There are nine 2-0 teams in the NFL, but there is guaranteed to be at least one fewer today.
In the day's only matchup of undefeated teams, San Francisco plays at Minnesota. That game pits the NFC's two top rushers, Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore.
Peterson, for one, thinks he has something to prove. In his only game against the 49ers, at Candlestick Park on Dec. 9, 2007, he could muster only three yards in 14 carries.
"As I was walking off the field, I'm like, 'I can't wait until we play the 49ers again,' " he recalled in a conference call last week, saying the swarms of tacklers made him feel "like I was getting attacked by bees."
In 17 of his 32 career games, Peterson has recorded triple-digit rushing numbers. That's hitting the 100-yard mark 53.1% of the time, the highest percentage for a regular starter in NFL history, topping Barry Sanders (49.7%) and Jim Brown (49.2%).
Then, there was that day at Candlestick.
"That's a game that sticks in my mind constantly," Peterson said. "That was the worst game in my career. I'm not taking it lightly."
Four of Peterson's five worst rushing days came on the road.
*--* Date Opponent Att Yards Long Dec. 9, 2007 at San Francisco 14 3 4 Dec. 23, 2007 Washington 9 27 18 Oct. 6, 2008 at New Orleans 21 32 7 Dec. 30, 2007 at Denver 11 36 8 Nov. 11, 2007 at Green Bay 11 45 12 *--*
The most encouraging thing for the San Diego Chargers this summer was, after two seasons of muddling through injuries to key players, they were as physically sound as they'd been in recent memory.
So much for that.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jamal Williams is out for the season because of a triceps injury, and Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick will miss at least half the year after undergoing ankle surgery. What's more, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who was eager to prove that his turning 30 didn't mean he was on the downside of his career, hasn't practiced since turning his ankle in the opener and won't play today.
"I'm not going to go through what I went through last year, playing at 70%," Tomlinson told reporters last week. "I'm not going to do that. I'm going to make sure it's healthy and where I need it to be in order to help this team. We have great depth right now. We're in good shape."
Depends on your perspective.
It seems a gimpy ankle isn't the only problem for San Diego's star tailback. Writer Steve Rushin, via Twitter: "LaDainian Tomlinson can run through anything. Except Spell-Check. Ran him through Spell-Check and got: Albanian Tomlinson."
No team can stomach the thought of losing its first two games, but it's not necessarily a death knell. Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 22 teams have qualified for the postseason despite an 0-2 start.
Following are the 0-2 teams since 1990 to qualify for the playoffs:
*--* Year Team (start) Advanced to 1990 Houston (0-2) Wild-card playoffs Philadelphia (0-2) Wild-card playoffs New Orleans (0-2) Wild-card playoffs 1991 Atlanta (0-2) Wild-card playoffs 1992 San Diego (0-4) Divisional playoffs 1993 Pittsburgh (0-2) Wild-card playoffs Dallas (0-2) Won Super Bowl XXVIII 1994 New England (0-2) Wild-card playoffs 1995 Detroit (0-3) Wild-card playoffs 1996 New England (0-2) Lost Super Bowl XXXI 1998 Arizona (0-2) Divisional playoffs Buffalo (0-3) Wild-card playoffs N.Y. Jets (0-2) Championship game 2001 New England (0-2) Won Super Bowl XXXVI 2002 Atlanta (0-2) Divisional playoffs Pittsburgh (0-2) Divisional playoffs 2003 Philadelphia (0-2) Championship game 2006 Kansas City (0-2) Wild-card playoffs 2007 N.Y. Giants (0-2) Won Super Bowl XLII 2008 Miami (0-2) Wild-card playoffs Minnesota (0-2) Wild-card playoffs San Diego (0-2) Divisional playoffs *--*