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The Most Disappointing Teams of the 2023 NFL Season

There are multiple levels of disappointment.  There’s the “oh darn, that’s too bad,” level of disappointment.  That one is reserved for those disappointments that aren’t really that disappointing, because you didn’t have high expectations anyway.  It’s like ordering a Frosty from Wendy’s.  You know there’s probably a 5% chance the Frosty machine is working, but you ask anyway and you’re disappointed that you can’t have one, but you aren’t surprised in the slightest.

Then, there’s personal disappointment.  It’s more like “ah, how could I have done that?” or “how did I let that happen?”  It’s disappointing because you expect more from yourself.  You should know better – probably.  You should have better instincts by now – probably.  You shouldn’t be making the same mistakes twice – for sure!

And lastly, there’s catastrophic disappointment.  This is disappointment on a fundamental level.  Disappointment that comes from a place of utter disbelief.  That feeling that this can’t really be happening – can it?  That feeling of when your landlord doesn’t even give you a wellness check after a car literally crashed into your tiny apartment living room (yeah, that actually happened to me).

So yeah, disappointment isn’t a monolith.  There are degrees.  And it’s the same for football teams too.  Disappointment comes in different flavors for different teams.  I mean, sure, the Commanders are disappointing, but who had high expectations for them anyway?  Meanwhile, the Steelers might still be on the brink of a playoff berth, but this season has been borderline catastrophic in the eyes of Pittsburgh’s faithful.  With that in mind, I present to you a breakdown of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, separated by their level of disappointment.  Warning: some of this content may be triggering for certain fans of certain NFL teams – you’ve been warned…

Oh Darn Disappointment

New York Giants

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

These are the teams that have been disappointing, but only in the literal sense.  It’s disappointing that they aren’t better than they are, but seriously, did anyone have the Titans in the Super Bowl?  No, no they didn’t.

And sure, it’s been a letdown season for the Giants after they won a playoff game last year, but their run last year looked pretty flukey, and now that they’re down to Tommy Cutlets (aka Tahmeee DahVeeeeeetoe), expectations have all but disappeared for the G-Men.

Finally, there’s the Commanders…pretty much doing Commanders things.  They’re 4 - 10 right now – and no one is surprised.  I’m pretty sure 99% of the football world has forgotten that this was a .500 team last year.

Personal Disappointment

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

New England Patriots

These are the teams that really let you down.  Sure, you knew they had flaws.  You knew they had definitive ceilings at critical positions, but the offseason hype was too great.  You fell for it.

The Bears encapsulate this perfectly.  There were some clinically insane people who thought that Justin Fields was an MVP candidate coming into the season.  Some thought they could actually win the NFC North.  But to the rational among us, we saw a team with a wildly inconsistent quarterback, a coach without a proven track record, and a defense that added some pieces in free agency, and still had issues.  It’s safe to say the Bears may be disappointed in their performance this year, but for the rest of us, this was business as usual.

What hasn’t been business as usual, though, is the performance of the New England Patriots.  Again, most weren’t expecting the 2007 Patriots to reincarnate, but with Bill Belichick still at the helm, bottoming out wasn’t really a consideration.  Unfortunately for the Pats, it looks like the Belichick magic is wearing off.  Nobody fears them anymore.  And certainly no one is afraid of Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe – but again, you should have probably known that in the offseason.

The Falcons, too, are another team that was let down by poor quarterback play.  Desmond Ridder seems like a nice guy and a hard worker, but he doesn’t have the tools to be a starting quarterback in the league.  Again – probably should have seen that coming, Falcons fans.  But at least you have star rookie running back Bijan Robinson to look forward t – oh look, Arthur Smith just subbed him out again for some inexplicable reason.  Maybe I should have dropped them a category.

Catastrophic Disappointment

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Carolina Panthers

Let me be the first to say: I don’t think the Chargers are all that disappointing.  I didn’t think they were Super Bowl contenders.  With Sean Payton now in Denver, I had a good feeling that the Chargers were the third-best team in the AFC West.  Now, with that said, even I didn’t see a fourth-place finish in their future.  So, while I may be in the minority as far as people who didn’t expect much from the Chargers, even I can’t deny that this has been a disastrous season for the “other” team in Los Angeles.  Justin Herbert is done for the year, Brandon Staley is out the door, and another offseason of head-scratching and confused looks are sure to be on the horizon for the Chargers truthers.

The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, didn’t quite have the same level of expectations as the Chargers.  Most people didn’t think they were Super Bowl contenders, but after a strong finish to the 2022 season, no one saw this coming – and by this, I mean being comfortably the worst team in the NFL.  Oh, and this is after they traded their 2023 first-round pick to the Bears in order to move up in the draft to select Bryce Young (who’s looked…less than spectacular).  The Panthers really couldn’t afford to be bad this year.  Now, after firing Frank Reich and cleaning out their coaching staff, they’re back to the drawing board.  Disappointment has a friend in Carolina.

Finally, the New York Jets may be the single, most disappointing team in the NFL – and it’s not particularly close.  This was supposed to be the year for the Jets.  Aaron Rodgers was in town, he looked motivated and damn good in that Jets uniform, and the Jets were going to the Super Bowl.  A million New Yorkers booked their hotels in Las Vegas approximately 1/15th of a second after Rodgers emerged from the tunnel on Opening Night…and barely two minutes into the game, Rodgers’ season was done after an Achilles tear.

Now, this might not have been so bad if the Jets had acted decisively.  Joe Flacco was sitting at home waiting for a phone call.  So was Carson Wentz.  Heck, Cam Newton has been pleading for a job for two years now.  But instead, the Jets opted for Zach Wilson – again.  New Yorkers have seen this movie, and Star Wars it’s not.  Predictably, Wilson struggled (like he has since the moment he was drafted).  And now, the Jets are all but eliminated from the postseason – and all because they were too proud to look for another quarterback.  Let this be a lesson: next year, whatever the Jets are selling (even if Rodgers is selling it too), don’t buy it.

Honorable Mentions

Pittsburgh Steelers

Buffalo Bills

It feels a little disingenuous to include the Steelers or Bills as one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, especially considering both are still on the brink of reaching the playoffs but make no mistake: this season wasn’t what either fanbase signed up for.

The Bills have taken inconsistency to a new level this year.  Even after massive wins over the Chiefs and Cowboys in consecutive weeks, the Bills remain on the outside of the playoff picture.  Still, the past two weeks have reaffirmed the Bills, at their best, are as dangerous as anybody and a legitimate threat to take home the Lombardi.  Whether they can keep up that pace, though, is anyone’s guess.

As for the Steelers, their story hasn’t been completely written yet, but as far as disappointing seasons in the 21st century for Pittsburgh, this one takes the cake.  Kenny Pickett was supposed to be the answer.  So far, the jury is still out on that.  The defense was supposed to carry the day.  In recent weeks, they’ve fallen short.  It’s gotten so bad that Mike Tomlin – and his famous “no losing season” track record – are firmly on the hot seat.  It’s an astonishing turn of events for a franchise renowned for its stability.  It’s hard to count them out yet, and there’s still a lot of football to be played, but if the Steelers miss the playoffs, heads will roll.

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