5 Losing Teams That Can Still Make the 2015 NFL Playoffs
It’s never fun to start an NFL season slowly. It’s even worse when there are a whopping six undefeated teams and another 11 teams at .500 or better. The first part is a bummer, but more because your favorite team might not be part of that group. The second part can be bad if you’re not part of it, too, but it also is a strong sign that after the top NFL teams, there could be a ton of parity.
That’s good for the game, but it’s even better for the teams struggling badly coming out of the gates. Those teams that don’t even have a win yet or look lost at 1-3? They still may have a chance. Here’s four of them specifically that, for whatever reason, could still turn things around and make some noise at the end of the year:
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3, bottom of the NFC East)
Chip Kelly’s mad genius is more like total madness at the moment, but the Eagles have been in two of their three losses and could easily be 3-1 right now if they just closes games better and/or didn’t fall behind early. Their shaky o-line is where their issues start, so if they can figure that out they could really heat up later in the year. That’s not why they have a chance, though. The real reason is the Dallas Cowboys lead this division at 2-2, just lost two straight and are without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. They’re in trouble. Then there’s the Redskins, who are led by Kirk Cousins. And then the Giants, who actually have looked good the past two weeks and are one of those teams that could easily be undefeated if they just closed games properly.
Still, that’s not an insurmountable bunch and Philly still controls their destiny. If they can sweep the G-Men and win their second showdowns with Dallas and Washington, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the division. They have to win outside of the division, too, but there is still hope.
Detroit Lions (0-4, bottom of the NFC North)
Detroit is probably the saddest story in the league because they have a talented team and have actually been in every single game this year, yet sit at 0-4. Last week told the whole story, as Calvin Johnson had the game-winning score in his hands but lost the fumble. Even worse? The Seahawks illegally batted the fumble out of bounds to get the touchback in the first place, and the refs don’t see it! Classic. That’s been the 2015 season for the Lions, but as rough as this start is, they still could climb out of this hole. They get to face the Vikings again and the Packers and Bears twice each, so their job inside the division is far from over. It all starts this week with a brutal matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, though, because there’s really no coming back from 0-5.
New Orleans Saints (1-3, bottom of NFC South)
The Saints need to be given a break. In week one they battled the Cardinals hard on the road and watched Arizona pull away in the final minutes. Then Drew Brees got hurt in week two and they lost a close game at home to the Buccaneers. In week three, with Brees sidelined, they dropped their third game in a row to start the year, a close battle with the Panthers. With Brees back last week, New Orleans used one last gasp to win an overtime battle over the Cowboys. That was huge. Even bigger is a week five matchup with the first team on this last (Eagles), which is a game that likely ends one team’s chances and gives serious life to the other. That could still be the Saints, and while an epic come back probably doesn’t get them the division crown (both Carolina and Atlanta are 4-0), it could give them a shot at a wild card spot.
Baltimore Ravens (1-3, 3rd in AFC North)
The Ravens were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders, yet going into week 5 they’re just 1-3 and can’t afford to lose. Luckily they get the Browns, who are “this close” to going back to Johnny Manziel with a lost season staring them in the face. They’ve also been pretty good and just have had some bad luck, too, as they lost a defensive battle on the road to an undefeated Broncos team, and then lost two crazy shootouts in a row to the Raiders and Bengals. More specifically, three of their first four games have been on the road and that didn’t go so well. Now they’re at home this week and can exit the week at 2-3. With Ben Roethlisberger out a month and the Browns dying at a rapid rate, it could all come down to a hut Ravens run and their second showdown with the Bengals.
Houston Texans (1-3, 3rd in AFC South)
The last team in a bad spot that could still turn things around is Houston. The Texans have no quarterback solution, but they still have several things going their way. Arian Foster returned last week and could be ready for a full work load this week, DeAndre Hopkins has quickly turned into one of the game’s top receivers, J.J. Watt leads a still spirited defense and this is one of the worst divisions in football that they’re playing in. The Titans and Jags can be topped and this week’s battle with the Colts will be super key. In fact, a win over Indy could potentially get Houston a share of first place in the AFC South. Yuck, right? Well, not if you’re a Texans fan.
It’s probably not the best idea to tie your cash to any of these teams, but if you’re looking for a fun bet to cheer for all year, you could pick one of these teams to steal their division, make the playoffs or win the Super Bowl. I think the only team that flat out can’t still win their division in this group is New Orleans, while the Ravens are probably the only realistic pick to turn things around completely and go win it all. All could still make the playoffs, but it’s quite clear that what happens in week five will tell us just who has a realistic shot of doing anything in 2015.