Last year at this time, we told you that the Dallas Cowboys were the most likely team in the NFL to go from a last-place division finish in 2015 to a first-place ranking in 2016, and that's exactly what happened. Of course, Brandon Marshall Jerseyswe said that would happen because Tony Romo would return to the field, not because Dak Prescott would have a rookie season for the ages. But hey, either way, the results are the same.
Dallas wasn't the only worst-to-first team in 2016. The Titans also pulled it off, Darrelle Revis Jerseysthough they missed out on a playoff berth due to tiebreakers with Houston. The Dolphins and Buccaneers also rebounded nicely, with Miami securing its first playoff berth since 2008 and Tampa Bay its first winning season since 2010. Meanwhile, Matt Forte Jerseysthe Chargers, Bears, Browns and 49ers each pulled off the "worst-to-worst" achievement, if you want to call it that, finishing in last place again.
This year, our top pick to go from worst-to-first is a team that flirted with a perfect season just two years ago: the Carolina Panthers, who will square off with last year's conference champs, the Atlanta Falcons, in a race that should come down to the wire.
We've gone through the eight teams that finished in last place in each division last season, ranked by their odds of making the postseason in 2017. These odds are based on the 2017 simulation that we ran for our new book "Football Outsiders Almanac 2017." The system predicts each team's DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average, explained here) on offense, defense and special teams using a number of variables, Eric Decker Jerseysincluding performance over the past three years, Leonard Williams Jerseyscoaching experience and personnel changes. Then we simulate the season a million times to get a wide range of possibilities that account for every team's best-case and worst-case scenario.