Ravens: Does 0-2 signal a lost season in the NFL?


September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51, left) and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (58, right) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens’ loss to the Oakland Raiders this week is obviously not a good thing.  They were probably the odds on favorites among every single NFL game this week to escape with a road win, after which they would finally be heading back to Baltimore for their home opener against a division rival.

But, alas, things just didn’t work out that way.  The Ravens fell to the hapless Raiders 37-33 after a dominant looking defense fell apart the week after it looked to be among the best in the league.  A reawakening on offense wasn’t enough to prevent them from falling into the dreaded 0-2 hole.

Going 0-2 to start the season has long been a predicator of failure for NFL teams.  We all know that no team has ever started the season with two consecutive losses and gone on to win the Super Bowl.  But is it really a death knell for a team’s season?

An 0-2 start may not signal a complete and total loss, but the statistics aren’t good.  Since 2009, a total of 45 NFL teams have started the season 0-2, and only 2 have gone on to secure a spot in the postseason.  The two teams that overcame the odds were the Panthers in 2013 and the Colts in 2014.

Since the 12 team playoff format began in 1990, only 23 out of the 204 teams that have started 0-2 have gone on to the playoffs.  For the math lovers among us, that’s an 11.2 percent success rate.  Since 2009, teams have had a mere 4% success rate of overcoming a two game deficit to start the season.

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A big asterisk mark is required when we talk about these statistics, of course.  Mostly because we’re talking about bad teams, many of whom have been bad for many years.  The Jaguars, for example, avoided their fourth straight 0-2 start Sunday with a win over the Dolphins.

So it’s not a completely lost cause, but starting 0-2 is most certainly not a good thing.  Perhaps even more onerous is the number of teams that have made the playoffs after starting 0-3, when success becomes increasingly improbable.  Only 5 NFL teams in the history of the league have overcome such a deficit.

So as the Ravens travel home for their home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, there must be a major sense of urgency.  We’re a little early in the season to call any game a “must win,” but for the Ravens, it absolutely is.

Next: Ravens grades vs Raiders, week 2

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