Which 2-0 NFL teams were frauds? An investigation revisited

Which 2-0 NFL teams were frauds? An investigation revisited

Every year, we overreact to 2-0 teams. And every year, a hot team in September cools off by December.

A few months ago, I wrote about the eleven undefeated teams in the league after Week 2. Which of those squads were real and which were frauds?

We’re in December. So how did I do?

Let’s investigate.

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Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

Illustration for article titled Which 2-0 NFL teams were frauds? An investigation revisited
Photo: Getty Images

September

There’s no 2-0 team worse than the Chicago Bears. You know this. Chicago almost lost to the Lions and Giants. They’ll play the Falcons (who have something to prove) [Writer’s note: slaps forehead], the Colts and the Bucs in the next few weeks. The Bears still have to play Green Bay twice too. Good night and good luck, Chicago.

Fraud potential: High

December

The Bears were frauds from the get-go. After starting the season 5-1 they are now 5-6. And Chicago got to play Green Bay for the first time this season on Sunday night. How did that turn out? Not so great.

Despite having one of the best defenses in the league, Chicago still can’t get the QB right. Good luck in 2021, Chicago.

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Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

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Photo: Getty Images

September

If New England ran the ball I’d get to talk about Cam in this series on teams with a 2-0 start. But here we are. Seattle is undefeated after stopping the Pats at the goal line and beating the Falcons in Week 1. Seattle could string a few more wins together with the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Vikings coming up.

Fraud potential: Low 

December

A predictable 2-0 start looking back at it. The Seahawks would also string three more wins together against the opponents mentioned above. As the current leader in the NFC West, Seattle’s fraud potential remains low.

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Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers

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Photo: Getty Images

September

Beating the Lions and Vikings doesn’t really prove anything except that Green Bay will likely host a home game in January. Don’t get it twisted, the Packers are clear favorites in this stale division. Their 2-0 record is justified.

Fraud potential: Low 

December

Did I stutter? The Packers will win this division. Next.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers

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Photo: Getty Images

September

Pittsburgh beat two crappy teams: the Giants and an injured Broncos. But with Ben back and Mike Tomlin coaching with a legitimate starting NFL QB the Steelers will likely beat their 8-8 record from last year. Pittsburgh’s record shouldn’t shock anyone...yet.

Fraud potential: Low

December

The Steelers have already surpassed their 8-8 record from last year. They are the last undefeated team in the league and will look to go 11-0 tomorrow afternoon (lol) if the game doesn’t get postponed again, againagain. Speaking of ominous ellipsis, I’m not sure what I meant to say in that last sentence from September. I’d like to think I was forecasting a shockingly good season for Pittsburgh.

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Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens

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Photo: Getty Images

September

The Ravens beat the Browns then the Texans handedly. They’ll face a tougher test against the Chiefs next week. Still, Baltimore is the class of the conference. If any undefeated team looks better than their record, it’s Baltimore.

Fraud potential: Low

December

Class of the conference? Maybe at the time but definitely not now. The Ravens are 6-4 and the eighth seed in the AFC playoff chase. And Baltimore’s team outbreak could cost them a shot at the postseason. The Ravens have lost two straight and could be without 2019 MVP QB Lamar Jackson for at least tomorrow’s game due to COVID. Baltimore also has several starters out due to the virus. I wouldn’t call the Ravens frauds. They’re still in the mix, just very unhealthy.

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Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs

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Photo: Getty Images

September

The Super Bowl champions are, unsurprisingly, an undefeated team through two games. But next Monday they face the Ravens in Baltimore. It’s one of the toughest games on the Chiefs schedule for sure. Win or lose in Week 3, though, Kansas City will likely be a 2-0 team that plays in January — maybe February.

Fraud potential: Low

December

The Chiefs did win that game in Baltimore, by the way. The defending champs are 10-1 and have a very real chance to win out. Week 15 in New Orleans will be Kansas City’s toughest test of the season (Brees should be back by then).

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

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Photo: Getty Images

September

There are three teams in the NFL’s group of death division with undefeated records. The Cardinals are one of them and I’m beginning to see why oddsmakers liked Kyler Murray to contend for the MVP before the season kicked off. How far can Murray take this team, though? Perhaps to game in January with the way he is playing.

Fraud potential: Medium

December

The Kyler Murray MVP talk was fun for a few weeks but it’s not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, the young QB has played exceptionally well in his second year. And he could still lead the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance since 2015. But there are five weeks left and three games against NFC West opponents. The wheels could fall off for Arizona but I don’t expect that to happen.

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

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September

It’s only September 22, but the AFC East is turning into a two horse race. The sole undefeated team in the division is the Buffalo Bills. A playoff team last year, Buffalo will probably contend for another spot in the postseason this year.

Fraud potential: Medium

December

The Bills beat the Jets and Dolphins in the first two games. At the time, I knew Buffalo would contend for an AFC East crown but I was wary of another hot September Bills team. By October, it was clear that this would be Buffalo’s division to lose. So yes, they will contend for a playoff position and probably more in January.

Writers note: Sorry, Bills mafia. We didn’t mean to leave your team out of this list when we first ran the September story. There was an error publishing the slideshow that excluded the Bills at first. We fixed it.

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Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams

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Photo: Getty Images

September

L.A. missed the playoffs last year after making the Super Bowl the year before. Their biggest obstacle this season is their division. Playing the Niners, Cardinals and Seahawks twice would be rough for any team, let alone the Rams.

Fraud potential: Medium

December

How are the Rams fairing in the NFC West? They’re 1-2 with three divisional games left. I won’t be surprised when L.A. makes the playoffs but this still doesn’t feel like a late January team. They’re not frauds but don’t get too high on the Rams either.

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Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans

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Photo: Getty Images

September

Tennessee has found itself in two extremely tight fourth-quarter games against the Broncos and Jaguars. With a Week 2 win, hopefully the Titans have stopped a second wave of Minshew Mania. But they’ll play a tougher schedule in weeks to come. I’m not sure who could be sold on Tennessee yet. This is a team that could easily be 0-2.

Fraud potential: High

December

I completely whiffed on this one. The Titans are not frauds, but those first two wins were ugly. Tennessee is now 8-3 and stand alone on top of their division. Just keep handing the ball off to Derrick Henry, maybe Tennessee can get back to an AFC championship.

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Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders

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Photo: Getty Images

September

Vegas won in their home opener last night in front of zero fans in a brand new stadium/Roomba. Raider QB Derek Carr has exceeded expectations and is completing around 73 percent of his throws. Also worth mentioning, Carr has not thrown a pick this season. How long will the Raiders run last? Not sure. The Raiders are in the AFC West — they’ll still have to play the Chiefs twice. If Carr can continue to play like a superhuman, anything can happen. But I expect this team, and Carr, to come back to earth soon.

Fraud potential: High

December

The Raiders did come back to earth. At 6-5 they still have a shot at making the expanded playoffs. Right now, though, they’re on the outside looking in. I expect Vegas to win a few more games by the end of the year. 9-7 sounds about right, and that’s generous. Still, that record may not be good enough to earn an extra away game in January.

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