Washington travels to Green Bay in what is an early key game for two of last season’s playoff teams. The loser of the game will vault into the yearly conversation on 0-2 teams and how frequently they make the playoffs. Last year, none of the teams that started 0-2 reached the postseason, as the Saints were only able to go 7-7 after their rough start without Sean Payton. Two years ago, I profiled the ten teams to rebound to a winning record since 2002, after an 0-2 start. Here were my observations:
They played difficult opening schedules with 15 of the 20 opponents finishing the year with a winning record. All of them lost to at least one team that would go on to a winning record, and 8 of the 10 faced at least one eventual playoff team (3 of them played two playoff teams to open). Only 2004 Buffalo and 2006 Kansas City did not play a playoff team in the first two games.
They played in close games, and if they didn’t it was because of bad turnover margins.
They gave up an above average number of points, with 7 of the 10 allowing 48 or more points in the two games. The average result was a 25.0 to 14.6 loss.
Washington and Green Bay may be concerned about losing their first two games, but they should feel a little better knowing that they would profile like the teams that have rallied to reach the postseason. Green Bay already played San Francisco on the road. We know that the 49ers are one of the best teams. We are not as sure about the Eagles with Chip Kelly, and time will tell if that performance was more because of Washington struggling, or the Eagles being a real contender.
Both teams gave up over 30 points in the opener, and both lost close games. Washington got off to a very slow start but almost came all the way back, while the Packers had a fourth quarter lead. Green Bay could have a small advantage facing another quarterback who utilizes the pistol/read option, though San Francisco rarely ran it and instead found success in the air as Green Bay tried to adjust to what happened in the playoffs. The Eagles, meanwhile, brought early pressure against Robert Griffin III, not having fear that he would break the pocket and make big plays. He came out tentative, and the offense struggled to do anything in the first half. Did the second half portend that he has shaken the rust?
Most teams that start 0-2 do not reach the playoffs because they are bad teams (the two games wouldn’t ultimately matter), but in the case of Green Bay and Washington, we know that one will start with two losses, against a tough schedule. How they play is far more important in setting them up for the rest of the season.
OTHER GAMES AT 1 P.M.
St. Louis at Atlanta
Dallas at Kansas City
Minnesota at Chicago
San Diego at Philadelphia
Cleveland at Baltimore
Miami at Indianapolis
Carolina at Buffalo
Tennessee at Houston
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]