No team wants to start 0-2. It is almost a death sentence to playoff hopefuls around the league. However, since the current league format was put into play in 2002, just under 12% of the teams that start 0-2 have made the playoffs, or 1 in 9. As things fall right in the world, we have 9 teams that have gotten off to that dreadful beginning, therefore, one of them, statistically, will make it to the playoffs.
New York Jets
Why they will: They won’t. They are probably the only team in the NFL who has absolutely zero shot to make the playoffs.
Why they wont: No teams lacks playmakers like the Jets, and that’s on both sides of the ball. Josh McCown has one of the worst W-L records of starting QBs over the past 4 season and there is no one behind him pushing him out. The team is in full rebuild mode praying and hoping that Sam Darnold makes the jump from USC at season’s end.
Whey they will: It is clear through two weeks that they defense is vastly improved over past seasons and top overall pick Myles Garrett hasn’t stepped on the field yet. Their next three games are all against teams on this list, which makes it possible for the Browns to get on a roll if rookie DeShone Kizer can play more like he did in week one than week two. It might take Josh Gordon getting cleared by the NFL once he finishes rehab at the end of the month.
Why they won’t: Well to put it simply, they are the Browns. They aren’t close in talent on the offensive side of the ball and they don’t have enough experience defensively. Even if it all goes right, the Browns are gonna Brown. Kizer is still a rookie and his weapons are limited now without Corey Coleman. It is going to be a learning experience.
Why they will: Regardless of how they’ve played, the Bengals still have some of the most talent of any team in the AFC outside of New England, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Their defense is stout and is going to keep them in games all year. The offensive line, which has been turnstyle-like so far, but they should improve with experience. This team could be extremely explosive and make a run at a wildcard spot if Bill Lazor, the newly promoted OC can get the most out of them.
Why they won’t: There is clearly some problems in the locker room. Players were heard shouting in the locker room about how bad they are after losing to the “worst team in the league.” The team turns on Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis as the season torpedoes into the ground. This leaves Cincinnati looking at a possible QB in the top five.
Los Angeles Chargers
Why they will: No other team on this list has had chances to win both of the games. Los Angeles has missed kicks at the buzzer which would have sent game one to OT and won game two. They have the weapons on offense, coupled with the most underrated QB in the league, Philip Rivers, to put up plenty of points. That, combined with a nasty front seven and a solid secondary has this team still thinking playoffs.
Why they won’t: Have you seen the AFC West? The other three are all 2-0 and loaded. This division, in my opinion, has 4 of the top 6 teams in the AFC (New England and Pittsburgh). The Chargers still have 5 games against these teams, and must beat out at least one of them to grab a playoff spot. The road is uphill.
Why they will: Andrew Luck should come be able to play at some point over the next month, since they didn’t put him on the PUP list. In a horrible division, the play of an elite quarterback could be enough to lift them to a division title with as little as 8 wins.
Why they won’t: Outside of Andrew Luck, they might have the worst roster top to bottom. It doesn’t matter who is on the schedule with an offensive line and secondary as bad at theirs. They will be adding more talent in the top ten next draft.
New York Giants:
Why they will: Whenever you count on Eli Manning, he comes back stronger than ever. The offense has been abysmal the first two weeks, but it is clear Odell Beckham isn’t 100%. In a division where Dallas has clearly taken a step back, the Giants still have the defense to hold them afloat while the offense figures things out.
Why they won’t: The offensive line is putrid, giving Manning little time to throw. That is worst-case scenario when you have no run game to speak of. If the beatings continue, Manning’s consecutive start streak may come to an end.
Why they will: Regardless of how they played in Tampa, the Bears were two horrible drops away from knocking off the Falcons to open the season. They continue to play well at home while stealing a few road wins to gain a wildcard spot with Mike Glennon.
Why they won’t: There simply isn’t enough talent/weapons on the roster to win games on a consistent basis. Mike Glennon continues to struggle and show why Tampa never really gave him a shot to be the guy.
San Francisco 49ers:
Why they will: The division is not as good as its been in the past as the Seahawks have serious offensive line issues and Carson Palmer just isn’t the same. Kyle Shanahan gets the 49ers offense going enough to compliment a defense that becomes top-ten. Very minuscule chance, but Donald Trump is President, so…
Why they won’t: While the defense has made strides through the rebuild, the offense is really bad. They are one of two teams that still haven’t scored a touchdown and three of their next four come on the road, which could make it really tough to have more than one win after six games.
New Orleans Saints:
Why they will: Drew Brees is still under center and the offense has looked good enough to be a playoff team. The defense just needs to make some improvements for the Saints to be a play or two away from 9 or 10 wins by seasons end.
Why they won’t: The defense is still Swiss cheese. There are holes everywhere and through two games, opponents have thrown for over 380 yards PER GAME! The Saints front office has somehow managed to waste eight years of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play. A defense like this leads to 5 or 6 wins.
What team will be the one to make the playoffs?
Going back to the beginning, one of these nine teams will make the playoffs if we look back at past years. Who will do it?
Team with the best roster: The Chargers have the best team of the bunch. They are above average on both sides of the ball, with a great passing attack, and a very good pass rush. The eye test would tell you that they are a playoff team. However, they are already 2 games back of the other three teams, which only 3 of the 4 could potentially make the playoffs. I don’t think they get in this year.
Team that will make the playoffs: This was not the easiest to pick with the Chargers being in the AFC West. Of the other eight, the Giants are my selection. Them, and the Bengals, were two of my playoff teams at the beginning and I think the NFC wildcards won’t have to get to 10 wins like the AFC. Their defense is good enough to single handily win some games as the o-line continues to try to improve. The Bengals would be my next choice, after New York and LA, followed by the Colts.