NFL Playoff Picture Looking Much Different This Year…

Yes, there are 13 games left to go in the 16-game NFL regular season. So it is a bit early to be talking about the playoffs. Or is it? The NFL is a 16-game sprint, unlike the NBA which is 82 games and MLB which is a 162-game marathon. A team can absolutely play themselves out of contention in the first few games of the season. In fact, since the NFL went to a 16-game regular season in the late 1970s, only 4% of teams that started 0-3 have made the playoffs and only one team to start 0-4 has made it in. That team was the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

There are several 0-3 teams that are playing for their seasons this week that most thought would be playoff teams or at least hunting.

The New York Giants were the world champions just two seasons ago. Not only are they 0-3, but they were beaten 38-0 last week by an 0-2 Carolina Panthers team that has not been a playoff contender in a long time. What in the world has happened to the Giants? Did they switch locker rooms with the Jets in their sheared stadium? The Jets actually are playing fairly well so far at 2-1.

Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The Washington Redskins were a playoff team a year ago and are now in the hole at 0-3. They have been terrible in the first half of their games and have not been able to catch up in the second half. It is also apparent that their second year quarterback, Robert Griffin III, is not the same runner he was before his much-maligned knee injury suffered late last season.

The Minnesota Vikings were a playoff team last year as well. They are 0-3 this year after suffering some tough losses late in games. They have led in every game so far but lost in the closing seconds to both the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. This week they take on another team most would not have thought would be 0-3, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers missed the playoffs a year ago, which is rare for them. This season they lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey in their opener to a knee injury. They are facing a must-win game against an equally desperate Vikings team in London this week.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are also 0-3. This is no surprise as this team is just terrible. They have terrible front-office people running this team. They continue to make terrible personnel decisions. And if that isn’t bad enough, they have arguably the ugliest uniforms in the history of the game. OK, maybe the Steelers’ “bumble bee” unis were worse. Or perhaps the brown and yellow Denver Broncos uniforms with the vertical striped socks were. But these Jags unis are pretty awful. Pick a helmet color and stick with it please.

Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon (Photo credit: akulawolf)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also 0-3. They are benching starting quarterback Josh Freeman and giving the job to rookie Mike Glennon this week when they face the Arizona Cardinals. Why not? They can’t do any worse, right? Maybe Glennon will turn out to be the next franchise quarterback. He certainly has the height and the arm.

All these teams need to win this week. Of course, most of them won’t. At least one will though because the Steelers and Vikings play each other. The Bucs have a decent shot as the Cardinals are not very good either. The Jags host the Indianapolis Colts, so they are a lock to go to 0-4. The Giants will face a 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs team on the road. That does not bode well (update: see the back pages). The Redskins are taking on the Oakland Raiders, so they have a decent chance to get into the win column.

If you tell me you had the Giants, Vikings, Steelers and Redskins at the bottom of the league this year, then you are either lying or you should be making big money as a sports gambler. If you also had the Miami Dolphins and the Chiefs at 3-0 then you are either still lying or you know nothing about football. But that is the NFL. Teams often go from good to bad and from bad to good on a dime. And that is naturally why it is possibly the most popular of professional sports.

Jim Folsom is a regualr contributor to