Best of the Worst: The 0-2 Power Rankings
Going into Week Three, there are nine teams that have yet to taste victory this NFL season.
While being 0-2 hardly spells complete disaster, it does make a serious playoff run a bit harder. On the flip side, being 2-0 doesn't necessarily guarantee success come January; collapses are just as much a part of the game as comebacks.
For some of these winless squads, the slow start will merely be a speed bump on the way to the playoffs. But for others, it will be indicative of how the remainder of the season will play out.
The following list aims to separate the mildly disappointed from the hopelessly downtrodden.
No. 9: Cleveland Browns
Getting outscored 61-26 to open the season makes it darn near impossible to glean any optimism. So much for the proverbial moral victory.
In spite of a brilliant young coach and a promising, talented quarterback, the Browns haven't even been close in their back-to-back blowouts.
Eric Mangini would be wise to have some magic up his sleeve, or he could be banished to the coordinator ranks for a long time after this debacle is over.
No. 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You know you're in trouble when you make the Buffalo Bills look good.
Simply put, this is a franchise in chaos. The historically stout defense is in an awkward transition, the quarterback is an unproven retread, and the offensive coordinator gets fired a mere three weeks before the season.
With a young, diaper-dandy head coach at the helm, the Bucs would be wise to use this year as a nothing-to-lose rebuilding project—like an elongated, glorified preseason. Then, next year they might, just might, be in a position to contend again.
No. 7: St. Louis Rams
With the St. Louis Rams, there is definitely a shred of hope despite lacking discipline and, as is the case too many times, shooting themselves in the foot.
Just ask the stalwart of maturity, Richie Incognito.
At any rate, the inspired running of Stephen Jackson, the leadership of Marc Bulger, and the feistiness of new coach Steve Spagnuolo give them enough reason to believe in the topsy-turvy NFC West.
No. 6: Detroit Lions
Some might question the Lions' high position on this list, but the fact remains that the culture is, indeed, changing in Detroit.
True, they haven't won since Michael Vick was an unconvicted Falcon, but watching them this year, one can see in their eyes that they believe.
While no one expects to see them in the playoffs, the franchise is at least on the right course.
No. 5: Carolina Panthers
Other than quarterback Jake Delhomme's colossal meltdown, most of the parts of last year's solid 12-4 team are in place.
The key word, of course, is "other."
The defense, the running game, and coaching are all solid. Just one small thing, however.
Eleven turnovers in two games by the suddenly shaky Delhomme is troubling. His performance this past Sunday was encouraging, but time will tell whether or not he can dig his way out of the biggest slump of his career.
The success of the team depends on it.
No. 4: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have played respectably in both losses this season. True, the defense is still suspect, given how the run-happy Ravens utilized a prolific air attack against them.
But with an aggressive new coach (Todd Haley), a savvy GM (Patriots vet Scott Pioli), and a rejuvenated Larry Johnson, the sky's the limit for this young team.
In fact, if they can string together a few victories at the right time, they might have an outside shot at the playoffs this year, given their soft division (AFC West).
No. 3: Jacksonville Jaguars
There may be questions about coach Jack Del Rio's future in Jacksonville, but all of the other key components to a successful future are there.
For the first time in years, they actually have youth on their side. Throw in the fact that they hung with a tough Indianapolis squad in week one, and they could possibly find themselves playing meaningful games in December.
The AFC South is as up in the air as ever, especially when considering the Texans' much-delayed coming of age.
This is anybody's division, and in this day and age in the NFL of "why not us?" they just might have a shot at winning it. However, they would presumably need some help (i.e. an Indy slip-up or a Titans meltdown).
No. 2: Miami Dolphins
Most fans and experts alike have the Dolphins falling off considerably from last year's remarkable 11-5 campaign.
While their 0-2 start certainly has them going in that direction, Miami is better than their record. Just look at their man-handling of Indianapolis the other evening. They dominated nearly every aspect of the game, except for, well, the final score.
Many dejected coaches and players scoff at the notion of moral victories, but in the new look, "anything goes" AFC East, Miami can't get too down on themselves just yet.
They'll get hot this year, it just depends on if it happens at the right time.
No. 1: Tennessee Titans
Like the Dolphins, most predicted the Titans would experience a drop off from last year's success.
But it is still too early to dismiss them, given their abundance of superior talent and good coaching.
Time will tell if their shellacking at the hands of the Texans was a fluke or not, but one would think that coach Jeff Fisher will have them coming out swinging for their battle against the New York Jets this week.
Again, like the Dolphins, this team will get hot.
If not, then well, this sports writer just might be eating his words.
But all one has to do is to look to 2002, when that talented, hyped squad started out 1-4...only to make the AFC title game.