The most surprising teams on this year’s 0-2 start list are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have both had some bad quarterback luck in the early stages of 2019. Jacksonville lost Nick Foles for about half of the season with a broken clavicle, and Pittsburgh lost Ben Roethlisberger for the entire season with an elbow injury.
Others on this list have also dealt with injuries; some have just been plain bad. Over the last 12 NFL seasons, only 12 of the 99 teams that have started a season off 0-2 have recovered to make the postseason. Can any of this year’s teams shake off their slow starts? Here’s a quick breakdown of all nine teams with their FiveThirtyEight projected playoff chances listed.
1. Carolina Panthers, 12% Chance
Cam Newton has struggled badly through the first two games of the season as he tries to play through a foot injury. Dating back to last season, the Panthers are now 1-9 over their last 10 games, and their only win came in Week 17 against a New Orleans team that was resting starters for the postseason. The NFC South is suddenly wide open with Drew Brees out injured, which means the Panthers could possibly win the division with as few as eight or nine wins; but even getting to that mark feels like a tall task.
2. Cincinnati Bengals, 11% Chance
Which was a more accurate portrayal of the Bengals; a tough 21-20 road loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, or a 41-17 blowout loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2? It’s too early to tell, but either way, it’s hard to see Cincinnati having enough firepower to hang with the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars, 9% Chance
Of the nine teams on this list, the Jaguars might be the one with the most realistic shot at making the playoffs in 2019. Gardner Minshew has played relatively well in relief of Foles, and the Jaguars are a successful two-point conversion last Sunday away from a 1-1 record with an impressive road win over the Houston Texans. The AFC South looks like it could be a dogfight between four great defensive teams; the Jaguars are a long shot, but they aren’t dead yet.
4. New York Jets, 8% Chance
The Jets, on the other hand, are dead. Down to their third-string quarterback Luke Folk with Sam Darnold on the shelf with mononucleosis and backup Trevor Siemian out with a broken ankle, New York will fall to 0-3 Sunday against New England and has no real path to the playoffs.
5. Denver Broncos, 8% Chance
Like the Jaguars, the Broncos are only barely on this list after suffering a heart-breaking 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Denver isn’t as bad as some of the other teams on this list, but with the majority of their out-of-division games coming against the AFC South and NFC North, there aren’t any easy wins anywhere on the schedule.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers, 7% Chance
The Steelers came into the season as a slight favorite to make the playoffs. That was before they fell into an 0-2 hole and lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season. Pittsburgh has a shot if Mason Rudolph plays well at quarterback and the defense picks up its play after acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick, but the margin for error moving forward is awfully slim.
7. Washington Redskins, 6% Chance
To their credit, the Redskins have shown more punch on offense than people were probably expecting from them in 2019. But as the first two weeks showed, they are clearly outmatched by the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, and the NFC is too stacked to hope for a wild card run.
8. New York Giants, 3% Chance
The Giants know their season is lost, so they are already handing the starting quarterback reigns over to Daniel Jones. Nothing about the way this team is currently built suggests that New York has any chance of winning many games in 2019.
9. Miami Dolphins, 1% Chance
The 1% chance that FiveThirtyEight is giving Miami to make the playoffs is extremely generous. An 0-16 season is more likely than a playoff spot for the tanking Dolphins.