These Teams Haven’t Been to the Playoffs in, Like, Forever

January 3, 2018


Last weekend, the Buffalo Bills finished the 2017 NFL regular season with a record of 9 and 7, enough to secure the sixth the final AFC playoff spot. That ended the longest playoff drought in the NFL—the Bills hadn’t played in the postseason since 1999. Here are some the other longest current postseason droughts in pro sports. 

Longest baseball drought: 16 seasons

Beginning play in 1977, the Seattle Mariners brought Major League Baseball to the Pacific Northwest, but they’ve never brought a World Series championship to the region. Nor have they brought an American League pennant.  The closest they ever got was in 2001, when it looked like the Mariners might win its first championship. In the regular season, the team won 116 games, which tied the all-time record. The Mariners advanced to the American League Championship Series…where they were dispatched by the New York Yankees in five games. That was the last time the Mariners made the playoffs.

Longest football drought: 15 seasons

In addition to the Bills’ feat, the Cleveland Browns also made history this weekend. They had a “perfect” season: 16 games played, and zero games won. That makes for an especially fruitless season…which is also the 15th bad one in a row for the Browns. The last time the Browns played in the playoffs was just after the 2002 season. The 9-7 squad faced the 13-3 Pittsburgh Steelers…and lost to the higher-ranked team in a 36-33 squeaker.

Longest basketball drought: 15 seasons

Ten teams play in the baseball playoffs, and 12 get postseason bids in the NFL, but a whopping 16 teams participate in the NBA playoffs each year. Out of a total of 30 squads, those are pretty good odds. Still, the Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t played more than their 82 regular games since 2004. In the 2004 NBA Playoffs, the T-Wolves racked up a Western Conference-best record of 58-24. The team made it all the way to the conference finals, where they got knocked out by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

Longest hockey drought: 8 seasons

The NHL is like the NBA, with a very accommodating 16-team playoff bracket. Still, the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t seen postseason glory since 2009. They at least had a good run. The sixth-seeded Hurricanes upset the third-seeded New Jersey Devils and went on to face the no. 1-ranked Boston Bruins. The Hurricanes took their conference semifinal series all the way to seven games before the Bruins prevailed.

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