In this week’s Tuesday Teabag, The Machine analyzes the 8 teams that are 0-2 and tells you whether they have a shot (i.e. there’s still hope) or not (fuhgettaboutit). I’m sure you heard the stat, but since 1990 only 8% of the teams that made the playoffs (22 out of 276) started out 0-2. #numbersdontlie #hashtagsinpostsdonothing. If that holds true, only one of these teams will make the playoffs. Who has the best odds of being that team? Let’s break it down and lay some odds horse track-style.
New York Giants, 3:2
I’d like to think I’m being objective, and not a complete homer (if Roid Rage can love the hoodie, I can objectively analyze the G-Men) but, out of all the 0-2 teams, the Giants have the best shot to turn this around. That’s not saying much…it makes them the skinniest kid a Fat Camp, but let’s look at how they got there.
They have absolutely no running game. David Wilson has gone Full Tiki (circa 2003). This forces Eli to press, which in turn results in interceptions (seriously is there another team that throws more tipped ints than the Giants?) which in turn results in Pouty Eli. On the other side of the ball, their defense is equally atrocious (Perry Fewell, you’re on notice). You only need to know this one stat to understand why the Giants are 0-2: in two games, they have fewer rushing yards (73) than points allowed (77). And, just for shits and giggles, they also lead the league in turnovers (10).
So why, then (other than because I’m a homer) do the G-Men have a shot? First, the Giants have history on their side. In 2007, when they won the Super Bowl (18-1 bitches), they started out 0-2. Their MO is to start out slow, catch fire, and then limp to the end of the season, hovering somewhere in the 9 to 10 win range. And 9 or 10 wins is all it will take to win the NFC East this year. And even in that 6 turnover opening game, the Giants still had the ball at midfield with 2:00 minutes left and a chance to win. Pouty Eli usually turns into Elite Eli in those situations. Despite all their problems, the Giants are a tipped pick away from being 1-1.
If Coughlin can solve David Wilson’s fumbleitis, the offense will balance itself out right around the time the defense starts to click, and that, coupled with a mediocre NFC East, will make the Giants legitimate playoff contenders.
Minnesota Vikings, 5:4
Christian Ponder apologists have been blaming the organization for not surrounding him with enough talent to succeed (do you really need more than AP?). So, in the offseason the Vikings picked up Greg Jennings, and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round. Those two guys, plus AP and promising TE Kyle Rudolph, give Ponder plenty of weapons at his disposal.
The verdict: Ponder’s not good. He’s 23rd in Yards Passing (behind Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith), 2nd in Interceptions, and 26th in Completion Percentage (58.6%).
However, consistent quarterback play is the only thing holding this team back. Their defense is good, and they lost at Chicago by one point on a last second TD. If Ponder can play just a little better (like Top 15-20), that will keep defenses honest and open up more lanes for AP to run wild.
Washington Redskins – 6:1
What a difference a season makes. RGIII has gone from franchise savior to backup, as people are calling for Kirk Cousins to start. RGIII (and the Skins) insist he didn’t rush back from his knee surgery too soon, but he certainly looks like a different QB so far. Not only does he look a step slower when he gets outside of the pocket, but there’s less “zip” on the ball. Both problems are likely the result of a knee that’s not 100%, as he’s not able to run as fast or put as much pressure on his legs when throwing.
If he’s not 100%, the Skins should shut him down until he is. A one-dimensional RGIII is simply an average QB, plus he runs the risk of doing further damage to his knee (he still is the future of the franchise, btw). Start Cousins and give RGIII the time he needs to properly recover, and the Redskins should be alright. The problem is Shanahan is such an egomaniac that to put Cousins in will be to admit that he was wrong, and he’s never wrong.
Washington’s saving grace, like the Giants, is their division. The NFC East was a solid 0-4 this past Sunday, and for the season a stellar 2-6. No one is going to run away with the division this year.
Tampa Bay Bucs, 12:1
Who had September 17 on their “When Will Revis Complain Pool”? We told you this was a bad move (seriously Tampa, please start reading our Teabags). Revis will never, and can never, be happy. Even worse than being not happy, he’s divisive. We’re two weeks into the season and Schiano has already lost the locker room. The whole Josh Freeman voting scandal, coupled with him missing the team photo speaks volumes, so does the rumor that he wants out.
Everyone knew Schiano was a no-nonsense Coach. They wanted a change from the player-friendly Raheem Morris era. It’s amazing how losing paints him as too strict, and winning paints him as bringing “much needed focus.”
The sad thing is the Bucs have good, young talent, and a much improved defense. However, as long as the QB/Coach relationship is strained, this team will go nowhere. And good luck with the Revis holdout next year. Suckers.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 20:1
Historically the perennial powerhouse in the AFC North, the Steelers suddenly got bad overnight. Injuries on the O-line and a horrible running game is not a good combination. Also, there is no one that holds on to the ball longer than Big Ben…probably why he leads the league in getting sacked.
Getting back Heath Miller will help, but it won’t be enough to overcome the loss of Maurkice Pouncey. Likewise, on defense, losing Larry Foote for the year is also fatal.
Sorry Steelers fans, but your team is old, slow, and injured. Welcome to rebuilding mode.
Carolina Panthers, 25:1
For some reason, the Panthers, unlike the Vikings, have refused to provide a supporting cast for Cam Newton. Steve Smith is approaching 80, and the supporting WR cast consists of the following: Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell, Domenik Hixon, RJ Webb, Armanti Edwards, and Kealoha Pilares. These guys would have trouble starting in the CFL, and that’s just one example of questionable roster decisions by this team.
Why have 3 QBs, 2 FBs, and 4 TEs? And why is one of those QBs Jimmy Clausen? That’s a lot of roster space that could be used to bring in a legit WR2. Fortunately, Cam has enough talent to keep them relevant. Unfortunately, they face a pissed off Giants team this Sunday, and are looking at going 0-3, which will likely seal the deal for the Panthers.
Cleveland Browns, 1,000,000,000:1
Sorry, Cleveland. If Baltimore winning the Super Bowl and LeBron winning (another) NBA Championship wasn’t enough to rip your hearts out, your Cleveland Browns will come in and finish the job. Good luck with Johnny Football next year. His maturity level definitely screams “NFL Ready!”
Jacksonville Jaguars – Glue Factory
What’s more pathetic than holding a Tim Tebow rally? Having 15 people show up for a Tim Tebow rally. There’s no chance in Hell (sorry, H-E-double hockey sticks –for Tebow) the Jags are going to resemble anything close to competitive this year. Blaine Gabbert being injured is actually a good thing. MJD going down is not.
Jacksonville’s streak of 5 consecutive Top 10 first round picks is firmly in check.
Forget Tebow, not even JC himself can help this team.
Enjoy your teabag.