It seems like every year there is an NFL team that goes from worst to first. That is to say that a franchise finishing bottom of their division in the previous season is able to turn things around and win it the following year, and that will usually be against what the early NFL Vegas Odds are expecting when the season begins.
This makes sense really as the NFL is all about parity – the NFL draft and salary cap do a great job of this – and the margins between winning and losing are often very narrow. Here is a look at a few of the teams that could go from basement dwellers in 2021 to winners in 2022.
Baltimore Ravens – 2021 Record 8-9
It almost feels like cheating to pick the Ravens here as they finished just one game shy of a winning record in 2021, which is almost unheard of for a last-place team. The Ravens looked like they were going to make the playoffs at one point after starting off hot, but an injury to uber-talented quarterback Lamar Jackson – along with the overall strength of the division – pulled them back down.
Jackson is the best quarterback among last-place teams and the only worry I would have here is that the Cincinnati Bengals are loaded with young talent and look primed for a run of AFC North crowns.
Denver Broncos – 2021 Record 7-10
The Broncos are another team with a good 2021 record who has the issue of playing in an absolutely loaded division. Their move to trade for Russell Wilson – the first legit QB they have had since Peyton Manning – was an inspired one. He will immediately make Courtland Sutton and Jerry Judy threats out wide.
To pick the Broncos to finish first, however, you have to see them jumping teams led by Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr. The Raiders even added Davante Adams to help push Carr over the top and while the Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill, they will still be very good. It would take a brave man to predict Denver to win the AFC West.
Jacksonville Jaguars 0 2021 Record 3-14
Could the worst team in the league in 2021 really jump to the top of their division in 2022?
This one is a firm maybe.
The Jags’ complete lack of explosion will be boosted by the NFL debut of second-year running back Travis Etienne. Etienne was the Jags’ first-round pick in 2021 before a foot injury ruled him out for the year in the preseason. The Clemson product has chemistry with QB Trevor Lawrence from their college days and he will give the team a dimension they have been lacking.
The other aspect in Jacksonville’s favor is their division. Sure, running down a Matt Ryan-led Colts team will be tough, but the Texans are just bad and the Titans are always a Derrick Henry injury away from breaking down.
Stranger things have happened.