Week 3 NFL Picks: Can Cowboys Advance To 2-1?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We look at the playoffs odds for teams after two and three weeks, and the BTB writers weigh in with their picks for the Week 3 games.

Wouldn't it have been nice if the Cowboys were 2-0 going into Week 3? Unfortunately, they aren't, and now face slightly longer odds of making the playoffs.

Since realignment in 2002, 71 of the 168 teams that started the season at 1-1 (42.3%) made the playoffs. That means that the teams currently at 1-1 actually improved their odds slightly versus where they were before Week 1, when the odds of making the playoffs were 37.5% for all teams (12 of out 32). Here's an overview of the playoff odds since 2002, based on the Week 2 W/L record:

Playoff odds based on Week 2 W/L records, since 2002
Record after Week 2 2-0 1-1 0-2
Total Teams
92 168 92
Playoff Teams 61 71 8
Percentage 66.3% 42.3% 8.7%

Things look decidedly bleaker for teams off to a 0-2 start. Only eight teams have made the playoffs since 2002 after starting 0-2, and none since 2008. At this point, I would like to point out that both the Giants and Redskins are 0-2. Then again, the Giants won a Super Bowl in 2007 after starting 0-2, so there's always that.

Staying on the topic of bleak things, things also look bleak for some of the panelists in our BTB pick 'em contest. After just two weeks, we already have a wide disparity in prediction accuracy for our panelists. KD and Coty are already seven and eight wins behind the leaders respectively. Last year, just like the Giants in 2007, KD was off to a bad start (six wins behind the leader after two weeks), yet still managed to emerge as the season winner after 17 weeks. Which just goes to show that we shouldn't put too much stock into these early performances.

With all of that out of the way, we take a stab at predicting the Week 3 games. This week is unusual in that there are three games (SD @ TEN, NYG @ CAR, ATL @ MIA) that are split decisions, with our picks going 4-4 in each contest. The unwritten rules of our contest state that the current leader(s) would hold the tiebreaker for the Consensus pick in such cases. For us, that would be Dave and yours truly. Unfortunately, Dave and I disagree on the winners of the SD @ TEN and ATL @ MIA games, so we have to invoke the second tie-breaker, which is last year's season winner, KD Drummond.

Dawn Joey KD Junior Captain_medium Emmittintro_medium Dr_fate_medium BTB Logo

Coty Dave Dawn Joey KD OCC rabble Tom Consensus
Season Record 17-15 25-7 23-9 23-9 18-14 25-7 24-8 23-9 23-9
Percentage .531 .781 .719 .719 .563 .781 .750 .719 .719
Last Week
11-5 12-4 12-4 12-4 9-7 13-3 13-3 12-4 12-4

KC @ PHI (-3) Phi_medium Kan_medium Kan_medium Phi_medium Phi_medium Phi_medium Phi_medium Kan_medium Phi_medium
SD @ TEN (-3) Ten_medium Ten_medium Sdc_medium Sdc_medium Ten_medium Sdc_medium Ten_medium Sdc_medium Ten_medium
CLE @ MIN (-5.5) Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium Min_medium
TB @ NE (-7) Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium Nep_medium
HOU (-2.5) @ BAL Bal_medium Hou_medium Hou_medium Bal_medium Bal_medium Hou_medium Hou_medium Hou_medium Hou_medium
STL @ DAL (-3.5) Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium Dal_medium
ARI @ NO (-7.5) Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium Nos_medium
DET @ WAS (-2) Was_medium Det_medium Det_medium Det_medium Was_medium Det_medium Was_medium Det_medium Det_medium
GB (-2) @ CIN Gbp_medium Gbp_medium Gbp_medium Gbp_medium Gbp_medium Gbp_medium Gbp_medium Cin_medium Gbp_medium
NYG @ CAR (-1) Car_medium Car_medium Nyg_medium Nyg_medium Car_medium Car_medium Nyg_medium Nyg_medium Car_medium
ATL @ MIA (-2.5) Mia_medium Mia_medium Atl_medium Atl_medium Mia_medium Atl_medium Atl_medium Mia_medium Mia_medium
IND @ SF (-10.5) Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium Sfx_medium
JAC @ SEA (-19.5) Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium Sea_medium
BUF @ NYJ (-2.5) Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium Buf_medium
CHI (-2.5) @ PIT Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium Chi_medium
OAK @ DEN (-15) Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium Den_medium

Week three in the NFL is an interesting week, because it is the first week that teams can effectively be eliminated from playoff contention. Only three times since 1990 ('92 Chargers, '95 Lions, '98 Bills) has a team made the playoffs after starting 0-3. Since realignment in 2002 no team has accomplished that feat, which means the 0-2 teams face must-win games this weekend. Similarly, the 1-1 teams are at a crossroads. There's a swing of almost 27% in playoff odds based on the outcome of their third season game, as the table below shows:

Playoff odds based on Week 3 W/L records, since 2002
Record after Week 2 3-0 2-1 1-2 0-3
Total Teams
55 124 117 56
Playoff Teams 39 64 29 0
Percentage 70.9% 51.6% 24.8% 0.0%

With all of that in mind, how do you like the Cowboys' chances of advancing to 2-1 this weekend?

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