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ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

The Philadelphia Eagles went from last place in the NFC East in 2016 to division champs (and, of course, Super Bowl winners) in 2017. Which last-place teams have the brightest outlook heading into 2018? The candidates aren't as strong as usual, but we like the odds for Deshaun Watson and the Texans.

Comments

7 comments, Last at 21 Aug 2018, 12:11am

1 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by The Ninjalectual // Aug 17, 2018 - 6:15pm

The picture is of the Texans, but I think the Browns and Broncos have the best shot at it

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2 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by Theo // Aug 18, 2018 - 4:18am

The Browns sure look a lot better. They can make the playoffs if:
1: Hue doesn't Hue
2: The secondary can gel and give the passrush a bit more time.
3: The second tier players can step up and play - depth was a big problem for the Browns in the past.
4: If they don't do something stupid like they seem to do every season.

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3 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by Cythammer // Aug 18, 2018 - 11:59pm

For simply making the playoffs the Browns might have a good shot, but for actually going worst-to-first in their division I think the presence of the Steelers means they have a significantly worse chance than the Texans. The Jags were great last year but I imagine they have a better chance of regressing this season than Pittsburgh.

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4 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by herewegobrowniesherewego // Aug 19, 2018 - 12:51am

AFC North looks to be about as weak as it's ever been - even Pitt is dependent on aging Big Ben, and Baltimore is stuck with the Flacco albatross - so 2nd place in the division is feasible, but it might not translate to a wildcard.

Merely replacing a -756 DYAR/-34.5% DVOA/-38.6% VOA QB with a 121 DYAR/-7.0% DVOA/-2.1% VOA one is huge, but they have to at least finish off one game first...

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5 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by BJR // Aug 19, 2018 - 9:13am

PItt ranked 3rd in overall DVOA last season (27.1%), and Baltimore ranked 7th (18.6%). That is not weak. Significant regression is going to be required for Cleveland to surpass either of these teams.

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6 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by dank067 // Aug 19, 2018 - 10:16pm

Baltimore and Pittsburgh also have solid (in Pittsburgh's case, extremely solid) DVOA projections in this year's FOA—not that those are gospel by themselves, but they do account for many of the best-understood causes of regression. I'm pretty skeptical that Cleveland can just ride talent/positive regression to contention in that division.

I enjoyed Barnwell pointing out recently that many of the reasons one can project Cleveland to be one of this year's most-improved teams could have been applied just as easily to the previous season's 1-15 team. No doubting they appear to have a far better QB situation this year though.

I am a little surprised to see the Texans as the #1 candidate here. They do have the best projected DVOA of AFC South teams this year, but there isn't a ton of separation between them and Indy and Tennessee—and I wonder if Jacksonville's projection isn't a bit harsh. Maybe it speaks to how rare worst-to-first really is, or how many teams are actually well-positioned to pull it off?

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7 Re: ESPN: Ranking the NFL's Most Likely Worst-to-First Teams

by herewegobrowniesherewego // Aug 21, 2018 - 12:11am

Well, the other reason I labeled the AFC North relatively "weak", besides as we've discussed only one clearly above-average QB in the division who is aging, is that last year they were 0-for-Jacksonville, speaking of the AFC South-ironically, only the Browns were able to make their Jags game even competitive-and 0-for-Bears [!] and no one was able to make a wildcard.

Not surprised by Texans because not only do they likely at least double Watson's games played, they likely triple #99's and Mercilus' games played. Colts "only" add Luck by comparison.

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