Nearly three-quarters of NFL teams are in the win column this year while nine teams still in search of their first W. However, starting out 0-2 is not a death sentence. In each of the last four seasons, at least one 0-2 team has made the playoffs. In 2015, two teams (the Texans and Seahawks) both made the postseason, despite an 0-2 start to the year.
In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we want to know which team you think will turn over a new leaf starting in Week 3. Here’s the rundown:
The Bears took the defending NFC champion Falcons to the brink in Week 1, and though Week 2’s contest against the Buccaneers wasn’t as close, Chicago has shown signs of life. Rookie running back Tarik Cohen has emerged as a threat in the passing game following injuries to wideouts Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, and he could potentially former a thunder-and-lightning combination with Jordan Howard. Signal-caller Mike Glennon is 18th in quarterback rating and 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt, so the calls for No. 2 overall selection Mitch Trubisky could come quickly.
Moreso than any other team on this list, the Bengals have acted quickly to rectify their early-season woes, firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after they failed to score a touchdown in either of their first two games. Things won’t get any easier when Cincinnati travels to Green Bay in Week 3, but perhaps new offensive play-caller Bill Lazor will further implement rookies John Ross and Joe Mixon into the club’s gameplan. Additionally, Lazor will reportedly seek to install a quicker offense that will alleviate the Bengals’ offensive line concerns.
2017 had always been viewed as another rebuilding season for the Browns, but Cleveland has been relatively competitive through two games (especially in Week 1, when it lost to Pittsburgh by only a field goal). A supposedly revamped offensive line still ranks near the bottom of the league in both run blocking and pass protection, and the Browns will need continued improvement from quarterback DeShone Kizer if they hope to compete this year. A broken hand for Corey Coleman — and a disappointing start by veteran pass-catcher Kenny Britt — aren’t helping matters, but a return from No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett could spark Cleveland’s defense.
Andrew Luck won’t practice this week, and although the Colts had been eyeing an early October return for their star quarterback, it’s beginning to seem like it could be longer before we see Luck back on the field. If Indianapolis continues to struggle, will the Colts even bother with putting Luck back into the lineup? General manager Chris Ballard made a handful of low-cost defensive additions this offseason, and if No. 1 cornerback Vontae Davis gets healthy, the unit could mesh. But nothing will matter unless Luck can supplant Jacoby Brissett within the next few weeks.
Los Angles Chargers
The Chargers got smashed this week for being unable to fill a soccer stadium for their season opener. We’ll admit that it wasn’t a good look, but things will improve if they start winning and there is reason to believe that can happen soon. The Chargers are winless, but they lost to the Broncos and Dolphins by a combined total of five points. If rookie kicker Younghoe Koo had connected on one of his two missed attempts against Miami or if his 44-yard try against the Broncos was not blocked, the Chargers wouldn’t be on this list.
New Orleans Saints
A top-ten offense and a bottom-two defense by DVOA? We must be talking about the Saints. New Orleans hasn’t started out the season with the easiest schedule in facing the Vikings and Patriots, but improvement on the health front could help their offense in the coming weeks. Left tackle Terron Armstead is reportedly ahead of schedule, and his return could allow rookie Ryan Ramczyk to move to the right side to cover for the injured Zach Strief. Receiver Willie Snead, too, will come back in Week 4 following a suspension. Solutions on defense are less obvious, but development from young players such as corner Marshon Lattimore and linebacker Alex Anzalone is a start.
New York Giants
The Giants have limped out of the gate and head coach Ben McAdoo may be thinking about giving up play calling duties. That’s not the only change that could be coming on offense. Second-year pro Paul Perkins has been averaging just 1.9 yards per carry and the Giants could shake things up by handing things over to Orleans Darkwa, who has 5.2 yards per attempt in a smaller sample size. In theory, that could spark Eli Manning and the passing game, but the offensive line will have to do a better job of protecting its quarterback in order to move the chains.
New York Jets
Wait, wait – hear us out. Yes, the Jets are behind the 8-ball after losing wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season and cutting valuable vets like Eric Decker and David Harris. However, they kept the score close in their Week 1 game against the rival Bills and things didn’t get too out of hand against the Raiders until a muffed punt late in the first half. Next up, the Jets have a home date with the Lawrence Timmons-less Dolphins followed by a pair of (dare we say) winnable games against the Browns and Jaguars. We know you won’t pick the Jets, but we hope we at least gave you something to think about.
San Francisco 49ers
Brian Hoyer has been dreadful in his first two games under center for SF and the Niners are hoping that he’ll do better on Thursday night against the Rams. If San Francisco is lucky, defensive tackle Aaron Donald will still be shaking the rust off on national television. However, even if they are able to avoid an 0-3 start, the odds are probably still against this rebuilding club in 2017.
So what do you think? Which of these nine clubs has the best chance to rebound from its poor start in order to earn a postseason berth? Vote in the poll below!