I was talking to someone the other day about the way football has changed through the years, and here's a quick way of saying it: The 2008 Lions would beat the 1972 Dolphins.
That year's Dolphins were the only undefeated, untied team ever, and this year's Lions have a good chance of becoming the first 0-16 team. But athletes are so much bigger, stronger and faster today that if we could fit the Lions' entire 53-man roster into a DeLorean, take them back to 1972 and line them up against those Dolphins, Detroit would crush Miami.
The 2008 Lions have the worst defensive line in football, and they routinely get pushed up and down the field. But they would destroy the 1972 Dolphins, whose best offensive lineman was the 247-pound Bob Kuechenberg. The 2008 Lions have an inept offensive line, but it's an inept offensive line that outweighs the 1972 Dolphins' defensive line by 50 pounds a man.
For that matter, Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper outweighs everyone on the 1972 Dolphins. Culpepper reportedly weighs 280 pounds; the biggest guy on the '72 Dolphins, defensive tackle Jim Dunaway, weighed 277. And don't even get me started on what wide receiver Calvin Johnson would do to to the 1972 Dolphins' secondary. The '72 Dolphins could double Johnson on every single play and not come close to stopping him.
None of this changes the simple fact that the 2008 Lions suck and the 1972 Dolphins were great. It's simply a reminder that the game of football has progressed so far, and athletes are so vastly superior, that when we watch a terrible team in 2008, what we're watching would beat a great team in 1972.
Team: 2008 Detroit Lions | Record: Currently 0-13 The Lions are rapidly closing in on immortality and an 0-16 record. Dating back to last year, Detroit is 1-20 in its last 21 games. Click through to see how these Lions stack up to the worst teams in NFL history.
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Team: 1980 New Orleans Saints | Record: 1-15 This team gained a cult following of fans known as "The Aints" - who came to every home game wearing paper bags over their heads. The Saints beat the Jets, 21-20, in their 15th game.
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Team: 1989 Dallas Cowboys | Record: 1-15 Things would improve for Troy Aikman eventually, but in '89, America's Team only won once - at Washington in Dallas' ninth game. The 'Boys were shut out three times.
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Team: 1991 Indianapolis Colts | Record: 1-15 Like the 1980 Saints, only a one-point win over the Jets kept Indianapolis from a winless season. The Colts set a record for least touchdowns (14) in a 16-game season and scored seven points or less in 11 games.
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Team: 1981 Baltimore Colts | Record: 2-14 Baltimore managed to beat 2-14 New England twice - in the season opener and season finale, by a combined three points. The Colts allowed an average of 33.3 points per game.
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Team: 1996 New York Jets | Record: 1-15 The J-E-T-S were A-W-F-U-L in 1996, with their lone win coming at Arizona in Week 9. New York had three turnovers or more in eight of 16 games.
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Team: 2000 San Diego Chargers | Record: 1-15 Highly-touted Ryan Leaf was the poster child for this miserable bunch of losers. The Chargers managed only a one-point win over Kansas City in Week 13, and Leaf finished the season with an abysmal 56.2 QB rating.
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Team: 2001 Carolina Panthers | Record: 1-15 Things started so well. The Panthers opened the year with an 11-point win at Minnesota - and then lost 15 straight, scoring in single figures five times.
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Team: 2007 Miami Dolphins | Record: 1-15 This bunch was close to 0-16 - real close. Miami started 0-13 before sneaking past Baltimore in overtime, but only after the Ravens kicked a game-tying field goal from the Miami 1-yard line late in the fourth.
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Team: 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs | Record: 0-14 Was this the worst team in NFL history? The Bucs certainly have a great case. Under QB Steve Spurrier, they lost all 14 games by an average of 20 points and suffered through five shutouts.