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    Which 0-2 NFL Teams Can Make The Playoffs?

    As important as it is how a team finishes a season, the history of the NFL also tells a story of the importance of how teams start a season. Since 1990, only 31 of the 270 teams to make the NFL playoffs started the season with back-to-back losses. The most recent example of that is the Cincinnati Bengals last year, which was the first year in the 17-game NFL schedule, giving teams one more game to make up for losses early in the season. Looking at the NFL season so far, there are nine 0-2 teams begging the question – will any of those teams make the playoffs this season?

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    0-2 NFL Teams That Won’t Make The Playoffs

    The winless teams least likely to contend for a playoff berth this season are the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. Those three teams have a lot working against them from injuries to theirs stars, rookie quarterbacks and the fact they entered the season as non-contenders. 

    A few teams with hope, but are more 50/50 contenders for the playoffs this season after back-to-back losses, are the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos. The hope for Chicago lies in Justin Fields’ ability to turn things around after a horrendous start to the season. He has the second-worst QBR after two games, with all three rookie quarterbacks and Joshua Dobbs all statistically playing better than Fields so far.

    Denver’s hope comes in the form of new head coach Sean Payton and his ability to get Russell Wilson on track.

    Teams With A Chance To Make The Playoffs

    That leaves four teams with a realistic shot at making a run into the playoffs this season.

    The team at the top of that list is the Cincinnati Bengals, who are two years removed from making the Super Bowl and a year off from making the playoffs after an 0-2 start to the 2022-2023 season. Joe Burrow has the potential and the weapons to get his team on track in a division that has two teams sitting at 1-1 and an AFC that has more parody than in recent years.

    Cincinnati has a run in its next four games that could allow the team to be 4-2 or 3-3 after playing the Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks which could open the door for the playoffs this season.

    The Los Angeles Chargers, who despite a roster loaded with talent on both sides of the ball have started the season with two straight losses by a combined five points, shouldn’t be counted out either.

    Another team you can never count out is the New England Patriots, who under Bill Belichick have only finished three seasons under .500 (2000, 2020 and 2022) and missed the playoffs just five times. Mac Jones will have a tough go in one of the better conferences in the league and three road games in their next four overall.

    Minnesota is the final team that has a chance to make a run at the playoffs, but their schedule is stacked with one of the toughest run of games. The talent is there with Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and the rest of the offense, but the wins haven’t been.

    Of the nine teams it looks like Cincinnati is just a glutton for early-season punishment and could make it back-to-back seasons where they make the playoffs after starting the year with back-to-back losses.


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    Kris Habbas
    Kris Habbas
    Once writer, then editor of NBA Draft Insider. Did some work for Dime Magazine. Wrote about the NBA and WNBA as a beat writer for Bright Side of the Sun. Mostly basketball. Lots of words.

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