Since the NFL expanded its playoff field from 10 to 12 teams in 1990, clubs starting the season 2-0 have proven a solid bet to reach postseason having done so 63% (124 of 196) of the time.
The 2014 campaign has begun with seven 2-0 squads. Here’s an outlook for each:
Prediction: Assuming Palmer is OK, this team has enough talent to rise to second place in the division given the percolating issues in San Francisco and catastrophic circumstances in St. Louis. That will probably be good enough for a wild-card berth this year.
Prediction: They’re still at least a year away from the playoffs, maybe more if the next owners sweep out the front office and coaching staff for hand-picked choices.
Prediction: Four second-half divisional tests against the Saints and Falcons will be revealing. But it still feels like this team may not have quite enough juice to stay in contention with a loaded NFC field.
Prediction: They’ll host another playoff game this season and will win it this time. But they’re probably not good enough yet to reach the AFC Championship Game.
Prediction: The Broncos have time to dial in and will know exactly where they stand heading into their bye week following this Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch in Seattle. But little reason to currently think Denver won’t again be among the NFL’s final four in four months.
Prediction: If they can keep their injury report limited — Clowney is expected back in October — everything seems to be lining up for Houston to become the third consecutive team to make postseason the same year it drafted No. 1 overall.
Prediction: They’ll retain their division crown. Whether QB Nick Foles — and/or the Kelly scheme — can deliver in postseason against a defense the caliber of Seattle’s or Carolina’s is still very much in doubt.
There’s no question that the National Football League is America’s most popular sport, and Major League Baseball doesn’t want baseball fans to have to choose between pro football and the World Series.
For the first time in 24 years, baseball’s World Series will open on a Tuesday (Oct. 21), according to the postseason schedule laid out by MLB on Thursday, a move that will considerably limit the number of times that baseball and pro football clash during the Fall Classic.
Under the previous schedule that started on a Wednesday and set its seventh game for a Thursday, there was the potential for four World Series games to go up against NFL action — two on Thursday (Games 2 and 7) and one each on Sunday (Game 4) and Monday (Game 5).
And in 2014, that would have meant baseball’s championship round would have opposed a “Thursday Night Football” game on CBS (featuring Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos), a “Monday Night Football” game on ESPN (featuring the popular Dallas Cowboys) and potentially a second “Thursday Night Football” game (this one on NFL Network only).
Instead, the new World Series schedule that starts on a Tuesday and sets its seventh game on a Wednesday means that only a Game 5 (if needed in the best-of-seven series) will go up against the NFL: opposite NBC’s juggernaut “Sunday Night Football” (on Oct. 26).
“But look at the landscape of the AFC wild-card race. The Bills certainly are capable of winning eight-plus games and making a legit run at January football. This is especially true if Manuel can actually play. His respectable start (see: 95.4 quarterback rating) has been a pleasant surprise, and this development changes everything for Buffalo’s overall potential.
We will learn a lot about the 2014 Bills over the next three weeks, as they host the Chargers, travel to Houston to face another 2-0 surprise and then draw the Lions in Detroit.
I think we’ve already learned that this team is well-coached. This team seized the moment at home on Sunday. This team is moving in the right direction.”
But opening weekend is no time for a gloomy outlook; it’s an opportunity (possibly the last one) to believe your team will be a contender. (Or, at least, you know, a wild-card hopeful.) Here, a totally optimistic — to the point of perhaps being misguided — squint-a-bit-and-maybe-they-don’t-look-so-bad guide to New York’s NFL teams.
Jets best-case scenario: Geno Smith takes a step or three forward in his development, the Jets’ acquisitions pay off, and they sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.
Giants best-case scenario: If new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo breathes new life into the offense, they stay relatively healthy, and they take care of business against weaker opponents, the Giants, too, can compete for a wild-card berth.