The Colts stampede — er, hobble — into Gillette Stadium on Sunday with an 0-11 record. They have been so bad without injured quarterback Peyton Manning that some have suggested Manning should win the Most Valuable Player award this season, since the team is just a year removed from a 10-6 campaign with him calling the signals.
It's highly possible that the Colts could finish the season without a single win, becoming the second team in NFL history to go 0-16. Some have called them the worst team of all time.
Where do the 2011 Colts stack up in that conversation? It remains to be seen how they finish off this season with four of their final five games against teams in playoff contention. No matter their record, though, they seem destined to be lumped in with the worst ever.
Fans in the Motor City know what people in Indianapolis are going through. Just three years ago, the Lions lurched to the finish with a winless record. The only good news was that the draft netted the team quarterback Matthew Stafford; the Colts hope to reap a similar benefit in Stanford's Andrew Luck.
One common thread between the 2008 Lions and the 2011 Colts: Dan Orlovsky took snaps for both squads. Memo to the rest of the NFL: Don't employ Orlovsky (Sorry, Dan).
Until the Lions came along, only one team had succeeded in losing 15 consecutive games in a single season. The 2001 Panthers got off to a roaring start with a victory in Week 1, only to scuffle the rest of the way without a single win.
Chris Weinke, the 29-year-old rookie, was that team's starting quarterback. Enough said.
At least those teams confined their pathetic displays to the field, though. The 1990 Patriots were hapless enough — 1-15, with the lone win coming in a 16-14 surprise over the mediocre Colts — without a sexual harassment episode in the locker room involving several players and Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olsen. For some reason, that was Rod Rust's only season as the coach in Foxboro. Go figure.
With Drew Brees operating in the pocket, it seems like decades ago that the Saints pretty much dropped the "s" and were known as the 'Aints. That nickname caught on in 1980, when Archie Manning helped New Orleans narrowly avoid a winless campaign by beating the Jets in Week 15. Through no fault of their own, the Mannings keep coming up in the discussion of atrocious teams.
All joking aside, the pinnacle of putridness might be the 1976 Buccaneers. Not only did the Bucs lose all 14 of their games in their inaugural season, but they were shut out five times and were outscored 412-125. (Math wizards will be able to tell you that's an average score of 29-9.)
The most memorable part of that season took place not in a game but in a news conference. Asked what he thought of his team's execution, coach John McKay had a simple reply.
"I'm in favor of it."