Recently here at Spin Zone, we took a look at the phenomenon regarding AFC teams that finish last in their division, then go on to win said division the following year. Today, we will look at the NFC teams. If you missed that article previously, you can view it here.
NFC East – Last Place Team in 2011 – Washington Redskins (5-11)
Ability to Win Division: C-
The Redskins did one thing right in the off-season: Securing RG3. Other than that, the Redskins have not done much to improve the team. The off-season contracts given to unproven talent such as Pierre Garcon smacks of desperation, as most of the Redskins moves typically do every year. Additionally, the Redskins play in a very competitive division that sees them up against the Giants, Eagles, & Cowboys. Despite this, the Redskins have probably the best chance to pull a worst-to-first in the NFC, simply because the disparity with teams is so much larger right now in the NFC than the AFC. The other three teams all had mediocre regular seasons last year, and if repeated, RG3 could be in line to squeak the team to the playoffs.
NFC North – Last Place Team in 2011 – Minnesota Vikings (3-13)
Ability to Win Division: F
I have no doubt that the Vikings will finish better than 3-13. However, they unfortunately share a division with both the Packers and Lions, not to mention the Bears. The Vikings have some pieces in place, but are far from a complete team. In order for them to have any shot at winning this division, they would have to play much beyond their ability (this in light of a still injured Adrian Peterson), and the other teams would all have to suffer epic collapses. Aaron Rodgers going down for the season would be step one in accomplishing this. Ditto for Matt Stafford and step 2.
NFC South – Last Place Team in 2011 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Ability to Win Division: D
Tampa Bay has perhaps a lightly better chance than Minnesota at winning their division. But only slightly. As if the Saints and Falcons weren’t tough enough, the Bucs now have to contend with a legitimate, high -flying offense led by Cam Newton. The Bucs looked like a team on the rise in 2010, but all but quit on then coach Raheem Morris halfway through the season. There is a new head coach, and with his handling of Kellen Winslow Jr., he is already showing how serious he expects the players to take their responsibilities in the league. Still, their best chance to win the division remains if the Saints are unable to sing Drew Brees (unlikely), and the Falcons lose half their starters to injury.
NFC West – Last Place Team in 2011 – St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Ability to Win Division – D-
The St. Louis Rams are a team in complete re-building mode. They have a brand new coach in Jeff Fisher, not to mention a lot of new and second-year talent on the roster. The FO has made shrewd moves in the draft, and looks ready to start competing within a few years. However, this is now, and as such, the Rams are a team with too many needs to think they have a legitimate shot at capturing the division. Harbaugh has done a great job with the 49’ers, and there’s no reason to think that team will regress substantially. The Seahawks and Cardinals are wild cards every year, but they certainly seem more well off for 2012 than the Rams.
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