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What an 0-3 start means for an NFL team’s playoff chances

We break down teams in a must-win position three weeks into the 2022 NFL season.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) and Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) shake hands after the game at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is back for Week 3 and we opened with the Browns beating the Steelers on Thursday Night Football to take a temporary hold of first place in the NFC North. The Browns improved to 2-1 with the 29-17 win while the Steelers dropped to 1-2.

This Sunday will bring some critical matchups of potential playoff opponents, but it also brings some must-win situations. We may only be entering Week 3, but yes, there are teams already in a do-or-die position.

Last week, we discussed the oft-mentioned 0-2 start stat around teams making the playoffs. NFL teams that drop their first two games usually struggle to rebound and earn a playoff berth. The last teams to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start were the Seahawks and Texans in 2018.

Entering Week 3, it’s worth now looking at how often a team can start 0-3 and still make the playoffs. It’s an even more rare occurrence than the 0-2 turnaround, but it has happened. Dating back to 1979 NFL playoff expansion, six teams have accomplished the feat. The most recent team to do so was the Texans in 2018. They followed an 0-3 start with nine straight wins and finished the season 11-5 before losing in the Wild Card round to the Colts.

This year, five teams are currently 0-2 and two teams are 0-1-1. The teams are as follows, with their Week 3 matchup:

Atlanta Falcons (0-2): @ Seahawks (1-1)

Carolina Panthers (0-2): vs. Saints (1-1)

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2): @ Jets (1-1)

Houston Texans (0-1-1): @ Bears (1-1)

Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1): vs. Chiefs (2-0)

Las Vegas Raiders (0-2): @ Titans (0-2)

Tennessee Titans (0-2): vs. Raiders (0-2)