The NFL season is the shortest of all four major professional sports. While the season itself goes on for months, there are only 17 games, which means that it’s going to be hard for some teams to dig themselves out of their current 0-2 hole. Right now, eight teams are still looking for their first win, but some of those organizations have a chance to pull themselves out of their current predicament. Others, however, should start planning for 2024.
Which Teams Can Bounce Back From Their 0-2 Start?
Tier 1: Should Be Fine
Apparently, slow starts are imprinted into the Cincinnati Bengals DNA. After starting 0-2 in 2022, the Bengals are back at the bottom of the division. Joe Burrow does not look even remotely healthy, Ja’Marr Chase can’t get going, and the defense isn’t able to overcome this offensive ineptitude. While this is frustrating to watch, this team is far too talented to stay this bad. Burrow is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and his weapons are second to none. Eventually, the offense will heat up and return to being one of the best in the league. Perhaps it’s too late for them to catch the 2-0 Baltimore Ravens, but they should earn a Wild Card spot at the very least.
Los Angeles Chargers
Brandon Staley might be on the hot seat, but the Chargers should feel pretty good about their future regardless of who the head coach is. While the defense is atrocious, any team that has Justin Herbert under center is going to stand a fighting chance each and every week. The Chargers lost both of their games by a combined five points, so they are a bit better than their record. Of all the 0-2 teams, the Chargers are in the best position to win the division, as they’re competing against two bad teams in the Raiders and Broncos, and a Chiefs team that doesn’t quite look like themselves this year.
Tier 2: Not Impossible, But Not Likely
The Minnesota Vikings were not nearly as good as their record last year, and regression is coming for them in a big way. After an absurd amount of luck in one-score games, the Minnesota Vikings are now one of the eight 0-2 teams in the NFL, with both of their losses coming by a combined nine points. Now, the Vikings have to face the Chargers, Chiefs, and 49ers in the next five weeks. This is a difficult gauntlet to face, and their lone hope rests in the relatively weak NFC North. If the Lions stumble and the Packers come back to Earth, Minnesota can overcome this slow start. If not, then the Kirk Cousins Era might end with a whimper.
New England Patriots
After two decades of dominance, the New England Patriots are back in the land of mediocrity and surrounded by 0-2 teams. Seemingly every Patriots game goes the same way: get off to a slow start, fall behind early, get back in the game with some fourth-quarter heroics, and fall just short at the end. If New England can fix how they start games, they could compete, but their difficult schedule combined with the challenge of sharing a division with Miami and Buffalo makes a playoff berth unlikely.
Tier 3: All Part of the Plan
The Houston Texans will not make the playoffs in 2023, but that’s not a surprise. Even though they added quite a few interesting players in the NFL Draft, this team is still very much in a rebuild as they try to recover from the Bill O’Brien Era. Instead of focusing on the win-loss column, fans of the Texans should focus on how C.J. Stroud and the other young players develop throughout the season.
The Carolina Panthers moved heaven and earth to select Bryce Young with the first-overall pick, and there’s no surprise that giving up all those valuable assets landed them among the 0-2 teams. While the defense is solid, the Panthers have arguably the worst collection of pass-catching talent in the NFL, and you can’t expect a rookie to win games in this environment. Hopefully, Young can continue to improve as the season progresses.
Tier 4: It’s Over
2023 was supposed to be different for the Denver Broncos, but after two weeks, their season is effectively over. Russell Wilson looks better now than he did last year, but he’s still not his old self. Sean Payton is definitely better than Nathaniel Hackett, but he’s not good enough to carry this roster to a winning record. The Broncos are probably too good to secure a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but they’re not good enough to make it to the playoffs.
The Chicago Bears spent the entire offseason adding talent to the roster and praising Justin Fields as their franchise quarterback. After two weeks, all of that hope and optimism is completely shattered. Fields looks lost on the field, the defense isn’t holding up its end of the bargain, and the coaching staff might be the worst in the NFL. Making matters worse is the fact that the frustration with the poor start has carried over into the public eye. Put simply, there is no way that this team will turn it around in 2024.
Justin Fields: “I wasn’t necessarily playing my game. I felt like I was kind of robotic. Not playing like myself.”
On why that could be: “Coaching.”pic.twitter.com/msxs6MQqPI
— Underdog NFL (@Underdog__NFL) September 20, 2023
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