We are back to take our usual weekly look both back and ahead when it comes to the eight teams that finished a year ago, ranking the clubs from worst to best.
Nearly every season, we see a team in the National Football League rise from the basement to win a division title, as was the case with the Washington Redskins in 2012.
This season, there could be three clubs that pull off that worst-to-first thing by season's end.
8. AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)
After a nice road win over the Tennessee Titans last week, it was unfortunate business as usual for the Jaguars, who fell at home to the Arizona Cardinals and ensured yet another losing season. Gus Bradley's defense is dead last in the league against the run and this week must deal with the Houston Texans' ground attack. The good news for the Jaguars is that while they have only won three games dating back to the start of 2011, all have been against divisional rivals. Oh well, it's a start…
7. NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8)
From winless to somewhat wondrous, the once-troubled Bucs have suddenly won two in a row after that 0-8 start and could give the Detroit Lions fits this week at Ford Field. While Lions' wideout Calvin Johnson vs. Buccaneers' cornerback Darrelle Revis should be worth the price of admission this Sunday, it will be interesting to see who in the Detroit secondary will cover Tampa's Vincent Jackson? And could Greg Schiano's team be primed to play spoiler the rest of the season?
6. AFC North: Cleveland Browns (4-6)
If the Browns are to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002, it's time for Rob Chudzinski's team to make hay the next two weeks with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jaguars coming to town. That's because this club plays three of its final four games on the road against the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Steelers. And Chudzinski's team may be kicking itself after blowing a 13-0 lead to the Bengals last Sunday…
5. AFC East: Buffalo Bills (4-7)
No game for the Bills this week and that means Doug Marrone and company has a little more time to savor last Sunday's 37-14 rout of the Jets at Orchard Park. Will this be the year that the Bills finally escape the AFC East basement after five straight seasons? Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has been solid when healthy and middle linebacker Kiko Alonso may be the league's defensive rookie of the year. Buffalo heads to Toronto next Sunday to host the 2-9 Falcons…
4. NFC North: Detroit Lions (6-4)
Jim Schwartz's team took the Pittsburgh Steelers' best shot last week and rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take the lead. But an offense that rolled up 379 yards in the first 30 minutes of play was limited to 72 total yards after intermission in an eventual 37-27 loss. Still, the Lions remain in a first-place tie in the NFC North with the Chicago Bears. And after Schwartz's club hosts the Buccaneers this week they'll welcome the Green Bay Packers to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day…
3. NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (6-4)
Last season, the Cardinals finished 5-11 following a 4-0 start. These days, Bruce Arians' club has won three straight and are 5-2 in their last seven games. Quarterback Carson Palmer not only threw for more than 400 yards last week at Jacksonville but wasn't picked off for the first time in 10 games this season. And the opportunistic Cards have picked up with they left off a year ago as this club has now totaled 55 takeaways in their last 26 outings. This week, Arians will be reunited with the visiting Colts, a team he won NFL Coach of the Year honors with a year ago…
2. NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)
Three straight wins and suddenly Chip Kelly's team finds itself alone atop the NFC East and with a week off. Second-year quarterback Nick Foles still hasn't thrown an interception this season and running back LeSean McCoy leads the league in rushing and total yards from scrimmage. And these Birds have forced 19 turnovers in 11 games, six more takeaways than all of last season. The Eagles remaining schedule is loaded with NFC playoff contenders such as the 6-4 Cardinals, Lions and Chicago Bears, as well as those 5-5 Cowboys in the last game of the season at Dallas…
1. AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
Stop the presses. The Chiefs lost a game last week so everything they've done so far in 2013 hasn't meant much. Please! Last Sunday's 27-17 loss at Denver was far from surprising consider most opposing teams' history in the Mile High City. Still, what may have been a little disappointing was the fact that the Chiefs' pass rush failed to get to Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning. The key here is that Andy Reid's team now has back-to-back home games with the Chargers and Broncos and Kansas City must hold serve…
Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.
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