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Disappointment Rankings of early undefeated teams

The NFL season is a roller coaster, and some teams have encountered more perilous journeys than others. Here's an interesting tidbit found over at the NFL Reddit.

Four teams will miss the playoffs this season after starting 3-0 or better: Minnesota (5-0), Denver (4-0), Baltimore (3-0), and Philadelphia (3-0).

Oof. Let's rank the collapses in terms of calamity. I call this the Disappointment Power Rankings!

No. 4: Philadelphia Eagles

Three straight wins put the Eagles ahead of the game, but not enough to overcome a middling roster that lacks playmakers on both sides of the ball. And while losing nine of 11 games is grim business, the Eagles can still match last season's win total with a promising rookie passer at the helm in Carson Wentz. Plus, as we saw on Thursday against the Giants, the team is still playing hard for first-year coach Doug Pederson -- a very good sign. Life could be worse.

No. 3: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens immediately tamped down expectations with a four-game losing streak before sucking the fan base back in with a nice recovery in the second half. That's what made the last-minute Christmas Day loss to the Steelers all the more painful. The Ravens proved more than once that they could hang with the big dogs in the AFC -- they just couldn't get over the hump. Still, you have a strong defense, Joe Flacco (on balance, this remains a good thing), and John Harbaugh, who remains the most underrated coach in the NFL not named Andy Reid. The Ravens will be back.


No. 2: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings' season really drifted into a deeply depressed state by the end of December. Manchester by the Sea felt like a joyride in comparison. It started with five straight wins, an incredible home-field advantage in a beautiful new stadium, and legitimate buzz about what many viewed to be a potentially special defense. It ended with eight losses in 10 games, multiple gross eye surgeries, a boring, ineffectual offense and a defense that regressed to the mean. But hey, Sam Bradford is going to set the passing accuracy record, so that's cool.

No. 1: Denver Broncos

Let's start here: The disappointment is always going to be greater when you're a defending Super Bowl champion. But this case was more pronounced since the Broncos' 4-0 start indicated they had dodged any post-title malaise. The defense remained dominant and poems were being written about John Elway's handling of all matters personnel-related. But the cracks were there -- the departure of Malik Jackson left a huge hole in their run defense, and weak offensive line play coupled with an injury-depleted backfield put too much on the shoulders of limited seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. The Broncos sought to replicate last season's formula and instead learned they didn't have the horses to get it done.

After four straight years of at least 12 wins and last February's confetti party, this 8-7 was a cold-water bath. Back to the drawing board, John.

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