Every NFL team enters the season with plenty of hope, but some club’s optimism may already be dashed after two games. Going 0-2 isn’t necessarily a death sentence in the NFL, but starting 0-3 can be.
While the Cincinnati Bengals recovered from an 0-2 start to make the AFC title game last year, those types of turnarounds are few and far between.
How do we rank the nine 0-2 teams in the NFL?
Ranking the NFL’s Winless Teams
9) Chicago Bears
Not only are the Bears 0-2, but they’ve posted the league’s second-worst point differential (-27) behind only the New York Giants. For the most part, Justin Fields looks like the same overwhelmed quarterback we saw in 2022, posting the second-worst sack rate and fifth-worst interception rate in the NFL this year.
This is actually unbelievable… it would appear that the Bears called that same screen THREE plays in a row, not just 2. What. On. Earth. pic.twitter.com/nBvrGn1RL4
— Harrison Graham (@HGrahamNFL) September 18, 2023
Things haven’t gone any better on the defensive side of the ball, where Chicago ranks 31st in points and yards per play. They haven’t created a single turnover and have generated just one sack through two games.
8) Carolina Panthers
While the Panthers were a trendy pick to win the NFC South, Bryce Young and Co. might need at least a season’s worth of development before becoming genuine contenders. Among QBs with at least 50 attempts, Young ranks last in passing yards, adjusted net yards per attempt, and QBR.
MORE: NFL Standings
Given that every other team in the NFC South is undefeated, Carolina is now two games behind the rest of the division. Young will surely improve as the season progresses, but the Panthers will face a brutal four-game stretch — Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins — before their Week 7 bye.
7) Arizona Cardinals
As many projected, the Cardinals are probably one of the worst teams in the NFL — but they weren’t blown out in either of their first two games.
Arizona kept things close against the Washington Commanders in Week 1 and, at one point, held a 21-point lead over the Giants in Week 2 before allowing a comeback.
The Cardinals are playing hard for first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon, which is probably all the team’s ownership group and fanbase can ask for.
Joshua Dobbs has been a pleasant surprise under center, but it’s fair to wonder how long Arizona will wait before giving fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune a starting opportunity.
6) Houston Texans
The Texans’ 2023 campaign will be centered around C.J. Stroud’s development, and Houston hasn’t been afraid to let the No. 2 overall pick let it rip. Stoud has attempted 91 passes through two games, third-most in the NFL, but he’s also absorbed the most sacks in the league (11).
C.J. Stroud has faced the 3rd-highest pressure rate (44.4%) through his first two NFL games. Notably, the Texans were playing without four starting offensive linemen on Sunday.
When Stroud has been able to avoid pressure, the rookie quarterback has recorded the 2nd-highest NGS… pic.twitter.com/DFlsTr2s2h
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 19, 2023
Pressure might be an eternal problem for the Texans as they deal with a banged-up offensive line. But Nico Collins and Tank Dell look like real contributors on offense, while Will Anderson Jr. already looks like a potential star on defense.
5) Denver Broncos
Sean Payton has undoubtedly helped Russell Wilson through two games, as the much-maligned starter ranks sixth in EPA per dropback this season. Denver is 0-2, but they lost those games by a total of three points.
The Broncos’ defense remains a question. After looking dominant at times in 2022 under Ejiro Evero, the unit has struggled with Vance Joseph at the helm.
Denver ranks 30th in EPA per play on defense, and Joseph’s group allowed the Commanders to storm back from a 21-3 deficit in Week 2. A Week 3 contest against the Dolphins won’t help the Broncos’ defensive statistics improve.
4) New England Patriots
Mac Jones leads the NFL in passing attempts (96) through two weeks — we’re pretty sure that’s not how Bill Belichick wants the Patriots to play. Jones has been far more efficient than last season, but New England has still scored only 37 points in two games.
Facing the Philadelphia Eagles and Dolphins to begin the season didn’t exactly represent the easiest starting slate. But the Patriots’ schedule isn’t going to open up any time soon, as they have to play the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, and Dolphins over the next six weeks.
3) Minnesota Vikings
Regression has already hit the Vikings hard. After going 11-0 in one-score games during the 2022 regular season, Minnesota is already 0-2 in such contests this year.
Kirk Cousins is tied for the NFL lead with six touchdown passes and ranks sixth in QBR, but the Vikings’ haven’t been able to get their rushing attack going despite stressing it throughout the offseason.
Minnesota’s offensive line has struggled, Alexander Mattison hasn’t looked explosive, and the Vikings are just 27th in rushing success rate (32%).
2) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ losses have come by a combined five points, but the particulars aren’t going to matter if Los Angeles keeps getting defeated. Brandon Staley’s seat is already warm, and it will officially get hot if the Bolts can’t pull out a win over the Vikings in Week 3.
Staley lost it when a reporter brought up the Jacksonville game💀 pic.twitter.com/lUK8X180qJ
— G (@3treblig) September 17, 2023
The Chargers offense has looked improved under Kellen Moore, and Justin Herbert is up to seventh in average depth of target after sitting near the bottom of the league last season.
But L.A.’s defense — which is supposed to be Staley’s bread and butter — got toasted by the Dolphins in Week 1, then gave up 27 points to an unimposing Tennessee Titans offense on Sunday.
1) Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are 0-2 for the second straight season, but Joe Burrow’s calf injury is more concerning than the team’s record.
If Burrow can’t play against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night after tweaking the calf strain he suffered during training camp, Cincinnati will have to turn to backup Jake Browning, who’s never attempted an NFL pass.
While the Bengals’ Week 2 loss against the Baltimore Ravens wasn’t nearly as disastrous as their season-opening defeat to the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati had no answers for Lamar Jackson on Sunday.
Injury issues elsewhere around the AFC and the hope that Burrow can play through his injury give the Bengals hope, but Zac Taylor wasn’t planning on another slow start this year.