By now, we’ve all heard the stat that only 12 percent of NFL teams that start the season 0-2 go on to make the playoffs.
That means the Browns, Chiefs, Jaguars, Raiders, Saints and Titans are all fighting uphill battles to make a trip to the postseason. More than likely, only one—and quite possibly zero—of those six teams will be playing in January.
But a New York Times blog post recently made a great point: Part of the reason that percentage is so low is that most teams that start the year 0-2 simply aren’t that good.
Since 1990, only 22 of the 184 teams (12 percent) that started the season 0-2 ultimately made the playoffs. Of course, most of those 184 teams missed the playoffs not because they lost their first two games, but because they weren’t very good. Since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002, only 11 of the 72 teams that started the season 0-2 would have made the playoffs had they won two more games.
It’s not the case that each team that loses its first two games has a 12 percent chance of making the playoffs. Just like a snowflake, every 0-2 N.F.L. team is unique, if not necessarily pretty.
WHICH OF THIS YEAR’S 0-2 TEAMS COULD MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
Unfortunately, none of them have a great shot, but New Orleans and Kansas City are the best candidates.
That means the Chiefs-Saints game this weekend has huge implications for two teams trying to scratch their way back in it. Given that only 2.8 percent of teams that start 0-3 make the playoffs, it spells doom for whoever loses.
New Orleans: 7.53
Kansas City: 6.44
A 7-9 or 8-8 record won’t be enough, so all of these teams will have to pull some “upsets” along the way if they hope to beat the odds.
Except for the Browns, that is. They have no chance.