What does a record mean at this point in a season?
Well, if history is a good indicator, you could play yourself out of a playoff berth by the end of September with a bad start. Since 1990, three teams (1992 San Diego Chargers, 1995 Detroit Lions and 1998 Buffalo Bills) have started 0-3 and still ended up in the playoffs.
Here are the projected final records for every NFL team that is off to a disastrous winless start:
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints were considered to be one of the worst franchises in the NFL since their inception, but that all changed once Sean Payton was hired as head coach. You have to believe they have a good chance to win 10 games this season, but it will be an uphill battle.
Payton’s presence has been missed, especially in breaking down an opponent’s weaknesses during film sessions. Thankfully, the Saints still have quarterback Drew Brees to play on Sundays.
None of his physical limitations (size, mobility and arm strength) ever seem to hinder his play in key games, as his preparation is better than that of just about any quarterback. Few teams have the offensive firepower to win a shootout against the Saints.
As a whole, their schedule is very difficult, but the Saints' toughest stretch of the season is between Week 10 and Week 14, and it could determine whether or not they make the playoffs.
The Saints begin with a home game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, then travel cross-country to face the Oakland Raiders in Week 11. Here comes the hard part, as the Saints host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, then visit the Falcons four days later, only to finish this gauntlet with a road game against the Super Bowl champs New York Giants in Week 14. If they go 3-2, it will be a minor miracle.
Does another NFL team face more quality quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Matt Ryan (twice) than the Saints this season? Their saving grace could be not having to play back-to-back divisional games this year.
Final record is 10-6.
The Cleveland Browns cannot ever catch a break, as they endured a tough schedule in 2011, only to see that things haven’t changed that much in 2012. The Browns will be an underdog in every remaining game on their schedule. Each opponent has better overall talent except for two: a road game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 and a home game against the Washington Redskins in Week 15.
Wins will be hard to come by for the Browns this season, as they play two of the toughest divisions in the NFL. They're scheduled against the entire NFC East, which has three perennial playoff contenders. Three of their four games against the AFC West are scheduled during a four-week span (Week 13-16), including two cross-country road trips to Oakland (Week 13) and Denver (Week 16).
It’s a good thing the heart of the Browns schedule is played essentially at home, as six home games are scheduled between Week 6 and Week 15. The Dawg Pound is an extremely tough venue to play in on most Sundays.
Their bye week is perfectly situated in Week 10. This allows them to regroup from two tough home games against the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens before heading on the road to Dallas.
If you’re looking for a trap game opponent for the Browns, then look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, their defense gave up only 27 total points in both divisional matchups. If this is the year that the Browns cash in on the Steelers' misfortunes, it would be the signature win to help kick-start a new era in Browns football.
Final record is 4-12.
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