2023 NFL Week 2: Panic Meter for League’s Most Disappointing Teams

A handful of playoff teams from the 2022 season are already off to slow starts. But as we saw last season (Bengals), an 0-2 start doesn’t mean you should be worried. 

Which teams should be hitting the panic button after Week 2? And which fan bases should R-E-L-A-X? Let’s take a look at a few of the 0-2 teams so far this season:

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2 for the second consecutive season. What’s more concerning about the Bengals’ start this year is their two losses have come in the division. Their Week 1 loss to the Cleveland Browns was a thrashing, as Cleveland’s defense won that game. 

In Week 2, the Bengals played a depleted Baltimore Ravens team without four key starters (CB Marlon Humphrey, LT Ronnie Stanley, OG Tyler Linderbaum and safety Marcus Williams). 

The Bengals’ offense showed signs of life in the second half, but everything on that side of the ball remains a struggle. The more significant issue is that Joe Burrow appeared to re-injure his calf muscle, which caused him to miss almost all of training camp. 

Even if he can play in Week 3, there is no chance he’ll be close to 100 percent healthy. And the Bengals need him to play like an elite quarterback to have a chance. It’s time to be concerned about the back-to-back AFC North champions. 


Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers can’t get out of their own way. For the second straight week, they lost by a field goal in a game they were leading late in the fourth quarter. 

Justin Herbert played great, but their defense — once again — failed to get a stop when it needed one. The Chargers allowed the Tennessee Titans to score 24 points without recording a single turnover. Against a mediocre offense, the Chargers appeared overmatched in the trenches.

The good news for the Chargers is they have an elite quarterback, and their schedule is pretty soft going forward. They have to figure out some things on defense, or they will be in shoot-outs all season. A 0-2 start isn’t ideal, but don’t give up on this team yet. 

The Chargers possess a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and should figure things out before the end of the month. 

VERDICT: Don’t Panic

Minnesota Vikings

The good news for the Minnesota Vikings is that Kirk Cousins played one of the best games of his career in Week 2. He lit up the Philadelphia Eagles‘ defense despite having multiple offensive linemen out of the game. Justin Jefferson remains the best receiver in football, and Jordan Addison has made big touchdown receptions in each game this season. 

>> READ: Luck Isn’t On Minnesota’s Side

The bad news is the Vikings might have the worst defense in the league. They allowed the Eagles to run for more than 250 yards. The Vikings don’t have the personnel in their front seven to stop the run. Worse yet, their secondary is young and inexperienced, which will lead to many high-scoring games. 

The Vikings have a first-place schedule this season and will have games against the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in the next six weeks. 

But it is a manageable schedule, and they play in one of the league’s weaker divisions. Don’t hit the panic button yet, but get ready to smash it if they lose to the Chargers in Week 3. That game might be a “loser leaves town” in Minnesota next Sunday.

VERDICT: Don’t Panic

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are the most concerning of the teams on this list. They’ve played the easiest schedule of the four teams yet sit at 0-2. Justin Fields continues to struggle to read defenses, and his pick-six was why the Bears couldn’t complete the comeback. 

Chicago averages 273.5 yards of offense per game and can’t find any semblance of a run game outside of Fields.

Even more concerning is that the Bears’ defense doesn’t look improved. It remains a significant issue, and the Bears lost multiple defensive backs due to injuries on Sunday. The Bears have not forced a turnover through two games and have recorded just one sack. They could be one of the NFL’s worst defenses again this year.

The good news is that the Vikings (2022 division winner) are 0-2, and the Green Bay Packers/Detroit Lions both struggled in Week 2. The Bears aren’t out of anything in the NFC North, but nothing looks better on offense despite some of their big offseason moves. 


Russell Wilson Denver Broncos

 Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are 0-2, with their two losses by three combined points. The Broncos shouldn’t be too worried for that reason alone. However, Denver lost twice at home and has had a major problem closing out games.

Aside from a Hail Mary touchdown at the end of regulation, Russell Wilson struggled on the final few drives of the game. The Broncos’ offense stalled in the red zone on multiple drives, and Wilson took far too many sacks (seven). Without the Hail Mary touchdown, Wilson completed just 17 passes against the Washington Commanders (on 31 attempts). The good news is that the deep ball is back in Denver, but everything else was a struggle for the Broncos. The Denver offense is clunky and provides no consistency.

The more significant concern might be the defense, which allowed the visiting Commanders to score 35 points. Sam Howell made his third start of his NFL career, totaling 312 yards while scoring two touchdowns. Denver couldn’t get off the field and allowed an average offense to rack up 388 yards.

The Broncos will play much better quarterbacks during the next few weeks, and their defense continues to get gashed through the air. The AFC is incredibly deep, and the Broncos are in trouble. Coach Sean Payton has a lot of work to do to get this team back to being competitive in the AFC West.


 New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have had chances for winning drives in each of their losses. However, the offense ultimately came up short each time. The good news is that QB Mac Jones appears far more comfortable in Bill O’Brien’s offense and has succeeded despite several offensive linemen being out due to injuries. The defense also looks fantastic, forcing multiple turnovers in both weeks despite playing two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses (Eagles and Dolphins).

The bad news is that the Patriots have lost two home games, and their schedule doesn’t get much easier. They have back-to-back road games against the Jets and the Cowboys and still have meetings with the Bills (twice), Dolphins, Chiefs, and Chargers left on their schedule.

The Patriots don’t have a lot of talent on offense, and their lack of speed on that side of the ball is eye-opening. But don’t rule out the Patriots quite yet after hanging with two of the best teams in the league. They should be able to climb back to .500 in the upcoming weeks.

VERDICT: Don’t Panic

Marcus Mosher is an NFL writer with a decade of experience in podcasting and writing for various NFL websites, including Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus and The Athletic. He is currently a managing editor at USA Today Sports Media Group and the host of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast. Marcus has been working full-time covering the NFL since 2015 and works as a betting expert for You can follow him at @Marcus_Mosher.

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