Poll: Which 0-2 Team Has Best Chance To Make Playoffs?

Eleven teams entered Week 3 at 0-2. While the Dolphins reduced the NFL’s winless contingent to 10 last night, the 11 0-2 squads were still the most since the 2008 season. This creates a pivotal third regular-season week for many franchises.

The Bengals, Broncos, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jets, Lions, Panthers, Texans and Vikings will go into Sunday at 0-2. A couple of these teams were fringe Super Bowl contenders — or at least strong candidates to win their respective divisions — while others’ 0-2 starts are not as surprising.

The typical talking point about how 0-2 records correlate with playoff absences is less relevant this season, with seven teams now invited to each conference’s bracket. But 0-3 cannot be easily dismissed. Since the playoff field expanded to 10 total teams in 1978, only five teams (excluding the 1982 strike-shortened season, which featured a 16-team field) have made the postseason after starting 0-3. Just one — the 2018 Texans — has done so this century.

Philadelphia and Minnesota’s starts probably qualify as the most surprising, given their recent histories and current rosters. But the Eagles are down three starting offensive linemen and multiple wideouts, helping lead to Carson Wentz‘s struggles out of the blocks. They rank last in DVOA, despite two dreadful Vikings performances. Wentz and Kirk Cousins boast the Nos. 32- and 31-ranked Total QBR figures, respectively. The Vikings, a top-11 scoring defense in each of Mike Zimmer‘s six seasons, have regressed on that front after several starters’ offseason exits. Seventh-year starter Anthony Barr is now out for the season.

The Giants and Jets have seen injuries deplete their rosters, but neither New York team was expected to contend in 2020. Carolina, which is down Christian McCaffrey, is in that boat as well. The Bengals poured more resources into their roster than they have in many years — signing D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell and Mackensie Alexander to help a porous defense (though, Waynes is set to miss much of the season) — and drafted Joe Burrow. But Cincinnati also entered the season as a non-contender playing in a tough division.

Two HCs from this contingent’s middle-class sect — Dan Quinn and Matt Patricia — reside only behind Adam Gase in first-coach-fired odds. With the Falcons starting 1-7 last year and becoming the first team in NFL history to lose a game after scoring 39 points and committing no turnovers on Sunday, Quinn is in a desperate situation. The Lions have lost 11 straight games under Patricia, who entered the season on the hot seat.

Denver can blame injuries for its situation, to some degree, with four of its six previous Pro Bowlers either out for the season (Von Miller, Courtland Sutton) or presently injured (Phillip Lindsay, A.J. Bouye). Drew Lock may also be out well until November. Houston has almost certainly played the NFL’s toughest schedule to start out — against Kansas City and Baltimore — and faces Pittsburgh on Sunday. Bill O’Brien‘s 2018 team rebounded, and the Texans’ schedule stands to soften after Week 3. But it is safe to say the absence of DeAndre Hopkins has shown up thus far.

So which of these teams has the best chance of rebounding and qualifying for the 14-team playoffs? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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30 comments on “Poll: Which 0-2 Team Has Best Chance To Make Playoffs?

  1. bravesfan

    I know the answer is not the falcons. I’m a falcons fan, that offense has enough talent to make it happen, heck, maybe (just maybe) even the defense could be ok. But that coaching staff is so bad I have zero faith….

  2. roddy1018

    I say none of them make it. If I had to take one I’d go with the Eagles as that division seams to be a dumpster fire and 9-7 could easily take that division for the 2nd year in a row.

    • jb19

      Yea, no one earns my vote. Washington Football team beat the Eagles, otherwise, I would have voted for the Eagles. Falcons have no defense. It’s offensive to call the defense a “defense“, pun very much intended.

  3. DarkSide830

    as an eagles fan, i can tell you they suck. they’ll probably lose to the Bengals this weekend.

    • jawn

      As a fellow Eagles fan, I appreciate the “probably”. I would have left it out

    • crosseyedlemon

      Eagles have regressed continually since their title win but the last time they dropped to 0-3 at home Jason Peters was 4 yrs old. I don’t know if they’ve ever lost to a QB with just 2 career starts so they should prevail over the Bengals.

  4. RegularEd

    I voted the Texans.

    But I’m also curious about what 2-0 is more likely to miss out on the playoffs:

    Bills, Chiefs, Raiders, Steelers, Ravens, Titans, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Packers, Bears.

    • forwhomjoshbelltolls

      I’d bet against the Bears, Raiders and Cards…in that order.

    • jawn

      Bears for sure. Followed by the Steelers and Rams due to their tough divisional opponents.

  5. Tmandolfan

    Ha! It’s a trick the question. The DOLPHINS who started 0-2 have the best odds of making the playoffs this year!

    • bradthebluefish

      If Fitzmagic can keep up the excellent gameplay, I can see it happen.

  6. Hannibal8us

    Vikings fan here but it’s gotta be the Eagles, there’s talent there and nobody is running away with that division.

    • Ak185

      Don’t be surprised at your Vikes turning it around. They have less dysfunction and uncertainty than Philly, whose lack of offensive identity figures to be a big problem. The Vikings have underperformed, that is certain, and we can say that with confidence because we expect better from a good team returning so many starters. Can we say that with confidence about about the Eagles?

      • Hannibal8us

        Vikings biggest problem is their schedule is brutal and the Packers likely are going to be hard to catch. I think getting Hunter back will go a long way to getting the defense back on track but the offense has looked abysmal. Getting a wildcard spot with their remaining schedule is no easy task.

        • Ak185

          True, but they’ve got a shot. We’ve seen that offense perform and they return most of their players from last year. As much as people like to talk about Cousins, we certainly expect better from him and that offense as a whole.

          The defense, the secondary in particular, is where there are questions. A lot of young guys are out there. Without a veteran starter at corner to help show them practically how the defense is run, there will be more growing pains. Hunter coming back will help, but his last two years have slipped slightly from where he was before-still a quality player, but Griffin in his final year in Minnesota actually had a higher win rate than Hunter did. I don’t doubt that Hunter can bounce back, which is why I expect his return to be helpful-because I expect him to play better than last year, and last year they were good. Will it be enough to balance out the young corners and Barr’s departure? We’ll see.

          Mostly though, I trust Zimmer more than most coaches in the NFC. Your staff is the most important component of ensuring continuity, especially with a young roster. The Eagles seem to have systemic issues and distance between teammates on the roster. I’m not sure how much I trust Pederson to handle them, because they seem to grow every year since the SB win. This last feeling is partially my own hunch, I’ll admit that, but I don’t get a good feeling about the team chemistry as a productive unit. The Vikes may not end the year as top contenders, but if they’re not jockeying for a wildcard spot, I’d be surprised.

          • crosseyedlemon

            Vikings started 2008 with loses to the Packers and Colts and ended up winning the division, so at least they have some favorable history working for them here.

  7. crosseyedlemon

    The Lions have a better chance of putting together another 16 game losing streak than reaching the playoffs.

  8. bradthebluefish

    Tough one. Texans are the most talented ones here though I don’t see them winning their division, thus slim odds for any playoff spots. (Steelers are a lock for a wild card seed imo)

    Eagles were in the playoffs just last year and have the weakest division, but I’m not liking what I’m seeing.

  9. DonC.

    Lifetime Eagles fan,watching
    Peterson &Wentz press conferences like watching bs political interviews.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Just imagine how bad it could be if Kimberly Guilfoyle showed up and started screaming “The best is yet to come”.

  10. MileHighFan

    The poll question should have been: “Can all of these teams finish 0-16?”

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