Prior to the 2012 season, the Buffalo Bills defence was lauded as one of the reasons why the team would contend for its first playoff berth since 1999.
After five games, Buffalo (2-3) has been atrocious on that side of the ball, finishing dead last, or near the bottom of every defensive statistical category thus far.
The Bills are allowing 35.2 points per game and 449.4 yards per contest.
If Buffalo maintains this pace throughout the season, they would allow 563 points, and 7,190 yards, totals that would best the previous records set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts (listed below).
Buffalo entered rare company on Sunday, becoming the first team in NFL history to allow 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in a single game.
The Bills also set another record in allowing over 600 yards of offence in consecutive matches, marking the first time this has happened since the 1950 New York Football Yankees.
With five games played, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s unit has plenty of time to turn the season around, especially against a schedule that is the fourth-easiest, based on opponents’ win percentage from last year.
Here’s a look at some of the worst defences in league history, that the Bills can be compared to:
1981 Baltimore Colts, 2-14
Baltimore set the record for the most points allowed in a single season, with 533, a record that has yet to be broken. The Colts also hold the dubious distinction of having allowed the most touchdowns in a campaign (68), most first downs allowed (406), and most yards allowed (6,793).
According to Kerry J. Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts, the 1981 Colts had the worst pass defence in NFL history, allowing 8.19 yards-per-drop back. Baltimore posted the second-worst point differential in league history, with a staggering -274.
After defeating the New England Patriots in their season opener, the Colts dropped 14 games in a row, before bookending the season with a victory over the Patriots in the finale.
1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 0-14
Often regarded as the worst team in league history, the expansion Buccaneers had no help from the defense whatsoever.
Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon couldn’t stop Tampa Bay’s futility as a rookie, recording 24 tackles and five sacks.
Selected with the first overall pick in 1976, Selmon would contribute later in his career with six Pro Bowl selections, and won the 1979 Defensive Player of the Year Award.
South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier was also a member of this team and was named its offensive MVP.
Tampa Bay allowed a whopping 412 points, compared to its miserable 125 scored.
The Bucs surrendered over 40 points four times this season, while being blanked a staggering five times. The offence did not help keep the defence off the field, but this was a unit that was torched too many times not to be kept off this list.
NFL Network named this team the worst of all-time, before the following team displaced them.
2008 Detroit Lions, 0-16
Detroit went 4-0 in the pre-season, before stumbling to the first winless campaign since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule. The Lions allowed over 40 points three times and were eliminated from the playoff picture in Week 11.
The team’s turmoil on defence wasn’t contained to the field alone, as president/CEO Matt Millen was fired three weeks into the season, foreshadowing the year ahead.
Detroit did not benefit from a Week 4 bye, losing their remaining 13 games, and challenged the 1981 Colts for the most points allowed in a single season with 517.
There was a bright side for Detroit in the aftermath of its embarrassing endeavour.
Star wide receiver Calvin Johnson was only in his sophomore season, and the team’s winless record allowed them to rebuild through the selection of quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick in the 2009 Draft.