Which 0-3 Team Might Make the Playoffs?

Since 1998, only one NFL team — the 2018 Texans — has overcome an 0-3 start to make the playoffs.

True, this season, the chances of such a team getting in have become somewhat better, due to the third wild card spot that has been added to each conference (and will get even better once the 17-game schedule becomes a reality).

A synopsis of each 0-3 team's chances of gracing the new 14-team postseason field appears below (the 0-2-1 Bengals and Eagles will not be included in this dismal discussion).

New York Jets

They started off 0-4 last year — which they can evade a repeat of if they can notch a home victory on Thursday night over their 0-3 peers, the Broncos, who will be without their first-string quarterback and have had their problems on artificial turf, going 16-24 on it since 2007, making the game quite winnable — and rallied to finish 7-9, so we know that there is no quit in this team.

But The Kvetcher in the Rye, aka Le'Veon Bell, was placed on injured reserve following a hamstring injury in the opener at Buffalo (speedy rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims and linebacker Blake Cashman were also IR'd in Week 1), and few will be surprised if Bell is traded as the October 29 trading deadline approaches, which would all but bury them so far as 2020 is concerned. And now in his third season, Sam Darnold needs to take a step forward, otherwise Adam Gase is likely to take a step out the door when all is said and done.

Houston Texans

Must be respected because they have been the only team to climb out of this hole in 22 years, and they did it just two years ago; and with the exception of DeAndre Hopkins — and yes, what a thumping exception that is — they will get to try and do it again with essentially the same team.

This week, they will host the fellow 0-3 Vikings (funny how these things work out), with the loser facing well-nigh impossible odds because only one team in NFL history (the 1992 Chargers) has ever made the playoffs after starting out 0-4. They have the worst rushing yardage differential in the league by far: their rushing offense is averaging 66 yards per game, next to last in the league, while their run defense has been gashed for 188 per game — last in the league. Both will have to change — and change dramatically — if there is to be any deja vu all over again.

Denver Broncos

Like the Jets, they started 0-4 last year and finished 7-9 — and as mentioned above, the two teams will meet at Club Med on Thursday night — and with a virtual sure loss at New England the following week (wonder what FiveThirtyEight would say Denver's chance of winning that game is?), a loss to the Jets basically guarantees an 0-5 start, from which no NFL team has ever overcome to reach the postseason. And in addition to Drew Lock's injury, Phillip Lindsay's chronic ouchiness doesn't help, either. Why aren't there more Derrick Henrys in the NFL?

New York Giants

They started 0-3 (actually 0-5) in 2017, and finished 3-13 that year; and with Saquon Barkley out for the season (torn ACL), Sterling Shepard out for at least three weeks (the dreaded "turf toe"), the B-word — "bust" — starting to get bandied about regarding Daniel Jones, and Joe Judge being conflated with Les Steckel (if you don't remember who he is, consider yourself fortunate), a major dumpster fire is beginning to percolate here.

And things don't get any easier, schedule-wise: at the Rams and then at the Cowboys, which figures to put them in the bottomless pit of 0-5 before a winnable game at home against the Washington Football Team (who they swept last year and is 6-22 on artificial turf since 2013) comes up.

Minnesota Vikings

The last time they visited 0-3 territory was in 2013 — and their prospects are bleaker than Houston's, for two reasons: first, two of their losses have been at home while two of the three games the Texans have lost have been on the road; and second, the two teams' head-to-head game this week will be at NRG Stadium, formerly Reliant Stadium, in Houston (it's so hard to keep up with of all of these stadium name changes).

Assuming that the Packers, Colts, and Titans all finish with winning records, Kirk Cousins is now 7-34 lifetime against over-.500 teams, and the defense has been a serious disappointment, despite bringing Yannick Ngakoue on board in a highly publicized trade with Jacksonville.

Atlanta Falcons

Still haven't recovered from blowing that 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI, as they continue to stage epic late-game collapses. Monday night's game on the not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field will almost certainly put them on the brink of the point of no return (and is another matchup that FiveThirtyEight would have a lot of fun with). After that, however, it's Carolina at home, at Minnesota, Detroit at home, Carolina again, and Denver at home, followed by their bye week. So who knows?

And Dan Quinn always seems to do just enough not to get fired. Of the six teams on this list, they had gone the longest without an 0-3 start until now, not having had one since 2007 — the year they lost Michael Vick to the federal prison system.

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