No team that started 1-7 has ever made the NFL playoffs — although one came close.
The 2004 Panthers were coming off an 11-5 season and a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots in Houston. The team followed a season opening loss to Green Bay at home with a road win at Kansas City. Then came a string of six consecutive losses to Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Oakland.
Carolina won its next five — over San Francisco, Arizona, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and St. Louis — before losing in overtime to the Falcons and beating the Buccaneers in Tampa. The Panthers had a chance at an 8-8 finish and a potential Wild Card spot (over the Rams) but lost 18-21 to the Saints in the season finale, sealing a 7-9 finish.
It starts with the rebound
The Falcons, along with Carolina and the 1970 Bengals, are the only teams to start the season 1-6 after going on a losing streak that started in Week 2.
Carolina ended 7-9. Cincinnati won its final seven games and made the playoffs at 8-6.
The Chiefs lost five in a row after winning the 2015 season opener, but from 1–5 won 10 straight to clinch a wild-card spot.
Several calculators put the Falcons’ playoff chances at less than 1 percent.
Atlanta’s remaining schedule includes six division games against the Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers; a travel date against the undefeated 49ers; and the last home game of the season against the Jaguars.
The 2008 Chargers started 4–8, but finished with four straight wins, winning their division with an 8–8 record. They remain the only team in NFL history to make the playoffs without having a winning record at any point of the season.
The 2010 Seahawks (7-9) won their division and the 2014 Panthers (7-8-1) made the postseason with losing records. (Carolina clinched a wild card spot despite a six-game losing streak during the regular season.)
What if they don’t win again?
Since the league expanded the schedule to 16 games in 1978, two teams — Detroit (2008) and Cleveland (2017) —have gone winless, just 10 teams have gone 1-15 and only 32 teams finished 2-14.
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