The Chicago Bears have lost twelve games in a row, a franchise record, and head to Kansas City to take on the defending Super Bowl champs in Week 3. They’re two score underdogs and haven’t held anyone to under 25 points since the losing streak started. If the Chiefs extend the losing streak to a baker’s dozen, the Bears will tie for the 25th longest streak in NFL history. How long does it take before a team that loses thirteen or more consecutive games has a winning record? I’m not even talking about a playoff win or a championship of any kind - simply a year in which your team has more W’s than L’s.
Of the 33 teams in history with 13 or more consecutive loses, two of them shuttered the windows and closed up shop. The Dayton Triangles lost their last 17 games before folding in the 1920s while the Rochester Jeffersons lost their final 16 contests before doing the same. We’ll eliminate them from consideration. The New York Jets lost 13 straight in the 2020 season and are currently working on their first winning campaign since that streak. We’re going to ignore them as well.
Of the remaining thirty teams, the average number of seasons until that squad had a winning season is three and a third years. That means the Bears could be looking at 2026 before a decent season, on average. Yikes.
However, 7 of the 30 teams recorded a winning record the season after the losing streak was snapped, most recently the 2022 Jaguars (and their streak was at 20!). Another nine teams took just two seasons to record a winning record for a total of 16 out of 30 that took only one or two years.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 2000-2001 Detroit Lions lost 13 straight and it took them a decade before recording a winning season. The 2008-2009 Rams and the 1960-1961 Washington Football Team both recorded losing streaks of 17 games that took a 8 years each before recovering for a winning record. Double yikes.
What does this mean for the Bears? Probably nothing. This isn’t a predictive kind of thing. Most of the recent streaks were reversed quickly with the Lions a notable exception. Even the Cleveland Browns, who lost 17 in a row on either side of one victory from 2015-2017 turned in a winning record in 2020. With free agency, salary cap, and the draft, teams are able to turn things around quicker than ever.
But make no mistake, this streak is long and joining some of the biggest losers in the history of the game. That stink usually follows the people associated with it around for a long time. George McCaskey, Ryan Poles, Matt Eberflus, Luke Getsy, Justin Fields, and more will have this follow them around for years to come. The only deodorant is winning, the more the better.
For those keeping track at home, the Colts and Bills have three such losing streaks, while the Jaguars, Lions, Browns, Oilers, and Raiders made the list twice.