NFL teams are not doomed to lose Octobers

DENVER (AP) — A losing record in October doesn’t mean playoff hopes are lost.

Last year, the Patriots, Steelers and Eagles rallied from 1-3 starts to earn a postseason berth. The Chiefs and 49ers opened 2-3 and still reached their conference championship games.

Entering Week 5, nine teams had losing records, including three 2021 playoff teams.

Odds are at least one of those nine teams will bounce back and make the postseason.

The Indianapolis Colts took a first step, coming from behind to beat Denver in overtime on Thursday night to match their record at 2-2-1. The AFC South is among the four divisions without any club with a winning record.

“We’re not happy with the 2-2-1, but we’re there,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “That’s what we’ve been saying. It’s a better start than some of the other years we’ve had here. We need to improve. … There is a closeness with this team that I think is going to work well for us as we move forward. We just have to keep finding ways to improve.”

The Colts started 1-5 in Reich’s first season as their coach in 2018. They went 10-6 and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. That was with Andrew Luck as his quarterback. They opened 1-4 last year under Carson Wentz and went 9-8, missing the playoffs by one game.

Matt Ryan has struggled through the first five games with seven interceptions and 11 fumbles, but he’s been in the clutch in the last two series against Denver.

“I’m not going to back down in those situations,” Ryan said. “I’m not going to get nervous. There is no reason to do it. You keep playing and find a way. I have believed that way throughout my career.”

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Russell Wilson and the Broncos (2-3) have a long way to go to compete in the tough AFC West. They missed a chance to close out a win over the Colts when Wilson threw an interception late in the fourth quarter. Wilson then missed a wide receiver on a fourth-down pass in overtime that could have been a game-winning touchdown but fell incomplete.

“I think he let us down,” Wilson said. “I know I am a winner. I know I am a fighter. I know I’m going to keep going, keep believing. There is a lot of season left. There is a lot of opportunity. I believe in these guys every day and I know they believe in me too. We believe in each other.”

Teams with losing records before the weekend:

Raiders: (1-3): After winning 10 games and making the playoffs last season, the Raiders started 0-3 under new coach Josh McDaniels. They beat Denver for their first win, but now face the Chiefs (3-1) on Monday night.

Steelers (1-3): The Steelers did it last year under Ben Roethlisberger, overcoming a 1-3 start to make the playoffs. Now, it’s on rookie QB Kenny Pickett.

Patriots (1-3): Like Pittsburgh last year, the Patriots also made the playoffs after opening 1-3. With a banged-up Mac Jones, it will be harder to do the same this season.

Saints (1-3): The Saints have to stop turning the ball over and they need Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to be healthy.

Commanders (1-3): A Wentz-led comeback victory in Week 1 gave Washington cause for excitement. Three losses in a row have exposed the team’s weaknesses.

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Panthers (1-3): Baker Mayfield isn’t doing anything to prove the Browns were wrong to fire him.

Lions (1-3): Jared Goff has led the highest-scoring offense in the league. But the problem is that the defense is giving up even more points.

Texans (0-3-1): The Texans have had chances to win games but they make too many mistakes and can’t finish.


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