As Week 2 of the NFL season gets set to kick off Thursday night with the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Minnesota Vikings, it's already potentially now-or-never time for half the league as they face the dreaded 0-2 start.
That's because, as National Football Post points out, 125 teams have started 0-2 since 2007 but only 13 have gone on to make the NFL playoffs that season. Teams that bounced back from starting 0-2 to win the Super Bowl are an even more-exclusive club, with only the 2007 New York Giants pulling off that feat over that span.
Last year, only the Cincinnati Bengals were able to overcome an 0-2 start and rally to the postseason, where Joe Burrow and Company eventually fell to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game. Cincinnati is the only team since the 2019 Houston Texans to lose their first two games and eventually make the playoffs.
Obviously, the data is a bit skewed since, since it has only been since 2021 that the NFL has played 17 games. But, since only one team has made the postseason after an 0-2 start since the schedule expanded, there's significant pressure on every team that lost in Week 1 to find a way to get it done this weekend.
Given what we know, it isn't too big a leap of faith that Week 2 has the potential to be a make-or-break proposition for a handful of teams.
Here are the six teams facing the most pressure to bounce back after losing in Week 1 of the season:
Game: At Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET
The defending NFC North champions are already facing a mountainous uphill climb to repeat, especially given the Detroit Lions' laden roster and high expectations. But after being upset by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home last Sunday, the Vikings could find themselves at risk of becoming the next team to miss the postseason entirely if they can't find a way to knock off the defending conference champions.
Game: vs. Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
The Bills were stunned Monday night when the New York Jets stormed back to win 22-16 in overtime, hours after Aaron Rodgers' season came to an end when he ruptured his Achilles tendon on the game's fourth snap. Buffalo boasts one of the more complete and explosive rosters in the league. However, having already dropped one divisional game — on the same weekend the Miami Dolphins rallied to knock off the Los Angeles Chargers — the Bills can ill afford a second AFC loss. That's especially true given how tight the conference playoff race figures to be on that side of the bracket.
New York Giants
Game: At Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
New York was historically inept in front of a national audience on Sunday night football. The Giants didn't just lose to the division rival Cowboys 40-0 — the game looked as if it could have easily wound up 100-0. Coach Brian Daboll's team, which had returned last fall to the postseason for the first time since 2011, didn't appear as if it belonged on the same field as the Cowboys. The Giants lost the sack battle 7-0, averaged only 2.6 yards per play, Daniel Jones threw a pick-six, and Dallas blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown. If the Giants have any chance of making the postseason for a second consecutive year, they'll need to handle business on Sunday before a stretch of four straight games against 2022 playoff teams commences in Week 3.
Game: At Detroit Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Seattle believed that in Geno Smith's second season as the starting quarterback — and after continuing to bolster a young collection of explosive playmakers on both sides of the football during a strong NFL Draft — this is a team capable of challenging the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. But in the maelstrom of Lumen Field last week, Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams issued a stunning wake-up call. It won't get any easier for the Seahawks, who must travel to Detroit to take on a well-rested and uber-confident Lions team fresh off a smackdown of the reigning champion Chiefs. If head coach Pete Carroll and Company can't figure out a way to knock off the Lions, the season could quickly slip from Seattle's grip.
Kansas City Chiefs
Game: At Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
The Super Bowl hangover has been well-documented for the losing team. However, over the past decade, only the Seattle Seahawks, Chiefs and New England Patriots have managed to win the Lombardi Trophy and make it back to Super Sunday the following season. So long as Andy Reid is the Chiefs' head coach and Patrick Mahomes is behind center, the Chiefs are going to be considered heavy favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. However, the Chiefs' offense was plagued by drops against Detroit last week; and in the AFC divisional playoffs back in January, the Jaguars took Kansas City to the brink. The forecast in Jacksonville — always a difficult place to play early in the season — calls for 86 degrees, 70 percent humidity and rain. If Kansas City loses to Trevor Lawrence and a really talented Jaguars team, we might find out if even the mighty Chiefs can stand up to the weight of pressure that comes from an 0-2 start.
Game: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Chicago spent an entire offseason spending resources on setting Justin Fields up to make a significant leap in 2023, only to see the 24-year-old open the season held to 216 passing yards with one touchdown and interception in one woefully disappointing division loss to the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, Green Bay looked as if it has the chance to be explosive as ever with Jordan Love behind center. Chicago can tighten the race by going on the road and knocking off the Buccaneers. But another loss will only cause the questions and concerns over head coach Matt Eberflus, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, and perhaps even Fields to grow louder in the Windy City.
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