There are eight NFL teams that started the season 2-0. Historically, teams that emerge unbeaten after Week 2 have made the playoffs 63% of the time. Which of the league’s unblemished teams are legit? Which teams should wait to print playoff tickets?
New England Patriots
The Pats are 2-0 and on top of the AFC East. Though they may be forced to start third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett in Thursday night’s game, no one would be surprised if New England found a way to win its third straight game without Tom Brady. Either way we are halfway through the Pro Bowl quarterback’s four game suspension. New England should return to full strength soon, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.
Playoff Probability (based on 10,000 simulations of the 2016 NFL season): 86.6%
The Patriots are favorites to win the division and the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl.
After a disastrous 2015 campaign, you’d be forgiven for not predicting the Ravens 2-0 start (the team’s first since 2009). Sure the wins came against the Bills who fired their offensive coordinator after two games and the Browns who started a backup quarterback a long with a lot of other replacement level talent but those wins count. Baltimore has a favorable schedule going forward, its next three games are against teams that have a combined 1-5 record.
Playoff Probability: 48.2%
The quick start is great but the AFC North is difficult. The Ravens are still the third pick to win the division behind the Steelers and Bengals.
This is the fourth time in the Mike Tomlin era that the Steelers have started the season 2-0. The previous three times Pittsburgh made the playoffs and twice went to the Super Bowl.
Playoff Probability: 89.9%
The Steelers are in the driver seat for a postseason berth with two wins against playoff teams from a season ago including a division win over the Bengals. Pittsburgh has leapfrogged the competition and are now our projected favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Houston is looking to go to 3-0 for just the second time in franchise history. If the winning streak continues it will likely be because of the defense. J.J. Watt and crew rank 8th in DVOA. The Texans will get a depleted New England team on Thursday night.
Playoff Probability: 77.0%
The Texans have scored just three offensive touchdowns in their first two games. Brock Osweiler has thrown picks in both games and the offense has struggled in the red zone. Assuming the offense fixes its issues, Houston looks like a lock to reach the postseason with a very good defense.
Denver’s defense is still super. The Broncos defense won the battles against Cam Newton (two sack, three turnovers) and Andrew Luck (11 quarterback hits and five sacks) in the first two weeks of the season just as they did against Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Newton last year in the playoffs. The defense is capable of carrying the offense once again.
Playoff Probability: 75.6%
Trevor Siemen isn’t great but he is competent and that is all Denver really needs.
New York Giants
New York has started each of the past three seasons 0-2. So the Giants being 2-0 for the first time since 2009 is a big deal. However, those wins have come by a combined four points.
Playoff Probability: 61.8%
New York is projected to win the NFC East which is the team’s ticket to making the playoffs.
The Eagles are 2-0 thanks to solid play from Carson Wentz and the defense. The rookie quarterback’s stats don’t jump off the page but he has thrown over 70 passes without an interception. The team is plus-4 in turnover differential due to an opportunistic defensive unit.
Playoff Probability: 32.4%
Philly has benefited from a cupcake schedule. The Browns are soft and Jay Cutler was playing with torn ligaments in his throwing hand. The Eagles trail the Cowboys and Giants in probability to win the NFC East.
A convincing win over division rival Green Bay on Sunday night got Minnesota to 2-0. The team has already overcome the loss of starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater but an injury to All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson is concerning.
Playoff Probability: 73.4%
If Sam Bradford plays like he did last week (completed 22 of 30 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns) the Vikings will be a dangerous team. However, if the underachieving quarterback we saw in St. Louis and Philadelphia returns the early season optimism will fade fast.