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Five playoff contenders who could fall short of the postseason

Since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, there have been three teams that started 0-3 and made the postseason: the 1998 Bills, the 1995 Lions and the 1992 Chargers (started 0-4). And since 1990, only 24.4 percent of teams to start 1-2 have made the playoffs.

Can this year's projected playoff contenders still rescue their seasons and make the playoffs? NFL Nation reporters break down each team.

Houston Texans

Record: 1-2 (lost to Jaguars 29-7; beat Bengals 13-9; lost to Patriots 36-33)

Last year: 9-7

Analysis: If the Texans are going to come back from 1-2 to make the playoffs, the AFC South might be the division to do it in. Yes, the Jaguars look better, but if quarterback Deshaun Watson plays as well as he did on Sunday against the Patriots and keeps improving -- Sunday was only his second career start -- this will be a different Texans team than the one Jacksonville dominated in Week 1. Sunday’s game against the Titans will be a good test to see which direction the Texans are heading, and it could be a big one in the standings as well. With a loss, Houston would start 0-2 in the division, with both losses coming at home. -- Sarah Barshop

Arizona Cardinals

Record: 1-2 (lost to Lions 35-23; beat Colts 16-13; lost to Cowboys 28-17)

Last year: 7-8-1

Analysis: The Cardinals can rescue their season and make the playoffs, especially given how the NFC West has played out thus far. Arizona is tied with the Seattle Seahawks for second in the West, just a game behind the first-place Rams (2-1). But the Cardinals won’t be playing in January if they continue to play the way they have to start the season, especially up front on offense. The Cardinals have allowed 11 sacks of quarterback Carson Palmer, including 10 in the past two games. If Arizona can’t protect Palmer, the offense will struggle, which will lead to few wins this season. -- Josh Weinfuss

Seattle Seahawks

Record: 1-2 (lost to Packers 17-9; beat 49ers 12-9; lost to Titans 33-27)

Last year: 10-5-1

Analysis: The Seahawks can still make the playoffs. One reason there was no sense of panic in the locker room after Sunday's loss to Tennessee was because the Seahawks have been in this position before. In 2015 they started 0-2 and went on to lose four of their first six games. They rebounded to finish 10-6 and make the postseason. The Seahawks have issues, to be sure, including a defense that gave up 195 rushing yards Sunday in Nashville. But that game and the opener in Green Bay were always going to be two of the more challenging road games on their schedule. They have a very narrow margin for error in their quest to secure one of the top seeds in the NFC, but the Seahawks have the talent and a manageable enough remaining schedule to make it happen. -- Brady Henderson

New York Giants

Record: 0-3 (lost to Cowboys 19-3; Lions 24-10; Eagles 27-24)

Last year: 11-5 (wild card)

Analysis: The Giants are in too deep of a hole, and their upcoming schedule is too daunting to overcome their winless start. The Giants play at Tampa Bay and Denver two of the next three weeks. They also have games on the road against Oakland, Washington and Arizona. They will win their fair share of games because their defense is still a quality unit. But this team, with this offensive line, with an aging quarterback, with its struggle to score points, doesn’t have the kind of run in it to become just the fourth team since the current playoff format was established in 1990 to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start. The Giants are all but done and it’s not even October. -- Jordan Raanan

Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 0-3 (lost to Ravens 20-0; Texans 13-9; Packers 27-24)

Last year: 6-9-1

Analysis: The Bengals have dug a huge hole for themselves, but it’s not impossible to overcome. They have two winnable games against the Browns and Bills before their bye and then a showdown against the Steelers on Oct. 22. All three AFC North teams losing on Sunday helped the Bengals, but everything will hinge on that Steelers game. If they can beat Pittsburgh, the division is still within reach. The Bengals took a huge step forward against the Packers offensively before blowing a late lead, which shows they’re capable of playing better than they did in Weeks 1 and 2. If they can keep the locker room together and regroup against the Browns, they have a shot to turn this around. -- Katherine Terrell

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