What 0-2 Starts Mean for 9 NFL Teams
Just a few days ago, all 32 NFL teams owned a nice big "zero" in the loss column.
Through two games for each, only nine remain unblemished. The same number, though, haven't won, and some of those squads seemed like serious Super Bowl contenders.
Can they -- or any team -- bounce back from an 0-2 start? Let's see what our algorithms have to say about their playoff hopes.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 8.4%, 1.2%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 13.1%, 2.6%
nERD (Power Rank): -8.78 (31st)
The Bears were projected to finish last in the NFC North with a record of 6.6-9.4, and through two weeks, they haven't done much to indicate otherwise. They hung tough with the Packers in Week 1, but they were dismantled by the Cardinals in Week 2. Based on nERD, which indicates by how many points a team should defeat a league-average squad on a neutral field, the Cardinals (7.15) and Packers (6.97) top our power rankings through Week 2. That's something, at least.
Still, Chicago won't have an easy time turning things around, and Jay Cutler is out for a few weeks. With injuries to wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White, the offense will have to run through Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. That thinned out offense likely can't make up for the defense, which ranks last in the league according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics through two weeks of play.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 23.5%, 5.7%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 33.0%, 11.7%
nERD (Power Rank): -1.77 (24th)
The Lions also entered the year with low odds to make a playoff push, thanks in large part to Green Bay's expected successes. Of course, they also lose Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley up front. Detroit, though, has lost to some relatively weak competition. The Chargers (0.56 nERD) rank 17th in our power rankings, and the Vikings (-2.92) rank 22nd. Next up is a home matchup on Sunday Night Football with Denver (6.37 nERD), who ranks third in our power rankings and owns the second stingiest defense in the league, per our metrics.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 36.5%, 23.4%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 52.3%, 26.6%
nERD (Power Rank): -1.30 (23rd)
Last year, the Texans wound up with the best defense in the NFL on a per-play basis, according to our metrics. This year, through two games, they rank 15th. It's only a two game sample, and if Arian Foster returns some semblance of efficiency to their offense, then it should benefit the defense. Through two games, Houston's time of possession ranks just 26th in the league. Fortunately for them, their biggest divisional foe, the Indianapolis Colts, are also 0-2, so their playoff odds aren't as depleted as other teams in this range.
New York Giants
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 24.8%, 9.6%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 40.4%, 18.7%
nERD (Power Rank): -1.17 (22nd)
The NFC East is a pretty large mess right now, and no team looks poised to seize control of first place. However, the Giants don't grade out as an overly efficient squad. They currently own the 13th-best overall offense per our marks, but their defense ranks 27th. The saving grace for the Giants could be that, aside from the now-injury riddled Cowboys, no team in the division ranks better than 14th in our power rankings.
New Orleans Saints
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 35.5%, 8.8%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 50.3, 23.7%
nERD (Power Rank): -0.48 (19th)
The Saints started last season 0-2 and wound up 7-9, out of the playoffs. Our algorithms peg them for a repeat performance with a projected 7.1-8.9 final record. Drew Brees has a shoulder injury, though it's unclear how long it will keep him out -- if at all. Much like the Giants, their defensive issues (23rd per our metrics) outweigh some promising offense (14th). In the NFC South, the Panthers and Falcons are both 2-0, making the uphill climb to the playoffs even steeper for New Orleans, but while Carolina (3.16 nERD) ranks 10th in our standings, Atlanta (0.04) is just one spot above the Saints.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 48.9%, 28.8%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 62.0%, 31.8%
nERD (Power Rank): 0.17 (17th)
The Colts are winless (of course), but they still have some solid odds to make the playoffs. In a division with our 29th-ranked team (Jacksonville), our 28th-ranked team (Tennessee), and our 23rd-ranked team (Houston), Indy is far from out of it. Of course, their bigger issue might be postseason success, but they trail the division leader by just a single game. Last year, the Colts ranked ninth in our Adjusted NEP metric, but this year so far, they rank 26th and have been a below-expectation offense, posting a score of -3.41. Compounding this, their 24th-ranked defense makes them just an average squad (at best), per our power rankings.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 35.9%, 13.3%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 52.4%, 25.5%
nERD (Power Rank): 1.14 (14th)
Well, the Eagles look quite a mess. Their offense has looked and played stagnant, and our metrics show just that. Philadelphia ranks 30th in Adjusted NEP (-11.11) through two games. They were 15th last year. Their defense is playing as an elite unit, taking -1.67 points off the board after being adjusted for schedule strength through two games. That ranks 11th in the league, but only 11 teams have a mark on the right side of zero. Dallas has a sizable lead in the division, but of course, the Cowboys have issues of their own, leaving room for Philadelphia to make a run -- if they fix their own problems, that is.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 39.2%, 13.2%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 51.2%, 18.7%
nERD (Power Rank): 2.05 (13th)
Losing to the Oakland Raiders is never a good sign, but the Ravens still rank 13th in our standings despite the 0-2 start. Their efficient offense from last year isn't quite clicking (they rank 18th in per-play Adjusted NEP after finishing 8th last year), and their defense is a middling 16th. Their two losses were pretty close, but they came to vastly different opponents (Denver ranks 3rd in our power rankings and Oakland is 30th). It's hard to pinpoint what team will show up in Week 3 when they host Cincinnati (sixth in our power rankings), but Baltimore still has an outside shot to make a playoff push, given their overall efficiency.
Division Odds (Initial, Current): 58.8%, 15.3%
Playoff Odds (Initial, Current): 74.4%, 33.6%
nERD (Power Rank): 4.79 (4th)
Just seconds from a second straight Super Bowl victory, Seattle hasn't had the taste of victory in quite some time. They dropped a game to division rival St. Louis (21st in our ranks) and to Green Bay (2nd), but they still grade out as the fourth-best squad in all of football, per our metrics. Unfortunately for Seahawks fans, the two early losses have caused their playoff odds to plummet despite boasting one of the league's best teams. Our algorithms project them to finish 8.2-7.8. Their biggest problem might be trying to catch the 2-0 Cardinals, who own the best nERD (7.15) in all of football.