The Bandwagon...To Jump On Or To Jump Off...

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst ISeptember 19, 2008

It seemed only appropriate that it was week 2 in the NFL, since the number 2 seemed to be the key to almost everything.  Many number 2 players, such as Matt Cassel, Kerry Collins, and Brian Griese made significant impacts and got wins for their teams.  And it was half number 2 in which many teams came back from early deficits.  Teams like Washington, Carolina, and Indianapolis all had early deficits and seemed as good as dead.  Even the Detroit Lions came back from a 21 point deficit, albeit briefly, against the Green Bay Packers.  And of course it was 2 instant replay calls that officials blew in the Denver/San Diego game, one because the equipment “wasn’t working.”  Sounds like a cable company commercial there.  Or at least another one of those “Not goin’ anywhere for a while” Snickers commercials.

But now that some teams are 2-0 or 0-2, it suddenly becomes a little clearer who's going to the playoffs and who's going home.  Or better yet, who has lived up to expectations and who has not.  Who's a surprise, and who's living up to expectations, whether good or bad.

Of course two games is simply 1/8 of the whole season, and records may be deceiving.  After all, the world champion New York Giants started last season 0-2 while teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions won their first two.  Many teams entered the season with eyes on them to emerge as champions, sleepers, or flops.

Out of 30 teams (Houston and Baltimore have only played one game) 20 teams are either 2-0 or 0-2.  Some surprise 2-0 teams include the Buffalo Bills and the Carolina Panthers.  Some disappointing 0-2 teams are the Cleveland Browns (with their five primetime appearances) Minnesota Vikings (already going to a journey man quarterback), and Seattle Seahawks (0-2 for the first time since 2002, the last time they missed the playoffs.)

So who's for real and who's just a tease?  The team mentioned up there that got much of the publicity of the offseason was, of course, the Cleveland Browns.  Many people jumped on that bandwage, including myself.  Granted, I figured that Derek Anderson would be brought back down to earth, but I didn't really look at any of the other teams in the AFC North (including the Steelers) and see anyone else emerging. 

So are the Browns dead?  They've only scored 16 points at home in their first two games.  But you have to remember, they played the Super Bowl favorite Cowboys and the reigning division champion Steelers.  So those who jumped on the wagon are now set to jump off.  But looking at their schedule, I'm not ready to.  This week they play the former Cleveland Browns who are now the Baltimore Ravens.  After that they play their cross state rivals the Bungels.  Unfortunately they play the Giants after that, but once that is done, they get to play Washington, Jacksonville, and Baltimore again.  Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Cleveland is 5-3 come midseason.

For the Vikings, things will be a little more clear after this weekend.  I've always been a fan of the journeymen backup quarterbacks, so I'll be rooting for Gus Frerotte.  I think it is essential that Adrian Peterson play, not just because they need him, but because 0-3 is quite a big hole to escape from.  Since 1992, only three teams have started with three losses and made the playoffs.  So in a way, this isn't just one game, this is their season.