We are only three weeks into the NFL season, and there are three teams who have started 0-3, and plenty who have started 1-2. There are four teams in particular, in my opinion, who must get a win in order to keep their both their season and playoff hopes alive. Let’s take a look at each team.
Houston Texans- (0-3)
Deshaun Watson hasn’t looked like the same quarterback we saw for that large stretch of time in 2017. Post-ACL, he has seemed to struggle, and rightfully so. His offensive line is a mess and he’s constantly under pressure. Yet, they rank 8th in total rushing yards thus far with 124.7. What’s even more interesting than that, is the fact they rank 20th in rushing yards allowed per game with 112.0. That is with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney in the lineup.
Sounds kind of backwards, right? They have a top running game with an atrocious offensive line, but rank lower in rushing yards allowed per game with two of the best defensive linemen in pro football. Bottom line is this, Houston must get a win this week against Indianapolis Colts team that has played very well throughout three games, particularly defensively.
If this Texans team starts 0-4, I have a strong feeling it may be a long season ahead. I know it’s early in the season, but starting 0-3 is bad. Starting 0-4 is just horrendous. Bare in mind too, Houston plays a Colts’ defensive line that is vastly improved from 2017 to 2018, as they’ve already accumulated 10 sacks, and that Darius Leonard guy is pretty good too. It should be an intriguing match-up to say the least.
Oakland Raiders- (0-3)
Oddly enough, the Raiders of this season are just like the Indianapolis Colts of last season, they can’t seem to finish in the second half. That, and their secondary is a mess, they have next-to-no pass-rush (shocker), and Derek Carr isn’t playing well at all. (2 touchdowns to 5 interceptions). Sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me. Yet, there is one stat of theirs that intrigues me.
They are the only NFL team to have a 100-yard rusher (Marshawn Lynch) in their first three games, but somehow are 0-3? Oakland takes on the Cleveland Browns this coming weekend. Should they manage to lose to Baker Mayfield and company, this organization will be in big trouble.
Much-like Houston, the Raiders need a win to stay alive this season, let-alone make the playoffs. Considering Denver is playing decently, the Chargers are still a very well-rounded ball club, and the Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes, are lighting up opposing defenses on a weekly basis thus far, Oakland absolutely needs a win. Otherwise, the Khalil Mack trade isn’t the only thing Jon Gruden is going to take a lot of heat for.
Arizona Cardinals- (0-3)
Yet another winless team who needs a win in week 4. Sam Bradford clearly isn’t the answer, so first-year head coach Steve Wilks named rookie Josh Rosen the starter (at least for the indefinite future). We’ll have to see if the former UCLA quarterback can guide his team to a win against a divisional rival in Seattle. Good news for the Rosen, his first career start is in Arizona, which may give him a slight edge.
Arizona currently ranks dead-last in every major offensive category. Opposing offenses have earned 75 first downs to Arizona’s 32. Needless to say, this team is in dire need of more than just a win, they need some decent offensive production, and it must come against Seattle in week 4. Defensively, they’re not much better in particular areas, like ranking 29th in rushing yards allowed per game with 131.3.
They also rank 25th in total yards surrendered per game with 392.3. Although this is a tough task for Rosen and the Cardinals’ league-worst offense, it isn’t entirely impossible. Coming prepared is vital this week because should they lose, I don’t see them finishing anywhere bust dead last in their division. Even with a win, I can’t see a team like Arizona with the NFL’s worst-ranked offense making the playoffs in 2018 anyways.
Dallas Cowboys- (1-2)
Dallas is in their own offensive world of woes, particularly in the passing game. Behind the league-worst Arizona Cardinals, the Cowboys have the second-worst passing attack in all of football. They rank 31st with averaging 13.7 points per game, 30th in total yards accumulated per game with 277.7, and 31st in passing yards accumulated per game with 145.0.
Needless to say, this Cowboys, who were given very high praise by many heading into the regular season, have done everything but exceed expectations of those who have given them high praise. Maybe Dez Bryant wasn’t the problem after all? They do, however, rank 7th in rushing yards accumulated per game with 132.7, which is about they only thing they have going offensively.
The question is, does Dak Prescott not have enough play-makers to be successful in the passing game, or is Prescott himself the problem? The good news is, where their offense lacks in explosive talent, their defense makes up for in strong talent. Dallas has one of the top ranked defenses through the first three weeks. They have a big home game coming up against Detroit who is coming off of a much-impressive win over New England on Sunday night.
Can Dak and the ‘Boys turn it around against what seems to a red-hot Detroit Lions’ team (at the moment)? They better, because their season depends on it.
All these teams have their highs and lows, but they all have one thing in common. Each one of these teams must get a win on Sunday in order to keep their respective seasons and playoff hopes alive for 2018. It’ll be interesting to see if they can deliver. If not, it might just be a long season for all four of these teams.