Want a cheap and easy way to freak out rival fans from preseason Super Bowl contenders from Buffalo to Nashville to Dallas and points in between?
Tell them to look at the standings.
Then tell them to look at the schedule.
Then remind them of history.
It’s not great for teams that go winless through the first two weeks of an NFL season. Like, really not great.
The past is unkind to hopeful Super Bowl contenders starting 0-2
Roughly eight in nine teams that start 0-2 have historically missed the playoffs.
Granted, those numbers don’t reflect the new 17-game schedule. So our guess is there’s a longer honeymoon at the start of this season than ever before. The more games, the less randomness to a playoff field. And that field is now 14 teams, not 12 as it had been from 1990-2019.
But each of the 14 teams that qualified for the 2020 postseason won one of its first two games. The first team out of the AFC field, the Miami Dolphins, started 0-2. Plus, no one outside of team HQ expected Miami to get there last year.
That cannot be said for a bunch of perceived powerhouses who have a very real chance of losing for a second straight week Sunday.
Five of the eight preseason division favorites lost their openers (although we don’t think the Browns and Packers, who are among that group of winless teams, are in any danger of falling again in Week 2).
Teams with the most to lose this weekend
These Super Bowl contenders have a lot on the line in Week 2.
Dallas Cowboys (+3.5 at Los Angeles Chargers)
Injuries, coronavirus, and a brutal start to the season have put the NFC East favorites in significant trouble.
Dak Prescott looked great in the opener vs. Tampa, but the defense did not. And it won’t get any better with DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) and Randy Gregory (COVID-19) likely both out this week against Justin Herbert and the dangerous Chargers. If there is a silver lining, it’s this — the NFC East still stinks and eight wins might be all it takes to win it this year.
Buffalo Bills (-3.5 at Miami Dolphins)
Josh Allen’s MVP candidacy got off to an underwhelming start in a Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He needed 51 passing attempts to total 270 yards, and Buffalo scored a lone touchdown in 4 red-zone trips.
Up next: Miami, to face the Dolphins, who have won 13 of their last 19 games under Brian Flores. Allen has been lights out against the Dolphins throughout his career, but the heat index is expected to be triple digits at kickoff Sunday. Not exactly Western New York weather.
Indianapolis Colts (+3.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams)
Carson Wentz was fine in his Colts debut, but the defense was most certainly not, allowing Seattle to gain 5.2 yards per carry and 9.3 yards per pass play in a two-score Indianapolis loss.
The Seahawks have a great offense. However, so do the Rams, who dropped 34 on Khalil Mack and the Bears in Week 1. Indianapolis’ opening five-game stretch is ridiculous, with trips to Nashville, Miami, and Baltimore after this opening NFC West stretch.
Tennessee Titans (+5.5 at Seattle Seahawks)
No contender had a more alarming start to its season than Tennessee, which was completely non-competitive in a home blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Ryan Tannehill was sacked 6 times, including 5 sacks by slam-dunk NFC Defensive Player of the Week Chandler Jones.
Up next: Lumen Field, where Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have won 17 of their last 24 games. And oh yeah, Seattle’s defense had 3 sacks and 10 quarterback hits in the opener.
Baltimore Ravens (+3.5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
Honestly, we’re stunned this line isn’t bigger. Injuries have totally crushed the Ravens, who have spent the past two weeks signing well-past-their-prime running backs off the street.
Baltimore is a man coverage team without enough healthy cornerbacks to play man coverage. If Derek Carr, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller were able to light up Baltimore’s defense, what do you think Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are going to do?