No North American professional sport lends itself to overreaction more than the NFL.
This overreaction is directly related to the number of games played. Major League Baseball plays a 160-game regular season. The National Hockey League and National Basketball Association play 82-game regular seasons. There is a level of overreaction in each league but it’s not like the NFL.
The NFL plays a 16-game regular season over the course of 17 weeks. This adds a level of drama not found in the NBA, NHL, and MLB. There are important games every single week and because of this, there tends to be a level of overreaction…especially when the season starts.
So far, 32 of the 256 NFL regular season games have been played. We have seen SportsCenter highlight-worthy material and plenty of WTF moments in just two weeks of action. There are still 14 games remaining and the only certainty is that nothing is certain as it relates to how the 2018 season will play out.
There are nine winless teams in the NFL as of the conclusion of Week 2.
At some point in the last day, analysts (both studio and armchair) have pontificated about how rotten and disgusting these teams are. The postseason has never been decided after two games but a few of the winless teams are surprising.
Here are my picks for most surprising winless teams at this early juncture in the season in no particular order.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1)
The standard of NFL excellence in the Super Bowl era are the Steelers. They may be the most stable franchise in all of North American professional sports (Sorry, Patriots and Spurs fans…well, not sorry Patriots fans). In my lifetime, the Steelers have had just three head coaches (Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin). By comparison, the Cleveland Browns have had nine head coaches since coming back to the NFL in 1999.
Speaking of the Browns, Pittsburgh played their division rival in the opener. Ben Roethlisberger was 21-2 lifetime against Cleveland. Cleveland won a single game in the past two seasons. Easy Steelers win, right? Not so fast. The Browns and Steelers played to a 21-21 tie for the first time in the series.
Pittsburgh might as well have caught a South Dakota State/Arkansas-Pine Bluff beatdown. They defeated the Browns in 35 of the 40 games played since the turn of the century and had the audacity to begin ’18 with a tie. They followed it up with a defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs hung 42 points on a franchise known historically for defense. Mel Blount, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, and Jack Lambert are not pleased.
The Steelers also have the huge distraction of Le’Veon Bell’s holdout and Antonio Brown going ballistic on the sideline and venting on social media. If they weren’t winless, Bell’s holdout wouldn’t even be discussed and Brown wouldn’t be suggesting trades to prove his mettle.
Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
Once upon a time, everyone thought the Seahawks would be a perennial contender with the Legion of Boom, Pete Carroll’s innovations, Russell Wilson’s arm, and the support of the 12th Man. This was before the final drive of Super Bowl XLIX began exposing chinks in the armor.
The Seahawks’ dropping of their first two games is surprising because they are games they would’ve won a season or more ago. There is no way Seattle would have dropped their opener against the Denver Broncos if the Legion of Boom as originally constituted were still intact. Case Keenum threw three touchdowns and three interceptions for the Broncos. The Seahawks defense made Keenum look like John Elway.
Seattle even had a chance in Monday night’s loss to the Chicago Bears despite Wilson throwing a pick-six and losing two fumbles on back-to-back possessions. The Seattle offense has struggled to find any playmaker on offense besides the injured Doug Baldwin and, yet, they’ve lost their first two games by a combined 10 points.
The Seahawks had to face Von Miller in Week 1 and Khalil Mack in Week 2, surrendering 12 sacks. Wilson is the first quarterback to be sacked at least 11 times in his first two games since Chad Henne got dropped 13 times under center for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. Carroll, once heralded as a football savant, is looking more and more ordinary with the moves he’s made to revamp the O-line and defense.
Houston Texans (0-2)
Every year is supposed to the Texans’ year. After all, they’ve got a formidable defense with the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and (the player with the best surname in football) Whitney Mercilus. They even have Deshaun Watson back from a season-ending injury. Now the stars are in perfect alignment. Now Houston is ready to take that next step in a division that hasn’t been very good.
Houston faced the two-time defending AFC Champion Patriots in the opener. New England didn’t play their best game. There’s no such thing as midseason form in Week 1 but the Texans’ fearsome defense didn’t scare A Quarterback Named Brady in the least. Meanwhile, Brady’s Texans counterpart didn’t play badly, the defense even helped him with two fumbles recovered and an interception. Houston just wasn’t good enough to get past Belichick and Co.
The Texans faced the division rival Tennessee Titans. Watson played out of his mind, going 22-of-32 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran five times for 44 yards including a 15-yard scamper. Watson had a chance to tie the game on the final possession but failed to throw the ball away once he got the Texans in field goal range.
Watson seemed a little perturbed when asked about the game’s final play, saying “You can sit back and sit in your seats and say that I needed to throw the ball away.” He should be even more perturbed he lost to a team quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert.
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.