Before the NFL season began I wrote this and included the following statistic:
When picking NFL division winners for 2012 there is a statistic that you must know. There has been a worst-to-first turnaround in nine consecutive seasons. That means a last place team bounced back the following year to win the division. Nine teams finished in last place or tied for last in their division last season and will hope to extend the worst-to-first turnaround to 10 straight years.
It is a good time to look at the nine last place teams in 2011 and see how they are doing this season. I will rank the nine teams 1-9 (most likely to least likely) based on their chances of winning their respective division.
1. Miami- The Dolphins have been one of the biggest surprises in football. After getting blown out in their first game they have played their last seven games very closely. They are 4-4 overall but could easily be 6-2 and on top of the AFC East. Reggie Bush and the defense has led the way and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has developed nicely. The Dolphins trail the Patriots by one game and still have two games left against the 2011 AFC Champions. Miami is still very much in the division hunt and have the best chance of completing the worst-to-first turnaround.
2. Indianpolis- The 5-3 Colts are in line for a wild card spot but the division isn’t out of the picture just yet. The Colts control their own destiny because they still have two games remaining against the 7-1 Texans. Andrew Luck has been outstanding this season.
3. Buffalo- If you haven’t watched a Bills game this season they have been terrible at 3-5. They already lost to the Patriots at home and if they don’t beat the Pats in Foxboro this Sunday then they will not win the AFC East.
4. Minnesota- The Vikings started red hot but have faded in the last few weeks. They trail the first place Bears by 2.5 games and Packers by 1.5 games. The Vikings control their fate in a way because they play Chicago and Green Bay twice each in their last eight tilts. Winning all those games, although unlikely, could give them a shot at the NFC North.
5. Washington- Other than their quarterback the Redskins are a bad football team at 3-6. Luckily for them their division is below average and they trail the first place Giants by three games. The Redskins play five of their last seven games against NFC East foes so their is still a slim opportunity.
6. St Louis- Like the Vikings, the Rams turned some heads early on but have dropped their last three games and are alone in last place. The Rams still have four games against their division including two against the first place 49ers. St. Louis is three games behind San Francisco, but are 2-0 against their divison. If they can keep up their division success then you can’t rule out the Rams just yet.
7. Tampa Bay- Out of all the last place teams trying to complete the turnaround in the NFC, the Buccaneers have been playing the best football as of late. Tampa were unlucky in some of their early games but are now 4-4 after two straight away wins. The problem for the Buccaneers is the Falcons are 8-0 and it doesn’t look like they will lose their division lead. Tampa still plays Atlanta twice in the second half of the season.
8. Cleveland- The Browns are 2-7 and far away from first place in the AFC North. Beating San Diego gave Cleveland a glimmer of hope but they losing the next week to Baltimore ends their division and playoff chances.
9. Kansas City- The worst offense in the NFL can’t take care of the football and the defense is a mess. At this point the Chiefs can play spoiler when they play Denver twice.