Levels of Concern for NFL’s 0-2 Teams
We’ve only played two weeks of the NFL regular season, so no one is dead and buried just yet. But in the history of the National Football League, only 11% of the teams that started the season with two losses went on to make the playoffs. If those stats hold true in 2023, that means of the nine current 0-2 teams, only one will be in the postseason.
Just how worried should each of the nine teams be?
- Carolina Panthers
- Houston Texans
- Arizona Cardinals
The 159 players that make up the 53-man rosters for each of these three teams would like to win. But all three of them came into the 2023 season understanding that this was going to be a season of transition that would result in many lumps taken.
The Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans are starting rookie quarterbacks Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, and the success of this season will not be measured in wins and losses. The experience their two young signal callers get, and the growth that is seen over the season, is the only thing that really matters.
It’s a different situation for the Arizona Cardinals, who have been very competitive in their two losses. Starting quarterback Kyler Murray is still rehabbing from last year’s ACL tear, and expectations are so low that they might be in line to draft a top quarterback again in 2024. This is a far more impressive 0-2 for Arizona than anyone expected.
BetUS.com has USC quarterback Caleb Williams as the -400 favorite to be the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Sweats and Raised Heart Rate
- New England Patriots
- Denver Broncos
- Minnesota Vikings
The New England Patriots have started with a really tough schedule, which makes their losses easier to take and understand. But both games were at home, and beginning 0-2 at Foxborough is not great when you already lose one home game to a November trip to Germany.
Making matters worse was the regression that took place between Week 1 and Week 2. Quarterback Mac Jones wasn’t nearly as good this past Sunday against the Dolphins, and the defense really struggled to stop the run.
For the Denver Broncos, new head coach Sean Payton (now paying +4000 to win NFL Coach of the Year) spent a good portion of the off-season criticizing his predecessor for not getting the playcalls made in time. But Payton has started 0-2, worse than Nathaniel Hackett last year, and the same issues of clock management have reared their ugly heads.
With what is happening up the road in Boulder with the Colorado Buffaloes, Denver is relegated to being the second-most popular team in the state, and so far they are the least successful.
Last year, the Minnesota Vikings were 11-0 in one-score games. That kind of luck was never going to hold up, but it has completely flipped on the Vikings in 2023. They are 0-2 in one-score games this season, and they suddenly can’t hold on to the football. The Vikings have turned the ball over a league-high seven times in two games (6 fumbles, 1 interception), after turning it over 23 times in all of 2022.
Press The Panic Button
- Chicago Bears
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Cincinnati Bengals
Of the winless teams in the NFL, no one has a bigger margin of defeat than the Chicago Bears. From one of the preseason betting darlings – BetUS.com had them at +300 to win the NFC North in the preseason – to one of the most disappointing teams through two weeks.
It’s not just that their odds have plummeted to +1400, it’s the way that quarterback Justin Fields has looked. He was supposed to take the third-year leap this season. Instead, he continues to miss reads, make bad passes, and take terrible sacks. He is doing nothing to show Chicago that he is their franchise quarterback.
If you regularly wager on the NFL, you know that like the annual return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano, there is the annual preseason pick of the Los Angeles Chargers to win their division, followed by the crashing of those expectations.
This year was going to be different. L.A. was in the playoffs last year, although the way they lost in those playoffs was catastrophic, and can often lead to a next season hangover. Head coach Brandon Staley bristled at the suggestion that last year’s playoff collapse has anything to do with their 0-2 start. Maybe not. But the Chargers defense was picked apart by Ryan Tannehill, and that on its own is a major cause for concern.
The last of our three teams who should be in panic mode are the Cincinnati Bengals. Both of their losses are in the division, and losing at home to the Baltimore Ravens this week effectively puts them three games behind the Ravens because of the lost tiebreaker.
Worse, quarterback Joe Burrow is clearly hobbled by the calf injury he suffered in training camp, and he’ll be dealing with it for several more weeks. The only way it will fully heal is if he sits, which would turn the offense over to Jake Browning, who has never completed a pass in his four NFL seasons.