Chasing the Wrong Records
With week 8’s Sunday slate of games wrapped up, two teams are staring down the barrel of a pretty disappointing milestone; being the second and third teams to go winless in an NFL season. The Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers exit the first half of the year winless, and there is a solid chance neither of them will see that change come January.
For some reason, there’s always been a fascination with teams going 0-16 in the NFL. In 2007 it seemed like everyone was rooting for the Miami Dolphins to be the first club to lose their whole slate of games, winning their one and only game in week 15 against the Ravens. The following year The Detriot Lions wasted no time doing what Miami couldn’t, being the first team to lose all 16. The Cleveland Browns are in the midst of their third straight year of being the next club on that list.
But out of both 0-8 clubs, the team in the worse position moving forward are the San Francisco 49ers. With a difficult rest of schedule, the 49ers play division rivals Arizona Cardinals (who previously beat them 18-15), Seattle Seahawks (who won 12-9), LA Rams (who won 41-39), The New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Tennesse Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even with the most winnable games being the depleted Cardinals and Giants, they still sit at a massive disadvantage. The 49ers have been rolling with rookie C.J. Beathard after benching Brian Hoyer, and he hasn’t faired any better. With three starts under his belt, Beathard had thrown for only 650 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions, to a receiving corps that consists of an aging Pierre Garcon, giving them the 22nd pass offense in the league. It just so happens those two games against The Giants and The Cardinals happen to include two of the NFL’s stingiest pass defenses, giving up 250 pass yards a game.
They seem to be well aware that the ship is sinking, as they are allowing their players to leave, or forcing them out. After long time star Navarro Bowman asked for his release, there is very little in the way of talent on their defense. Carlos Hyde is a player who leads their team in rushing yards, but every week is losing more and more touches to other backs in an offense he simply doesn’t belong in.
They sport 29th in points for, 24th in yards per game, and 22nd in both passing and rushing yards. It’s almost a guarantee they will lose 7 of their next 8, and it’s hard to see them not going 0-16 if they can’t take advantage of The Cardinals playing without Carson Palmer and David Johnson.
Then there are the Browns, who go into their bye after blowing a halftime lead over The Vikings in London. They face one of the friendlier back halves a team could ask for, but can’t seem to figure out their Quarterback situation, not to mention what they’ve done to anger the football gods for a curse like this.
31st worst in points, 26th in Total yards, 25th in passing and 24th in rushing, there is very little in the way of a silver lining for the Browns. After naming rookie Deshone Kizer the starter for the season, he has gone on to throw for 1145 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions and be benched twice. The front office is aware that the house is burning and would rather let Kizer grow into the role, but it doesn’t appear like its getting much better.
However, following their bye they square off against The Bengals, Chargers, Bears, Steelers, Packers, Lions, Ravens and Jaguars. After suffering crushing defeats to The Ravens and Bengals (24-10 and 31-7 respectively), they will almost certainly fall to those clubs again, as well as the Lions, Steelers, and Jaguars.
However, they face The rookie led Bears, Aaron Rodgers-less Packers and a Chargers team The Browns notched their lone win against last year. If Brett Hundley performs as poorly as he has in Rodgers place for the Packers, Cleveland will stand a fighting chance. And while the Chargers have been competitive in every game this season, they still have only won 7 games since last season due to their habit of losing last-second heartbreakers.
It hasn’t been a pretty season for either club and while we never wish ill of any team, the prospects of two 0-16 clubs are too intriguing not to follow.
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