Being 0-3 after three weeks in the NFL isn’t disastrous, but it is obviously far form ideal. A team can easily make the playoffs after such a bad start - just like Denver showed us last year that you can miss the playoffs after starting 6-0 - but teams that go 0-fer in September certainly aren’t making it easy on themselves. There are fie teams after three games in 2010 that have yet to put a win on the board. Here’s a look at each of them to see if they are playing up to their potential, or if something is just going wrong, along with some NFL predictions for turning things around:
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Detroit - The Lions have more than their share of experience with losing games in recent years. They also unfortunately find themselves trying to build around a very fragile franchise quarterback. Still, the Lions don’t deserve this record. For starts, only an incredibly stupid rule cost them a loss in the opener against Chicago, and they gave the Eagles absolutely everything they could handle in the second game. This team isn’t exactly a powerhouse, and they aren’t anywhere close to a playoff team this year, but they have a good spirit to them, and if they can stay positive amidst the ongoing frustrations of this season then they will win more than their share this year. A couple of things have stood out about the play of the team so far. First and foremost is the play of the rookies. Jahvid Best has been unstoppable, Ndamukong Suh has lived up to the hype, and others have been strong as well. Those youngsters will struggle from time to time, but the fact that they are playing so well so early is a clear sign that they are coachable and motivated, and that is a promising sign for the team and their coaching staff. This is a team that is moving in the right direction.
Carolina - There’s that old cliche that says that when you have two quarterbacks you don’t really have any - that a clear-cut starter is necessary for success. Carolina is proof of that concept. They are struggling mightily on offense, and that’s mostly a result of the absence of a starter. They gambled that Matt Moore was a No. 1 in this league, but they seem to have already conceded that they might have lost that bet. That forced them to put Jimmy Clausen in before he was ready, and the results were horrifying. Now they have an offense without confidence and a team without a lot of hope. They won’t lose all of their games, but they will lose most of them.
San Francisco - I couldn’t be more surprised or frustrated by a team than I am by this one. Coming into the season they looked like they had it all - a quarterback who had taken strides forward and finally had the same offensive coordinator two years in a row, a very nice receiving corps, a stud running back, nice lines on both sides of the ball, a top linebacking unit and a solid secondary, and a coach who looked to be walking his not inconsiderable talk. I really thought this team was on the verge of being elite. In three weeks all that hope has disappeared. the offensive coordinator is gone, the coach looks like he is about to be next one out, the offense has been hopeless, the defense is disinterested. Simply put, this is the worst team in the league right now. It shouldn’t continue, but then it never should have gotten to this point in the first place. I don’t really know what will happen, but I sure won’t be looking at them seriously until they prove that they are a lot closer to what they should be than what they have been.
Buffalo - Did anyone seriously think for a second that Chan Gailey would have this team at anything other than 0-3? This is a lousy team that is playing about as well as it can. They have been outscored by 40 points, they have jettisoned one QB already, and there is little on either side of the ball to get excited about. They could win a game or two - Cleveland and Jacksonville both come to Buffalo - but wins will be few and far between here. You get what you deserve, and when you think hiring Gailey is a good idea you don’t deserve much.
Cleveland - Eric Mangini is their coach. Without knowing anything else do you really have a reason to be optimistic? Their quarterback experimentation isn’t working, and they have already lost to Tampa Bay and Kansas City, so things are pretty bleak. The one thing they have going for them, though, is that their defense has been reasonably respectable. That could seem them win a couple of games, but not until Week 11 - when they start a four week stretch that sees them face Jacksonville, Carolina, and Buffalo - unless they get lucky and catch a strong opponent off guard.