It's far too early for "playoff or bust" talk, but that doesn't mean there haven't been some disappointments through the first part of the year. For The Win ranks the the five teams that have had most the most discouraging starts to 2013.
5. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
It's the same old story in Green Bay - a potent offense that has trouble bailing out a porous defense. No one is panicking entering the Packers' Week 4 bye. After all, both of the team's losses have come in road games to 2012 playoff teams. Another late-game disappointment could change that.
4. Washington Redskins (0-3)
Even though it was easy to see coming, the winless start stings for a franchise defending its first NFC East title in 13 years. Robert Griffin III didn't set foot on an NFL field until the first Monday night of the regular season and salary cap restrictions prevented the Redskins from improving the same secondary that led to last year's 3-6 start. At that point last year, Mike Shanahan came under fire for saying he would use the rest of the season to evaluate talent for next year. Maybe he should pull the same trick this week.
3. Houston Texans (2-1)
Yes, the Texans are 2-1 and tied at the top of the AFC South, but if not for late-game collapses by San Diego and Tennessee, that record could easily be 0-3. The heralded Texans defense has been maddeningly inconsistent. Against Tennessee, Wade Phillips' unit forced 10 three-and-outs (10!) but allowed a 99-yard drive that put the team in another late-game hole. It's been the same way with the offense, as All-Pros Andre Johnson and Arian Foster have failed to do much damage through the first three games.
2. New York Giants (0-3)
Nothing is going right in New York. Eli Manning doesn't have time to throw and when he does it usually winds up in the hands of someone wearing the wrong jersey. The running game is on the same life support system that's keeping the Yankees' playoff hopes alive. And the defense just allowed 38 points to a Carolina Panthers team that scored 30 points over its first two games. Throw in the inevitable back-page headlines about Tom Coughlin's job security and it all adds up to chaotic season in Gotham.
1. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
Part of this is scheduling: In the first three weeks of the season, San Fran had to host the Green Bay Packers, fly to Seattle to face one of the toughest tests in the modern NFL and then come back home to play a young Colts team trying to build on its surprising 2012 playoff run. That excuse only goes so far, however. San Fran needed a ref bailout to beat the Packers, then put up 10 points the next two weeks.
In those games, we've seen the first signs of struggle for 2012 sensation Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers QB has completed less than 50% of his passes during the short losing streak and has thrown zero touchdowns against four interceptions. San Francisco's ferocious defense has been mostly toothless all season, particularly in stopping the run. That unit, which may not have All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith for the next few weeks, has allowed an average of 175 yards on the ground the past two weeks.
Before the Niners' Week 9 bye, the team plays St. Louis, Houston, Arizona, Tennessee and Jacksonville. The first game of that stretch is on a Thursday and the final one is in London. Other than those inconveniences, it's about as easy a run as any NFL team will see in a five-week period.
San Francisco has plenty of time to right the ship, of course. Still, the team is essentially three games behind Seattle for the NFC West lead, which means that even though the calendar has yet to flip to October, the 49ers could already be looking at three road playoff games to defend its NFC title.