Why Baltimore Ravens can't afford first 0-3 start

The Baltimore Ravens have started 0-2 four times in their 20-year existence, but they have never lost their first three games. If the Ravens want to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs, the Ravens can't afford to make team history.

Just three of the 124 teams that started a season 0-3 under the current playoff format (since 1990) have made the playoffs (2.4 percent), according to ESPN Stats & Information. All three of the teams that rebounded to make the postseason did so in the 1990s (1992 Chargers, 1995 Lions and 1998 Bills), and the last one -- the 1998 Bills -- was quarterbacked by Doug Flutie.

There's added importance for Week 3 for the last-place Ravens because they face the first-place Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) in their home opener. If Baltimore loses, it will drop three games behind Cincinnati before it's even October.

These struggles come as a surprise because the Ravens typically are fast starters under coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore had lost only seven games in September in his previous seven seasons as coach. From Harbaugh's first season in 2008 to 2014, the Ravens had the NFL's best record in September at 17-7 (.708).

In 2014, three teams started 0-3: Tampa Bay, Oakland and Jacksonville. They accounted for three of the top four picks in the 2015 draft.