September 22, 2020

Ranking the NFL's Winless Teams in 2020

Life is tough in the NFL. 

Just look at all the injuries that rocked the football world in Week 2. Even without injuries, winning games in the NFL can be a tall task. And unfortunately for some teams, It’s inevitable that they will start the season 0-2.

Two games might be too soon to pass judgment on teams, but the walls are closing in fast for these franchises. Over the last 15 years, just 11% of teams to start 0-2 have managed to make the playoffs. While that’s not a high percentage, it’s enough to give teams hope.

With that in mind, we've ranked the 11 winless teams in the NFL through Week 2. 

11. New York Jets

The Jets look like the worst team in the NFL. Giving up a 55-yard run to the 49ers on 3rd and 31 pretty much sums up the Adam Gase experience in New York. Sam Darnold hasn’t been terrible, but he also hasn’t been that good, either, averaging less than six yards per pass. Of course, more blame should go to his supporting cast, which is lackluster at best.

The bottom line is that the Jets have scored the second-fewest points in the league through two weeks and Gase is not long for this job.

10. New York Giants

To be fair, the Giants haven’t been dreadful for a team that’s started 0-2. However, they don’t look like a team that’s poised to recover, especially after losing Saquon Barkley for the season. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Giants have the fewest rushing yards and the fewest points in the NFL. Defensively, they’ve hung in there, but without Barkley, a lot of pressure shifts to Daniel Jones and an unsteady offensive line that has already allowed seven sacks.

Jones has good receivers at his disposal and has shown glimpses of promise. But he has to grow up in a hurry and deal with a lackluster offensive line in front of him, which is asking a lot of a second-year quarterback.

9. Carolina Panthers

The good news is that the Panthers aren’t as bad as we thought they might be. Teddy Bridgewater has been solid despite only one passing touchdown in two games. That bad news is that Christian McCaffrey’s high-ankle sprain will sideline him for more than a month, which puts even more pressure on Bridgewater and his speedy receivers.

On the other side, Carolina defense looks dreadful. They’ve given up more than 30 points in each of their first two games, which isn’t going to be a winning formula with Bridgewater at quarterback.

The Panthers might steal a few more wins than expected with their offense, but things will continue to be ugly if the defense doesn’t improve.

8. Miami Dolphins

It’s clear that the Dolphins are still in full-on rebuild mode. Behind Thursday’s Sunshine State showdown with the Jaguars, Miami’s schedule isn’t exactly favorable over the next couple of months. The running game is far from fixed and there’s only so long the Dolphins can continue with Ryan Fitzpatrick before it makes sense to play Tua Tagavailoa so that he can develop chemistry with a nice stable of receivers.

Either way, the Dolphins don’t look like a team that’s ready to crawl out of a 0-2 hole.

7. Philadelphia Eagles

What is happening to the Eagles? They looked great during the first half of Week 1 but have been out-scored 57-19 since. They are easily the most surprising 0-2 team in the NFL, as they had a schedule that should have allowed them to be undefeated. The offensive line has been the biggest issue, allowing Carson Wentz to get sacked eight times in two games.

Wentz hasn’t helped himself with four interceptions already. The Philadelphia defense has also been a massive disappointment, giving the Eagles a huge task on both sides of the ball if they hope to get things turned around. At this point, there isn’t much reason for optimism in the City of Brotherly Love.

6. Detroit Lions

Reports about the Detroit defense being improved this year might have been exaggerated. The Lions allowed Mitch Trubisky to throw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter in Week 1 and then got ripped apart by Aaron Rodgers in Week 2. For what it’s worth, it looks like Rodgers is going to do that against a lot of teams this year.

The good news is that Matthew Stafford and the offense have been solid, even without Kenny Golladay available the first two weeks. The Detroit offense should be enough to win some games this season, but the Lions need to be better defensively if they’re going to turn things around after starting with two consecutive losses. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals

You have to feel bad for the Bengals, who have lost two games by a total of eight points. If Randy Bullock could have made an easy field goal in Week 1, they might not even be 0-2. However, the offensive line still isn’t creating much room for Joe Mixon, putting a lot of pressure on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. The Cincinnati defense has also struggled to stop the run.

To his credit, Burrow has looked promising at times. But if the Bengals can’t run the ball better, protect Burrow — who’s been sacked six times — or stop the run better, they’re going to keep losing.

4. Denver Broncos

The 2020 season looks a lot like the 2019 season when the Broncos found ways to lose games in heartbreaking fashion early in the campaign. Denver has lost both games but has only been outscored by seven points, which is the best point differential of any 0-2 team. If the first two weeks are any indication, the Broncos have enough to stay competitive with good teams and put themselves in a position to win in the fourth quarter. However, with the loss of Von Miller before the season while Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton left Sunday’s game after getting hurt, injuries could doom Denver’s chances of battling back from a 0-2 start.

3. Atlanta Falcons

What in the world happened in Week 2, Atlanta? The Falcons were up 15 points in the fourth quarter and had a 99.9% chance of winning, according to ESPN’s win probability, with less than three minutes left in the game. Yet, they found a way to lose the game and fall to 0-2. It’s the same old story that got the Falcons in a deep hole last season. Atlanta’s running game isn’t contributing enough and the defense is atrocious. It doesn’t matter who you play, giving up 78 points in two games is unacceptable.

Matt Ryan looks great, as Calvin Ridley has transformed into a top-tier receiver. That'll give the Falcons some hope, but they need the defense to make a complete turnaround.

2. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are one of the most surprising teams to start 0-2. Defensively, Minnesota has been an absolute dumpster fire. Letting Aaron Rodgers go wild in Week 1 is one thing, but giving up over 350 yards and 28 unanswered points against the Colts in Week 2 is another story.

Sadly, Kirk Cousins and the offense might be the bigger problem right now. Cousins was a train wreck in Week 2, which isn’t as shocking to the rest of us as it might be to him. Without Stefon Diggs, the Vikings don’t have an established receiver to complement Adam Thielen, which figures to be a problem for a quarterback like Cousins. Talent-wise, the Vikings have enough to turn things around and put together a respectable season, but they’ve put themselves in an early hole and have a lot questions on defense.

1. Houston Texans

Let’s be honest, a lot of teams would start the year 0-2 if they played the Chiefs and Ravens in back-to-back weeks. Keep in mind that Houston has won four of the last five AFC South titles, so there are a lot of reasons to think the Texans can weather the storm and turn things around. That being said, they’ve lost both games by double digits and are still struggling to keep Deshaun Watson protected, which was a major flaw last season as well.

With the Titans starting 2-0, the Texans have a long road back. However, they’re too talented not to find a way into the playoff race.

With the way Watson and the Houston offense can score points when they get rolling, they’ll be an interesting team to watch the rest of the way.

Photo: Getty Images