Predicting the fate of the NFL’s winless teams


Every year for some NFL teams, that record to start a season represents early crisis.

It’s a time when, regardless of what the expectations were before the season began, teams wonder when (and sometimes if) they’re going to win their first game.

They, too, find themselves in an early daunting hole in pursuit of the playoffs. Since 2007, there’ve been 91 teams that started 0-2 and just 10 of them made the playoffs. The 2007 Giants are only one to start 0-2 and go on to win the Super Bowl.

Seven teams enter Sunday’s Week 3 games with 0-2 records — including the Giants, who are in this predicament for the fourth time in the past five years. Here’s our look at the not-so-magnificent seven and a prediction on how they’ll finish:

Texans (8-8): They have the biggest upside of the seven because of dynamic quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was an MVP candidate in 2017 before blowing out his right knee and missing the last nine games. You have to figure Watson and J.J. Watt, also returning from a season-ending injury in ’17, will improve the team in final 14 games. The Texans lost their two games by a field goal and a TD, and they have the advantage of playing in the weak AFC South (other than Jacksonville).

Seahawks (7-9): I’m still a believer in quarterback Russell Wilson despite his poor performance Monday in Chicago. Seattle’s two losses came to Broncos and Bears, both decent teams. The Seattle running game is a problem and its offensive line, too, is an issue. But there’s good young talent on defense.

Giants (7-9): It’s a transition year with new head coach Pat Shurmur, a turned-over roster and 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning playing behind a revamped (and so far struggling) offensive line. Skill position gems Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Saquon Barkley can do only so much. The defense is better than last season, and that should keep them in games while their offense grows.

Raiders (6-10): Jon Gruden’s return to coaching after 10 years in the TV booth hasn’t been triumphant, beginning with the way he handled pass-rushing stud Khalil Mack, jettisoning him to Chicago because he didn’t want to pay him. Oakland hopes quarterback Derek Carr (80.6 completion percentage) will carry the team, but he needs to stretch the field more than he has.

Lions (5-11): They’re staring at an 0-3 start with a game against the Patriots on Sunday night. Questions about whether the players respect first-year head coach Matt Patricia have already surfaced, which is disturbing. Detroit hasn’t been very good on either side of the ball and it plays in a division with two Super Bowl contenders (Green Bay and Minnesota). The Lions are the fourth-best team in a four-team division.

Cardinals (5-11): The Cardinals haven’t lost more than eight games since 2012, but they’re going to eclipse that mark this year. They’ve scored six points in two games and have been outscored by 16.4 points per game. Starting Sam Bradford at quarterback is pointless. The Cards might as well just start rookie Josh Rosen to groom him for the future.

Bills (3-13): It’s difficult imagining Buffalo beating anyone right now. The Bills have been anemic on offense and their defense is allowing a league-high three points per drive and a 90-percent conversion rate in the red zone.

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