While these five teams didn’t get off to the start they were looking for, they’re still in good shape to make the NFL Playoffs.
Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season is in the books, and while there were a few big losers this past week (we’re looking at you Browns, Redskins and Rams), the majority of the games on Sunday and Monday were extremely competitive with many coming down to the final minutes and the final plays of the game to decide a winner. The three teams mentioned were essentially slaughtered, but the remaining 13 games on the Week 1 schedule were all decided by single digits, with an astonishing four games being decided by only one point and two more had merely a two-point difference. In fact, of the teams that lost by single digits, only the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears didn’t come within seven points of victory. If only the game was 30 minutes long — am I right, Bears fans?
So, here we are after only a week. With so many close games and so many comeback victories, records aren’t really telling the whole story at this point in the season, but the fact remains that we’ve got 16 teams that are now 0-1.
Now, I think we can all agree at this point that at least the Browns and Rams already have a zero-percent chance of getting into the playoffs. And although the Redskins got hammered, they still play in a weak NFC East, so let’s not rule them out just yet. As for most of the other winless teams thus far, it’s a pretty tough call to make.
But let’s have some fun and make a few predictions anyway. Here are five NFL teams that lost in Week 1 and will still make the playoffs, starting with the first team to lose this season.
5. Carolina Panthers
This one may be the easiest to call. The Carolina Panthers are going to make the NFL Playoffs. Cam Newton and company are just too talented to miss out a year after going to the Super Bowl. It’s extremely difficult to go on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions and get a victory, but the Panthers almost did just that.
No, Cam Newton didn’t put up the MVP-type numbers that we became accustomed to a season ago, but it certainly doesn’t help when you’re being bashed in the head like CM Punk on a Saturday night, does it?
It was great to see Kelvin Benjamin out there making plays — six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown to be exact– after a knee injury in training camp last year forced him to miss the entire 2015 season. He’s put himself in position to be Cam Newton’s primary target, other than perhaps Greg Olsen, who himself had a typical good game with nine catches for 73 yards, and is primed for a great comeback season.
Jonathan Stewart didn’t put up huge numbers on Thursday night but looked very solid at points, and Luke Kuechly and the Carolina defense looked very good as well.
The only team in the NFC South to win a Week 1 game was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and although Jameis Winston is showing no signs of a sophomore slump, the division still belongs to the Panthers and they shouldn’t have any problem getting in.
The Panthers host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and should be able to even their record at 1-1.