Tuck: Saints Marching Nowhere
The Cleveland Browns are 0-3. Sure. The New Orleans Saints are 0-3. Really? 13-3 last year is going to be tough to match. I don't think anyone expects that, but can they even make the playoffs?
Since 1990, only three teams (1992 Chargers, 1995 Lions, and 1998 Bills) started 0-3 and still made the playoffs.
That is 3/113. Or if you prefer, 2.6%.
It is not happening. Not with that defense. Not without their coach Sean Payton. I predicted 8-8 before the season. It will be tough reaching that record. Oh, and they play at Green Bay this week.
The Saints aren't alone as a team with high expectations who are floundering early. 5 other playoff teams from a season ago are 1-2 through three weeks. The Packers "loss" last night at Seattle puts them at 1-2. The Patriots are 1-2. The Lions are 1-2. The Steelers are 1-2. The Broncos are 1-2.
It isn't as hopeless for those teams, and the ten others at 1-2, but it isn't pretty. According to ESPN Stats and Info, only 24% of teams starting 1-2 make the playoffs. So for 15 teams sitting at 1-2, maybe 4 of them statistically have a shot.
Clearly all these teams are having problems. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. But even the explosive offenses have been more pop gun this season. The Packers scored 14 in a loss at Kansas City, and 20 in the playoff loss to the Giants a season ago, but never under 24 any other week. They had 99 points through 3 games in 2011, and have 57 now.
The Patriots look just a little off, but nothing drastically wrong. After all, they are a made kick and a missed kick at the gun from being 3-0.
The Lions defense is a mess. It was a year ago too. They can't have their special teams give up 2 scores like at Tennessee and still expect to win games.
The Steelers have lost 2 road games, but gave up 31 and 34 in each. Health is a major issue, playing without their most impactful defensive players, Troy Polumalu and James Harrison. I imagine getting them and Rashard Mendenhall back after the bye week will do wonders.
The Broncos have played a tough schedule early, and were only 8-8 last year, so perhaps they won't have to shoot as high in the AFC West. And for what it is worth, they started 1-2, actually 1-4 last year and still made the playoffs.
So, I know you are dying to know, who made the playoffs last season? Three out of the nine 1-2 teams did it last year. The Broncos, Bengals, and Falcons all beat the odds. So there is still hope not just for those teams, but also the Dolphins, Bucs, and Jags. Because seriously, nobody really would have thought Cincinnati or Denver would be playoff-bound last year. Most would have picked the Eagles and Bears.
Parity alive and well in the NFL. See, there are other things to talk about aside from the replacement officials.