One of the many things I love about the NFL season is that it's a sprint. Also, because it's a sprint, this brings me to another of the things I love about football: every game matters. Football is the only sport where what a team does in the first game could either help or hurt big time by the final game. It is always important to get off to a good start, but even if a team drops the first game, it is not the end of the world. But they have to make up for it fast, because not doing so could be costly. 0-1 is not a big deal. 0-2 is surmountable, but it could take some doing.
But 0-3? Yeah, you're pretty much screwed.
I've known this for years; 0-3 pretty much means that your season is kaput. I mean, yeah, it's a 17-game season, and that's a lot of games, but history says that 0-3 is the kiss of death in football. Since 1990 (the year that the NFL increased the number of overall playoff teams from 10 to 12), 158 teams have started 0-3. Only four of them made the playoffs, that's 2.5%. The four teams who did so: the 1992 San Diego Chargers, the 1995 Detroit Lions, the 1998 Buffalo Bills, and the 2018 Houston Texans. Of those four, two of them actually won the division--the 1992 Chargers and the 2018 Texans. However, the 1992 Chargers are the ultimate rarity, as that team actually started 0-4 and went on to win the AFC West--the only team to reach the playoffs after starting 0-4. The Chargers almost did it again in 2017, but ended up missing the playoffs via tiebreaker.
The aforementioned Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals avoided an 0-3 start this season, but after three weeks, there are still four teams who have that dreaded record, and they are as follows:
We all saw this coming. One of the reasons why I had confidence in the Packers this season was because of the Bears. The Chicago Bears are not a threat to anyone. That team only exists to give two free wins to the Packers per season. It's amazing how far a team has fallen. I remember once upon a time, the Bears actually led the all-time series over the Packers. Boy, has that changed. The only question for the Bears is, "What will they do with the #1 Draft pick this time?" Because let's face it, they should get it again.
I tried to tell people that the Vikings were going to suck this year. No one wants to listen to me, even when they should. So here's the thing. The Vikings were free of Aaron Rodgers. The NFC North was supposed to be theirs for the taking for years. Yet what do they do? They get rid of Adam Thielen. They let go of Za'Darius Smith. They even dumped Dalvin Cook! As an overall football fan, I'm simply saying, "WTF?!," but as a Packers fan, I am laughing my ass off at how stupid this team is. The National Football Conference has existed since 1970, yet no team has embarrassed the NFC more than the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, they went to four Super Bowls early in that era, and even though they lost them all, at least they were there. Since then? Nothing but embarrassment and choke jobs. This season is just the latest notch in their pathetic history.
This surprises me. I had the Panthers winning the NFC South this year. They were the ones who ended up with Chicago's #1 pick in that trade, and they drafted Bryce Young. I heard a lot about Bryce Young, and given how faulty the NFC South was last year, I figured that the Panthers would take this division. So far, that has not been the case. Even worse, all three losses are within the conference, with two of them coming against Atlanta and New Orleans--division foes. That is a bad hole to be in. And with each of the other three teams sporting 2-1 records, the Panthers have a lot of scratching and clawing to do.
Wow. So even Sean Payton can't solve this team's problems. I seriously thought he would. After all, Sean Payton did the impossible: he made Drew Brees relevant. The Denver Broncos are a mess. They lost to Josh McDaniels. They blew a big lead against the Washington Commanders and lost. And worst of all, they gave up seventy points in one game! It's awful. Already, Denver sports fans are shifting their focus to the Avalanche and the defending champion Nuggets, because they see the Broncos' season as being over and done. The crazy thing is that the AFC West is pretty close, but with the way the Broncos are playing...yeah, they're screwed.
And there you have it: the four teams who have the unfortunate distinction of starting 0-3 this season. History says 0-3 is a death sentence, but four teams have beaten the odds since the 1990 season. Honestly, if I had to choose any of those four teams to actually make that comeback, it would be the Panthers. I think they're the best out of those four teams, though I admit, that's not saying much. 15 weeks remain in this season. That's a lot of time for some teams to make a big turnaround.