By The Numbers: Trio of playoff teams in tough following 0-2 starts
Two weeks is not enough to define an entire NFL season, but a trio of 2022 playoff teams are in jeopardy of missing the postseason after starting the campaign 0-2.
The Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, and Minnesota Vikings, all playoff teams from last season, suffered a second-consecutive loss in Week 2. While there is still time to rebound and make the postseason, history says the odds are against them.
Since 1990, only 31 of the 270 teams (11.5 per cent) that started 0-2 have gone on qualify for the playoffs. Only three teams, the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, 2001 New England Patriots, and 2007 New York Giants, have recovered from an 0-2 start to win the Super Bowl.
Making the playoffs becomes nearly impossible following an 0-3 start.
Since expansion in 1979, only six teams have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start. The 2018 Houston Texans were the last team to accomplish the feat.
The odds improve exponentially for teams that are able to win their third game. Since the NFL expanded the playoffs in 2020, 10 teams (25 per cent of the playoff field) have qualified for the postseason following a 1-2 start.
Bengals in familiar position
The Bengals must dig themselves out of a familiar hole after starting 0-2 for the second straight season. Last year, Cincinnati recovered to finish 12-4 and reach the AFC Championship game. However, the task may be more difficult this year, as quarterback Joe Burrow aggravated his calf strain in the team’s Week 2 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and is questionable for Monday’s Super Bowl LVI rematch against the Los Angeles Rams.
Jake Browning would get the start if Burrow were to miss Monday’s contest. The 27-year-old has never completed an NFL pass and would be making his first career NFL start. Despite the tough road ahead of them, the Bengals believe they can dig themselves out of the early hole.
"The beauty of this team is we know it's a 17-game season. There's no overreaction on our end," said head coach Zac Taylor. “We would have loved to come out 2-0; 1-1 would have been fine, too. This is exactly where we were last year, and this team is only going to get better with every game that passes. When you stumble early, you have to learn from it.”
"I'm still confident. I feel really confident in all the guys we have in that room," Burrow said. "We've done it before. Obviously, you don't want to start 0-2, it's not what we're planning on, not what you want to do at all. But now we're going to bounce back, that's what we do it's all there is to it."
The Rams have started 1-1 following a Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Chargers, Vikings face off to avoid 0-3 start
Unfortunately for the Chargers and Vikings, one team will start 0-3 as the two will face off on Sunday afternoon.
The Vikings put themselves in a difficult position following a pair of mistake-filled losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles. Minnesota fumbled four times in last week’s 34-28 loss to the Eagles, including superstar wideout Justin Jefferson losing the ball out of the back of the endzone for a touchback.
“Shot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “Similar story now the first two weeks in that case. Just difficult to win in this league when you lose the turnover battle by one, let alone by the margin we have lost it by, so we have to fix those mistakes and not let it continue.”
Unlike the Vikings, the Chargers would be hard-pressed to place blame on offensive mistakes. They are the only team in the Super Bowl era to start 0-2 after scoring 50 or more points while committing zero turnovers in the first two games.
"Obviously you never want to be in this position," Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert said. "But I know we have the right group of guys in that locker room, and we’re gonna stay together, we’re gonna stay tough and we’re gonna get this thing going because it’s a long season and there’s a lot of football left.”
The Chargers defence has struggled, allowing 877 yards and 63 points through two weeks en route to their first 0-2 start in six years. The team has struggled to win close games, having dropped their past four regular season and playoff games by a combined nine points.
“We’ve lost two tough games, but the men in that locker room are finishers, and they have what it takes, and we’re excited to prove ourselves,” said head coach Brandon Staley. “We're just going to focus on making the improvements each day so that we can create that confidence for game day."