble a dream team.

CBS Sports

The idea was to give Dan Marino the weapons he required to fire the franchise to Super Bowl glory. However, after a 4-0 start, they stumbled their way into the postseason like a drunk in a restroom. Then they crashed out immediately against the Bills in the most disappointing manner (via NBC Miami).


Washington Redskins – 2000

Dan Snyder poured a lot of money into the Redskins in 2000 as he looked to buy success. This meant that Washington had the first $100 million payroll in history and was one of the most hyped NFL teams ever. The L.A. Rams proved in 2022 that it’s possible to invest heavily to win a ring but it’s a massive risk if it doesn’t work.


Unfortunately, Washington fans watched their team stumble to an 8-8 season as they failed to make the playoffs. Snyder also lost patience with Norv Turner at the midpoint of the year as it became clear that he didn’t have the skills for the job. It was a huge shock because everybody expected more from them (via ESPN).

Sports Illustrated

Carolina Panthers – 2016

It’s not uncommon for Super Bowl contenders to fall apart after losing the showpiece game. But nobody expected the Panthers to suffer a dramatic meltdown in 2016. In Cam Newton, they had the league’s reigning MVP and one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league.

Sporting News

But Newton had an immediate decline and this seriously affected their record. They lost their way and missed the playoffs after they became one of the most hyped NFL teams of the decade. Ron Rivera made a serious error when he allowed star cornerback Josh Norman to leave because this left a gaping hole in their roster (via Fox Sports).

Fox Sports

Dallas Cowboys – 2020

The Cowboys entered 2020 with one of the most stacked offenses in the league. They were one of the hyped NFL teams that entered the season and fans hoped that they’d have a great year. Their quarterback Dak Prescott had weapons like Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb at his disposal (via ABC).

Dallas Morning News

But then it became a lost year after Prescott suffered a serious injury. He made a decent start to the season but everything fell apart for the franchise. Coach Mike McCarthy struggled to turn the situation around during the global health crisis. In the end, they went 6-10 but it could have been worse for them.

New York Times

Denver Broncos – 2022

Denver fans licked their lips after the team signed Russell Wilson in 2022. This was the most high-profile trade of the offseason and many people thought that they’d become instant contenders. Even if they didn’t win a Super Bowl it was a step in the right direction. However, the Broncos joined the ranks of hyped NFL teams that crushed their fans’ dreams.


Wilson had a diabolical season as his lack of mobility cost him dearly. Meanwhile, many critics cited attitude problems as a reason why he didn’t gel with his teammates. Rookie coach, Nathaniel Hackett was also clearly out of his depth as he led his team to only three wins in their first nine games (via NBC Sports).