Christian Ponder

The 0-2 start is always somewhat of a crossroads for teams – some don’t expect to win too much so it doesn’t mean much as well. Others are close to panic button time at this point, like it is for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, who can’t afford to lose for a third consecutive time at the start of the 2013 NFL Season.

There are teams like the Browns and Redskins also entering this team without a win, but no one expects the Browns, especially now, to win more than 4 games this season as they go into more rebuilding, while the Redskins are about making it out of this season with a healthy Robert Griffin III, nothing more.

Minnesota Vikings (Playing at home against the Browns)

The Browns weren’t hoping to make the playoffs this season, and by trading away Trent Richardson might end losing at least 12 games by the end. The Vikings, who made the postseason last year, had different expectations from this season, but ended up losing twice in divisional battles as teams have been able to slow Adrian Peterson down while Christian Ponder continues to look like a quarterback who can’t do it with quality receivers, which should mean Cordarrelle Patterson will get more than just six snaps this time. The NFC North is still wide open if the Vikings begin winning, but a loss to the Browns won’t just mean no playoff this year, but also a clear signal it’s time to look for another quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Playing on the road against the Patriots)

Greg Schiano

Similar to the Vikings, this isn’t just about the playoff chances the Bucs will throw out the window if they go to 0-3 mode. It’ll also be decision time for the front office about the developing situation between Josh Freeman and head coach Greg Schaino, not really liking each other. The Bucs are too expensive to have a bad season go down quietly, but they’re heading to New England with an awful sense of timing, and not winning there might mean going in a very different direction once the game is over, not to mention next season, at quarterback, or maybe even at head coach.

Carolina Panthers & New York Giants (Playing each other at MetLife Stadium)

The Panthers can’t finish games, and even though their front seven is extremely talented, their secondary is awful, and will be missing Charles Godfrey after tearing his Achilles. Cam Newton needs to kick start the terrible pass offense, or Ron Rivera might start thinking about his next job, because at 0-3 there’s not going to be a chance to get out of the NFC South. Same goes for the Giants, who have no running game and Eli Manning who seems to be throwing games away with some awful throws by trying to win alone. No coaching changes are on the horizon, but the Giants weren’t supposed to look this bad.

Pittsburgh Steelers (Playing at home against the Chicago Bears)

Playoffs are always something the Steelers aspire to reach, but it just doesn’t look like their season. There’s still belief in Pittsburgh that the Tomlin – Roethlisberger combination can turn the tide, but it’s quite reasonable that they’ll be going down to an 0-3 record, which will obviously put the future of certain players and coaches (offensive line, anybody) at risk.

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