Chance at statement victory for Washington facing 0-1 Denver / starting 2-0 -- only Cleveland worse

Of late, Washington has not won a lot of games against opponents with their backs against the wall. Their next chance to do so is later today in Denver.

Moreover, Washington will attempt to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2011. Only two NFL franchises are currently waiting longer than Washington for a 2-0 start: the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns. By comparison, the Denver Broncos last went 2-0 in 2021 and Denver also started the season 2-0 6 consecutive seasons between 2018 and 2013.

The Colts last started 2-0 in 2009, but at that time, the Colts were the owners of the best-regular season record (at 116-46) since the start of the 1999 season, and had been the only team to earn nine playoff appearances out of the last ten seasons, including seven consecutive post-season berths. They had won 61 out of its last 75 regular-season games. At that time, I believe the Colts were also the only NFL team to have double-digit victory totals and playoff appearances each season since the 2002 realignment to divisions containing only four teams. So despite Indianapolis waiting a couple years longer for a 2-0 season start, the Colts were coming off an extremely long period of generally strong play, which Washington has not done since the early 1990s.

That leaves the Cleveland Browns which have defined poor starts even more so than Washington. The Browns last went 2-0 in 1993, when Bill Belichick was their coach. Back then gas cost a dollar a gallon. On Monday night, Browns are attempting to start 2-0 by beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Not only are the Browns attempting to start the season 2-0 for the first time in 30 years, but they've also not beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh during the regular season in 20 years (albeit they did beat Pittsburgh there in a 2020 wild card playoff game, their first playoff victory since 1994).

The disparity between 2-0 and 0-2 is difficult to ignore, which is why this is a statement game for Washington because Denver lost at home last week after its "splash move" this summer of signing Sean Payton as the team's new coach (around the time, purportedly, at least one of the prospective owners of the Washington football franchise explored hiring Payton too). The percentage of 2-0 teams that made the playoffs since 1990 is 73%; in contrast, only 15% of teams that opened season 0-2 since 1990 have made the playoffs.