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Two games isn’t a huge sample size, but a handful of NFL teams should already be hitting the panic button.

By Jonathan Jones
September 17, 2018

Winless after two weeks of the regular season? Eight teams can lay claim to that.

The season isn’t two games so no team is out of contention midway through September. But there are certainly a few of these eight teams that should be pushing the panic button today with how things have gone so far. Only 10 teams in the past 10 years have started 0–2 and made it to the playoffs, with last year’s Saints being the most recent franchise to pull off the feat. So it’s not a death sentence with 12% of teams in this spot making the postseason in this current playoff format.

Here’s a look at those winless teams (and either the Seahawks or Bears will make this list nine after Monday night’s game).

Don’t panic

Houston Texans: The Texans were edged out by the Titans on Sunday—Deshaun Watson and the offense came up one timeout short at the end of the game—and fell 27–20 last week to the Patriots. The team can get back on track against the Giants at home next week.

Cleveland Browns: I, too, cannot believe I’m saying this, but the Browns don’t need to panic—they just need to call Dan Bailey. We could be talking about the 2–0 Browns if the franchise had a better kicking option than Zane Gonzalez. Let’s see what they get out of the forthcoming Josh Gordon trade, too.

Detroit Lions: First-year head coaches aren’t doing so great this year, including Matt Patricia. Even though the Lions got their doors blown off last week against the Jets, they looked much better this week in a close 30–27 loss to San Francisco. The Lions could fall into the below category if they aren’t competitive next week against the Patriots.

Panic!

New York Giants: The Giants are as close to the panic/don’t panic line as they possibly can be, and I certainly worry about the future of the franchise with Eli Manning as quarterback. The rest of the NFC East sitting at 1–1 helps New York, but four of the Giants’ next five opponents went to the playoffs last season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers just gave up 42 points to Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs after tying the Browns in Week 1. They get a red-hot Buccaneers team next week where Ryan Fitzpatrick will be playing to take the starting job away from Jameis Winston, who returns from suspension in Week 4.

Oakland Raiders: Oakland can’t rush the passer right now and goodness, what if they had an elite pass rusher who they would compensate for his level of play? It’s easy to make a joke of Jon Gruden’s Raiders, but they gave up a two-score lead in the fourth quarter to a Broncos team that began the game with three punts, an interception and another punt.

Buffalo Bills: Teams have scored 78 points on the Bills while the offense has gotten into the end zone just twice so far. Buffalo gets to travel to Minnesota and Green Bay next and may very well finish September winless. Oh, and Vontae Davis abruptly retired at halftime. More on that down below.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals offense can accomplish next to nothing with Sam Bradford. If Bradford gives them the best chance to win over Josh Rosen, then this team is destined to fail in 2018. They’ve been outscored 58–6 so far this year.

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HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Always read Gary Gramling’s Sunday Freakout. … Kalyn Kahler was in Green Bay for that frustrating tie, the second of the young NFL season so far. … I went to Jacksonville and wrote how the Jaguars withstood the inevitable Patriots comeback. … and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Spending a year on the bench has really paid off for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. … How the Colts adjusted their passing game for Andrew Luck. … and more.


PRESS COVERAGE

1. Keelan Cole made the best catch of the NFL season so far.

2. Read Vontae Davis’s full statement about his retirement here, and then read my take on him below.

3. Marquette King posted an incredible video on Twitter poking fun at Gruden after his Broncos beat Gruden’s Raiders.   

4. Washington had 57,013 people show up for its home opener, an embarrassingly low turnout for a once-proud organization.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.


THE KICKER

I’ve never heard of someone quitting on their team at halftime. If he does, in fact, stay retired, Vontae Davis will have to grapple with that for the rest of his life. The last few years of his career weren’t kind to Davis, but I couldn’t deal with being labeled a quitter.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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