Usually there is one team every few years that looks like it could go 0-16. This season, there are four.
They can’t all go 0-16 because they end up playing each other. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets play twice. The Dolphins face the Washington Redskins on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals have dates left against the Dolphins and Jets.
Through the first five weeks of the season, all four teams look shockingly bad. A team like the Denver Broncos, which had an 0-4 start before a win last Sunday, didn’t look like the type of team that could go two or three months without winning a game. They lost two games on last-second field goals. The Broncos at least looked competitive. The four remaining winless teams look hopeless.
It’s too early to talk about 0-16, but it’s not too early to wonder which of these teams will be the last one in the winless group. If any of these four teams don’t score a win against each other, it might be a while.
Bengals have almost won twice
The Bengals already had a shot at two wins, so perhaps they’re in the same category as the Broncos and a little better than their record. But only a little. The Bengals outplayed the Seahawks but lost by two points on the road, then led at the Buffalo Bills until Buffalo took a lead in the final two minutes. But the three losses are troubling. There were absolute blowouts against the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Losing at home last Sunday to an 0-3-1 Arizona Cardinals team, and looking awful most of the game, was really disheartening.
The Bengals seem capable of beating a team better than them, so maybe it happens soon. Otherwise, a Nov. 24 matchup against the Steelers might be their first good shot at a win. Then again, the Bengals were already blown out by the Steelers once. They might be waiting until those games against the Jets and Dolphins in December.
Jets have missed Sam Darnold
Presumably, the Jets will look a lot better when quarterback Sam Darnold returns this week. They won’t be good because they’ll still be poorly coached, and who knows how much a bout with mono took out of Darnold, but they won’t look as bad as they have to this point. They had 39 straight drives without a touchdown. Their defense and special teams has scored three touchdowns and the offense has only two. Darnold will change that. Still, games against the Cowboys, Patriots and Jaguars are coming up. Nov. 4 against the Dolphins might be the first win. After that first Dolphins game the Jets play the Giants, Redskins, Bengals and Dolphins again, so they shouldn’t be winless into mid-December.
Can coaching change help Washington?
Washington has a new coach after firing Jay Gruden, but the same owner, front office and roster so this thing isn’t going to get a lot better. After competing against the Eagles in Week 1, Washington has four double-digit losses in a row. Each loss has been worse than the last one: 10, 16, 21, 26.
Of course, Washington plays at Miami this week so that’s a great chance for a win. If they don’t win that one, the schedule gets hard for a while. The Jets game on Nov. 17 is at home, at least. Interim coach Bill Callahan might want to win at Miami this week, or Washington could go a long time before scoring a victory.
Dolphins have been horrendous
Even with many teams looking horrible this season, let’s not forget that the Dolphins have been worst of all. Their minus-137 point differential through four games seems impossible. They’re entirely inept on offense and defense. It’s a total mess. Their plan to tank worked too well. The Dolphins turned themselves into perhaps the worst non-expansion team in the Super Bowl era.
Yet, if they win one game nobody will remember them. We’ll remember the 0-16 teams forever but nobody recalls who went 1-15. The Redskins game this week is at least winnable. An Oct. 28 game at 1-4 Pittsburgh would seem somewhat winnable, but probably not for Miami. There are two games against the Jets and one against the Bengals. The Dolphins are ridiculously bad, but if you give them five winnable games, they should get one win. Maybe.
The Dolphins still look like the team most likely to be the last to win a game, simply because in a land of horrendous teams they’re clearly the worst. But if the Dolphins win on Sunday, Washington takes the lead in the race nobody wants to win. So tune in to Redskins-Dolphins to see what happens. Or don’t. Please don’t.
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