History has shown that when NFL teams begin a season with an 0-2 record, it is difficult to earn a playoff spot. However, when the New Orleans Saints face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, September 16, one of the two teams will be winless after two games. As a Saints fan, I am hoping to see New Orleans even its record at 1-1 on Sunday and not create an uphill climb for the rest of the 2012 season.
If the Saints were to drop the road contest in Carolina, they would likely need to win nine or ten of their remaining 14 games. On a schedule that includes the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, in addition to regular NFC South matchups, hoping for a 10-4 stretch is not ideal.
The Saints have not been in this position very often in recent years. Since Drew Brees took over the quarterback job in 2006, New Orleans lost its first two games only once, going 0-4 to begin the 2007 season. The Saints did not make the postseason that year, even with a four-game win streak later in the season. In 2008 the team lost two of the first three games and were left out of the playoffs again. A good start is crucial in this league, as teams look to start successfully and help ease stress later when players are banged up.
The Saints did lose their first game last year, but bounced back with four consecutive wins and ended the regular season at 13-3 following an eight-game winning streak. The team played poorly against the Washington Redskins last week, but a win against Carolina on Sunday can obviously get the season back on track. Although a similar 13-2 run may be unrealistic this year, I would love to see the team repeat last year's success after dropping the first game.
Unfortunately, the Panthers will be trying to avoid the same 0-2 record and will have the advantage of being at home. The Saints will have a typical NFC South fight on their hands but will hopefully leave Carolina with a victory and an even record.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.