For the last 10 years, a team has gone from last place to division winner in the NFL.
YEAR- TEAM- RECORD PREVIOUS SEASON
2003: Carolina Panthers (7-9) and Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)
2004: Atlanta Falcons (5-11) and San Diego Chargers (4-12)
2005: Chicago Bears (5-11) and New York Giants (6-10)
2006: Philadelphia Eagles (6-10), New Orleans Saints (3-13), and Baltimore Ravens (6-10)
2007: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
2008: Miami Dolphins (1-15)
2009: New Orleans Saints (8-8)
2010: Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)
2011: Houston Texans (6-10)
and 2012: Washington Redskins (5-11)
This year’s candidates include:
Philadelphia (4-12), Detroit (4-12), New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina (all 7-9), Arizona (5-11), Buffalo and New York (6-10 each), Cleveland (5-11), Jacksonville (2-14), and Kansas City (2-14)
Here is how I’d assess the odds of these teams.
Nobody. This is the NFL…every team has a chance. Except the Raiders.
I’D BE VERY SURPRISED
Jaguars- They have a new coach and a healthy MJD, but come on. They can’t stop anybody. Doubling their win total should be deemed an accomplishment.
Jets and Bills- The Patriots still play in the AFC East, yes?
Eagles- The NFC East saw a flip-flop last year, but these Eagles look to me like the worst team in the NFC, not a team ready to go from 4 wins to 10.
Chiefs- Everyone likes to point to these guys and remind us how they had all these Pro Bowlers on the team. My question is: Why should I be encouraged that a team with 5 Pro Bowlers only won 2 games?
BETTER CHANCE THAN YOU THINK
Browns- New coach, 2nd year quarterback, youth on offense and defense. The division is a bit up in the air with the Steelers in some kind of transition, the Bengals still in “prove it” mode, and the Ravens suffering major roster losses following their Super Bowl win. The climb from 5 wins to 10 might not be as daunting as you think.
Lions- They only won 4 games last year, but won 10 the year before. They lost some crazy games with wild finishes last year, and have the offense to compete against anyone.
Panthers, Saints, and Buccaneers- The NFC South looks like Atlanta’s to lose. But all three of these teams won 7 games a year ago, and all of them did it with defenses ranging from mediocre to god awful. They ranked 18, 23, and 30 in scoring defense. The Saints gave up 900 more yards than the second worst defense in the NFL!!! The Bucs were 29th. The Saints and Bucs were saved by top ten offenses. The Panthers were as mediocre on offense as they were on defense. Room for improvement is there with any of them, and they all beat the Falcons last season. If they can find a way to improve a little or the at least beat the others in their division, they could win the NFC South.
They upgraded at QB, RB, and OL. Carson Palmer isn’t great, but remember; a peanut butter ‘n jelly sandwich looks great to a homeless person. That’s essentially what the Cards dealt with at QB last year. Hot garbage. Beanie Wells is out of football now. Rashard Mendenhall takes his place. They drafted Stanford plow-horse Stepfan Taylor and Clemson speedster Andre Ellington to supplement him. They took Jonathon Cooper, a guard out of North Carolina in the first round and added serviceable right tackle Eric Winston. I’d say WR will be improved too with Michael Floyd in his 2nd year ready to do more. They were already very good on defense (ranked #12) and added youth and intriguing veterans while losing nothing of value. They were 4-0 last year and lost 11 of their last 12, but only were embarrassed once in that stretch (and boy were they ever, 58-0 to Seattle). The division is crazy tough, but a new coach and new players in the right spots make them a threat that most people will never see coming.