When the NFL's meticulous schedule-makers mapped out the 2023 season, little did they know that Week 4 would serve up a unique spectacle: a showdown between the league's only four winless teams. This weekend, the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings take on the 0-3 Carolina Panthers, while the 0-3 Denver Broncos clash with the 0-3 Chicago Bears, setting the stage for a high-stakes battle for redemption.
This scheduling anomaly hasn't occurred since 2020 when the Vikings faced the Houston Texans in Week 4, ultimately securing a 31-23 victory. However, the stakes this time around are even higher. For these struggling franchises, a loss in Week 4 could effectively extinguish their postseason aspirations.
Playoff Odds: 1-3 vs. 0-4
Historical data paints a grim picture. Since 1990, only 34 out of 235 teams that began the season 1-3 managed to make the playoffs. Of those, 18 won their respective divisions, and one even clinched a Super Bowl victory.
On the other hand, out of 103 teams that started the season 0-4, just a single team defied the odds – the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who finished with an 11-5 record but were eliminated in the Divisional Round. The Minnesota Vikings find themselves in the 0-3 hole for the second time in four seasons.
Their last 0-4 start dates back to 2011 when they finished the season with a dismal 3-13 record. For the Carolina Panthers, the situation mirrors their woeful 2010 season when they kicked off with a nightmarish 0-5 record, eventually concluding with a meager 2-14 finish before drafting Cam Newton as the No.
1 overall pick in 2011. The Denver Broncos, no strangers to a shaky start, have begun the season 0-3 three times in the last five years, including 2019 and 2020. The last time they started 0-4 was back in 2019, 1999, 1994, and 1964.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears have found themselves in a similar rut, beginning 0-3 for the first time since 2016, with their last 0-4 start dating all the way back to 2000. There is a glimmer of hope for the Vikings and Broncos, as recent history suggests that the road team often prevails in games between winless teams in Week 4 or later.
According to NFL Research, since 2017, the road team boasts a 6-1 record in such matchups, offering a ray of optimism for these struggling franchises. In Week 3, both the Broncos (surrendering 70 points to Miami) and the Bears (allowing 41 points to Kansas City) collectively conceded a whopping 111 points, tying an NFL record for the most points given up by opposing teams in a single week.
This defensive vulnerability underscores the urgency for these teams to rectify their issues and secure a much-needed victory in Week 4.
• Bryce Young Discusses Panthers' Team Accountability• Vikings Part Ways with Veteran QB Ahead of Bye Week• Vikings Mull Over Benching Josh Dobbs• Bryce Young NFL Draft Bust Status: Catalyst for Panthers' Coach Firing?• Vikings Coach Kevin O'Connell to Assess QB Josh Dobbs' Future• Bears Overcome Defensive Struggle, Edge Vikings with Late Field Goal