So Your Team Is 0-3... But How Worried Should You Be?
Today we welcome Tom Chappell to GridironXtra.com. Tom is a project driven writer who loves voicing any opinion he can get his brain around, whilst usually resembling a Dishevelled Jesus! Tom is a Steelers fan with a passion for the unusual and quirkier side of the game.
You can also check out what Tom has to say on the Stiff Upper Lip Podcast.
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The NFL as you will know, is a 16-game long season.
This means that you have to take every chance you can to get off to a good start, which in turn means that going 0-3 whilst having just 13 games left to make up for your failings is BAD NEWS… or is it?
As of time of writing (pre TNF Jets/Broncos, a thriller) we have 8 teams sat at the dreaded 0-3, though I am counting the two teams with a tie in this rundown/list as the Eagles and Bengals deserve to be put under a microscope for that ludicrous display. In fact, let’s start there shall we?
Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1)
Winners of a Lombardi trophy just 3 long years ago, the Philadelphia Eagles have gone to hell and back from an injury perspective – they have lost countless starters since their Super Bowl triumph and this year has been no different.
They have already been affected by the potential hits of Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Miles Sanders, Alshon Jeffrey, Avonte Maddox, Rudy Ford, and DeSean Jackson heading into their week 4 matchup against the 49ers. This matchup does not look favourable but not dire – Carson Wentz has been rough around the edges, the play calling has been uninspired, and the defense has allowed 29 points a game this year on average, yet due to injuries in the opposition camp, do not write off an upset.
The Eagles will also be buoyed by the fact that they are in a division where they are still just a game back from taking 1st place. They can still somehow make it, so heads up Eagles fans…
How do we keep letting this injury riddled, average team make the playoffs? Just do what I always do: blame Dallas.
Projected Record: 6-9-1, Miss the Playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1)
The Bengals went 1-15 last year, used their terrible record to draft Joe Burrow #1 overall this past year, so anything better than one win will be considered an improvement. Of course, they then start the year without winning any of their first 3 games: oh Cincinnati!
Ohio teams in the last 30 years or so have been perennially unfortunate, and just like their Cleveland counterparts, the Bengals have suffered painful defeats and terrible records galore. They can take solace though, for this year they seem to have at least found an answer to their issues; Joe Burrow looks legit. Legit as a quarterback and as a leader, but he also has a manageable ego, a great arm, and reads the game incredibly well all whilst being consistently knocked on his ass thanks to the worst O-Line in the NFL this year.
Pay close attention to whether they make any moves before the trade deadline to stop Joe Burrow suffering the same fate as Andrew Luck, battered and bruised.
Whether or not the Bengals have much hope for 2020 though is left to be seen but if they do not fix that O-line up they are going to be destined for failure in a division that contains some of the best pass rushers in the game right now.
Projected Record: 4-11-1, Miss the Playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
After Sunday’s defeat to the Titans, the Vikings are last in the NFC North. This is especially worrisome with the Packers and Bears being sat at 3-0. Like Cincinnati though they will at least be happy with the display of their 1st round draft pick. Justin Jefferson had a huge day in week 3, going for 175 yards and a touchdown from 7 receptions and this will give Mike Zimmer a lot of hope after a dismal (at best), first 2 weeks.
Kirk Cousins has been turnover happy this early part of the year but to give him a target other than Thielen that he can trust is huge for this team. Dalvin Cook is being monitored for injury reasons after limping through the game on Sunday, but when he is healthy, he is a supreme talent and it is no wonder they leant on him again this week.
The issue with the Vikings that gives me a lot of doubt is their defence. They have mustered up just 4 sacks in these opening 3 weeks and their corners have been burned extensively throughout. They’ve been a studs and scrubs team for a while now hence their inability to reach the big game, but this year their scrubs are getting more game-time than ever.
Look for them to recover though to about 8-8 and miss the playoffs due to the 2 competitive NFC divisions having better Wildcard teams.
Projected Record: 8-8, Miss the Playoffs.
New York Jets (0-3)
The New York Jets are a complete mess. We have looked at 3 teams who have hope, and now we look at a team who has none.
Adam Gase is possibly the worst head coach not only in the NFL right now, but in the last 5 years, and we have had Hue Jackson coaching a 1-31 Browns team. The reason I say this, is because usually bad teams have bad players throughout and the Jets do not really.
They have Sam Darnold, who I still think could be a good quarterback on another team, they have LeVeon Bell who in Pittsburgh was a top 10 NFL player. Not just a top 10 running back, he was top 10 in the league across the board. They wasted Jamal Adams who is now crushing it in Seattle, they are wasting Marcus Maye, they are wasting Quinnen Williams — absolutely all of this is on the coach and the GM.
The Jets have no hope for me, they’re a glorified college team at this point with the way they’re going… get in the cellar.
*The Jets dropped to 0-4 in a 27-38 ‘Thursday Night Football’ loss to the Broncos last night.
Projected Record: 1-15, #1 Draft Pick.
New York Giants (0-3)
From one MetLife team to the other. When the Giants hosted Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football in week 1, they showed a lot of promise. They took an L, but it was a game from which they could take positives. Those positives have washed away and ended up on IR with Saquon Barkley.
There is one shining light this year however and that is Daniel Jones. Despite having arguably the 2nd worst O-Line in the NFL and zero running backs (he leads the Giants rushing totals by 58 yards, come on!), only one wide receiver able to get open long enough to complete a pass in Darius Slayton, combined with the fact that he has played arguably three of the most resolute defensive teams in the league in Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, the Giants still remain just a single game back on the top teams in their division (See Philadelphia).
I think the Giants have some things they will like from this year, and a lot of things they will not. Let’s see how this turns out in 3 months but they, like the Bengals, have some promise and a lot of areas to improve going forward.
Projected Record: 4-12, Obscurity again, for now.
Atlanta Falcons (0-3)
Atlanta are a weird example. They have outscored all but 5 other teams in the NFL, they have lead two of their games by 28-10 and 26-10, and stayed close to a 3-0 Seahawks team who look like Superbowl contenders early doors, with the current favourite for MVP at Quarterback all the way to the third quarter.
They have also passed for 961 yards already, 3rd most in the NFL. They also have a defensive minded head coach in Dan Quinn, allegedly.
Unfortunately for this most cursed of franchises, they cannot manage a game to save their lives. They cannot close a game out or hold onto a lead in any way shape or form. They are a team of losers who have the added heartache of looking like winners.
The worst part is that stat-wise, defensively, they are better this year than last year. So far they have 6 sacks, 16 TFLs, 2 INTs – they have forced 6 fumbles for crying out loud; yet this team has also conceded the most points in the NFL and are sat looking at their how their Super Bowl window has shattered into a million pieces so swiftly.
Dan Quinn is another name on the hotseat with good reason, why can this team not just burn some clock? If they made their last few drives in the comeback losses last a tad longer they would be sat 2-1 and looking pretty happy.
As the old saying goes though: ‘If Ifs & Ands were pots & pans, there’d be no need for Tinkers’. Basically, sort yourselves out.
Projected Record: 5-11, Stop Wasting Matt Ryan’s Career.
Denver Broncos (0-3)
Imagine you are me, pre-season, discussing who may be a sleeper for playoff bound glory on the Stiff Upper Lip Podcast. You have seen the moves out of Denver that make you stop and say: “this could be a team that’s playoff bound”.
Three weeks go by and Drew Lock gets blown up by Bud Dupree, Courtland Sutton tears his ACL, Von Miller is out for the year and suddenly Denver sit at 0-3 and they are starting Brett Rypien against the Jets on Thursday Night Football.
What a calamity of a start, although this is a potential redemption game against a mess of a Jets team. They lose here and Denver’s hopes are fully written off. Win and they might have a small chance. Trying to usurp the 3-0 Chiefs however will be a task in itself that will be too big for Denver to handle.
Projected Record: 5-11, Injury bowl time fellas.
*Denver did manage to beat the Jets on TNF and now have moved to 1-3. Maybe there is hope after all?
And finally; Houston Texans (0-3)
Saving the most likely ‘til last. Houston are a deceptive 0-3, much like how the Steelers were a deceptive 0-3 last year. They have had a horrible scheduling nightmare to start the year facing the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers, which has deflated their numbers, so to speak.
They have issues, don’t get me wrong: Watson has struggled to find a definitive WR1, the defence has been porous against the run and David Johnson has struggled to get going consistently. The Texans have recovered from 0-3 before though, just 2 years ago in fact, and what was their record then? 11-5.
Are they assured to get back on their feet this year? Not exactly, but as their schedule eases off a bit more, away from the best 3 teams in the AFC, they can expect to see more wins coming their way. Give this team time and we could see them in the post season with the expanded bracket.
Projected Record: 9-7, Wildcard and then swift elimination.
Let us know your thoughts and feel very free to tell me personally why I know absolutely nothing about football.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @T_Chappers1997, and let him know what you think!