Broncos now among the five-longest active playoff droughts in sports

Mar 30, 2023, 7:00 AM

Sad Broncos fan...

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Some of the longest playoff droughts across sports have ended over the last few months, the Seattle Mariners ended 21 years without a postseason appearance this past fall and the Sacramento Kings clinched the postseason on Wednesday, ending 16 years of misery.

The longest playoff drought in the big four American sports (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL) is now owned by the New York Jets. And Jets and Broncos have more in common than Nathaniel Hackett. When Denver traded Tim Tebow to the Jets to clear a spot for Peyton Manning, little did either know at the time they would soon be bonded in ineptitude. The Jets playoff drought had just begun while the Broncos began just after Manning hung it up.

With the Mariners and Kings success, the Broncos have joined the Jets among the worst playoff droughts.

Here are the five longest active playoff droughts in sports.

1: New York Jets — 12 years (2010)

The last time the Jets played in the postseason, Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan were leading them to a second-straight AFC title game. The Jets have had one winning season since, going 10-6 but they missed the playoffs. Three coaches later New York nearly ended their drought this past season but collapsed down the stretch. They’re expected to be in the hunt this year with Hackett helping them get Aaron Rodgers.

2: Buffalo Sabres — 11 years (2010-11)

Something is in the water in the Empire State. Baring a late-season surge this playoff drought is about to increase to 12. Seven coaches in 11 years, a failed second overall pick in the draft (Jack Eichel), and just stinky play for years have kept Buffalo here. And they’re about to extend their already NHL record playoff drought in just a few weeks.

T-3: Detroit Tigers — 8 years (2014)

The Tigers made it to the playoffs in four-straight seasons after only one postseason trip in 23 years—though they did win the World Series in 2006. Their best pitcher, future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, was still there by 2014 as was fellow future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer. They’re both teammates with the Mets now, each having won two Cy Youngs since leaving the Motor City.

T-3: Los Angeles Angels — 8 years (2014)

Another team with a terrific twosome yet the Angels have had both for their primes and just can’t make it to the postseason. Mike Trout, the game’s best player, has only once led his team to the playoffs and they were swept. Now armed with historic talent Shohei Ohtani, who hasn’t played a meaningful game in MLB, could they end the drought this year?

T-5: Denver Broncos — 7 years (2015)

The Broncos won the Super Bowl and haven’t been back to the playoffs since. It’s been a rough few years but being in this company is not usual. The franchise has tied their longest NFL playoff drought. The first seven-year drought began the first year the team joined the league and it’s technically longer if you go back to AFL play as well. The total number is 17-year drought to begin the franchise before they lost Super Bowl XII in 1978. The current Broncos are in the class of historic badness.

T-5: Kansas City Royals — 7 seasons (2015)

Like the Broncos the last Royals playoff game saw them take home the title.

T-5: Pittsburgh Pirates — 7 seasons (2015)

Thanks to the Wildcard the Pirates made three-straight trips to the postseason. The last time they won the division the Rockies didn’t exist and Barry Bonds won MVP roaming the Pittsburgh outfield (1992.)

T-5: Charlotte Hornets — 7 seasons (2015-16)

Who cares? Ha!

T-5: Detroit Red Wings — 6 seasons (2015-16)* about to be 7

At the time of writing the Red Wings had yet to be eliminated from the 2023 NHL postseason. But they’re not making it and they will move their playoff drought to seven seasons after 25-straight of making the postseason, which included some great head-to-heads with the Avs.


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