NFL: All Hope for Playoffs Is Not Lost for NFC Teams with Rough Season Start

Elyssa GutbrodContributor ISeptember 30, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons against Jamar Chaney #51 and Jarrad Page #41 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What do the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Chicago Bears, and the Atlanta Falcons have in common?

If you answered “all of these teams have started the season with a disappointing 1-2 record,” then you’re absolutely correct.

Each of these teams had expectations that were set and nurtured during the offseason, and each of them has fallen woefully short thus far.

The Chicago Bears and the Atlanta Falcons were two of the best teams in the NFC last year, a position they had hoped to retain in 2011.

The Eagles were supposed to be this year’s football equivalent of the Dream Team.

The Cardinals and the Seahawks... Well, the Cardinals brought in a young quarterback in Kevin Kolb under the impression that they couldn’t possibly do any worse than last year’s 5-11 record. The Seahawks went the same route, bringing in quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in a bid to improve on the embarrassing 7-9 record that earned them a spot in last year’s playoffs.

So far, not one of those five teams’ expectations seem to have panned out.

Just three weeks in to a 17-week season, it seems like the playoff hopes for all of these 0-3 teams are slipping away.

Is it time already for this year’s 1-2 and 0-3 teams to start focusing on next year?

For the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams who have not won a game yet this year, the answer is yes. It is absolutely time to start looking forward to the future and cutting their losses in the present.

In the last 20 years, there has not been a single team that was 0-3 at this point in their season which made it to the Super Bowl.

For the 1-2 teams, though, the answer is a bit more complicated but they should not give up just yet. Although it has not been common, there have been six teams in the past 20 years that started the season out with a 1-2 record and then went on to make a Super Bowl run.

Interestingly enough, those 1-2 teams that have made it to the big game have demonstrated a huge payoff for their slow start. The chances of winning the Super Bowl as a 1-2 team are significantly higher (66.7%) than those of teams that started the season 2-1 (46.1%) or teams that started the season 3-0 (47.8%).

That’s not to say that any of these franchises are in a good position at this point in the season; on the contrary, all signs point to other, stronger teams running away with all four divisions and the two wild-card spots.

If they do manage to claw their way back into the playoff picture and make it to the Super Bowl, the odds will be in their favor. The New York Giants did exactly that in 2007 and went on to win it all.

The five 1-2 teams in the NFC have each shown sparks of potential during their losses. It may be hard to see some members of this group as eventual Super Bowl contenders, but the point is that right now they still have a legitimate shot at it if they can straighten themselves out.