Every NFL team and their fans are filled with eternal optimism at the start of the season but after just two short weeks, 9 teams are struggling to find a way to get into the win column. While an 0-2 start isn’t necessarily a death sentence for post-season hopes, these teams better find a way to manage a win this week or be in serious jeopardy of seeing any hopes of reaching the playoffs slip away.
The current playoff format was adopted in 1990 and during the past 25 years, 24 teams have started the season 0-2 and reached the league’s second season. Most recently, the Indianapolis Colts achieved the feat last season, starting 0-2, finishing 11-5 in the regular season and eventually losing in the AFC Championship Game. Generally, 0-2 starts result in a wildcard berth, with 12 of the 24 teams reaching the first round of the playoffs. 4 0-2 starts have resulted in trips to the Super Bowl. The to team to achieve the task was the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, the winners of Super Bowl XXVIII. The 2007 New York Giants were also winners of the Big Game after an 0-2 start.
The New England Patriots have achieved the feat twice after slow starts. Once in 1996 and then again in 2001. The lost in 1996 and hoisted the Lombardi in 2001.
Currently, nine teams are sitting with 0-2 records. Some teams are actually positioned a little better than others, but wins need to start coming. While the NFC is widely regarded as the stronger of the two conferences, the NFC is home to six of the nine winless teams. We’ll take a look at the respective teams and how dire their situation is.
New Orleans Saints– A key divisional game looming and the Saints are already 0-1 in the NFC South after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rookie QB Jameis Winston. Veteran QB Drew Brees might not be able to go this week and there is a good chance this team starts 0-3 even if Brees does line up under center. Carolina always plays the Saints tough and has won four of the last six meetings. New Orleans will struggle to overcome an 0-3 start and I have a feeling there might be a coaching change coming after this season if they finish 8-8 or less.
Detroit Lions– Another team with an ailing quarterback. Matthew Stafford is not 100% and will face a fierce Broncos defensive front seven. The Lions finished the 2014 campaign behind only the Seattle Seahawks in team defense. After just two weeks, they are ranked 22nd and have recorded just three sacks. If Matthew Stafford misses any time, this team is doomed. After hosting Denver, they travel to Seattle and then return home against the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals. I know it’s early, but the outlook is not good for the Lions at this point.
Chicago Bears– A third team with an ailing quarterback- noticing a trend here? You know things are bad for your club when after just two games, you are being reported by ESPN as having the 27% chance of having the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. It appears that Jimmy Clausen will get the start this week In Seattle and perhaps the following week against the Oakland Raiders. This is not a typical John Fox coached team. They commit too many penalties, there is no pass rush and special teams coverage has been sloppy. Another disappointing regular season awaits.
Seattle Seahawks– One of the teams I am not worried about…….yet. QB Russell Wilson has never lost two straight regular season games in his career. S Kam Chancellor ended his holdout but the Seattle offense needs to improve. The run game is lacking and newly acquired TE Jimmy Graham has to be more involved in the offense. Two targets a game is not why you bring a player as gifted as Graham. The offense should come around and they have a defense to keep them i most every game. Upcoming contests against Chicago and Detroit at CenturyLink Field should get this team back to 2-2 at the start of October.
Philadelphia Eagles– After blowing up the preseason, the Eagles have fallen flat. RB DeMarco Murray is averaging just 0.5 yards per carry. Sam Bradford has looked dismal this season. Could it be that Chip Kelly has made a fatal error by trading for Bradford? Or, is it that in his third season with the Eagles, opposing defenses have developed schemes to thwart his high octane offense? Murray seems do be doing a lot of lateral running in the backfield and very little downhill movement. The Eagles have one thing in their favor. The injury demise of the Dallas Cowboys. With Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant out until November, the NFC East has become a vacuum. The East might well see an 8-8 division winner. However for the Eagles, the winning needs to start this week and it isn’t going to get any easier with a trip to New York facing the Jets defense which has 10 takeaways in the first two games.
New York Giants– The first team in NFL history to lose it’s first two games after leading those games by double digits in the 4th quarter. You could almost sense what was coming Sunday night of Week One against the Cowboys when they left 1:23 on the clock. Currently, the Giants have the third ranked run defense, but are ranked dead last in the league against the pass. You can make a similar argument about the Giants in regards to the division that I made above about the Eagles, but I don’t see the Giants making a big push. Yes, New York started 0-2 in 2007 and went on to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl but this is not that kind of team, those players are long gone. The Giants are suffering from several poor drafts and the talent level except for a handful of players, isn’t there any more. A sub .500 season and I believe head coach Tom Coughlin walks away in January.
Indianapolis Colts– The darling pick this year of many in the media to win Super Bowl L. They still might reach Santa Clara in February, but this team needs a lot of adjustments. I am not worried about my prediction of winning another AFC South division title, but at what point are division titles just enough? Rumors were flying before the start of the regular season that ownership was pressuring head coach Chuck Pagano to reach the Super Bowl and there very well could be a coaching change when their season is finished. Indianapolis has gone 12-0 in divisional play the last two seasons, while I think they suffer a loss this year, they still have the juice to advance to the post season once again.
Houston Texans– I thought this team might be on the cusp on wildcard status going into this season. They get their bellcow back, Arian Foster soon, but stronger quarterback play is needed. They can still flirt with 9 wins this season and their first win comes at home this week as I expect J.J. Watt to blow up a very weak Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line.
Baltimore Ravens– Already two games back in the AFC North. This team is missing speed in the vertical passing game. When you think Ravens, you think defense. Well, that defense of years gone bye and just that, gone. They host Cincinnati this week and the Bengals have taken 5 of the last 6 against Baltimore. They need to get first round pick WR Breshad Perriman into the lineup to have a shot at reach the playoffs.
Filed under: AFC, AFC North, AFC South, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFC, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks