ESPN has been pumping up the importance of Week Two in the NFL all day with the following graphic that shows how often teams make the playoffs depending on their record after two games.
Unfortunately, this graphic is a bit misleading and doesn’t tell the whole story:
The problem is this graphic suggests that all teams have just a 12% chance of making the playoffs if they start 0-2. But not all 0-2 teams are created equally, just like not all 2-0 teams are Super Bowl contenders.
Occasionally good teams get off to bad starts. Maybe they have a tough early schedule or some early injuries to key players. Or maybe it was just plain bad luck.
But the key point is that bad teams are more likely to start 0-2. But if a good team does happen to start 0-2, their chances of making the playoffs will be much greater than 12%.
The perfect example is the 2007 New York Giants, who started 0-2. They lost a Week One 45-35 shootout on the road in Dallas, in which Eli Manning got knocked out of the game and the Giants trailed by just three points late in the fourth quarter. Then, in Week Two, the Giants lost to the Packers 35-13 at home. But that was a one-point game in the fourth quarter even though Manning was playing with a sore shoulder.
Nobody at the time would have watched those games and assumed the Giants had just a 12% chance of making the playoffs. In fact, they went on to win the Super Bowl.
So, if you think your favourite team is good enough to make the playoffs and they just happen to start 0-2, don’t panic. The bad teams that are 0-2 will miss the playoffs. For the good teams, there is still plenty of season left to catch up.
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