When an NFL team starts the season with a 2-6 record, that’s usually a kiss of death when it comes to making the playoffs. Since the Super Bowl era started in 1966, only two teams out of 186 have made the postseason after opening the year with six losses in their first eight games, according the AP.
Over five-and-a-half decades, that means only 1.07% of 2-6 teams have ever made the postseason, which isn’t exactly an encouraging number if you’re one of those teams.
Although only two teams have rebounded from 2-6 to make the playoffs over the past 56 years — the 1970 Bengals and the 2020 Commanders — that number could more than double this year and that’s because there are THREE teams that could end up pulling off this improbable feat.
- Steelers (8-8). After dropping to 2-6 following a Week 8 loss to the Eagles, the Steelers season seemed to be all but over. However, things changed in a big way when T.J. Watt returned from injury. The Steelers went 1-6 with Watt out, but since his return, they’ve gone 6-2. Watt has been a driving force for why the Steelers are on the cusp of a playoff berth. If the Steelers want to make history, they’ll need to beat the Browns on Sunday and then hope that the Dolphins lose to the Jets and Patriots lose to the Bills.
- Jaguars (8-8). Doug Pederson’s first season in Jacksonville looked like it was going to turn into an nightmare after a loss to DENVER in Week 8 dropped them to 2-6. Since then, though, Trevor Lawrence has caught fire over an eight-week span where the Jags have gone 6-2. Since Week 9, Lawrence has thrown 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. If the Jags want to join the rare group of 2-6 teams to make the playoffs, all they have to do is beat the Titans on Saturday night.
- Lions (8-8). If the Lions make the playoffs, it would actually be more impressive than the other two teams above and that’s because Detroit actually started 1-6. Only one team in NFL history has rebounded from a 1-6 start to make the postseason and that’s the 1970 Bengals. If the Lions want to join them, they’ll have to hope that the Seahawks lose to the Rams on Sunday afternoon and then they have to beat the Packers on Sunday night in Lambeau. If that happens, the Lions will be headed to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
CBSSports.com’s Doug Clawson took a look at how these three teams — along with the Packers — were able to turn around their season and you. As Clawson notes, if just two teams out of the Lions, Steelers, Jaguars and Packers make the postseason, it will make NFL history, because there’s never been a season where multiple teams fell four games under .500 at any point and then rebounded to make the playoffs.