The best streak in the NFL: For 10 straight years, a team has made the leap from last place to first place in its division. In 2012, it was the Washington Redskins, who – thanks to RG3 – rebounded from the cellar in 2011 (5-11) to win the NFC East (10-6). Here are the nine winners prior to Washington (previous year’s record in parens):
2003: Carolina Panthers (7-9)/Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)
2004: Atlanta Falcons (5-11)/San Diego Chargers (4-12)
2005: Chicago Bears (5-11)/New York Giants (6-10)
2006: Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)/New Orleans Saints (3-13)/Baltimore Ravens (6-10)
2007: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
2008: Miami Dolphins (1-15)
2009: New Orleans Saints (8-8)
2010: Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)
2011: Houston Texans (6-10)
It’s time to make guesses for 2013. We touched on the topic in January, but that was before free agency and the draft and injuries. Here are last year’s cellar-dwellers:
Teams you can completely rule out: Browns, Jets, Jaguars, Cardinals.
One injury away from saying there’s a chance: Bills (Tom Brady), Chiefs (Peyton Manning).
My best bets:
* Saints. No brainer. Payton’s return can’t be underestimated. Falcons have a challenging schedule.
* Lions. Can they hurdle two playoff teams and the Bears? Offense will be there, and for some reason, I think the D will, too.