Playoff hopefuls with greatest risk of starting 0-2

No NFL team in the past three years has made the playoffs after starting an 0-2 season. It’s not that it’s impossible – 30 teams have done it in the past 32 years – but it’s highly unlikely. In a league where literally every game counts, dropping two out the door is usually disastrous for the rest of the season.

A total of 265 teams have started 0-2 since 1990, according to Stathead. The 30 that made the playoffs represent just 11% of those teams. This number dropped to 9% in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). Only three teams have won a Super Bowl after starting 0-2. The last of these was the New York Giants in 2007. Since then, the 11 teams to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start have gone a combined 5-11 in the playoffs, with only one reaching a conference championship game.

Teams that start 0-2 just don’t make the playoffs, and if they do, they don’t get very far. After Thursday’s schedule is released, here’s a look at the playoff hopefuls you might want to dim based on how big of a risk they are to start 0-2.

Odds provided by Tipico

January 2, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) in the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel – USA TODAY Sports

Playoff odds: Yes +140 / No -170

Miami probably would have started last season 0-2 had it not been for a fourth-quarter Patriots fumble in Week 1. But the Dolphins were still a prime example of how hard it is to dig a hole early in the game. season. They have won eight of their last nine games and still missed the playoffs thanks to a 1-7 start.

Now the Dolphins come into this season with a lot of hype after adding big names like Tyreek Hill in the offseason. But they open up the game again against the Pats before visiting the Ravens in Week 2. If that Tagovaiola-Hill connection doesn’t click on all cylinders by the end of training camp, they could face to another narrow playoff elimination at the end of the season.

Playoff odds: Yes +105 / No -130

Minnesota has played football below .500 for the past two years, but they have a quarterback earning $35 million and weapons on offense that a coordinator would give a leg up to have. It’s playoff or bust for the Vikings, but they must first face the Green Bay Packers at home in Week 1 before hitting the road against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 – both playoff teams from a season ago. If they drop both games, it won’t be a good sign of things to come.

January 2, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) heads the ball in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

Playoff odds: Yes +100 / No -120

The first of those teams to make the playoffs last year, the Cardinals have dampened expectations somewhat this season due to their poor looks in that Wild Card game. And also because of the DeAndre Hopkins suspension. Add their early-season schedule to the list of reasons to be cautious with Arizona. They host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 before making the short trip to Las Vegas to face the Raiders.

Raiders playoff odds: Yes +150 / No -200

Chargers playoff odds: Yes -170/ No +130

Chiefs playoff odds: Yes -220/ No +170

I’m grouping these division rivals together because they can’t all start 0-2. Someone has to win when they go against each other. But at least one of them could lose two games.

The Chargers play both the Raiders and the Chiefs, going on the road for the latter of those games. And as mentioned above, the Raiders and Chiefs each face the Cardinals as their other games to open the season. If I had to pick the team that worries me the least, it’s the Chiefs. I don’t see them losing Game 1 to the Cardinals. But the rest of their early season schedule is brutal.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks on after throwing an incomplete pass, returning the ball to the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL wild card football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Arlington , in Texas. San Francisco won 23-17. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Playoff odds: Yes -310 / No +200

This is where we come into exceptional value on these picks, because I think there’s a realistic chance Dallas misses the playoffs at +200 odds. The scheduling powers that be have done them no favors, and that includes a brutal two-week opener against 2020 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2021 AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. Sure, they can host both games, but Jerry’s World is every team’s world. If they drop those two games, they hope the rest of the NFC East hasn’t improved dramatically.

Playoff odds: Yes -500 / No +350

Buffalo missing the playoffs is the result I least expect, but the Bills can absolutely start the season 0-2 after games against Super Bowl champions Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. I would bet on Buffalo beating Tennessee at home in Week 2, but the Titans have a way of winning when people least expect it. I still don’t know exactly how they won the AFC top seed last season.

Comments are closed.