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0-2 a silly statistic this early in season

September 20, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Staff ( , The Mining Journal

I've got so many topics I want to talk about today, but I can only pick one.

No replacement refs, none of my "anti-momentum" theory of picking games.

Instead, I want to look at a silly statistic often repeated on ESPN the past two weeks - that only 12 percent of NFL teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs.

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Well, duh! We knew the 2008 Lions - they of the famous 0-16 record - wouldn't make the playoffs. We didn't have to see them go 0-2 to know that. Lots of other 2-14 and 3-13 teams didn't need an 0-2 start to cinch missing the postseason either.

Half of this year's six teams now 0-2 fall into that group - Cleveland, Jacksonville and Oakland (except for those who think the Raiders could win the AFC West with an 8-8 record).

Now 0-2 New Orleans, Tennessee and Kansas City are getting lumped with them. Despite their record, I'll still bet on the Saints as playoff-bound before 1-1 Indianapolis, Washington, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Seattle or the three-quarters of AFC East not named the Patriots.

I think I'm even ready to take New Orleans and spot two games in the standings to 2-0 Arizona, San Diego and Philadelphia, too.

As Mark Twain once said, "there's lies, damn lies and statistics." I kinda like the middle one myself.

On to this week:

Tonight, 8:20 p.m.

N.Y. Giants at Carolina - I was leaning toward the Giants until I learned of all their injury problems.

How does a Giants' defense geared to stop the pass keep mobile quarterback Cam Newton from running all day? Panthers, 28-24.

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Detroit at Tennessee - Half the time, I forget the Titans still play in the NFL. After doing a little research, I see running back Chris Johnson has been in a prolonged slump. If he's ever going to break out of it, the Lions would be the perfect tonic.

But with young QB Jake Locker hurting, would a rejuvenated Johnson be enough to keep up with Detroit's offense and the first sighting of RB Mikel Leshoure? Lions, 34-24.

St. Louis at Chicago - I so want to take the Rams after predicting the win over Washington. But anti-momentum says that Chicago QB Jake Cutler and its defense got a needed kick in the pants by the Packers last week. Bears, 23-13.

Buffalo at Cleveland - Yawn ... oh, excuse me, who is this? And they're playing who? Wake me up when it's over. Browns, 11-9.

Tampa Bay at Dallas - Definition of vulnerable: a defense that gives up 250 yards passing in one quarter, like the Bucs did vs. the Giants. Lick your chops, Dallas. Cowboys, 38-27.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis - QB Andrew Luck wins two in a row when the Colts host Green Bay in Week 5. So what if the steak comes against two bad teams? Colts, 27-23.

N.Y. Jets at Miami - Does New York dare trot out Tim Tebow in the wildcat formation against the team that invented it? They will if they want a rare September win in steamy South Florida. Jets, 17-13.

San Francisco at Minnesota - I wouldn't even take the Vikings with the point spread. 49ers, 30-10.

Kansas City at New Orleans - Voodoo shops in the French Quarter work overtime to lift the Bounty-gate curse. Saints, 40-24.

Cincinnati at Washington - Another trial by fire for Washington QB Robert Griffin III. He passes this test - barely. Redskins, 16-13.

Sunday, 4 p.m.

Philadelphia at Arizona - Unlikely 2-0 teams, Philly because of all their turnovers, Arizona because ... well, they're back to being the Cardinals of yore. Eagles, 22-21.

Atlanta at San Diego - Don't trust a team winning a big test going cross country on a short week. Chargers, 27-20.

Houston at Denver - Super Bowl-caliber matchup, but one team needs it more. Broncos, 32-29.

Pittsburgh at Oakland - I hear the Raiders saying, "I've fallen and Pittsburgh won't let me up!" Steelers, 37-20.

Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

New England at Baltimore - Who gets up off the canvas quicker after each suffered unlikely losses? Ravens, 24-19.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Green Bay at Seattle - You don't make a run at the Super Bowl by losing to .500-caliber teams too often, even after a cross-country trip. Packers, 28-23.

Last week - 11-5, 69 percent. Season - 21-11, 66 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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