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Tuesday open thread: Which NFL team is most likely to go worst-to-first?

Will any team do it this year?

Jacksonville Jaguars Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

We all love to believe the NFL is all about parity. We adopt phrases like “Any Given Sunday” to convince ourselves that poor teams can have success in this league simply because the usual margin of victory is so small.

In some ways, we’re right. The NFL does seem to be one of the least predictable sports leagues, and—for the most part—there is a decent amount of parity. Though there are a handful of franchises that seem to either stay good for eternity or stay bad forever, there are plenty of other teams that can have a horrible season and follow it up with a Super Bowl run.

Today, we’re going to focus on those kinds of teams. It’s not every year that a team goes from last place in their division to first place, but it happens more than you’d think.

There’s guarantee that is happens this year, but today’s Question of the Day is:

Which NFL team is most likely to go worst-to-first in their division?

My answer: Before I get into my answer, here are the eight candidates:

  • Jets (2-14 last year)
  • Bengals (4-11-1)
  • Jaguars (1-15)
  • Broncos (5-11)
  • Eagles (4-11-1)
  • Lions (5-11)
  • Falcons (4-12)
  • 49esr (6-10)

If this were simply a list of which team will perform best of those eight, I would probably pick the 49ers. Unfortunately for San Francisco, they also happen to play in the toughest division. So even though I think this team is in for a major rebound in 2021, I don’t believe they’re they’re the most likely to jump all the way to first place in their division.

That honor belongs to the Atlanta Falcons. This was a team that was unbelievably unlucky last year, blowing leads in game after game. They still have a franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan. Despite trading Julio Jones, the Falcons still have Calvin Ridley and they added Kyle Pitts in the draft. Their defense was only average at worst last year. With a new, exciting head coach, they could realistically see some success in Year 1 of the new regime.

Most of all, their division is winnable. Sure, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFL’s returning champions, but the Saints are in uncharted territory without Drew Brees. The Panthers still have a ways to go.

It would be a considerable upset if the Falcons were to win the division over the Bucs, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked. That’s more than I can say of the other seven teams that finished in last place in 2020.

Your turn.

Poll

Which team is most likely to go worst-to-first?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Jets
    (16 votes)
  • 6%
    Bengals
    (90 votes)
  • 4%
    Jaguars
    (61 votes)
  • 4%
    Broncos
    (60 votes)
  • 10%
    Eagles
    (149 votes)
  • 49%
    Lions
    (677 votes)
  • 3%
    Falcons
    (52 votes)
  • 18%
    49ers
    (250 votes)
1355 votes total Vote Now