You have to love the NFL. All the hoopla surrounding your favorite team, weeks and weeks of prep to get ready for the season, magazines proclaiming them conference champions, so on and so forth.
Then, in just 120 minutes of football, your season appears completely over.
That’s the case when the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens wake up on Tuesday, who AFC ‘powerhouses’ who will find themselves at the bottom of their respective divisional standings with both having 0-2 records.
How bad is it in the NFL to start 0-2?
Consider this – just 23 of the 204 teams to start 0-2 since the inception of the 12-team playoff format in 1990 have qualified for the playoffs.
The Ravens have lost two road games to two AFC West teams, the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders. Losing to the Broncos is one thing, after all they still have a guy named Manning and their defense has played well thus far in two games under new coach Gary Kubiak.
Losing to the Raiders – that’s another.
The Raiders usually sit at the bottom of the AFC West year after year, and things appeared to be once again heading in that direction after they were beat up and down the field opening day in a 33-13 loss.
All they did was come out and drop 37 on the Ravens, this after QB Derek Carr threw a pick that appeared to put the Ravens in position to win the game. After Baltimore kicked a field goal to make it 33-30, their defense which played more like swiss cheese, allowed Carr to march down the field and score in the final minute.
The Ravens not only are reeling after losing two straight, they also have already lost their defensive leader in linebacker Terrell Suggs for the season.
Add to that they are on life support this week and have to host a 2-0 Bengals team that beat them twice last season. An 0-3 start isn’t out of the question for the Ravens.
Then there’s the Colts, who have to be shaking their heads after Monday’s home loss to the New York Jets, 20-7 in their home opener.
Three picks for Andrew Luck and a fumble at the goal line by offseason pickup Frank Gore spelled doom for the Colts, who were the hot pick by many to win the AFC in 2015.
Now they have to face the bitter truth – they may be worse than they were in 2014, when they were swept away in a blowout loss in the AFC Title Game by New England (deflated footballs or not).
They have major issues in pass protection, and while they added a number of shiny parts in the offseason like Gore and Andre Johnson, they failed to add to their offensive line, and Monday night it showed as the Jets got to Luck all night.
The Colts were outhit and outmuscled in two losses to the Bills and Jets, and have to face the reality that they can’t just throw their helmets on the field and expect to win.
The past two seasons have each produced one playoff team that started 0-2, as the Carolina Panthers finished 12-4 in 2013 and the Colts rallied for an 11-5 record last year after they were 0-2, so they have overcome it before.
The difference? They are not going to sneak up on anyone, and with the O-Line hurting, thinking this team is going to be playing on the first Sunday in February at Super Bowl 50 seems like a LONG way away.
The other 14 teams in the AFC smell blood when it comes to the reeling Ravens and Colts. It’s truly a gut check time for both teams as they get set to fight for their lives in week three.