Now that week two of the NFL is practically in the books, it’s never too early to diagnose where teams went right or wrong, or whether they stayed the course. The second week of the NFL season began to shed light on who truly is going to be a contender, and finds teams desperate to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start, where only nine percent of the teams of those franchises ended up making the playoffs (since 2007). So, for the sake of this article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water.
At least four NFL teams will be 0-2 after today. Historically, 12% of 0-2 teams have rebounded to make the playoffs: pic.twitter.com/qPaGwbKbW4
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 17, 2017
True Contenders: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders.
Any one of these teams listed above could easily run away with their regular season schedule and roll off 10+ wins, which historically will get you into the playoffs more often than not. The difference between these teams and the next level down is their consistency, discipline, and championship pedigree. Teams in this “bracket” don’t hurt themselves with careless penalties, can get off the field on third down, and/or can light up the scoreboard in multiple ways.
Playoff Bound Material: Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
These aforementioned franchises are solid, but not great. Whether or not they can move into the “contender” category remains to be seen, but we simply haven’t seen enough from these squads to really rely on them week in and week out. Two classic examples of this category are the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Many expected Dallas to roll in Denver, and yet they got embarrassed in a 42-17 loss. Green Bay looked like they had solved their defensive woes from last year’s playoffs, yet they got blown out by the Atlanta Falcons. Even a lot of these undefeated teams (Lions, Panthers, Bucs and Dolphins) are not showing us enough to really have faith that they will be able to stand the test of time when they face the best opponents.
Mediocre at Best: Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks.
Teams in this category simply can’t be trusted. They all have serious flaws in at least one of the three major phases of the game, and have been less than impressive against inferior competition, or seem to be trending down. The most “controversial” team on this list will surely be the Seahawks, given their championship pedigree of the past, but come on, they barely beat the lowly 49ers in their own stadium! Seattle may sneak into the playoffs, but they will be there as a product of being placed within an underwhelming division.
Dead in the Water: Cleveland Browns, NY Jets, NY Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears.
These teams all have either started their season 0-2, or found a way to beat someone about as bad as themselves and sit at 1-1. The difference in this category is that these teams are far away from being able to compete, and their coaches will surely be in more radio discussions as being on the dreaded “hot seat.” All of these teams are at least another season away from competing for a playoff spot, and will be bottom dwellers until fundamental and cultural changes are made to their football programs.
Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories and see which teams should be taken seriously, while others we wish would just get off our TV screens.
CBS Sports Images
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