Why you should care
Because, though we hate to say it, fans of 0-2 teams better start dreaming of next year.
They are some of the NFL’s most storied franchises. The New York Giants, winners of four Super Bowls. The Indianapolis Colts, famous for great quarterbacks. And, more recently, the Seattle Seahawks, who have played in two straight Super Bowls. And yet, barely a blink into the season, we can pretty safely say these three teams and six others can basically pack up their bags.
In the last six years, only
of teams that started out 0-2 ended up making the playoffs.
The NFL stat guys in the sky have pored over team win-and-loss records to find that those who suffer from slow starts just about always miss out. “This affects teams’ chances of making the playoffs, no doubt about it,” says Chris Andrews, a former sports handicapper and owner of the bookmaking site AgainstTheNumber.com. For example, according to Westgate Las Vegas odds, the Colts’ Super Bowl chances have already fallen from 8-1 to 16-1. The reasons are many: For one, with only 16 games in the NFL season, an early two-game hole can spell disaster, especially since the league is more balanced than decades ago in terms of having more competitive teams. And let’s face it, most losers stink up the joint for a reason — they aren’t as good as people thought, the hype was just that.
Sure, hope may spring eternal in spring, but once the fall season starts, teams have to start winning — fast. Only four of the 98 teams to ever appear in a Super Bowl started 0-2. There was usually a good reason they recovered too: The 1993 Dallas Cowboys were missing their star running back (Emmitt Smith) for two games, while the 2001 New England Patriots hadn’t yet discovered their future flamethrowing starter in Tom Brady. In the entirety of NFL history, only 23 of 204 playoff teams began their seasons by dropping their first two contests.
Yet despite all the doomsday talk, there are ways to spin this early tumbling; and yes, teams are already spinning faster than that top at the end of Inception. The Giants, with two last-minute losses, and the Seahawks, whose offense has sputtered, can say things are just off a tick. “Anybody can win it,” Giants linebacker Devon Kennard told the New York Daily News, noting that the Giants could rebound and win the NFC East (and its automatic playoff berth). Others can cross their fingers hoping for deliverance; case in point, the Houston Texans, who were felled by awful quarterback play, and the New Orleans Saints, whose quarterback was hurt by awful shoulder play.
But here at OZY, we don’t buy that optimism. The facts don’t lie; these teams are winless, completely blemished, oh-and-two. However you word it, they are in trouble. So we’ll go ahead and jump on the bandwagons of teams like the New York Jets — who are 2-0 after winning all of four games last season — and leave cheering for losers to more forgiving fans. A parting word of advice for perhaps the worst winless team in the league, the Chicago Bears: It might be best to start hibernating early this year.