Incredibly, 15 teams in the NFL are currently 1-2. That's basically half the league. It's pretty interesting and rather bizarre, but speaks to the amazing competitive nature of the NFL.
It's a record that might sound bleak after three weeks of action, but hope is not lost for these teams and fan bases, especially with the remarkable balance in the league. Since 1990, 25 percent of teams that started the season at 1-2 made the playoffs. This includes last season's Packers and Colts, who both rebounded from a slow start to hit the postseason. (Remember what Aaron Rodgers said at this time one year ago? R-E-L-A-X. Touché, Mr. Rodgers.)
So which teams are most likely to follow suit in 2015, going from 1-2 to the playoffs? Here are my rankings of the top candidates, Schein Nine style:
1) Seattle Seahawks
It's going to happen. The scheduling gods gave the previously winless Seahawks a gift with a pseudo scrimmage against the hapless, rebuilding Bears, followed this week by another home game against the winless Lions. Seattle will be 2-2 in the blink of an eye.
The first month of Seattle's season was chock-full of impediments, from Kam Chancellor's holdout to Jimmy Graham's rough assimilation to players and coaches continuing to dwell on the ill-fated play call at the end of Super Bowl XLIX (the Super Bowl loss hangover is real!). Yet, despite all that, the Seahawks are on track to be .500 at the quarter pole, in position to do major damage over the regular season's final three months. The sky is not falling in Seattle.
2) Indianapolis Colts
Well, when it comes to my preseason Super Bowl hype, I don't feel good about the Colts at all. They needed Andrew Luck's genius to eradicate a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to the Titans on Sunday. (Granted, Luck did plenty to put Indy in that hole in the first place.) The Colts looked poor -- again -- for the vast majority of that game. They have notable areas of deficiency (see: offensive line, a depleted secondary), and color me very concerned about the widely reported friction between head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.
But here's the thing: Indianapolis isn't the only 1-2 team in the AFC South. In fact, everyone has that record. With Luck under center, the Colts remain clear favorites in an underwhelming division.
3) Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly is a genius!!
Yes, I'm wary of DeMarco Murray's health issues and ineffective play, as well as Sam Bradford's 3:4 TD-to-INT ratio. These two high-profile offseason additions obviously have not lived up to their billing. But I was impressed with how Philly was able to win a game against a physical Jets team, with steady defense and explosive special teams. That was a major positive sign.
And I have to believe that, eventually, things will click for Bradford and Murray.
4) Houston Texans
5) New York Giants
Don't misinterpret this as me pumping up Big Blue. As I've said and written many times, the Giants lack talent. I think they are a seven-win team on paper.
But all that said, I have to acknowledge the injuries and inept play across the NFC East. The Giants are high on this list because of the division they play in. And despite the game-management struggles of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning to start the season, these are two potential Hall of Famers with multiple rings on their fingers.
6) Miami Dolphins
In the preseason, I picked this team to make the playoffs -- and I feel sick about it. I loved the Ndamukong Suh signing, and he's been invisible. I envisioned Ryan Tannehill taking the next step, and he's regressed. I've had major reservations about Joe Philbin for years -- maybe I should have just listened to myself there.
I still think Miami has talent and upside, but it is hard to make the playoffs in the AFC East when Philbin is your leader. And that's a shame. This team should be ready for prime time. But if the Dolphins can beat the Jets this weekend -- and get some help from the Giants, who play the Bills -- this conversation will shift.
I won't abandon all hope with the Dolphins, which is why I have them sixth on this list. But I have major regrets regarding my preseason prognostication.
7) Kansas City Chiefs
K.C. has looked pretty dreadful on offense, with its two losses marred by bad quarterback play and unforgivable in-game management. I'm usually a huge fan of Alex Smith and Andy Reid, but Smith needs to protect the ball, while Reid needs to call for him to hand it off to Jamaal Charles. Yes, the end of the Week 2 loss to Denver was *absolutely* brutal, but it's time to get over it. Onward and upward!
At some point, coordinator Bob Sutton's defense -- led by pass-rushing stud Justin Houston -- will emerge as dominant, right?
8) Tennessee Titans
And remember the division they play in!
Ken Whisenhunt can coach. Chances are, his team is way closer to seven wins than nine. But it's a quarterback-driven league, and the Titans officially have one!
9) San Diego Chargers
I just couldn't get a feel for San Diego in the preseason and thought they were the toughest team to read in the entire league. Fittingly, the Chargers have been pretty nondescript to start the campaign.