It’s still early in the 2023 NFL season, but several teams are already in desperation mode.
There are nine winless teams through two weeks – five in the AFC and four in the NFC, with the Carolina Panthers joining the club after their Monday night loss.
Some have looked better than others, depending on schedules, injuries and other misfortunes. But there’s zero doubt that they all need to win soon to save their seasons. Only 31 of the 270 teams that have started 0-2 since 1990 have reached the postseason – 11.5%.
Here’s a reverse countdown of the winless teams, starting with the squads closest to a victory and ending with the more hopeless clubs:
9. New England Patriots
Week 3: Road vs. New York Jets
The Patriots have suffered a pair of one-score home losses to open the season. That suggests that the team is close, and Week 3 against Zach Wilson and the Jets seems like the ideal spot to get a win. The Patriots have won 14 straight games against the Jets, and Wilson has seven interceptions in four career games against Bill Belichick.
8. Los Angeles Chargers
Week 3: Road vs. Minnesota Vikings
Head coach Brandon Staley could be on thin ice, making Week 3 a near must-win for the Chargers. After blowing a 27-0 lead in their playoff loss to the Jaguars, the Chargers dropped their first two games of 2023 by a combined margin of five points. Facing another 0-2 team in Minnesota could get them over the hump.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Week 3: Home vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Vikings, like the Patriots and Chargers, have had two one-score losses this season. Those losses came against two 2-0 teams – the Buccaneers and Eagles. While Minnesota doesn’t have quite as much talent as Los Angeles, one advantage they do have is rest. The Vikings played on Thursday in Week 2, giving Kevin O’Connell and Co. a few extra days to prepare.
6. Houston Texans
Week 3: Road vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Texans went 3-13-1 last season, both of their 2023 losses have been by double digits and now they’re going on the road to play the defending AFC South champions. So, why are they not further down this page? Simply put: C.J. Stroud. The rookie QB has performed admirably through two starts with a banged-up offensive line. Jacksonville’s offense went silent in Week 2, which could indicate that Houston’s porous defense stands a chance.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 3: Home vs. Los Angeles Rams (Monday Night Football)
This comes down to Joe Burrow’s health. Cincinnati’s star QB re-injured his calf in Week 2, putting his Week 3 availability in question. Burrow said postgame that he needed “a couple more sleeps” before considering his status for next Monday. But even if he does play, a home game against the Rams isn’t as welcoming as it looked heading into the season. Los Angeles is 1-1 after beating the Seahawks and hanging close with the 49ers.
4. Carolina Panthers
Week 3: Road vs. Seattle Seahawks
Losing two divisional games isn’t a promising start to the Bryce Young era. The No. 1 overall pick has, like any rookie QB, had some good and some bad moments. But the impact skill players on offense just simply aren’t there for this team. Next up is a trip to Seattle against a Seahawks team that just won on the road in Detroit. After that, they come home to play the Vikings before road games against the Lions and Dolphins.
3. Denver Broncos
Week 3: Road vs. Miami Dolphins
All close losses aren’t created equally – just look at the Broncos. Sean Payton’s team is 0-2 with a combined deficit of just three points (!). But blown leads, stagnant second-half offense and poor situational football have doomed Denver. Winning in the Miami heat is never easy, especially with how quick those weapons are. More realistically, Week 4 against the Bears looks like a better opportunity (more on Chicago in a bit).
2. Chicago Bears
Week 3: Road vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Fields and the Bears look lost through two weeks. Now, they have to play the Super Bowl champions at Arrowhead. If you chalk that one up as a loss, which is fair, the 0-3 Bears host the aforementioned Broncos in Week 4. That game, a potential battle of winless teams, could be their chance. Denver has looked better than Chicago so far, though.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Week 3: Home vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday will go down as the Cardinals’ best chance at a win for at least a few weeks. They blew a 28-7 second-half lead at home, allowing 24 unanswered points to the Giants in a 31-28 loss. The Cardinals’ next eight opponents all have playoff aspirations: the Cowboys, 49ers, Bengals, Rams, Seahawks, Ravens, Browns and Falcons. It could be a while before Jonathan Gannon gets his first win as a head coach.
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