Time to Press the Panic Button?
Starting 0-2 is almost a sure fire way to miss the postseason
The numbers are assuredly not on your side if you open the NFL season winless thru two games. Some teams continually find themselves in this spot (because they stink) but some teams are 0-2 to start 2015 that are absolute head scratchers, and a team I picked to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50 has done it in back to back seasons.
Since the NFL playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 204 teams have started 0-2, with just 23 qualifying for the playoffs. A paltry 11.27%. According to For The Win, the odds of making the playoffs after starting 0-2 have been even worse since 2009. 45 teams over the last 5 years have gone through two weeks without a win and only two of those (Panthers 2013, Colts 2014) have made it to the post season. After running the numbers, that comes out to 4% of teams making the playoffs that got into the 0-2 hole. One team in each of the last two years has started in this hole to make the playoffs, today we break down the chances of every 0-2 squad to make the playoffs.
Whats gone wrong: Generally blah offense as Joe Flacco has only posted 501 yards passing with two TDs and three INTs. No running game and no targets outside of Steve Smith Sr. Terrell Suggs tearing his Achilles again doesn’t help a defense still learning to play without Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata
Whats gone right: Justin Tucker hasn’t missed any kicks. (6-6 FG, 4-4 XP)
Can They? It is possible, mainly because the division is totally up for grabs.
Whats gone wrong: Reported strife between the coaches and the front office. Offensive line is atrocious. 10.5 points per game.
Whats gone right: Linebacker Robert Mathis returns after missing 2014 with a torn Achilles, bad news is he doesn’t block, run, or catch the ball.
Can They? Well, they did it last year, and the AFC South is pretty much garbage. The next five weeks will show the will of Indy as they have three straight in the division, a rematch against New England, and then a matchup with another 0-2er, New Orleans. Can’t write the Colts off just yet, but we will review at Halloween. If Indy can make the playoffs, they would be the first team in NFL history to do it in consecutive seasons.
Whats gone wrong: Slow starts, unsteady play at QB. Brian Hoyer got benched in game 1, and in game two Ryan Mallett went 0-14 with an interception when under duress Sunday against Carolina.
Whats gone right: JJ Watt. Just like it was with Hard Knocks, JJ Watt.
Can They? If Indy falls on their faces Houston could be in this thing, especially if Arian Foster can produce when he returns from his groin injury.
New York Giants
Whats gone wrong: The fourth quarter of games
Whats gone right: The first three quarters of games. OBJ not getting hit by the Madden Curse. Yet.
Can They? New York could easily be 2-0 having given up double digit leads late in both contests so far. Injuries and Dallas, incompetence in Philly, and inconsistency in Washington leave the door open to winning the division.
Whats gone wrong: These things take time, Rome wasn’t built in a day, what other clichés can we use?
Whats gone right: Sam Bradford has stayed healthy (TWO GAMES!!)
Can They? If they can get out of their own way the NFC East is a crapshoot. Losing to the Jets this weekend may cause the Liberty Bell to crack itself.
Whats gone wrong: Out physical-ed in consecutive games. Megatron looks mediocre, defense misses Suh and Fairley
Whats gone right: Red Wings training camp has opened.
Can They? No. Already in an 0-2 hole, Detroit has to play Denver, at Seattle, and Arizona before their first winnable game versus Chicago. Plus matchups down the line with Kansas City, Philly (on Thanksgiving), and a pair versus Green Bay before finishing up with three of their last four on the road.
Whats gone wrong: John Fox doesn’t have “his guys” in yet, Kevin White hasn’t played, and Jay Cutler got hurt after throwing an interception.
Whats gone right: Matt Forte is averaging 135 yards from scrimmage per game
Can They? Well if the Bears are who we thought they were, in a word, maybe. Chicago’s defense has not been the weak link, and if they can stay afloat until Cutler and White are back on the field, with a weak schedule, the door is open.
New Orleans Saints
Whats gone wrong: Still struggling to find an offensive identity without Jimmy Graham. Everyone says they want to focus on running the ball, but when it is out of necessity, that is not a good recipe. And now with a dinged up Drew Brees, Sean Payton has to be living a nightmare.
Whats gone right: Brandin Cooks has been the primary target in the passing game by default, and seems able to handle the workload.
Can They? No. You don’t lose your franchise quarterback and still have a chance.
Whats gone wrong: Distractions with contracts in the offseason (and in season with Kam Chancellor), running into buzzsaws in St. Louis and Green Bay on those given Sundays.
Whats gone right: The Hawks have been in both games, and a bounce here or there could be 2-0. Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas are playing their tails off trying to keep Seattle afloat
Can They? It’s hard to count out a team that has the resiliency they do but I’ve been low on Seattle for a while, picking them to finish 3rd in the NFC West, but I would say this about Seattle’s chances; I’d rather be Seattle at 0-2 than Dallas at 2-0 without Romo, Dez, and DeMarco.