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What an 0-2 start means for an NFL team’s playoff chances

We had no ties in Week 1, which means half the league entered Week 2 with an 0-1 record. The 0-2 start is a much discussed stat, so it’s time to break down what it all means.The dreaded 0-2 start has hit 5 teams so far in Week 2. The Titans and Packers will try to fight away 0-2 in primetime.

Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings fumbles the ball over the pylon for a touchback as he is tackled by Terrell Edmunds #26 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 14, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Week 2 recap: The NFL wrapped up Week 2 and we have nine teams sitting at 0-2 heading into Week 3. The Patriots, Bengals, Texans, Chargers, Broncos, Vikings, Bears, Panthers, and Cardinals are all winless through the first two weeks. Of that group, the Chargers have the best odds of making the playoffs at DraftKings Sportsbook. They are +135 to make the playoffs. The Bengals are off the board as of this update.

The NFL kick off Week 2 of the 2023 regular season with a shootout in Philadelphia. After an ugly, turnover-filled start, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings turned things up in a 34-28 Eagles win. The victory moved Philadelphia to 2-0 and dropped Minnesota to 0-2.

Minnesota entered the season as a playoff contender with the second-best odds to win the NFC North. However, things have started off poorly with an upset loss at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then this loss to the Eagles. The drop to 0-2 is notable due to the oft-discussed stats around 0-2 and 2-0 starts.

Prior to last season, the last time an 0-2 team made the playoffs was in 2018 when the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans both accomplished the feat. After a three-year drought, last season saw the Cincinnati Bengals get to the playoffs after an 0-2 start. They reached the AFC title game before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

There have been a couple notable changes to the NFL schedule and playoffs that impact this stat. The league increased the regular season schedule from 16 to 17 games, and also added an extra playoff team in each conference. The extra game and an additional playoff spot gives slow starters a chance to get on track. Of course, an 0-2 start often suggests a team has bigger issues, so it’s still worth keeping an eye on this number.

Looking back at last year’s NFL standings coming out of Week 2, five teams were 0-2. The list includes the following, with their final record and standings:

Cincinnati Bengals: 12-4, AFC North champs
Tennessee Titans: 7-10, Second place in AFC South
Las Vegas Raiders: 6-11, Third place in AFC West
Atlanta Falcons: 7-10, t-Second place in NFC South
Carolina Panthers: 7-10, t-Second place in NFC South

All four of those teams were actually in the mix for a playoff berth as the season was coming to a close, but that was more due to mediocrity (or parity), rather than them turning anything around.

Here’s a list of the 16 teams with an 0-1 record heading into Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season.

Arizona Cardinals
Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Denver Broncos
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers
Minnesota Vikings (lost, 0-2)
New England Patriots
New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks
Tennessee Titans