Since 1990, only three teams have made the playoffs after starting a season 0-3, according to ESPN, with the last time being 1998. So far this season, the Indianapolis Colts are 0-2, looking to get on the winning track in week three. But given the tough history for teams starting 0-3, does it make this week's game a must-win?
Head coach Chuck Pagano doesn't think so, nor do the Colts consider it to be such. "Absolutely not," Pagano said on Wednesday. "We just need a win. We just need a win. It's the next week. It's game three. Division game on the road. A great football team we're going to play. Just need a win."
After losing consecutive games to AFC East teams, the Colts now begin a three-game stretch against their own division, the AFC South, beginning this Sunday on the road against the Titans. The Colts have won thirteen games in a row against division opponents (dating back to 2012) and in the Andrew Luck era are 16-2 overall against the AFC South. Those are some incredibly dominant numbers regardless of the talent level of those teams, but the Colts realize that doesn't mean anything this weekend. "Nothing," Pagano agreed. "Zero."
But the results have been hard to argue with, and that's a major reason why the Colts have made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. The easiest way to make the playoffs is to win your own division, which the Colts have done two years in a row. And with three of the six games against the division coming in the next three weeks, this is a very important stretch coming up for the Colts, even if the games might not be the most intriguing of matchups.
"We're going to take it one week at a time," Pagano said. "There's no other way to this deal. So it's Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee and our total focus is on them and them only. We'll take it one day at a time and we'll take it one week at a time. You start looking ahead and all that - you can't, you can't do it. You've got to take it one week at a time. You've got to claw your way back, dig yourself out."
The Titans are retooled and playing better football with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, and the Colts aren't taking them lightly. And that's smart, considering the Titans are tied for the division lead at 1-1 while the Colts are 0-2. The issues are abundant for Indianapolis, but there's still a lot of time ahead to fix things and make a run. And while the Colts aren't considering this weekend's game a must-win, a win on the road against a division opponent to avoid an 0-3 start would go a long way toward calming some of the angst created by the team's 0-2 start.