When the Pittsburgh Steelers break training camp and close out their preseason games, they immediately start the 2014 season with two division games against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. We all know how important divisional games are, but what would it mean to the Steelers if they started the season 2-0?
Since the NFL postseason expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 124 of 196 teams to start a season 2-0 have gone on to make the playoffs (63.3 percent). When you factor in that a Steelers 2-0 start would come at the expense of teams in their own division, it really wouldn’t get much better than that. At least one would one think.
Dating back to 1990, the Steelers have managed to start a season 2-0 a total of eight times and they made the playoffs in six of those seasons. In one of the two seasons that the Steelers failed to make the playoffs after starting 2-0, they beat the Browns and Ravens to open the season. The year was 1999 and the team would go on to finish the season with a 6-10 record.
The last time the Steelers opened a season with back to back games against divisional opponents was in 2000 and they lost both of those games to the Ravens and Browns. They finished the 2000 season with a 9-7 record, however, but failed to make the playoffs.
Since the divisional realignment took place in 2002, only nine times has an AFC North team started a season 2-0. Only once has one of those teams failed to make the playoffs and that was the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006 when they went 8-8.
The last AFC North team to start a season 2-0 against two other divisional teams was the Ravens in 2008 and they of course went on to make the playoffs even though the Steelers, who also started that season 2-0, won the division with a 12-4 record.