5 great NFL teams that fell apart in a hurry

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October 14th, 2020

There is nothing harder to have in the NFL than staying power.

Great teams may only last for a few seasons before things fall apart, but these five teams collapsed soon after they experienced their moment of glory.

5. 1994 San Diego Chargers

After they unexpectedly made Super Bowl XXIX, only to be molly-whopped by the San Francisco 49ers, the Chargers went into a tailspin.

A disappointing 9-7 season saw the Chargers squeak into the playoffs in 1995, en route to a first-round elimination, which started an eight-year playoff drought.

In that time, the Chargers became the laughingstock of the NFL and mortgaged their future on Ryan Leaf in the 1998 draft.

4. 1998 Minnesota Vikings

The 1998 Vikings were the best team to not win a Super Bowl, and while the team couldn’t maintain its historic offense, it remained a formidable squad until the 2001 season.

From there, the Vikings flopped and made the playoffs just once in a seven-year stretch. They weren't competitive until nearly a decade later, when the franchise drafted Adrian Peterson and later acquired quarterback Brett Favre.

3. 2015 Carolina Panthers

Behind the incredible efforts of league MVP Cam Newton and an unstoppable offense, the Panthers went 15-1. Though they lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, they had the look of a dynasty.

The team was unable to live up to those expectations, as Newton battled persistent injuries and coach Ron Rivera’s defensive play calling eventually grew stale.

In just four years, the team was completely dismantled. With their coach and star QB gone, and other players retired the franchise is rebuilding.

2. 1995 Dallas Cowboys

No team has had their ineptitude memed as much as the Cowboys, and it goes back to this team being the last that won a Super Bowl for Dallas.

The trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin hit its apex after a win in Super Bowl XXX, but the Cowboys' rapid decline, and the failure of owner Jerry Jones to prevent it, started a 25-year (and counting) title drought.

While the Cowboys somehow do enough to convince fans and analysts that they’re on the bubble for a title seemingly every year, this franchise has long lost the title of “America’s Team.”

1. 2010 New York Jets

It’s been more than a decade since the Jets showed any signs of life. But before they started their decade of futility, the Jets were one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

Led by hotshot QB Mark Sanchez and a strong defense designed by head coach Rex Ryan, the Jets looked like a team poised to end the New England Patriots dynasty, after back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game.

The rapid decline of Sanchez doomed the Jets, and the 2010 team was the last gasp Jets fans had of a competitive team, before it devolved into the worst franchise in the NFL.