You probably don’t need somebody to tell you that starting 0-2 in the NFL is bad. That’s one of the main topics of conversation among Cincinnati Bengals fans after the team suffered back-to-back three-point losses to open the season.
But how bad is it?
Russ Heltman from All Bengals pointed to history to provide an idea. As you can imagine, it’s a bleak outlook. Heltman points out that no 0-2 team has made the playoffs in the past couple of years and that only 12% did so between 1990 and 2019.
Now, of course, the NFL is different now and we know very little about how 14-team playoffs and 17-game schedules will pan out in the long run. But last year, the league put together a mathematical study of what the probabilities look like based on the current win-loss record.
Here’s what we can learn about the Bengals’ chances from such a study:
- Percentage of NFL teams that make the playoffs after an 0-2 start: 22%
Well, although an unideal number, clearly the Bengals are in a better spot than those pointed out by Heltman. That’s the good news. The even better news is that the Jets are up next for Cincinnati and a 1-2 start would shoot the Bengals’ chances up to 32%.
- Percentage of NFL teams that win the division after an 0-2 start: 10%
Reality check. It’s crazy to think that even though the Baltimore Ravens are 1-1, the Bengals’ odds are so slim according to the study. Based on what we know about these teams it’s easy to remain confident, knowing that the two head-to-head matchups between the two could go a long way in determining who takes the division title.
But it’s difficult to ignore the low number. Especially when being aware of how difficult it is to win on the road in the playoffs. Obviously, the Bengals did it last year yet it remains an unideal spot to be in.
- Percentage of NFL teams that earn a #1 seed after an 0-2 start: 1%
Oh. Looks like the Bengals won’t have a first-week bye in the playoffs in an attempt to make another deep playoff run.
The talent on this Bengals team suggests they can defy all odds. However, pass pro struggles and questionable coaching decisions have been disappointing early in the season. Especially so when considering many of the troublesome trends being discussed can be tracked back to last year.
It’s September, though. That means there’s still hope in the hearts of fans. The thing is, that hope will be tasked with beating the math.
You can read the full official NFL study here.
Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK