Over their last 16 games — the final 12 games of 2016 and the first 4 games of 2017 — the Cleveland Browns are 1-15. Over the Browns last 16 games before that, Cleveland is 2-14: Cleveland began the 2016 season 0-4, and was 2-10 over the final 12 games of 2015. But the first game in that streak was the 5th game of the 2015 season, a rare Browns victory. Which means if the Browns lose to the Jets on Sunday, Cleveland will be 1-15 in their last 16 games, and 1-15 in the 16 games prior to that.
How bad is a 2-29 stretch over 31 games? Well, the Browns are just the fourth franchise to pull off that feat.
The World War II Cardinals
The Chicago Cardinals lost 29 games in a row during World War II, and went 1-36 during one 37-game stretch.
The 1971 Oilers were not very good, and hired cross-town Rice head coach Bill Peterson to turn things around. It did not work: Houston went 1-13 in ’72 and ’73, with Sid Gillman replacing Peterson after five games in 1973. A 2-26 record over two seasons is bad, but the first of those wins came in the third week of 1972. So when Houston started 1-5 in 1974, the Oilers were 2-29 on a trailing 31-game basis, just like the current Browns. Houston followed that up with a 4-game winning streak, and went 10-4 in 1975.
The Post-Matt Millen Lions
As hard as this may be to remember, the Lions began the 2007 with a 6-2 record. It went very downhill, very quickly, from there.
- Detroit lost 6 straight games, going 1-7 in the second half of 2007.
- The Lions went 0-16 in 2008, firing Millen four games into that season.
- Detroit started 0-2, then beat the Redskins, before losing another 6 games to begin the year 1-8. At this point, the Lions had a 2-31 record in their last 33 games.
- The 2009 Lions won the next week, upping their mark to 2-8, but proceeded to go on a 10-game losing streak stretching into the 2010 season. Entering week 5 of the 2010 season, Detroit had gone 2-35 in the team’s last 37 games.
The good news? The Lions went 6-6 the rest of the 2010 season, and then 10-6 in 2011.
The Current Browns
The 2015 Browns went 1-10 during the final 11 games of the Mike Pettine era, and Cleveland finished 1-15 in the first season under Hue Jackson last year. The 0-4 record so far in 2017 brings Cleveland to 2-29 in its trailing 31 games, but a home game against the Jets could begin to turn around the team’s fortunes. For the second time in three weeks, Cleveland is a rare favorite.
Are the Browns are the cusp of turning things around? The early returns are not good: Cleveland ranks 31st in ANY/A, barely ahead of the Ravens, and 29th in points defensive ANY/A and points allowed. For what it’s worth, injuries have hit the team: #1 overall pick Myles Garrett has yet to take the field due to a high ankle sprain, although there’s a good chance he will make his debut against the Jets this weekend. And 2016 first round pick WR Corey Coleman has missed most of the year, while LB Jamie Collins has missed the last two weeks with a concussion.
But expectations were getting higher in Cleveland, and the team appeared position to make a playoff push in 2018. If that is still going to be in the cards, Cleveland is going to actually have to win some games to justify that praise.