NFL

The 0-2 Teams: We Know the Saints Are Dangerous, But the Titans?

We only have six different 0-2 teams this year. As we know, the issue with starting with two losses is usually that you stink, and not just that you have dropped key games that will lead to just missing out on the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Since 2002, only eight of 86 teams that started 0-2 have reached the postseason. None of the seven that started 0-2 did so last year.

As I talked about last year, the teams that have surged to the playoffs after an 0-2 start generally (though not always) had characteristics that included playing a tough schedule in hindsight early, losing close games unless turnovers made it a blowout, and giving up lots of points.

We don’t know exactly how difficult anyone’s schedule will prove to be yet, but the Saints definitely fit the last two characteristics. Still, I wanted to do something a little different this year so I whipped up a similarity comparison for each of the 0-2 teams using Points For, Points Against, Point Differential, Pass Yard Differential, Rush Yard Differential, Total Yard Differential, and Turnover Margin for the first two losses.

The teams are presented below in order of the weighted expected wins based on most similar teams.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7.1 Wins)

This probably underestimates the Saints chances, as I’m not sure they’ve got much in common with 1-15 Miami in 2007 or Tampa Bay in 2009. Three of their comparables went on to reach the postseason, including the 1998 Jets, who finished 12-4.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS (6.8 Wins)

The Titans are a surprise entrant in the #2 spot for me. I would not have guessed that based on their start, two largely uncompetitive games. However, they have played a tough early schedule and my guess is while I don’t have a strength of schedule component, the teams like them did as well.

It’s interesting that the first team is 1998 Arizona. I have said that I think Locker has upside of a Jake Plummer, and that team came back and won a bunch of close games and reached the playoffs despite getting outscored and looking dreadful early.

CLEVELAND BROWNS (6.7 Wins)

The Browns rank third on the strength of their defensive points allowed and close losses. Cleveland looked a lot better on offense in week 2, but the defense struggled more without Joe Haden. They will be without him for three more games, and maybe by then they’ll be ready to make some noise. Do they really have a lot of similarity to the 2005 Chargers, though? I would not have guessed that, and would take the under on this projection.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6.5 WINS)

The Jaguars just got blasted in a game where they pretty much set a standard for offensive futility, managing less than 120 total yards. The overall outlook for Jacksonville is better than I would have thought. Those crazy 2008 Dolphins with their Wildcat breakout in Week 3 show up as the only playoff team. What offensive innovation will Jacksonville bestow upon us this week?

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (6.1 Wins)

The Chiefs have turned the ball over too much, and the top of their list is populated with teams that did turn it around somewhat when the turnovers slowed, finishing with between 6 and 8 wins. I think Kansas City would strive to be like San Francisco, and the good news is that the 49ers do show up on the list. The bad news is that it was the last version of the Mike Singletary 49ers.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (4.2 WINS)

OakLOLand, man. I wouldn’t have guessed just how bad it was. Look at those comps and the average win total, almost a full two wins below all the other 0-2 teams. I suppose, if we were to sum it up, the similarity analysis doesn’t like that they have been getting beat without significant turnover issues, that they have gotten pounded and can’t run, and that the passing differential probably shows that teams just don’t have to pass frequently against them to win.

Two different versions of recent Rams teams show up–not a good thing. Carson Palmer’s Bengals show up, though that team was quarterbacked by Jon Kitna in Palmer’s rookie year.

[photo via US Presswire]

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