- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

The 10 teams that have started 0-2 face a difficult climb to playoff contention - about one team a season in the last two decades has recovered to make the postseason, including Super Bowl champions Dallas (1993) and the New York Giants (2007).

But it’s not yet as bad as what Tennessee did to itself in 2002 when it won in Week 1 but then lost four straight games.

Redskins offensive coordinator Sherman Smith was the Titans’ running backs coach. Tennessee finished the regular season by winning 10 of its last 11 games and lost to Oakland in the AFC title game.

“If you’re 2-0, those teams can’t get excited and say, ‘We got it,’” Smith said. “They were telling [Titans coach] Jeff Fisher he needed to do this and he needed to do that. But Jeff told the guys that we needed to keep on doing what we do but better. The players picked it up and got on a streak.”

A look at the 10 teams that are 0-2 and whether a turnaround is possible:

CINCINNATI

Why it can: Carson Palmer returns to his pre-knee injury form, and Marvin Lewis turns his defense around.

Why it can’t: Lewis has yet to improve the Bengals’ defense, and Palmer owns a 37.0 passer rating this season.

CLEVELAND

Why it can: The offensive weapons will get untracked, or Brady Quinn will be inserted to throw to Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.

Why it can’t: Romeo Crennel will continue his horrid decision making, and the schedule is brutal.

DETROIT

Why it can: Play caller Jim Colletto abandons the run completely and puts it on the shoulders of Jon Kitna and Calvin Johnson.

Why it can’t: The Lions can’t stop anybody (allowing 460.5 yards a game), and Matt Millen is still in charge.

JACKSONVILLE

Why it can: Fred Taylor picks it up, and the defense continues to surrender just under 300 yards a game.

Why it can’t: The Jaguars’ offensive line is decimated by injuries - making their running game less effective and putting more pressure on David Garrard.

KANSAS CITY

Why it can: The entire AFC West is put on the injured reserve list, giving the Chiefs the division title by default.

Why it can’t: The Chiefs stink. They have 15 rookies on their roster, and no team with that much inexperience will be a factor. This could be the end of Carl Peterson in Kansas City.

MIAMI

Why it can: See why the Chiefs can but replace West with East.

Why it can’t: The AFC East is improved with Buffalo and the Jets. This is a huge reclamation project for Bill Parcells.

MINNESOTA

Why it can: Gus Frerotte will make enough plays to aid Adrian Peterson, and the presence of pass rusher Jared Allen will give the secondary needed assistance on third down.

Why it can’t: Peterson gets injured and the 37-year old Frerotte fails to help a woeful passing game.

SAN DIEGO

Why it can: The Chargers are averaging 31 points a game and have four automatic wins (two each against Oakland and Kansas City).

Why it can’t: LaDainian Tomlinson’s toe is an issue, and the defense continues to struggle (allowing an AFC-worst 437 yards a game) without Shawne Merriman.

SEATTLE

Why it can: The Seahawks stay healthy at receiver for more than one week, and the team rallies around Mike Holmgren in his final season.

Why it can’t: Matt Hasselbeck’s back never gets healthy, and the Seahawks wilt under four more cross-country trips.

ST. LOUIS

Why it can: The Rams can’t.

Why it can’t: The Rams can’t stop anybody (31st in scoring defense) and can’t score (last in points).

Prediction: When the regular season ends, Minnesota and San Diego will be wild card teams.

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