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Are the 2020 New York Jets worse than 2008 Detroit Lions?

Over half of NFL fans think so.

New York Jets v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The New York Jets are officially on 0-16 watch this year. As of right now, the Jets are 0-6, have the worst point differential (-110) by over 50 points (!), have scored just 75 total points (25 fewer than any other team)... oh, and half of their first six opponents already have three losses or more.

That’s why over 50 percent of national fans in our Reacts weekly audience believe this 2020 Jets team is the worst team ever. Yes, even worse than our 2008 Detroit Lions who managed to go completely winless.

When given the choice of the 2020 Jets, the 2008 Lions, and the 2017 Browns team that also failed to win a game, 53 percent of voters picked the Jets as the worst team ever. Only 28 percent picked the Lions.

Let’s compare the two teams for a second. The 2008 Lions were especially bad on the defensive side of the ball. Here’s how the Jets compare:

2008 Lions: 32.3 points per game allowed, 404.4 yards per game, 5.1 yards per carry, 8.8 passing yards/attempt, 110.9 passer rating

2020 Jets: 30.8 points per game allowed, 378.8 yards per game, 4.2 yards per carry, 8.1 passing yards/attempt, 99.3 passer rating

There’s pretty much no comparison. The 2008 Lions defense was much, much worse. This also tracks when throwing DVOA into the mix. The 2020 Jets have a DVOA of 5.8% (the higher in the negative the better). The 2008 Lions? 20.9%

But the offense is where the Jets really fail to shine. Let’s look at that comparison.

2008 Lions: 16.8 points per game, 268.3 yards per game, 3.8 yards per carry, 6.5 passing yards per attempt, 71.3 passer rating

2020 Jets: 12.5 points per game, 276.7 yards per game, 4.3 yards per carry, 5.5 passing yards per attempt, 68.7 passer rating

The Jets clearly have a worse offense—especially considering the difference in eras here. In 2008, teams were averaging 22.0 points per game. In 2020, that number is 25.3—the highest ever.

DVOA metrics, again, show a drastic difference between the two teams. The Jets’ offense is -28.8% (actually slightly ahead of the Giants at -29.0%). The 2008 Lions were at -25.4%.

So which team is actually worse? It’s impossible to really know, but Football Outsiders recently talked about the Jets being among the worst in NFL history. Here’s what Aaron Schatz had to say about the topic:

“But aren’t the Jets not just winless but historically bad? Yes, they are on pace to set an all-time record for the worst point differential, but there have been other teams that were even worse over the first six games of the year The Jets have scored 110 fewer points than their opponents. Last year through six games, the Dolphins had scored 148 fewer points than their opponents. The 2009 Tennessee Titans had scored 114 fewer points than their opponents through six games and ended up finishing the season 8-8!”

His conclusion? No, this team isn’t historically bad... yet. If this trend continues for the entire season, they’ll be in the conversation, but slow starts like this are actually somewhat common. It takes a really bad team to hold up this kind of ineptness for an entire season, so we’ll see if this Jets team can manage to be truly amongst the worst teams ever.

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