By now, everyone has heard the statistic: an NFL team that starts its season 0-2 is approximately 12 percent likely to make the playoffs. It’s no surprise, therefore, that largely considered ‘playoff teams’ like the Patriots, Packers, and Chargers avoided the dreaded two-loss start to the year with wins on Sunday.
The number — 12 percent — is largely skewed. While facing an 88 percent probability that one’s season is already over, teams that make up the ‘0-2’ club are often bad, anyway. The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. However they start their season has largely been irrelevant, as they always tend to end up in the same place.
The weight of each game in an NFL season obviously grows from one week to the next. Dropping from 0-1 to 0-2 is painful, but 0-3 would be catastrophic. Suddenly, facing a 98 percent failure rate, even teams with higher ceilings than the Jaguars and Raiders of the world can see their season go down the drain. If the Saints were to lose this weekend, the 2 percent chance of a recovery is even less likely when considering the NFC South features the Panthers and Falcons. If the Colts were to drop to 0-3 in Jacksonville, their road to the playoffs would be equally as dark, but perhaps remain manageable by the weaker AFC South.
The same shifts in probabilities are found constantly throughout an NFL season, but typically, teams quickly establish whether or not they are ‘playoff-worthy’, usually negating the numbers. At the very least, the bad teams have shifted to the bottom.
In week 3, however, everyone still believes they are alive.
Below are predictions for each game against the spread. Spreads have been taken from various websites and are subject to change. The spread in parenthesis denotes the selected team and an asterisk denotes one of the week’s most confident picks.
*Confidence Picks: 4-1 (Season: 8-3)
All Picks Against Spread: 9-7 (Season: 16-15-1)
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